Since I need to move that dump truck load of crusher fines out of the way of my cabin-in-dreaming and I sure don’t want to move it twice, I am hauling it Homer bucket by Homer bucket over to build a pathway from my potager to the south fence gate.
On the left side of the gravel, this bed goes from a point past the pinyon pine, around the potato bed, curves right and includes the plum tree surrounded by irises, then curves left to engulf the asparagus bed, stopping at the fence. The path follows along and goes through the gate. I am using medium rocks and will build raised bed 8 with rocks matching and adjacent to raised bed 6 (not showing) to my immediate left. There will be another path between them leading to another gate starting at the point of bed 8. I will put gravel on the path between bed 6 and the outbuilding and bed 6 and bed 4.
While the crusher fines make a neater presentation and an easy path to walk on, they also allow water to trickle through and into the ground for plants and eventually to the water table. The combination of deadwood in the beds to absorb water and unplanted but absorbent pathways increases the water available to my edibles.
This shows the lightly mulched onions that are just coming up in raised bed 6. Looks like I will have onions for all winter, plenty for French Onion Soup, too. Yum. I haven’t made that since my big garden in Texas.
No supplemental watering in this hugelkultur bed and the onions came up with the last rain. As a dryland gardener, I plant in front of rain showers. They are predicting 2 days of clouds, could we have a little rain with that? I have two Red Kuri winter squash plants that are blooming under lights in my greenroom. I want rain for their debut in my garden! One more month to monsoon season.
This project should bring down the crusher fines pile while utilizing it in a manner that improves my gardens. As I build bed 8 around the potato bed, I keep burying the potato plants with compost materials. By the time I harvest potatoes, the bed will be fairly full.
Raised Bed 8 gets west sun. To the right of the pathway will be a half circle bed (compost pile at this moment). I planted sunflower seeds under the compost and they will add a lot of material to the bed also.
This bed is very large but not as deep as those on concrete, the plant roots will go straight into soil. I will use smaller pieces of wood and dig them in for a hugelkultur effect.
The pathway has already been laid out with carpet strips taken out of the trailerstead. I brought 10 rocks downhill for that this morning before breakfast. It should go fairly fast since I can move the rocks easily. I moved buckets of gravel too.
I felt great completion when I finished all potager beds. They are now full to the brim with spring plants.
I feel even more excited at starting this next project. That pile of gravel needs to get out of my cabin-in-dreaming’s living room! More raised beds! Like bed 6, bed 8 is not rabbit proof. Nothing around here is squirrel proof. Still, it gets enough sun and will be planted with good things to eat. After I harvest potatoes, I will add deadwood and more compost topped with soil to help my plants keep moist roots.
Raised raised bed 8 and the pathway starts bringing order to the area south of my trailerstead. This area was barren when I moved in, but three generations of wildflowers already improved the soil.
I read an article yesterday about New Mexico losing 85% of its ground cover due to overgrazing. Although there is still diversity in older plants, the seeds are not sprouting and making new plants because the soil is degraded. That is how I found my property… except I blamed the 11 year drought instead of over grazing. Even I am surprised at how much groundcover I have after 3 years and how much biomass I am growing to enrich the soil and hold moisture. Messy as this phase has been, it is the only practical way to improve the soil on the side of a hill.
I was up at 6 this morning and spent close to 6 hours outside already. The weather is gorgeous, warm and starting to cloud up. As always, I pray for rain.
High desert or not, this new hugelkultur raised bed 8 continues to increase moisture retention and enrich the soil, which is the epitome of water conservation.