Sunday, April 6, 2008

Nashoba Fala Ishto Gardens

Nashoba means wolf in the Chickasaw language.
Fala ishto means raven.
These are the two spirit totems that watch over the gardens, and have been around in my life for a good long while.
My grandfather was Chickasaw, and although I never met him as he died long before I was born, (in fact, he died when my mom was only 3 months old,) he has had a great impact on my life.
I chose to name my site and my garden world using the Chickasaw language to the best of my limited ability in the hopes that the spirits of these two good animals will bless the seeds and the water and the wind and the sunlight so that all lovely things grow.
These two totems also appear numerous times in the artwork that I tend to collect, create and love.  Although wolves are something of a rare commodity here in the Bay Area, I can't miss a day without a group of ravens springing up in the trees.  It's pretty wonderful.

Vegetables and them some!

The beds went in during the month of May, and  by August this is what the yard looked like.    The yield of crops was so fantastic that it blew me away!  

First Planting

This photo shows both the first teeny tiny plants that went in and the pvc bean trellises I created for ends of the beds.  I strung netting with zip ties onto these trellises.  Utterly simple, and proved to be really strong for the beans.  I did square off the beds with sting, and low and behold, it is can indeed cram in quite a few veggies using the square foot method.  Each bed had upwards of 12 varieties of vegetables.  The yield was enormous!

Dirt, Dirt and More Dirt

After assembling the beds, I moved them out to the awful yard circle and put them in about a hundred different angles in order to take advantage of the sunlight.  As you can see from the photo, the circle of lawn was useless.  I mean, hey, if it doesn't smell nice, look pretty, or if it can't be eaten, preserved, canned, juiced, cooked, frozen, sliced or diced...I don't have any need for it in my garden!
As soon as I had the beds placed, I put several layers of newspaper over the grass at the bottom of the beds.  I'm amazed that, now a year later, I've had NO weeds in my beds...none.
If there is one thing to not skimp on, it's dirt.  I got the best organic soil I could afford and had it delivered.  I wanted to follow the recipe in the Square Foot Gardening forums, but couldn't locate vermiculite, so decided to just go in on really terrific soil.  I haven't had any problems with it at all. Although, sadly, I am NOT a math genius, and let us say, three yards of dirt was oh, a tad too much.  
I hauled it all to the back yard, and what was left over got tossed around in the front yard and even in my neighbors yard.  In retrospect, I must say, I never, ever want to move that much dirt again in my life.  I will hire large groups of men to roll to my house and haul it for me if it ever comes to that again.   I spent many an hour with ibuprofen, arnica and bath salts after the three days it took to get all that dirt moved.  ISH!

Ordering Beds as opposed to Building the puppies.

What can I say?  I am indeed a girl with tools, but oy, I am lacking a table saw.  I did massive research on raised beds over the course of a weeks and found that the ones I was most drawn to were from a place on the East coast called Farmstead Raised Garden Beds.  They were wonderful!  Mortis and Tenon joints meant that assembly would be very simple...and I liked that they would have the look of a Medieval garden as they weathered.  I ordered four from the wonderful husband and wife team who hand rip all of the wood.  
When they arrived, I intended to modify them so that they would accept some poles for beans, and so that I could attach some bent pvc pipe in winter for a cold frame type of thing.    This photo is of the long sides of the bed.  
PVC was easy to attach with decking materials, but I found when I put the beds together, the wood was too wobbly.  I tore it all apart and reinforced all the corners with square deck ties designed for corners.  Worked like a charm.

How to build a raised bed garden without losing your mind.

The following is a catalogue of what I went through in order to create four raised beds for my garden last summer.   When I bought this cool old 1930's house a couple year's back, I intended to have a terrific garden.  When I got was an overproducing loquat tree and a strange circular patch of lawn with odd sprinkler system and a lot of downhill run-off.  The nice thing about this town is that the older homes have enormous back yards that belonged originally to farmer types.  As a result, they tend to have numerous old fruit trees.  Mine had the loquat, a nectarine, and two very lovely grape vines.  I wanted to grow all my own veggies and see if I could feed myself through the year.

So, here's the scoop along with some photographs of  how that process unfolded and what has happened as a result.