The makings of more (or less)

You don’t have a surplus of slugs and snails, you have a deficiency of ducks

Paraphrase of Bill Mollison on pest managment

How extremely difficult -really impossible -is it to revive a limp, wilted, dying plant if you only have a single drop of water in your watering can?

How difficult is it to provide fertility to a hard lump of clay you (by default, I know) call your garden soil if you only have a spoonful of fertilizer?

By extension, how extremely difficult is it to handle hours worth of weeding if you have only a single hour?

Scarcity of resources is something common in gardens. Surprisingly, few people realize scarcity is the issue to begin with, and blame themselves for not enough weeding, tilling, fertilizing.

Even fewer realize how they can end the scarcity: by increasing their resources at hand.

I’ve written about this elsewhere on this site. So I’ll get right to a few areas pretty much anyone can improve by adopting this resource creation frame of mind.

Mulch

Mulch is a resource that provides and increases many other resources.

With enough quantity -and generally the right quality -mulch is what makes that crumbly-like-chocolate cake soil, and that luscious, green thick growth of your plants.

Mulch can even be rocks or slices of wood as seen here. I call this method A Bit Blunt.

It also makes open space your plants can relax and stretch their growing roots and branches in, because even the most vicious weeds eventually die out with enough mulch. Hours spent weeding drop from many to few, as mulch piles rise from small to large.

And for those of you who know how vicious some weeds can be, and how much fertility a garden really wants, that is a lot of mulch.

Mulch even retains water -making more of the limited resource of natural rainfall -without lifting a single watering can.

Amorpha fruticosa flowering on lush branches perfect for mulch in the food forest.

How do you increase mulch? Grow it is my recommendation. I’ve written whole books on that subject. Here are my best articles to get you started (or refresh your memory)

Fertility
How your food can grow from air
Manual of bed building

Harvests

Perhaps you also have your doubts that 1 of everything will satisfy your vague goal of eating out of your garden?

Perhaps get an idea of how many daylily buds you will need to make even 1 meal featuring them in the main dish. Do you think you would like to eat that more than 1 time a year? How many plants would that require? Probably more than just 1. More like 5.

Diversity is important. But the supposed holy grail of hundreds of species with only 1 of each is not only NOT what a natural ecology looks like, it makes actual food prep somewhat difficult.

Daylily buds

Overly diverse food forest salad
1 leaf oregano
1 leaf salsify
1 leaf scorzonera
1 leaf sanguisorba

(etc. Working through your species list alphabetically either from z or a -or randomly from s as shown)

Get the picture?

Make sure your plantings are designed for substantial use by nature of their abundance, rather than your mettle to figure using 2 berries or 1 bud. You’ll enjoy it more by default of enough.

Support

Think of a pyramid -larger base, stronger base. Balancing a tall needle on its slender end on the other hand…

Some excellent support plants featured in Mastering the Growing Edge

By support I mean mulch plants that make mulch, of course. But also fragrant herbs, which to a degree are scientifically proven to keep away some pests, bring in beneficial insects, birds, bees, distract pests.

More plants that directly or indirectly support your main harvest plants are an excellent way to make more of the harvests -and time to enjoy those harvests -you just might be after.

5 comments

  1. Lovely post. In particular, good to point out that you might need more that one of something for a meal, so there is a balance to be struck between diversity and amount of a given species. I tend to have one raspberry and three beans lol

    Liked by 1 person

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