Farmgirl School

"It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life." -Tolkien

Pictured here are irises, Aunt Donna’s Jerusalem artichokes, yerba mansa, and stinging nettles in a pot. I want invasive plants, but not stinging nettles everywhere! A lid of water for the birds and toads is used often.

This is the driest terrain I have ever gardened upon. It is straight high desert, cactus loving, rattlesnake calling, no-rain-in-sight, sand and limestone. Luckily, I like a good challenge and I believe that if I work with the land instead of against it I will have great results. Putting grass everywhere is not a sustainable option. So, how does one turn a pasture (or yard of dirt) into an oasis and meandering garden? Let me show you how.

Each dark round of dirt and straw holds a medicinal plant. Cardboard and wood chips will fill the spaces between. The plants will grow up and fill out, taking over more space.

You don’t need a rototiller or tractor. We are barely disturbing the earth here. First decide what you want to plant. The area in the front of our house has been designated the Perennial Garden. Doug fenced it off from the chickens. It has dozens of medicinal herbs, fruit trees and bushes, and perennial foods, like asparagus, spread out across the area. Maybe you want lots of the same flowers. Maybe an herb garden.

Angelica and Ashwagandha mingle with annual flowers.

For each plant, dig a hole, put a handful of garden soil in the hole. Put plant in the hole. Cover with garden soil. Water for fifteen to twenty seconds. Every 10 seconds= 1 inch of water. Plants need at least two inches of water per day.

Walk a few feet away and plant the next one. You can also dig a hole, plant seeds, cover with garden soil, water. I planted pumpkins among the herbs and trees. This is Pumpkin Hollow Farm, after all.

A few feet from that, perhaps plant a tree or a bush. In the case of a meandering garden, invasive is a good word! I want the plants to fill the space. One giant butterfly and bird garden that provides perennial, sustaining foods, and medicine.

In between the plants, you can lay down cardboard and cover with thick mulch. Wood chips are especially good. Do know that some wild plants, like bind weed, can and will permeate all cardboard and mulch but the mulch keeps things tidy and makes it easier to pull up weeds, and looks rather nice. I would never use weed barrier. Oy, all that plastic. Mama Earth sure doesn’t love that. Bind weed gets through that stuff too, anyway.

We added a large rectangle of thick cardboard ringed with bricks and rocks. We topped with cardboard with 3 inches of straw, and 3 inches of garden soil and planted green beans, soybeans, collard greens, pumpkins, Hopi amaranth, and other beautiful annuals.

A garden can thrive in absolutely any soil and in any climate without the use of machinery and chemicals. We hand water each night so that we can see how each plant is doing. They get plenty of sun. (Maybe too much, all forty of my tomato starts in the kitchen garden fried!) And the plants will reseed and spread themselves, creating an enchanting meandering garden.

4 thoughts on “How to Create a Meandering Garden

  1. Julie P says:

    Oh my goodness, I think you have your work cut out but knowing what your previous gardens have looked like in a very short time I do not doubt that in a couple of years time it will be glorious.

    1. Katie Lynn says:

      And then we will NOT move once they are amazing! Ha!

  2. Shane Floyd says:

    Great article! I’ve missed your posts. Glad to have found them again!

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Nice to see you again too!!

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