Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What's Next on My Desert Garden To Do List? Rain Gardens? Hugelkultur?

The other day, I realized something amazing. All my big garden projects are done. (Well, except the side yard clean up, but let's just forget about that, OK?) Let me rephrase that. All my big fun projects are done. When did this happen?

Last year, finished ripping up some of the back lawn and putting in the bigger garden plot:

We had gutters installed last year so we could route water to rain barrels (although I might want to hook up more barrels): 

I've had a vision for quite a while of a wall of fruit trees along my south wall (the chilliest part of my garden). I finally found the last ones (some pears) a few weeks ago, and got them put in. (It's hard to see anything but the pears in this picture, but there are some apples way in the background. When they get bigger, I plan to espalier them.):

The hubby constructed grape arbors for me along the east wall just in time for spring this year. The grapes are starting to grow like crazy now:

After the last rains, when the ground was nice and soft, I finally got trellises installed for my bougainvillaeas:

I even have a nice patio garden for plants that need a little extra shade in the summer (blueberries and peaches):

Now granted, there are still plenty of smaller things to do. There's that side yard clean up I talked about. (Grrr.) There's improving the quality of the soil in the big garden plot (but that's something that's going to take some time). And there's plenty of other little things. But really, I can't help but wonder what's the next big thing? After all, a girl's gotta keep busy.

In comes Erica from Northwest Edible Life, author of one of my favorite garden blogs ever. (She writes for a completely different climate than Arizona, but I love reading her blog anyway.) She recently wrote a review of Edible Landscaping With a Permaculture Twist, and after her rave review, I ran out lickity-split and bought the book.

What can I say? She didn't steer her readers wrong. This book is great! It makes permaculture concepts easy, which is saying a lot. For instance, I've been vaguely thinking of redesigning my front yard for a while to make better use of rain water, but everything I've read on the subject has made me think that I need a PhD to make it work. This book was a light bulb moment for me. I don't need a PhD. I just need a shovel and a bottle of ibuprofen for the inevitable sore muscles. So maybe I'll put in some rain gardens.

Or who knows? Maybe I'll try some hugelkulture beds somewhere in backyard or side yard. (For those who aren't familiar, hugelkulture beds are like lasagna beds with big logs as the base layer.) I always thought this was something for wetter climates, but maybe not. In fact, hugelkulture beds might be ideal for our climate. They are supposed to create a really good little ecosystem that retains water much better than your average garden bed. Sounds pretty good for a dry climate, right? (Plus, I bet you could get a lot of source materials for hugelkulture beds during monsoon season when trees tend to get blown down.) 

So now I've got a book full of new ideas for big projects. And it makes them all seem easy. So the only question is, what's next? :)

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