gardening

Soil tests after 9 years of no-spray no-till

Submitted by Ben Stallings on Thu, 03/02/2017 - 10:23

In August, 2008, we moved into our house on a 1/10 acre lot, and I began gardening with a single sheet-mulched plot in the front yard. I took a baseline set of soil tests from the front and back yards in January, 2009 and began a regimen of no-till, no-spray (i.e. no chemical amendments), no-manure gardening, using only plant-based mulch to maintain soil fertility while harvesting as many as 75 crops for market each growing season. The soil tests were done by our local university extension agency.

notes on Oklahoma Native Plant Society Indoor Outing, Feb 3, 2017

Submitted by Ben Stallings on Sat, 02/04/2017 - 22:22

Gardening with Oklahoma Native Plants: Steve Owens, Bustani Plant Farm

Soil preparation is not as important for native plants: they like the soil the way it is! Some even like to be stressed. Try growing them in cracks between landscape elements.

Wildflower meadow gardens are great for pollinator habitat, but study your site first. Consider microclimate and choose plants accordingly. Contrasting white flowers can help break up the uniformity of a meadow garden.

Rethinking circular keyhole beds and mandala gardens

Submitted by Ben Stallings on Wed, 12/14/2016 - 17:28

I'm a big fan of the late Toby Hemenway's book, Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture. I own both editions, and for many years I used it as the curriculum for the intro permaculture courses I taught. In my opinion it's a classic right up there with Mollison's big black book.

What's the Ideal Shape for a Strawberry Pyramid?

Submitted by Ben Stallings on Fri, 03/16/2012 - 20:12

When I teach intro classes on permaculture design, when we're talking about boundary optimization -- that is, when to maximize the edge and when to minimize it -- one of the questions I like to ask students is along the lines of, "How many strawberry plants, spaced 6" apart, can you fit in 16 square feet and still reach them all easily for harvest?"  The exact numbers are not important; what I'm looking for is the ideal design of a strawberry planter to maximize production in a minimum of space.