Before the pandemic hit, I only had a 4×4′ garden bed.
I was laid off from my job and concerned about food shortages so wanted to start growing a larger garden.
I also had health in mind, wanting to grow herbs and produce.
In the past I studied herbs and knew many of them have properties that help the immune system.
Also, growing my own produce meant more vitamins and minerals without all the chemicals (if you can’t afford organic at the store).
Then I started hearing about food forests (permaculture) and how they help soil heal and food grow much more efficiently and sustainably (another topic I may write about in the future).
Knowing climate change may be threatening our existence, and that a food forest can help that, I knew that I was going to grow a food forest and write about it in the hopes to inspire others because the more of us that do this, the more we help heal the earth.
So I planted my 4×4′ garden bed and dug another bed, which was a lot of work digging the sod and weeds out with the result being soil that didn’t have a lot of health.
Last winter I saw a video on Youtube (I wish I could remember who it was so I could give credit, but I simply watched the video, thought it was a good idea then forgot about it for a few months).
It came time to begin putting new garden beds in my yard. I was starting many seeds indoors and needed more beds than what I already had and, I’m growing a food forest, which in my head means that eventually the entire yard will be planted and there will be no grass.
I remembered the video I saw. The guy had said (in his other words) to dig a deep path in your lawn and flip each shovel full upside down so the living sod was on the ground upside down and the bottom of the soil is on top. He said that the sod would slowly decompose and turn into compost so the roots of whatever you plant on top will eventually make their way down to the decomposing sod and be fed by it.
I didn’t have any money to put into my project, but I am willing to labor so this idea is what I did. When I dug the path I also added any loose soil on top of the raised beds and used the shovel’s edge to loosen the upside down soil on top – that made the loose soil fall down into the spaces between. I dug down to the top of the scoop part of the shovel’s height. If you do this, be sure to check with your city so you don’t hit an electric or gas wire, which if damaged could be a hefty fine, and also dangerous. Here are the results:
There are only two drawbacks to this method and one is that grass and weeds grow out of the sides of the raised soil, but I just keep pulling them so eventually I think it will get under control. The other drawback is that sometimes the grass roots are so strong, they make their way up into the beds – but I just keep pulling those too. The paths also get weeds, as you can see, but what garden doesn’t get weeds?
The plants that I planted in these beds did pretty well, but could have done better had I had a layer of compost on top, but I was short on that so as more compost is completed, I add it as I can. It seems eventually the roots of the plants made it down to the decomposing sod because the longer they’ve been in, the healthier looking they’ve gotten. I also lay leaves of kale, zucchini, cut grass or any other organic material on top of the bed to decompose into the soil, suppress weeds and help the soil health.
When standing on a path, the bed is raised 10-12″ so it means less bending.
The food forest is not a food forest yet, but a work in progress and I’ve been harvesting kale, snap peas, strawberries, herbs, cut flowers and zucchini. I need to get fruit trees, fruit vines, shrubs and more planted, but I just do what I can knowing what the end goal is. For now, it’s a garden that’s producing and I’m happy.
All in all, I’m satisfied with the results. Eventually, all the paths will connect and the entire yard will be planted with a food forest and there will be no more lawn. I have written a bit about food forests and the links are below, but please google food forest if you wish to know more about it.
Are you growing a garden or food forest? Do you have any gardening tips? Do you relate with anything in this post? I’d love to hear from you!
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Some products with my art printed on them available at Fine Art America: