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Dolce Verde
Dolce Verde
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Urban Core - Phoenix AZ, Phoenix, Arizona, US
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Dolce Verde

Dolce Verde

Phoenix, US

Connie Fitzpatrick Elizabeth Goodman Troy Groves

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Working with nature: Planting summer legumes and melons

Project: Dolce Verde

Posted by Jennifer Wadsworth about 11 years ago

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

April 1, 2013

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!

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