Gardening at Altitude: Different kind of healthy garden

W hen the beds you`re filling hold produce instead of patients, you might not look to a major health care provider to help cover the cost of the bills. But in a bold partnership, Kaiser Permanente teamed with Denver Botanic Gardens to grow fresh vegetables on a farm at Chatfield.

Talk about heading up the preferred provider list — the Community Supported Agriculture farm is the first of its kind to be run by a botanic garden. The goal is to provide fresh produce to those in need.  Read more….

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When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it.  If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.  ~Author Unknown

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Installing Raised Beds on a Hillside

raised beds

Raised beds made out of locust wood.

Installing raised beds on a hillside is challenging especially when there is tenured grass involved.  The raised beds are built out of locust wood acquired from a local specialty lumberyard.  Locust wood is nearly indestructible by weather and time.  They were sized 4 feet wide by 6 feet long and 6 inches high.  This sizing allows for a cover of heavy wire mesh that will create an arced roof that can be used for a variety of covers depending on the season and the weather. Shadecloth, Remay, or plastic can be added quickly as needed.  Light strings can even be added in colder weather under a plastic cover to increase the temperature inside.   It looks kind of cool at night too.

To set the beds, we had to level the designated area on the hillside by creating several terraces.  The soil removed to level the terraces was reused to provide the planting soil for the raised beds.  By doing this, we avoided having to bring in soil from off site and had the benefit of using the good local soil available.  We will add to this some very aged horse manure made available to us to create some rich planting beds.  The soil will be sifted to sort out the rocks and then broadforked to loosen it to a depth of about 18 inches.

These beds are designed to be easy to work and maintain.  They will also make year round gardening much easier with the ability to create small hoop houses out of each one.

raised beds

Raised Beds

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Keep Slugs out of Your Planted Containers

Slugs are an issue in the garden, and in garden containers.  We plant some of our food items like lettuce, in containers on our south facing front porch.  This is convenient when we need a quick dose of greens.  We just walk out the front


Slug varieties

door, snip, snip, and munch.  To keep the slugs from climbing up the container, I place a copper band around it.   Slugs don’t like touching copper, so this is effective in turning them back.   Try this anywhere your trying to keep slugs at bay.  Just surround the plant or area with a copper band, and voila, no slug bites.

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Rain, There is No Substitute

I have found over the years, especially the drought years, that there is no substitute for rainfall when it comes to watering plants.   I don’t have a scientific explanation for it, but when plants receive rainfall, they grow better, than they do from the city water supply.  And, when there is lightening during the rainstorm, the plants do even better.  I suspect the lightening creates ozone which benefits plants.  Rain of course doesn’t contain chlorine, which, most if not all, city water does.  Plants don’t particularly care for chlorine and, neither do people.  It’s just not healthy for the body.  Sure, it kills bacteria, but at what other expense to our health.  I do know that rainfall also can contain pollutants that plants don’t like, but, they still seem to handle those pollutants better than the ones that come from tap water.   The bottom line is, rain is better for your green friends than tap water is, so instead of watering, mulch heavily, and wait for the next rainfall, if you can.    And the best part; rain is free.

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Rabbits in Permaculture

by Gary Deetz

Permaculturists keep rabbits for primarily two reasons:  food and fertilizer.  In our case, rabbits were our source of fertilizer.  Rabbit pellets are one of the best nitrogen fertilizers in existence.  It is an organic, low nitrogen fertilizer that won’t burn your plants.  With only one or two rabbits, you will get a constant supply of fertilizer for your garden.

If you can do it, rabbits also are a good source of food, although this was not our cup of tea.  I think I would rather be a vegetarian than eat one of my rabbits.  Too much personality there to be thinking about eating.  Neither way is wrong.  It’s merely a personal choice.  If you get rabbits, get two, or raise them with other animals so they have company.  Never keep a rabbit by itself.   Let them run loose whenever possible.  Keeping an animal caged its entire life is wrong no matter what your end purpose for it is.  Always treat rabbits and any other animals you keep with respect and if they become a source of food for you, respect and honor the gift of their life they gave to you.  True permaculture practitioners respect and honor the lives of their animals.

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Hello and welcome to Permaculture Asheville


Our wonderful rabbit, Ziggy.

Today our first post is dedicated to Ziggy, our rabbit.   Ziggy was a Miniature Rex rabbit that we brought into our lives 7 years ago.  He was the oldest of our 4 animals.  We got Ziggy because of permaculture.  He was part of a long line of rabbits that we got throughout our years of building our permaculture garden in Colorado.  The rabbits provided all of the fertilizer we needed for our garden.

Zig was the longest living of the 4 rabbits we had.  Most succumbed to the foxes in our yard.  We protected Zig by bringing him in every night, till eventually, he became mostly a house rabbit with outdoor privileges.   He had his own place outdoors by the  house, and on his last day, he walked out the door and went directly to his outdoor pen, on his own.  It was so fun to watch.  I never imagined that this would be his last day because it started out so well for him. He died later that day in my arms, loved till the end.

Asheville had only been his home for 4 and 1/2 months.  He made the big move from 1500 miles away in Colorado, to Asheville with us.  We have no more rabbits and after burying 5 of them, Zig is our last.  We saved the best for last.  Goodbye Ziggy.

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