Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Increasing efficiencies in the garden

Ben building deck stairs.
I want to be someone who is always learning and developing my skill-sets. It keeps life interesting and purposeful.

Over the last couple of months I've been trying to get my head around permaculture. It's a way of working with your surroundings to maximise efficiencies while minimising inputs and waste.

A simple example would be water. On a typical suburban property, fresh rain hits the roof and is piped away via downspouts to join waste-water and make its way out into the ocean. On the same property, water that has been collected and treated with various chemicals to make it drinkable is piped in (and paid for), then used to water the garden.

A more efficient system would be to collect the rainwater falling on the roof and use it to water the garden.

Two fantastic permaculture books I've read are Practical Permaculture for Home Landscapes, Your Community and the Whole Earth by Jessi Bloom and Dave Boehnlein, plus Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Homescale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway.

I'm also loving Peak Moment TV - a series of YouTube videos about "resilient, locally reliant living for these challenging times." Some of my favourite videos are:

Inspiration Farm: Cultivating Nourishing Food and Creativity 
Shaping Water and Soil at Inspiration Farm
Handmade Tools make Simple Work at Inspiration Farm
Bringing the Wealth Home - Intelligent Design at InishOge Farm
Monroe's Sharing Garden - The Giving is Growing
Grow your Food in a Nook and Cranny Garden - Part 1
Grow your Food in a Nook and Cranny Garden - Part 2
The Eco-sense House - Natural Building, Natural Living
The Pee and Poo Show

In my own garden, things are progressing nicely. My brother-in-law, Ben, and his family came back on Sunday to finish building my deck wraparound garden and build deck stairs so I can easily access my raised garden beds.

The wraparound garden just required two pieces of wood to be cut on an angle and fitted to the back edge along the deck. Not a major job when you have the right tools. (Practically impossible when all you have is a hand saw, as I discovered a couple of weeks ago.)

The gardens and stairs have all been built with reclaimed wood, saving it from the landfill. Ben's brother recently subdivided a farm and had to take down existing fences to do it. Ben used some of that wood to build my raised beds, wraparound deck garden and the base and posts of my deck stairs.

Ben's brother also recently built a deck, and was left with a whole lot of offcuts of decking timber, which were too short to do much with. Ben used those to build the top of my stairs, since it's the same kind of decking timber as my deck is made from and ties it all together. My sister, Mel, came up with a stair design that would make use of short offcuts (and look pretty to boot).
Building deck stairs out of offcuts.
Completed wraparound deck garden and stairs.
While Ben was here with all his power tools, I cut short wooden offcuts to fit the gap between two of my raised garden beds.

I got the idea when reading about keyhole garden design in Gaia's Garden, since it makes use of the space at the end of my garden path where it butts up against the trellis. Now I can fill this little space with soil and grow another plant up the trellis here.
Keyhole raised garden bed
It felt great helping Ben build the deck stairs. I learned how to operate a drop saw, and even had to measure and cut pieces of wood on a 45 degree angle to build the top frame of the stairs. That felt pretty cool. I love learning new skills.

What have you been learning about lately?


  1. Looks great Emma! Gaias Garden is one of my favourites too :)

  2. Looks great Emma! Gaias Garden is one of my favourites too :)


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