Tag Archives: permaculture

Sheet mulching with cardboard


Before you toss your cardboard boxes in the recycling bin, ask yourself if you can use them in your garden (and if not, we can!). Sheet mulching with cardboard is a popular way to prepare garden beds without having to dig and rototill through thick weeds and grass. It’s also a great way to create weed-free garden beds (at least weed-free from the start :).

Given our buttercup-strewn property, digging up new planting areas is a challenge. It’s impossible to create new garden beds without having them full of buttercup seeds from the start unless we practice some form of mulching. We’ve been trying out a few different techniques, including hugelkulture and lasagna gardening

For newcomers to this kind of talk, mulch is a protective cover of compostable materials (such as cardboard, leaves, straw, woodchips, wool, etc) put on top of soil to help suppress weed growth while retaining moisture, reducing erosion and providing nutrients. It mimics the leaf and fallen branch covers we find on forest floors. 

It’s something that I wasn’t really aware of until I moved out here on the farm and started learning from others and doing my own research. Now it’s something that I’m relying on as I start up new garden bed areas on the farm for next year’s plantings. 

A couple weeks ago, we bought a black mulberry tree and Chris planted it on the east side of the concrete platform beside our raised beds (the concrete platform is where we’re planning on building our greenhouse). Yesterday, I mowed down the long grass and weeds in the area surrounding the new tree and covered it all with a solid layer of uncontaminated cardboard (which was great timing before last night’s big snowfall on everything!).

The cardboard will help suppress the weeds in that area and form the foundation of a new garden bed. Soon I’ll add layers of other compostable materials and eventually top it with manure and compost so that next spring we can grow a lovely guild full of edible food in that space. 

Photos above of the cardboard I laid down yesterday as well as some shots of the lasagna garden and hugelkulture beds in process.

The Richmond Sharing Farm & Bokashi


The Richmond Sharing Farm (also known as the Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project) is a very cool food sharing project that occupies over three acres in the Terra Nova Rural Park in Richmond, B.C. The main purpose of the farm is to grow food to share with loca food banks and other outlets that help get the food to people who need it. In addition to this, the farm hosts community garden plots, university level research areas and permaculture educational experiments.

On the second Sunday of each month, the farm hosts a free permaculture meetup. My friend Chris and I have attended the last two and plan to attend more. The photos above are from the October meetup. It was a gorgeous, fall day and Chris and I had a chance to participate in a bokashi-making workshop as well as tag along on a guided permaculture tour of the property. 

Bokashi is a form of composting that is ideal for small, indoor spaces because it produces compost without creating bad o
dours. At the workshop, we were taught how to make our own bokashi mixture that is added to composted food to help break it down. The concept was totally new to me and since I didn’t take notes or video footage, I’m having to rely on wikipedia now for reminders about the details, but in short, bokashi is created by combining a mother bacteria with a starter mix (we used bran), then left to sit in a warm space for at least 3-4 weeks to allow the bacteria to start spreading through the mix. When it ready to use, you add a layer of mix over your compost scraps as you accumulate them. You keep it all in an airtight container so that the bacteria can do what it does best – ferment and break the food down. You can stack one container inside another and add a spout to the bottom one to catch and use the compost tea (liquid) that is created as the food breaks down. Compost tea is great for spraying on gardens and into soil. If you’re interested in learning more, this website looks really helpful and has some good visuals. We each got to take a bag of the bokashi mix home (fun!). Mine is currently sitting on a shelf above my fridge (the warmest spot in the trailer), awaiting it’s time to be used for my compostable food scraps.

As you’ll see from the photos above, our tour of the property included the community garden plots, examples of owl houses, swales in a wet areas, hugelkulture beds in process, the greenhouse, bee houses and a beautiful outdoor cob oven (which just got a new roof). 

The farm property is GORGEOUS and truly an inspiring place to spend an afternoon. It’s open to the public for visits so if you live in the area, I highly recommend it. And if you’re interested in attending some of the permaculture meetups, sign up to the Vancouver Permaculture Meetup Group for ongoing info. 

Northwest Permaculture Convergence


I’m heading south tomorrow for the Northwest Permaculture Convergence. It’ll be my first time at an event like this and I’m really excited to hear more about permaculture, meet other people who are involved in permaculture projects and absorb skills and ideas that I can bring back to our own Farm for a Year project. 

I’ll let you know how it is when I return next week. I’ll also catch up on overdue blog posts. Upcoming stories include:

  • greenhouse ideas (including an email & photos from a blog reader)
  • a fun connection with some young permaculture farmers in Wales
  • field trips to the Richmond Sharing Farm
  • seaweed harvesting for our veggie beds
  • and more!

Until then, have a great weekend everyone!