Helen and Scott Nearing on Living the Good Life (a tale of homesteading)

Lazy Gardener

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My garden is the perfect site: sandy loam, slight S slope. I've been gardening here for more than 10 years, and the soil now has a lot of black humus. Nearings brought the importance/benefit of microclimate to the light of day. So many good concepts to be gleaned from so many authors. I've long thought that a low cinder block wall, or other type of stone wall along N border of the garden would gain me an extra gardening zone!
 

baymule

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My garden is the perfect site: sandy loam, slight S slope. I've been gardening here for more than 10 years, and the soil now has a lot of black humus. Nearings brought the importance/benefit of microclimate to the light of day. So many good concepts to be gleaned from so many authors. I've long thought that a low cinder block wall, or other type of stone wall along N border of the garden would gain me an extra gardening zone!
A cinder block wall definitely would make you a micro climate. At our old house, my garden was beds between the driveway and sidewalk, with brick walkways 3’ wide. LOTS of heat collection that radiated back out to the soil. I also commandeered the flower beds against the brick house. I gardened all year long, even through snow events. I have pictures of cabbage, lettuce and broccoli covered in snow, but they survived.

Here, only 160 miles north, my garden is wide open to the elements. I can’t overwinter anything, it freezes and turns to mush. The temperatures are maybe a degree to 3 degrees colder, often the same, boy no heat sink in the form of bricks and concrete.
 

Britesea

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In Europe, many manors had walled gardens- heat sinks all the way around. They would espalier the fruit trees along the walls and grow herbs and kitchen produce in the middle.

I am in the process of building a row of bins all along the north side of my garden, using concrete blocks. The bins hold compost, and other items I want to use in the garden (one is full of broken down cardboard boxes, another has wood chips, etc). The backs of the bins face the garden so they act as a heat sink. I'm already seeing a difference on the part I've finished. Right now, they are about 3 1/2 feet tall, but I want to eventually make them 5 feet tall as that will give protection for almost 30 feet into the garden from the cold and wind. I'm also thinking about painting that side black to help even more.
 

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Depending on E/W orientation, I think I'd be painting the garden facing side of the wall white, so it will reflect more light back onto the plants.
 

flowerbug

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the other thing to consider with walled gardens is the lack of air movement. some plants do better with more air, others don't mind as much. around here an enclosed garden would be interesting... an entire covered garden aka greenhouse would not gain me much at all as i couldn't keep it warm enough in the winter to prevent freezing. it would gain some few days at the end and beginning of the season. mostly what it would gain is protection from animals (if built properly).

in terms of being busy, nah, i really don't need to be any more busy than i already am so to me the extra expense of putting up the greenhouse would be just piling yet more work on me and i'm quite happy with how things are going already.

plants that are protected from the wind may actually do better in bearing because they don't have to put as much energy into having stronger stems. also it does help in keeping more moisture in place as winds can dry things out. in a very arid climate a wind break and some shade is a dual purpose thing well worth incorporating in a design. :)
 

Britesea

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plants that are protected from the wind may actually do better in bearing because they don't have to put as much energy into having stronger stems. also it does help in keeping more moisture in place as winds can dry things out. in a very arid climate a wind break and some shade is a dual purpose thing well worth incorporating in a design. :)
Protection from wind is another reason I'm building that wall; protection from the drying winds is definitely needed in high desert, and protection from freezing winds also.
 

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