One of my recent exciting endeavors is helping out a friend with her garden project. It could evolve into a very unique community garden, at the very least it will be an education for me on several levels.
For starters, gardening in Georgia. The climate is different, as is the soil.
I had learned a significant amount about soil and its importance when I was creating a "vertical farm" and teaching an eco-class to Skye and several of our home-school friends in Los Angeles.
Too much to get into in this particular post, however I will say that soil is a valuable resource that is being used up and mismanaged to levels that most people don't realize.
If you can check out Dirt the Movie. It is eye-opening and incredibly informative. I would love to set up a screening at some point.
It made me realize that "growing" and maintaining the soil was as important if not more so than things like water, amount of sunlight, temperatures, etc.
I have never had soil tested. I wish I had, but I never got around to it.
The University of Georgia has an extensive agriculture division and offers soil testing services.
I went over to one of their extension offices picked up several sample bags and checked out their website and video.
Skye and I went over to the property of the future garden and proceeded to collect samples.
I took them in the next day and am eagerly awaiting the results.
A great way to improve soil is to compost. It also can help reduce "waste" that might end up going to landfills.
There are many, many methods of composting. I'm learning about more all the time.
Back in Los Angeles, I had a very limited amount of space. We ended up using animals, namely chickens, Black Soldier flys and worms to do much of the work.
I also did a substantial amount of composting in this compost drum which worked out quite well and greatly speed up the composting process.
However, this time around, I've got access to a lot more land to play with and experiment.
I'm looking at methods such as Hugelkultur, bokashi, and sheet-mulching, as well as more "traditional" types and of course vermicomposting, aka worm-farming.
In this particular post, I will be addressing sheet-mulching also known as "lasagna" gardening.
We plan to utilize this style in several raised beds we are putting together.
I checked out Craigslists' "free stuff" and found several ads for materials that we could use in our beds.
I went up north of Atlanta and ended up getting a really nice load of horse manure.
I was also able to load up on a truck-full of mulch a bit closer in Decatur.
Technically they're all nature's layers, we're just rearranging them, something I'm going to try to do less of as I attempt to use as many permaculture techniques and concepts as possible.
We managed to lay a layer of cardboard, manure and mulch before the snow came and but a little halt to our progress.
We have one bed completed and laid out several others.
I'm looking forward to spring and planting, but enjoying our brief winter wonderland.