Sunday, October 14, 2012

From Raised Beds to Permaculture!

This is what my garden has looked like for the last 5 years, 5 raised bed gardens that were 2ftx 8ft. Easy to till up, plant, weed and water. The last three years Indiana has been hit with droughts every summer, right in the middle of the growing season. Water was always a problem, even with my 55 gallon rain barrel. This summer we went 79 days without a drop of rain, I would use up my rain barrel in about a week. Then I would water the garden enough to keep it going with the hopes that it would rain soon. This summer was the worst crop I have had, so while I waited for rain I did a lot of reading on ways to garden that didn't require a lot of watering. That is when I saw the Back to Eden film and started to read about Permaculture. From what I saw and everything that I read, this was the way to go. So I decided at the end of the season I was going to make the change!
There were a few things I was going to need, the first was mulch or wood chips. Thanks to craigslist I found 3 yards of mulch for free thanks to a mexican landscaper named Juan. He had it left over from a job and needed it gone as soon as possible. Around here mulch goes for about $15 to $20 a yard, son when I found it for free I jumped at it. The second piece of the Permaculture puzzle was composted garden manure(horse poop). I was able to find a horse stable close by that was more than willing to give me a truck load of aged manure.

After I removed all the 4x4's from my raised beds, I covered the area that I would be using with old newspapers to kill off any grass and weeds and act as a natural barrier from future weeds coming through.

I then took my truck load of composted manure(horse poop) and put it right on top of the newspapers until it was about 3 inches deep all over the area I would need for my garden. Surprisingly there was little to no smell since it had been aged for about 3 to 4 months.

After the composted manure(horse poop) was spread, I covered that with about 3 inches of mulch and wood chips courtesy of Juan the landscaper. Now all I have to do is let this sit over the winter and let it decompose some more into a nice rich planting soil. I won't have to till to plant in it, I won't have to water it as nearly as much as the raised bed gardens I had before, weeding will be much easier since it is a looser surface on top and maintaining it will much easier throughout the season. It won't need any kind of fertilizer since the garden manure is below the mulch and wood chips acting as a natural fertilizer. Then once a season I will just need to add a new layer of mulch on top as it continues to decompose and feed the soil below. I will keep posting how it is working throughout the growing season next spring and summer to let everyone know how this way of gardening is working for me.


  1. So glad I found your blog! We live in Huntington IN and we also had raised beds that did awful this year! I am wanting to start my own BTE garden, but didn't know where to get compost and mulch. Thanks for the great ideas and pics! I'm looking forward to your updates!

    1. That is the goal of this blog, sharing great ideas with other gardeners. I look forward to seeing pics of your BTE garden next spring!