Friday, May 6, 2011

Sub-Irrigated Garden

Well, when we moved to Avondale I had to leave behind my beloved garden beds. I had worked for years to develop rich soil in the gardens on the north and south sides of the house and had some really well developed fruit trees going in back yard. So many plans turned to dust. We're in a rental house now, so I have to be a bit more careful about my approach to permaculture but I can't stand the thought of not growing some of our own food. The kids love it, and there is nothing like going out into the backyard to pick a salad or gather some broccoli for dinner. So I decided to get ambitious and build a large sub-irrigated bed in the back yard to take care of our gardening needs. If you're not familiar with the concept, check out one of my favorite urban gardening sites at for a dizzying array of examples and pictures. The basic idea is that you provide a way to water your garden from the bottom up which prevents evaporation and promotes deep root penetration. I think it's an ideal solution for desert gardening. We have a large open area covered in rocks on the west side of the house which I have decided will become the "farm" side of the house. The long term plan is to have two raised sub-irrigated beds as well as our composter and the chicken coops on this side of the house with a little picket-fence to keep out the dogs and toddlers (I'm not sure yet which is more destructive to the garden). Here are a few snapshots, hopefully there will be more as the growing season hits full stride.

This first picture is just after we finished construction. Notice the black fill-pipe in the back corner. This is where we water the garden. Sorry I had to cut my model out of the picture...

This next picture is about a month later after things had really started taking off. The tall plants in the middle are the tomatoes, squash on the left side of the picture and cauliflower on the right side. The foreground is different varieties of peppers and sown in the bare spots are carrots, beets, and spinach.

And a view from the other side (cracked bonsai pots courtesy of the twins). Two large basil plans next to the tomatoes, some cabbage on the left side, eggplant and zucchini on the right side. Next to the basil you see leeks and swiss chard, with various onions, garlic, and scallions filling in the rest. There is quite a bit of loose-leaf lettuce sown in the bare spots and the bonsai-pot-corner now contains a flowering strawberry plant (not-pictured).


Grammysham said...

I love it! An up-grade to the square foot garden that I had. I'm sad that I haven't planted anything this year. I think it is really a great thing for the kids as well.

Sherry said...

You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.

Sherry said...

Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden. ~

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