water lily

This Week In Permaculture – Week 1

I’ve been meaning to write more here about Permaculture and the efforts we’ve been making to restore our developer-scalped tenth of an acre to some semblance of fertility.

Note that I said “meaning to”.

In lieu, I thought I’d try posting some of the pictures I’ve taken this week to document our progress. Hopefully any other permies out there trying to rebuild soil in the Colorado suburbs

Spring in the Garden!

Our property is at abut 6500 feet in elevation. Colorado Springs might be southern geographically, but in growing season terms it’s practically Canadian. Luckily, permaculture’s focus on perennials over annuals should help us make the best use of our shortened growing season. Here are some of the plants and animals we’re seeing in our garden now that spring has finally sproinged ^_^

Willow buds against sky
One by one, our willow trees are starting to come into leaf. Fun fact: the fuzzy little blooms on a pussy willow are known as “catkins”.
mason bee on dandelion
Bees and dandelions are two of my favorite things to see in the garden. Dandelions accumulate nutrients, break up compacted soil, and provide some of the very earliest food for pollinators. Plus, the greens are excellent in stir-fry and the heads can be used to make dandelion jelly!
willow bud from trunk
All three of our willows seem to have decided to bud from the trunk before any buds have sprouted from the branches. I’m guessing that they’re planning to grow new branches at these sites, but it’s my first time observing them closely.
wilted hardy kiwi
The perils of spring planting at high altitude. Twelve hours before this was taken, this was a happy freshly planted hardy kiwi seedling. Then we got some extra frost. I’m already seeing some fresh buds on the stem, so hopefully this will be a temporary setback. Part of being a newbie Permaculture gardener is learning from your mistakes.

Emulating a permaculture chinampa in a greenhouse?

I’ve worked with aquaponics for a few years now, so when I ran across the concept of the chinampa I had to give it a try. But living the high desert does not exactly lend itself to traditional ponds and canals. So for now I’m trying to content myself with 1200 gallons of water gardens in an insulated greenhouse. I’m still waiting for the bulk of my aquatic and marginal plants, but those we’ve got are happy to be out from under the grow lights and enjoying real sun.

water lily
We started out with a single “Innocence” variety tropical waterlily in our indoor water garden about six months ago. It’s a viviparous species, so just by potting up the baby plantlets that I find floating in the pond, we are now up to four plants mature enough to throw lily pads and two that are flowering.
Mosaic plant
Our mosaic plant is the newest addition to the greenhouse. It’s had to put up with the humans re-potting it and changing their minds several times about where it should go over the last couple of weeks. Nonetheless, it seems to be enjoying its new home.
Dwarf Bamboo
After a brief set-back because the humans placed it too deep in the pond, the dwarf bamboo is bouncing back wonderfully. We’ve got several new shoots growing up at a rate of at least an inch a day! As a dwarf species, it won’t get more than a yard or so tall, but I’m still hoping to harvest some useful plant stakes from it eventually.
lotus leaves
And finally, our two lotus varieties are out of dormancy and throwing up pads. I’ve never worked with lotus before, so I don’t know how long the pads-only stage usually lasts, but hopefully we’ll start seeing standing leaves soon so we can fertilize.

So that’s all the news out of the garden that I’ve got a photo to remind me of. Check back soon to follow our progress as our Permaculture journey continues.

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