Jennifer Wadsworth 's Profile
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Joined:
28/02/2013
Last Updated:
24/03/2013
Location:
Phoenix, AZ, United States
Climate Zone:
Arid
Gender:
Female
Web site:
abundantdesert.com





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Dolce Verde

Dolce Verde

Phoenix, US


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Permaculture Neighborhood Center Balcony Permaculture, Taipei, Taiwan Greening the Desert Project DESC Desert Food Forest Mt Nathan Project
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Working with nature: Planting summer legumes and melons

Posted by Jennifer Wadsworth over 6 years ago

Cycling nitrogen-fixing legumes through several planting beds and planting ground covering melons in infiltration pits.

I cannot believe how hard my ground gets after just one planting season. Although my desert soil has improved dramatically in the 5 years since I've been applying permaculture principles, I still have a hard time keeping enough organic matter in the soil and my (originally) heavy clay dirt starts to lock up on me again.

Here's what I let the plants do:

--drop leaves and other debris which I leave in place unless it poses a trip hazzard for me and my limited vision.

--when I chop down a previous crop, I leave the roots in the soil whenever possible. Sometimes I have to dig a few out to plant the next cycle of crops.

--let many of the plants reseed themselves where they may (unless they are a trip hazzard)

Here's what I let the hens do:

--during the late summer when most of my beds go fallow, the hens till the various beds. I don't have a chicken tractor, I just let them at it. They do a great job and make a big mess! =)

Here's what I do:

--In some areas I chop and drop, but many times I take the material to the henyard to let the hens process into compost. The trimmings go from the floor of the henyard where the hens work it over, eating what they want. When done, I toss the remains in the two compost bins inside their yard. They continue to work the trimmings there and, as their perches are located over the compost, their poop adds to the mix. Eventually they make a lovely compost to be spread around the yard.

--Plant melons in infiltration pits for summer. This serves two purposes: first, I can stop watering the majority of my beds that I have "put away" for summer under "chop and drop" mulch; second, the melons will grow out over these beds and cover bare ground during the hot months, cooling my property and protecting my soil and microorganisms.

--Cycle legumes into the mix whenever possible. Many legumes LOVE the hot weather and are climbing, making them perfect soil amenders AND sunscreens. It doesn't get better than that! I plant hyacinth bean vines and scarlet runner beans on concrete reinforcement wire that serves as trellising. These are placed where they shade my house from the sun. Beauty, shade, soil-building...it's all good. Black-eyed peas get interplanted with other food crops and tepary beans, which are native to this area and require little water, get planted in the dry areas.

 

I've got several planting areas set up - time to get out and plant!

Comments (3)

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Anna Hopping
Anna Hopping : could you enplane your infiltration pit please? what is one and how is it made and used?
Posted about 6 years ago

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Jennifer Wadsworth
Jennifer Wadsworth : Hi Anna - sorry I didn't see this earlier. Basically my infiltration pits for melons are 2 ft wide by 2 ft deep holes with a plastic 1 gallon pot in the middle. I backfill the hole with rich compost and plant the melon seeds around the plastic pot in the middle (usually I need to put about 10 inches of compost under the pot too, so that the top of the pot is level with the lip of the hole. After the melon seeds sprout, I start deep watering by filling up the plastic pot with water and letting it leak out the holes at the bottom (already in the pot) - it's kind of like an olla but improvised out of things I have on hand. The vines quickly grow over the plastic pot, shading it from our desert sun. I've grown melon vines that have taken over my whole front yard using this method!
Posted about 6 years ago

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My Badges
Consultant Aid worker Pdc teacher
My Permaculture Qualifications
Verified
Permaculture Design Certificate
Type: Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course
Teacher: Don Titmus
Location: Phoenix, Arizona USA
Date: Sep 2007
Pri verified
Online PDC with Geoff Lawton
Type: Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course
Teacher: Geoff Lawton
Location: Online
Date: May 2013
Other course verified
Geoff Lawton's Earthworks Course
Type: Earthworks
Teacher: Geoff Lawton
Location: Online
Date: Aug 2013
Other course unverified
Water Harvesting Certification
Type: Other
Verifying teacher: Brad Lancaster
Other Teachers: Catlow Shipek, James DeRoussel, Joe Silins, Mark Ragel
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Date: Mar 2014
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Climate Zones
Jennifer Wadsworth has permaculture experience in:
Arid
Semi Arid
Hot Desert

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