At the farm, we're spending some time educating ourselves about possible sustainable ways to grow vegetables. Here are some ideas we have come across so far. Let us know if you have experience with any of these topics. We're also looking for people who have had success growing anything near black walnut trees. Catherine has been quite successful with raspberries by the black walnuts and my folks had a tart cherry tree near their black walnuts that is still doing well 20+ years later.
Lasagna Gardening/Sheet Mulching-
This is one no-till idea that uses resources from your own land to build your soil up rather than dig down. Basically you put down a grass suppressing layer followed by a variety of "brown" and "green" material. These substances compost in place while also keeping down weeds/grass below.
We tried out this method at Casa with some success. You dig a trench in the soil, place rotting wood in the trench and build up the pile, then cover the whole pile with mulch and soil. The idea is that the wood holds onto water after rain events and slowly releases it into your garden bed. Also, as the wood rots, it leaves space for the roots and earth worms. Our beds were probably only a foot tall. This helped some during the drought this summer, but making the mounds closer to 5 feet tall would have been necessary to get us through the summer without having to use hoses to water.
Catherine shared the link to this year's organic gardening workshops. There are so many great options that I'm having a hard time picking which sessions to attend. If anyone from the area wants to go... let us know. I'd love to have someone to swap notes with. Gardening for resiliency, hoop houses, growing meals not salads, and water conservation are just a few of the topics that sound good to me. Here is the description of the event from their website:
year the workshops will focus on how to adjust our gardening practices
to meet challenges posed by increasingly changing and unpredictable
weather in Wisconsin. If your garden wilted in last summer's drought and
heat and your harvest of vegetables suffered as a result, you'll want
to take some of these workshops."
We are cheering for Milwaukee as they take part in the Mayor's Challenge. Gretchen Mead is the lady behind the idea and she has spearheaded many of the fabulous local food initiatives in the area like the Victory Garden Blitz, Fruity Nutty Affair, and the Edible Garden for Sustainability Series.