Thursday, July 14, 2016

BrushApe Horticulture Therapy - Raised Bed Garden with Biochar, Minerals and Microbes

When transplanted from soil improved for years, into a yard that would barely grow good grass, what is a Brushape to do?

Not making light of Horticulture Therapy and the need for trained therapists.  We salute their work as a sure path forward to a better future.  Just had not heard of HT at the time, and was feeling an absolute need to get some seeds and roots in the ground at a new location.  Folks intuitively understand the therapeutic nature of gardening and growing.  It is a great addiction!

May 29 - Weathered Oak Posts Raised Beds

Part of the move included removing aged oak 8x8's these from the prior location.  These create a very sturdy foundation.  They were spaced so the garden can be completely straddled, a foot on the landing of each side of the raised bed.  This allows easy access to all parts of the bed.

Some extra, more rotted posts and rounds, were placed in the center of the grow bed.  Ground contact of wood attracts worms, wood also helps fill the space.  Wanted to use biochar and minerals at high application rates and didn't have enough material to do the whole square footage so a modified hugelkultur made the most sense.

Also beds were spaced to 42" to allow a 40" mower deck to pass between them and cut down on weedeating time.


May 30, Beds Filled with Growing Mediums, Covered with Mulch

Soil amendments applied on top of existing lawn then covered with mulch to maximize moisture retention.

June 27, Bedding Plants Taking Hold

Spaghetti and butternut squash, Goliath tomato, heirloom sweet potatoes.  The two small square beds are used mostly for herbs.  Set out some eggplants but they were almost immediately attacked by flea beetles and have not been able to mount much of a recovery.

July 3, Interesting Fungus

Enhanced fungal growth is universal any place this brushape has applied biochar to soil.  The picture does not do justice to the shimmery, watery gel cap that crowned the tops.

July 13, Growing is Good and Easy

Less than 40 days after planting, the spaghetti squash is over 15 feet long and setting squash like crazy.  The Goliath has grown out the top of its cage.  Sweet potatoes have made a nice mat that covers the entire width of their beds.  The few weeds that have popped up are easily uprooted.  Beside the eggplants which are still riddled by flea beetles, no pest problems.  Have a feeling the flea beetles came in with the pots of the egg plants.


Friday, July 8, 2016

Carbon-Mineral-Microbes Soil Restoration Food Plots

A BrushApe Thicket - 4 year Soil Improvement, Self Re-seeding

Mallow, sorrel, wild lettuce, lambsquarters, dill, polk, mint, yarrow, comfrey, grapes, onions, wheat, potatoes, carrots, radishes, a mulberry tree, a cherry tree, clovers, worms in the roots of every plant.  

Life has taken over the space!  Virtually everything in this list is edible with many unique flavors.  Never any chemical fertilizer or pesticide application while growing beans, corn, cabbage, radishes, mustard and just about anything I had a taste for at the time.

A healthy elderberry bush popped up just downhill from the plot.

Kick Starting Soil Improvement

Biochar, minerals, microbes and mulch are the key ingredients.  No tilling or digging except to start bedding plants.  Then letting the plants go to seed and letting wild edibles take their places in the mix.

Did not get pictures of the start of this, but took several of the next iteration, a "biochar no-till food plot".

Mow or Scythe Existing Vegetation Tight to the Ground

Apply Biochar as First Ground Cover

A good dusting to cover the soil in "dark".

Apply Composted Manure - Turkey Litter was used on this plot

About a 1/4" to 1/2" thick cover of turkey litter.

Sprinkle Minerals Over Entire Plot

Sea-90 was used on this plot.

Cover The Prepared Rows with the Mulch

Old switchgrass hay with some mold in it was used for this plot

Seed with Mix Suitable to Location

A personal preference that works for most locations is turnips and wheat.

Plant mostly along the edges.  Make holes in the mulch for seeds like corn or beans so the seed can burst out.

Let Nature Take It's Course

For this plot, seeding took place August 21.

First rain to follow was in early September.  First frost was October 24 and the plot looked like this.

Turnips handle frost well.

Had some very tasty turnip globes for Christmas.

Next March 28 Wheat looked like this.. grasshoppers loved it, turkeys loved the grasshoppers.

Also March 28 turnips were flowering, attracting swarms of honey bees and other pollinators.

That summer brought severe drought.  July 4 plot looked like this..

Finally some rains in late August, on October 1 of the year following, with no additional labor inputs beyond putting in the initial plot, successful re-seeding was evident.