In three summers Draco Hill has expanded its food gardens from one 24 x 20 foot garden to three approximately 30 x 24 foot ones, all terraced with swales and berms, or raised beds. The swale and berm construction has varying degrees of rotting wood underneath to help absorb water captured from the roof and drained directly into the gardens. The raised bed garden also captures rain water from the roof but does not contain the wood foundation.
Our third garden is a barrow composting experiment. We’ve built raised beds, then trenched through the middle of them and filled them with organic matter to compost over winter.
This spring we planted into something closer to wet mulch than soil, but we want to give it a chance. Watermelons and cucumbers came up quickly. We’ll see how it goes from here.
We don’t use chemicals to grow our food at Draco Hill, but we also aren’t lifelong organic gardeners, so it’s trial and error and a lot of wonderful and welcomed advice from a friendly neighbor with a very green thumb. We are committed to sustainable food production, and that means methods that build soil and the animal life inside of it, that recycles food waste back into the soil and allows – when all things are in balance – Mother Nature to do what she does best: keep down the “bad” bugs and enhance the “good” ones, hold moisture for the plants even during dry times and allow things to grow.