I know its been a long time since I’ve posted a blog entry here, but this is an important one, because I will be introducing a new series of blog entries that will be focusing on permaculture. As many of you may already know, I have been working at the 21 Acres Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living as a permaculture facilitator, located in Woodinville, WA. Considering the national declaration that 38 of Washington’s 39 counties are undergoing a natural disaster due to drought(1), my role is closely associated with addressing the drought with solutions. Last month I had the honor of facilitating a discussion at 21 Acres for the Seattle Permaculture Guild Meetup and it was a great success. For more information about it, check out the commentary at:
or the prezi at:
In honor of our local permaculture pioneers, Jessi Bloom and Dave Boehnlein, the rest of this blog post will explain a practical approach to addressing the drought. We have implemented several permaculture demonstration exhibits at 21 Acres, and I would like to cover what has been called our “raised bed drip irrigation gardens.” This name is a bit of a mouthful for me and I would like to see it all wrapped up into one neat package like the word “permaculture” does for its overwhelmingly extensive definition. Please write to me or post a comment below if you have any suggestions for a concise yet inclusive name. Another name that came up last year was “Bunker Gardens” because when the GardenSoxx get stacked, they look a bit like sandbag bunkers. Anyway, here is a photo taken from just uphill of the gardens:
These 4ftx4ft raised bed gardens are a design from the Square Foot Gardening movement that are fitted with gravity-fed drip irrigation systems and retaining walls built from a variety of different retaining wall materials (2). I built this one by myself last year in just one day and it has been growing and flourishing for almost a year now:
It might be difficult to see in the picture, but the retaining walls were made with living stakes and grass sod that had been flipped over with a shovel. We also have seven others that used a retaining wall made from GardenSoxx bags and some other bags we made. All eight have only required filling the big green barrel once per week throughout the summer, which only takes a few minutes and is easy enough for just about anyone to manage. In less than a year since installation they have provided us with an abundance of delicious kale leaves, lettuce, radishes, rhubarb, miners lettuce, sorrel, service berries, tomatoes, wild onions, checker mallow, comfrey, lavender, and four different varieties of strawberries without any fertilizers. Also weeding could not be easier. These garden beds were so densely planted that weeds have extreme difficulty finding bare soil to root in.
We are proud to have had our Gravity-Fed Drip Irrigation gardens (or should I just call them GFDIGs? To me this sounds a lot like the rainbow mnemonic ROYGBIV seen on the cover of the first Permaculture book, so perhaps they could be called “Raised Occupiers Yearning Garden Beds In Vivo) installed by members of our local community. I would like to remind everyone that those who installed these gardens get to own them. There will be more of these to come, so stay tuned for upcoming workshops and check out our new website at:
Thanks for reading. Feel free to contact me personally at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bartholomew, Mel. Cool Springs Press. “All New Square Foot Gardening: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space.”