Thursday, October 31, 2013

Eliminate The Lawn -- Making a Kitchen Garden

I decided that I'm tired of mowing the lawn around our house. We never use the lawn. We thought that  we'd sit out there on lawn chairs, but it's never happened. We also pictured eating at a picnic table, but that's never happened either. No one sees that lawn but us. And neither of us has an interest in it. So I've decided to limit the size of lawn around here. Ditch the lawn mowing and switch to weedwacking just a limited amount of grass here and there.

Now, what to do with the space. Being a farmer, first thing that popped into my head was to plant something. Sounds pretty good to me! 

First thing I did was remove the grass along the curvy stone wall and plant taro. Taro is edible and it will look nice in front of a rock wall. I only cleared a two foot wide strip as a starter, but I plan to get rid of the grass in the entire area eventually as I get more taro starts. 
My favorite sod remover, a 2 1/2 lb mattock.

Next I removed the sod from the area on the other side of the rock wall. Here I planted purple colored green beans. It's a bush variety, so no trellises needed. I also tucked in a few taro starts for aesthetic reasons. Eventually this area will host food plants that look ornamental (aka- pretty), such as colorful peppers, balcony tomatoes, tulsi, colorful chards. And eventually more of the sod will be removed. 

Now for the bigger lawn area. This is going to take more time. But I'm removing the sod and digging in some compost. I've already planted the dasheen starts that I had. Next to go in will be radishes. Then I'll start the kitchen garden. It's a perfect spot for it. 

What goes into a kitchen garden? Things that you want handy. I often find that running down to the main garden is too much trouble just to clip some parsley or a few bits of chives. So I'll plant them right outside my kitchen for easy use. Chives. Garlic chives. Parsley. Oregano. Basil. Sage. Thyme. Summer savory. Stick oregano. Leaf celery. Arugula. 

People who know me know that I don't waste anything. I'll recycle, re-use, re-purpose. So what about all that sod I just dug out? For right now it will sit in some trashcans and buckets until the grass is dead. Once everything is killed, the soil will go right back into the garden. Nothing lost, nothing wasted. 
My sod busting mattock is used so that the flat blade slices the sod just below the soil surface, cutting the roots. By keeping the blade sharp and clean, it is fairly easy to do. I find that standing with my feet somewhat apart and swinging the blade so that it slices the sod between my feet is the easiest on my back. I can cut sod for about 15 minutes before I need a few minute break. I'm really careful with this tool, but steel tipped shoes might be a good idea for someone a bit careless or who has a strong attachment to all their toes. 

7 comments:

  1. I think a herb patch/bay leaf tree/rosemary bushes just outside the kitchen is very akamai. I'd be careful not to put rampantly invasive plants like mints right into the ground, but they'd love to be snugged up in larger pots along the wall. I had an unending chase after the Okinowan yams that tried to conquer all 9 of my garden polts. I called that plant a weed, which I define as a plant in the wrong place...

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    1. Awwww, that typo is not a reference to chickens - it was supposed to be "plots".

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    2. What is akamai? I googled it and couldn't find anything that I thought would apple. Thanks.

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    3. Akamai is Hawaiian for smart, clever.

      People who live in Hawaii and connect with the aina (land) tend to speak in a combination of English and Hawaiian. There are certain Hawaiian words that are regularly used, such as akamai, mahalo, aina, ono, mana, nui, haole, etc. it's daily life here. Just to keep things interesting for the tourists, we'll throw in some pidgin.

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  2. I agree that Okinowan sweets are hard to get rid off once you've planted them. Everywhere you look you find them popping up! It makes me wonder when people say that they can't grow sweet potatoes! I planted them in the garden nine years ago and decided not to continue growing that variety. Well, frankly it looks like I have no choice in the matter. They keep coming up everywhere. Yikes. Since I have a nasty little habit of robbing soil from one patch to use in another part of the garden being developed, I've managed to spread those dang sweet potatoes all over the place. Well, if the economy really crashes, at least I will have plenty of sweet potato plants that I can let grow on to maturity around here.

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  3. Here north of Spokane, WA on our 10 acres of forested hillside, I wish I had more lawn- within reason. There is soooo much competition for resources here. When I mow the bit of lawn I inherited when we bought the place 2 years ago, the clippings have numerous destinations, - the chickens, the compost pile, as mulch or as part of compost tea. I made a deal with my widowed neighbor down the hill that if she goes with an organic lawn care company, I will take all of her clippings from her large expanse of lawn.

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    1. Grass clippings are a hot item around here too! Luckily I have access to lots if grass that I can mow on neighbors' land. Clippings go to the chickens and rabbits, get used as mulch, go into the compost bins, get added to the growing bins, and get soaked for grass tea. I'm also in the process of covering the ground on my 1 1/2 acre seed production farm, so I'm always looking for more grass clippings. Around here the landscaping businesses do not bag clippings, so the only way to get them is to mow and bag yourself. Needless to say, I don't give my clippings away, although I've had numerous people ask for them.

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