Saturday, May 2, 2009

Biointensive Garden Progress

Biointensive gardening is progressing well. We created an inexpensive storage tank for our free gravity fed spring water system. The tank is made of one piece of poly sheeting 7 x 6 meters supported by poplar posts and some old fencing (top picture). It stores 2000 liters of water for a total cost of R118. Filling buckets and watering cans is much quicker from this tank than from a hose.

We also started biointensive beds 9 and 10. Each bed is 100 square feet or 9.3 square meters. In order to double dig to 2 foot (600mm) depth it is much easier if the ground is moist. Since we have a free supply of water 24 hours a day we made a trench to irrigate the 2 beds for 24 hours. It's amazing how easily a spade will slide into properly moistened soil. Our motto is "if it is hard work, STOP before you break something, you're doing it the wrong way." Done properly double digging should be easy and fun.

The third picture shows our temporary nursery area with 22 seed flats planted so far. The seed flat trays are 3 inches (75 mm) deep and made from old apple boxes lined with plastic, with drain holes in the bottom. We will move the nursery into one corner of the main garden soon.

The last picture shows our system for making seed flat soil. We don't yet have compost made so we are improvising by collecting leaf mold (the top 5 mm of soil raked up under leafy trees). A quick way to sift this is to use a 15 mm mesh screen tilted at a high angle (in this case supported by an old bed frame). Though the mesh size is larger than ideal, when tipped at a high angle the coarse particles roll down easily off the screen and the sifted material is about 6mm or less. It's much faster and much easier than the traditional horizontal 1/4" (6mm) screen often placed over a wheelbarrow.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Brian, Nothing like starting from scratch.What did you make the tank out of?
    Are you flooding the beds and then planting?
    How are you irrigating while crops grow? What crops are you growing. Do you have the book Amaranth to Zai HOles. Could be helpful there.
    Keep up the great work.