|Golden, CO, United States|
(projects i'm involved in)
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Posted by David Braden about 8 years ago
The API team recently completed our annual events on sheet mulch/hugelkultur. We had a new record, 39 people, participate in one or more of the three events. We created a brand new 400 square foot hugelkultur experiment at the API and an 800 square foot sheet mulch in Sid's front yard. We also expanded the 3 materials experimental bed at the API.
Fees for the events were enough to pay for delivery of 16 yards of horse manure with a little extra that we have not yet decided how to spend.
My take away from answering questions at these events is the importance of the permaculture principle that we Observe and Interact. If you are not out there testing your assumptions, you will never discover your conceptual errors . . . and we all have conceptual errors. I have started including in my talks a part about needing to forget everything you thought you knew about gardening because nature has her own way of doing things. I still run into things I thought I knew that are just getting in the way.
Here is an example: The required balance of nitrogen and carbon for decomposition to take place.
A compost pile wants 1 nitrogen for every 30 carbons in order to heat up properly. Wood chips run 500 carbon to 1 nitrogen and yet, the sheet mulches we build with wood chips work just as well as the beds we build with grass hay. In hugelkultur, the literature talks about 30 years of fertility, but they also talk about how it takes a year before you can successfully plant anything. We are not finding the one-year delay in planting necessary.
We have now tested some of our preconceptions and what we are doing seems to be neither sheet mulch nor hugelkultur but some hybrid of the two. We are using materials in sheet mulches that some of the literature says you should not use. We are not covering our hugelkulturs with soil. We are using wood chips and manure. We will have more results from this growing season.
In the process of holding events, our work was featured in a local news article. Through that, and other channels, I have been invited to speak to a variety of different groups. The story I tell is about how we seek to emulate the habitat in which whole soil ecosystems evolved, and how tilling the soil destroys that habitat. Compost turned into the soil is more nutrients than your plants need. Soil organisms in a whole soil ecosystem produce nutrients at a continuous rate and plants evolved to receive the nutrients at that rate.
This story is resonating with my audiences. I offer it to you as a way to generate more interest in these healing technologies in your locality. We will heal nature and produce abundance one repaired soil ecosystem at a time. It takes telling the story and demonstrating that it works.
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