Fertilizer for the gardens

We are fertilizing the gardens in the dimple to improve the soil there.

Permaculture gardens in the forest

Gently creating gardens in the forest.

 

Part of the Bosque Village experiment is to see how we can raise food in the forest without outside water or fertilizer. But there are some ways we do choose to improve the soil, and sometimes we give in to the temptation to use outside resources.

  • Humanure from the old septic tank. The lodge and casita used to have water based toilets and after years without use, the human waste has had plenty of time to become soil. This year we harvested 6 large sacks from the old lodge septic tank.
  • Humanure from composting toilets. We can also harvest compost from our composting toilets! Last year we harvested for the first time and put the compost in the orchard. This year have been rewarded with more apples than any year before! It is surprising we don’t get more fertilizer from the toilet considering how many people have used them, but the waste breaks down into small amounts. In our toilets worms and mushrooms help break down the soil even more.
  • Plant waste from town.  This year we are also picking up more plant waste from the fruit and vegetable vendors in town.  Once a week we will take the van to town and go to each vendor picking up any plant waste they would throw away. We can fill the van with the waste they produce in a single day.  The chickens and rabbits love the veggies and so it serves as food while they create a new form of compost from it. We can also place it directly on gardens to prepare them for the next year. Normally it might be a bad idea to place such rich plant waste to compost in the open as it would draw rats and insects, but in our case that is less a problem.  The Dimple gardens are far from the houses, so we don’t mind feeding the local wildlife and if there is a surge in rodent life then we hope they will become prey for owls and eagles. Each trip to town could create one more garden with rich soil. Composting right on the gardens we want to enrich would be the easiest way to build the soil since we have space and time. Special composting worms can follow the fresh deliveries along to speed the process as well. It would be great to get a whole truck load of such waste each day, but the poor conditions of the roads make this difficult. For cases where we would like to more rapidly compost in a controlled manner, Brian is designing a rapid composter which could handle tons of material while also keeping it from rodents and insects. That super composter system would use worms and mushrooms as part of the process. Brian has also composted the bodies of fish left over from fish processing plants, but that is a stinky process and different systems will have to be designed for that.
  • Animal poo! Brian gave in to temptation this year and purchased manure. We learned that many of the gardens in the Dimple did well without manure, but with some extra fertilizer they can do even better. This year Brian bought two pickup truck loads of cow manure, and a 3 ton truckload of sheep manure. The sheep manure is the better deal since it is high in nitrogen and potash.  But this outside manure means we have to count those animals and the resources used to feed them as part of our ecological footprint. Hopefully the long term benefit of the manure will be worth the cost. Of course we will continue our efforts to improve our gardening without using this resource in the future.
  • Courtyard gardening. Our animals produce manure we use in gardens to grow the food to give the animals. Brian plans to put cob walls around gardens in the Dimple so they may be used in rotation of animals and plants.  The animals will end up killing off the ‘weeds” while eating plants produced in other gardens, before being moved to another garden. That fertile soil will be planted and new crops will grow to heal the soil, while the animals fertilize another courtyard garden. Slowly the upper stories of fruit trees will develop. With varied usage of the courtyards we can always be improving the soil. The cob walls also should provide some protection against cold winds.  We may also to able to use courtyards to fight against the tusas (gopher moles?)  which can destroy most of the produce in a garden. By placing animal housing at the junction of the cob walls, switching the animals from one courtyard to another could be as easy as opening a different door for them.
Delivery of sheep manure to the Dimple gardens.

Delivery of sheep manure to the Dimple gardens.

These rabbits and chickens can have lots of space while fertilizing the garden.

Cute garden workers!

 

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