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In Organic Landscape Design we work with the relationships between the many species that make up our environment. The technique is based on "Sheet Mulching" and the basic unit of design is the "Key Hole Bed":
(right click on pictures to view image)
Each bed is a ten foot diameter
permaculture bed. The beds are constructed using materials that others consider waste. We used horse manure that the stable owner was paying to remove. We used newspaper and cardboard that was headed to be recycled. We used hay that got wet and could no longer be fed to horses. We used wood chips produced by the local arborist who pays to dispose of them.
Once the beds are established, we need significant participation only three times a year:
With no till and deep mulching, the soil improves each year with no weeds. With no tilling, we can include in the design perennial herbs, small fruits, rhubarb, horseradish, bulbs and flowers. With drip irrigation no daily attention is required and we save water. The area not in beds will be planted to
for wind break and to provide habitat for
native pollinators, and
Many features supporting the productivity of the whole.
We had 3 community gardens demonstrating this technique in 2009 and 7 in 2010 and about the same in 2011. Each of the gardens had different starting conditions and varying materials in the sheet mulch but all of them produced an abundance of vegetables. At the end of 2011 we got involved in planning for sheet mulch gardens in 5 different elementary schools. For 2013 we are open to help with new community gardens, helping you set up a gardening team - or - help you apply this technique on your own property. Right click on the pictures below to see each of the gardens.
We have been experimenting with different ways to engage gardeners.
In 2009 we tried a community approach through which anyone who participated was entitled to share the produce. The problem was that many of those who built beds and planted never returned to share in the harvest.
In 2010 we tried a combined approach but ended up with mostly indiviidual gardeners gardening individual beds. The problem was that many gardeners are unfamiliar with gardening in the deep mulch and we did not get the variety of planting that makes gardening efficient.
Beginnig in 2011 we are experimenting with a "Team Gardening" approach. In Team Gardening, someone who has experience with the technique will join forces with a number of people who want to learn the technique and pool their growing beds. Because we avoid most of the work inherent in traditional gardening . . . and only mulch - plant - harvest . . . the teams can garden more beds than the team members could individually and because they can produce much more than the team can use fresh we are suggesting that they could find financial supporters who don't want to garden but would like to share in the produce.
As learners become leaders and form new teams the gardening can move beyond the community gardens and onto the properties of the participants . . . moving us closer to our goal of replacing all the lawns on the front range with gardens . . . taking another step toward community sufficiency.