I've been digging...and planting because I've been driven by a new commitment: market gardening. As I plan to do the local monthly community markets selling some of what I grow, the garden now has a entrepreneurial purpose. So it has to deliver a quotient of vegetables.
Be productive. Be predictable and reliable. Be niche oriented.
I'm thinking through my 'business plan' options and as well as selling at these monthly events I may run market days from home on the other fortnight. People can drop by and shop.
Yesiree...I've been doing my homework. Reading up. Studying experiences of urban agriculture and micro farming,etc.
I'm convinced that it's do-able as various scenarios are possible...and work elsewhere.
Not that I plan to commit to a new profession at my age, but my retail savvy flags the options.
I'm also thinking of offering to grow-to-order and ring+drop-by-+-harvest without taking on the responsibilities of something like Community Supported Agriculture.
In the genre of contemporary market gardening there are many retailing models.
But it's still early days and I am a hobbyist.I look to the marketing aspect as a means to network in my community and supplement my income while promoting environmental vibes.
But the focus is a delight and draws me to the garden more assiduously as though I have a part time occupation. A routine.
This means that I have become more demanding of my patch.I'm asking more of it...and I expect more. So I got busy and remade some of the layout.
- I narrowed the paths and widened the beds in order to get more growing space. The soil shifting has indeed expanded my planting area. The much narrower paths are now trenches because they are dug deeper than before so that they act like valleys. Foot traffic compacts the earth and water is slower to dissipate. That's a plus for me.
- I expanded my mounds and planted them out with a mix of vegetables as well as the tubers. This is still an experiment but now I have 3 gardens: (1) garden beds (my original garden--number:5); (2)garden mounds (my recent experiment);and the new ground (3) mounds and ridges constructed from dirt thrown atop twigs and branches half way to Hugelkultur mode..
- I incorporated waffle grids in my planting habits. Waffle gardens were developed by the Zuni of New Mexico (picture right) as a means to farm in very dry conditions. Since we are officially 'in dought' and I forever have water issues, I adapted the method to my own garden beds. I now sow direct into the ground by first scraping out a waffle depression. then border it with soil and mulch. There's no over all design grid -- not yet anyway -- but I expect I'll customise as I explore this approach further. The compartmentalisation suits me. It's also risk free as I have, afterall, such sandy soils....
- I mine my chook pen. Since I've been creating new beds --requiring 'mounds' of dirt --I had to get my soil from somewhere. Fortunately my chook pen is large and I've always wondered how to better harvest all the inputs I feed the chickens. So I take soil from the pen and put it on the garden. My chook pen is a mine site. What better way to harness all that chook poo? It's sandy ++++ so it's an easy pick up and deliver. The chickens don't mind the crevices that are opening up at their feet. I'm even thinking of digging a well there.
- I sift sand and cow manure together before throwing it on the beds and mounds. It is not a fun task breaking up and sifting cow poo through a sieve, but since my 'dirt' is sterile sand I try to merge manure and sand together on a 5o:50 recipe. Besides my keeness for honey holing I suspect I've found a way to quicken the transition from sand to loam in situ. This approach seem more efficient than waiting on layers upon layers of mulched grass clippings to break down.I still mulch, but I now have a Plan B.