To take up where we left off in this exciting saga, we had the hugelkultur trenches buried, the pattern outlined in gypsum, and a boulder moved. On top of the beds I spread the cleanings of a pigeon coop, courtesy of our good friends and neighbors who raise and rescue many pigeons.
The high nitrogen poo, feathers, and leftover pigeon peas and other food items will make a wonderful breakfast for microbes. On top of that I spread a pickup truck bed full of mushroom compost. Jacob was nice enough to clean out his truck and help me get a load. The nearby mushroom farm raises shiitake and button mushrooms on logs of compressed sawdust. This is a high fungal compost, and slightly acidic. Since we have a high alkaline soil, this is okay.
After the compost begins to make its final decomposition, the worms thrive in it. I managed to wheelbarrow down the entire load and spread it just before we had the first rain event of the year…less than 1/4″, but enough to give the garden a small soaking.
Today my daughter and I started in on the final treatment. We covered all the beds with cardboard, and all the pathways with newspaper. This thin layer will hold in moisture, and help retard the growth of the dreaded Bermuda grass.
I’m really hoping so, anyway. Another small storm was blowing in for tonight, scattering our newspapers although we wet them down thoroughly. We’re still using water from the 700-gallon tank that catches water from the house’s raingutters. We’re trying to use some up so that fresh water can enter the tank with this storm.
Although we were both very tired and getting cold, we needed to cover the paper. I hauled down about fifteen wheelbarrows full of mulch; this had been dumped in the driveway courtesy a landscaper with a chipper. Miranda spread the mulch over all the pathways, which looked just great.
We almost stopped there, but I was driven to finish this project today. We pitchforked used straw from out of the Fowl Fortress, broke open some other bales, and mulched the garden beds heavily with the straw. And…. we’re done! Yipee! The rain tonight will give it all a good soak, and soon we can begin planting in our snazzy new garden beds.
I admit that I thought the beds would look more sunken, but with three 2′ deep x 30′ long trenches underneath there is a lot of underground moisture for the topsoil to absorb. Also the beds are below the pathways, but with the height of the cardboard and straw they don’t look it. With the garden on a slope we had to make some adjustments.
The next exciting project that we’ve already begun working on is growing mushrooms! Stay tuned.