The transition of a piece of land from mono-crop grassland with hard packed clay to a beautiful, thriving, diverse garden with healthy loamy soil is a long and hard one; but the Pemberton community has truly shown it's beauty in helping us speed up this transition to increase food security and self-sufficiency here where we live! The community garden is officially on it's way, thanks to Sea to Sky Soils for the donation and Bert's trucking for helping us transport this delightful soil!!
And of course thank you also to all the individuals who have put their sweat, blood, and tears into this space as well. We have here an amazing transition over time-
When I put my shovel into the soil here a month ago, I found about 6 centimeters of grass roots which we would have had a lot of trouble competing with to grow our own food. We could have tilled the grass under, to have it consistently popping up again wherever it could, and to the detriment of the soil. Tilling oxygenates and makes nutrition accessible to an increased amount of microbes and bacteria in the soil, so it is understandable why we use the process to create bountiful harvests. However, for the long term health of soil, tilling creates a boom and bust cycle which actually depletes the soil of nutrition quickly, and then starves all of the healthy bacteria so that they die off too. It's not a natural cycle, and healthy soil doesn't need it.
So, instead, we used a few techniques to beat out the grass. We dug a pit, laid down logs, then piled straw, sticks, mulch and other good composting materials in layers to create a moisture-retaining and nutrition- releasing hugelkulture mound.
We sheet mulched the entire space around the mound where we want to garden; Sheet mulching is laying cardboard, straw, and wood chips in layers to create a layer that roots can't get through from underneath, but that will break down and create a healthy soil layer over time.
Sheet mulching is incredibly easy and great for the land; but unfortunately, it requires a lot of materials to cover a big space!! We would not have been able to create this rainbow garden without the help of our community, and can't wait to share the benefits received in return!