A Gardener’s Need To Know

The Garden

By Jannie Vaught

As gardeners, we understand the “Need to know” weather and temperature fluctuation. And it has been a bumpy ride. For the last week, I have been preparing for a Cold Front to be heading this way. It has arrived with a sudden drop and wind. Watching the weather news I thought I was ahead of it by half a day. I moved all the potted plants into the tunnel greenhouse, got the stakes, and hoops out to cover the peppers I wanted to finish, and moved the house plants inside. This was hours of work, just as soon as you say this will be quick or it will take just a few minutes the job goes on for hours. Having learned that lesson I try not to use these terms. I struggled with the frost cover and heavy burlap due to my fingers being numb and they are all undercover with as much air space between the outside and the plants as possible. Now it is waiting to see how they faired when the cold front passes through. As all this was going on I got to take some downtime and study my Permaculture.

Mainly word definitions and descriptions and one word bantered about is “Sustainability”. Jeff Lawton one of the founders of permaculture with Bill Mollison is very clear about “Closed Loop Sustainability.” On Youtube, he has a video on What is sustainability? I’ll say it through my lens for a small gardener. Permaculture is the integration of the land, resources, people, and the environment. That is beneficial to the environment and people. In a closed-loop system, all the systems are provided for and the waste is used. A good example is in a garden where food is grown and the waste is used to make compost and the compost is used in the garden to meet the fertility needs of the garden. The gardener eats and the gardens’ fertility needs are met. No waste. It is a completely closed-loop system and truly “Sustainable”. And only closed-loop systems are truly sustainable. Sustainability is a set of arrangements that provides more energy than it consumes. This provides for its own needs benefitting the environment using nothing brought from outside the system. As a small home gardener, this is something I have been working for.

When you start from a negative with poor thin grassy soils and nothing to compost it takes some work to bring this fertility into a closed loop. I was there until I brought in a hoop greenhouse to extend the growing season in a very rocky area with lots of tree cover. I had many tubs and pots to fill with limited compost and really no soil to use to fill them. I had to ” Out “of the system. I bought potting soil and vermiculite and used my extra compost to fill the bottoms of the pots then the soil mixed with vermiculite and I was back in business. With this now in the system and can be regenerated for next season’s use.

With large acreage, a garden may be truly a “Closed-loop system” as there are more resources to draw upon for the system to use. I say just do the best you can and “Keep going”. And My goal is to be a fully closed loop system and knowing gardening is always a work in progress.

Growing Green With Jannie