Permaculture, of course. It's also for Plastic, Petrol and Power Tools. These aren't generally emphasised in permaculture philosophy but remember those compromises mentioned a couple of posts back? They mostly involve "P" words.
After a five-month absence from Muntanui, we arrived back in March 2010, all ready to get jiggy with my Quest For Fertility plan. But everything had grown so much over Summer that the place was almost unrecognisable. The vegie garden was a jungle, rampant with chin-high weeds.
I'm sure I left a husband in here somewhere...
We had two and a half weeks to tame our unruly property. This kind of ruled out the low-tech option, which involved flailing about with machetes and looking demented.
Don'tcha wish your girlfriend was HOTT like me?
Enter the Power tool/Petrol combo. Oh scrub cutter, how we did adore thee! You made short work of the vegie garden. You brought order to our driveway. You ensured I wouldn't get lost between the berry patch and the house. You readied us for Plastic.
After the scrub-cutter carnage was over, we had a vegie garden with beds that were actually visible and a whole lot of chopped-up weeds that were already thinking about re-sprouting. We needed to kill them off and somehow improve the fertility of the soil in the beds, all while not living on site. That's when I turned to Jackie.
Aussie organic gardening guru, Jackie French
, is one of my heroes. In her book, The Wilderness Garden
, she mentions covering weeds with clear plastic ("solarisation") as an effective killing technique. When my mate Jackie suggests trying solarisation, solarisation's what I try. So we piled all the weed debris on top of the beds, nailed clear plastic over them and flew back to Oz.
Not as sinister as it looks. Honest.
When we removed the plastic eight months later, the weeds had indeed died but I'd been hoping they'd have broken down and made us some nice soil as well. They hadn't. They didn't. Bummer.
Post-plastic. No-one said the Quest For Fertility would be easy...
A couple of friends who were staying with us at the time, Donald and Margaret from Abriachan Garden Nurseries
, pointed out it didn't get hot enough here at Muntanui for the solarisation thing to crank up the composting process. We needed more heat... and for that, we needed more Plastic in the form of black weedmat. So on it went and on it stayed for another eight months until we arrived back at the end of August.
Bringing in the big guns of the horticultural world!
The weeds hadn't rotted down completely but they'd made a lot of progress and we now had some organic matter to break up our clay. Phase 2 of the Quest For Fertility was complete. It was on to Phase 3... and one of the most hilarious P words of them all.
Post-weedmat, ready for paths to be dug out and beds to be planted.
Posted by Farmer Nik