So much emphasis on concrete and raised beds seems a long way from my goal of living inside the healing circular economy of my five acres as expressed in my Food Forest. A Food Forest is alive and bountiful, how does a concrete potager fit in?
Monday we have a full moon which First Americans call the Hunger Moon or the Snow Moon. We are in the hunger season for wildlife and for ourselves when we live close to the natural cycles. It is also a season of quietude and reflection of your life and when we plan for the warmth of spring and summer garden bounty.
While moving blocks yesterday I saw a small patch of green grass under the dead stalks of last year’s giant wildflowers. Spring is on its way even in the mountains.
When I bought this property, it had a large gash in the forest created by a bulldozer as a potential road to the six acres behind my neighbor. It is too steep for a road and has been an ongoing wound that barely had begun healing after 20 years.
You can see the road easement goes straight up the hill to the left of my property. It is less noticeable in this week’s photo because I have been sowing wildflower seeds and making small water catchments encouraging pinyon seedlings and shrubs, to heal this breach. The owner of the six acres above left cannot access his land by vehicle and would sell it for little money. I have considered buying it because it has a damp spot that could become a pond. Water security! However, that must come behind securing my current 5 acres and building my small home and a bermed shelter that is easier to keep warm than my trailerstead.
The cutout where I live is also a huge dead gash in my Food Forest. Where the small house will go is the least of the damage, with packed down subsoil torn from the hill.
The front part of this area is being healed and humus created using thousands of wildflower seeds. In three years it has shifted from barren subsoil to subsoil with a little humus. Last fall I planted 3 Elderberry trees as part of a mixed evergreen-deciduous windbreak and they are doing fine as of yesterday. I hope I finally found something to survive that harsh wind, fierce cold, dead subsoil, and drought.
The hard gravel over rock will become house/garage that will be earth bermed into the hillside with imported sandy soil. It will be a water collector to increase water security in a dry land.
The large amount of unnecessary concrete pad has bothered me from the beginning. Even jackhammering it out creates a disposal problem and it isn’t strong enough to support a house. If the chunks were smaller I could create raised beds with them, like I did in Dallas in a house built directly on white rock (calcium carbonate). It looked better there than it would here.
Finally, I opted to build adjacent to the concrete pads and heal the concrete area with 24 inch raised beds and combine the raised beds into a potager. They will match the style of the concrete block house, which will be plastered faux adobe like most homes here.
Leaving the concrete base means no voles eating my vegetables. 24 inch high beds keep my many rabbits out. They also mean I can garden much longer because kneeling on the ground gets harder.
Do raised beds heal this part of my Food Forest? Perhaps more of a bandaid, but they are turning dead concrete into a biointensive food production system that does not take additional land away from wildlife. They will give the area around my house a lusher and greener appearance.
My Prairie Lizards like their new digs. The circular economy is served by a potager more than by dead concrete, a healing step forward.
A concrete potager is not healing this part of my Food Forest exactly, concrete over dead subsoil isn’t an easy fix, but the best I came up with as a practical matter. My Prairie Lizards like their new digs; butterflies and bees will show up to feast and pollinate; birds will swoop in for insects; so, unlike bare concrete, it eases into the forest. Alive and bountiful.