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Keeping up the water : Chokoes and Hugelkultur

'Tis very frustrating here at maison D'ave.

The wind seems relentless and so often very gusty when the norm in SEQ has been subdued breezes outside of August, of course -- the Ekka winds -- or as part of any heavy storm showtime.

The little moisture we are getting is soon parched both  from soil and leaf  as each bit of rain is followed by strong winds -- prevailing dries  from the north east.

I mulched a layer of newsprint over all my beds and sprinkled what grass clippings and sundries I had atop this  but as there's not much precipitation to be had, my mower men aren't cutting the grass because it isn't growing.

Around town, atop of the underlying sand, it's dying.

So no mulch for me, aside from whatever I can collect by any means necessary.

Chokoes: right size for picking
This means that my methods aren't working -- leastways in these harsh  conditions. Since I am green mulch dependent I am held hostage to my supply lines.

The  recent wall to wall garden bed carpeting with newspapers -- which will need to be at least an annual routine -- isn't enough. I need another edge to my irrigating ways and means.

While I'll need to consider  some wind protection options (despite how enclosed my garden already is) I am hampered by the absence of shade cover for my trellis. My many choko vines are well away and are now fruiting, but the tendril creep hasn't covered all the space I wanted shaded below.

While the chokoes are nice and sweet, underneath the leaf veges are still suffering from heat exposure and dry winds...

But I suspect -- via this trial and error -- I am getting somewhere as each glitch often suggests another tack.

I've been reading up, once more, on Hugelkultur:
Hugelkultur is nothing more than making raised garden beds filled with rotten wood. This makes for raised garden beds loaded with organic material, nutrients, air pockets for the roots of what you plant, etc. As the years pass, the deep soil of your raised garden bed becomes incredibly rich and loaded with soil life. As the wood shrinks, it makes more tiny air pockets - so your hugelkultur becomes sort of self tilling. The first few years, the composting process will slightly warm your soil giving you a slightly longer growing season. The woody matter helps to keep nutrient excess from passing into the ground water - and then refeeding that to your garden plants later. Plus, by holding SO much water, hugelkultur could be part of a system for growing garden crops in the desert with no irrigation.
I do a version of these Hugelkultur principles already -- but I bury stuff -- mainly newspapers, cardboard and twigs. I can't see any reason why I should start  raising my beds amid all this sand as drainage here is not an issue.

I think what I need to do is collect and bury more stuff but consider where I bury it with  greater intent.

I'm thinking that if I open up my garden beds and start running Hugelkutur type channels along their length, buried just below the surface -- I'm going German in like mode, albeit with eclectic adaptions.  If I run these underground channels parallel and close  to my Leaky irrigation pipes, I'll be offering more  excuses for water to stick around.

Leaky type sweat irrigation doesn't work  in sand and I'm still far too sandy for best effect.

That means each week I gotta go out foraging for newspapers and junk mail which fortunately is distributed  in the hood nicely rolled up. I bring it home. Soak it in water -- often a water and seaweed and whatever mix -- before burying these wet tubes lengthways in the garden beds. I could also bury  pieces of wood, branches...with the proviso that some species, esp natives, are a bit problematical as they exude  their own herbicides (eg: Sheoak and Malaleuca).
Sandy loam from sand via buried junk mail

Every place I have buried junk mail and stuff in dug holes, has broken down to a rich sandy water retaining loam in the space of 6-8 months.

My garden is 'potholed' with these locations. 

Truth to tell these exercises have produced much better soil underneath and tio greater depth than all of my exertions sheet mulching.

My sheet mulching experiments have created very shallow soils which are still prone to drying out quickly. This is amazing when you consider how much effort I have put into spreading  barrow load after barrow load of grass clippings over my garden beds. 

 I may start also collecting wood and cuttings from the neighbourhood and stacking and burying what ever I get. Already I collect old palm fronds from my neighbors but maybe if I consciously seek more in way of branches and logs, I can find creative ways to bury whatever I collect.

Collecting timber is gonna be a lot cheaper than making mulch purchases from professional tree cutters. 

Been there. Done that.  But at those prices you ain't gonna bury the goods.

So while I'm on a good thing, I just gotta stick with it.










 

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