I stopped by the La Tercera community garden this morning to check things out. The fence and the gate appear to be finished. It really looks quite impressive. The beds are happily soaking up the rain and the winter sunshine. As I stood there admiring the plots, I decided I’d add a couple of raised beds to my back garden. I want to see how the cardboard and compost method works. Then I started thinking about how I’d start a veggie plot, so I got out my gardener’s bible, “How To Grow More Vegetables” by John Jeavons. His method of sustainable agriculture or mini-farming is called Grow Biointensive and if you’re interested in finding out more, the website is www.growbiointensive.org . It tells you all about the Ecology Action movement.
I learned about growing food and veggies sustainably from classes at Ecology Action in Palo Alto and from Jeavons book. The basic principle is that we need to grow the soil so that it can keep on producing the food that we need. What a simple idea.
So, how to grow the soil at La Tercera? All the neighbors and volunteers got it started by laying down the cardboard and the compost in order to control weeds and to begin breaking down the clay soil that we have on this side of Petaluma.
And, as we’re waiting to get started, we can help things along by growing our own compost! As long as you save only organic material like fruit and veggie waste but no meat, no oils, etc., it’s really easy. Don’t throw it out – put it in a bucket of some sort or just make a pile in the garden, if you have the space. You can add leaves or green waste from your garden, if you want but no weeds. And you can add some soil to help it along. If you keep the kitchen waste covered with leaves and/or soil, it’ll keep any rodents away because you want to leave your bucket out in the fresh air, on the deck or patio, for example. Turn the pile over occasionally to let the air in and keep it all fairly moist. In a month or two, it will all start to break down nicely and the material can be added to your plot when you’re ready. Even if it’s not broken down completely, it can still be added to the soil to start forming lovely micro-organisms to keep the soil a living system that’ll give you healthy veggies throughout the season.
And, of course, if you’ve built your compost in a bucket, it’ll be easy to carry over to your plot at La Tercera.