Geoff is in the Zaytuna’s kitchen garden today, which may be much larger than the average kitchen garden but provides great design examples for intense, small-space gardening. Kitchen gardens can be intensely cultivated, easy, diverse, and fertile. The mix of crops grown can be flowers, vegetables, herbs, salad greens, and perennial overstories. Beds are as easy as putting down a layer of cardboard/paper, topping it with a thick layer of mulch, and adding pockets of compost to plant in. For some crops, like carrots, the planting space can be a long slot in the mulch with sandy mix filling it. These gardens are imitating a forest floor. At Zaytuna, they are lined with perennial spinach, parsley edges, Sumatran spinach, papaya, tamarillo, and watermelon at the edges. Simple tomato cages are growing amongst the beds with cucumbers growing overtop to provide some shade from the summer heat, and the tomatoes are planted with marigolds and lettuces and basil as good companions. With all the different forms of plants, the rampant diversity confuses pest.

Despite the convention of rotational gardening, holding fertility in this garden is based on continually building up soil. The primary method is compost. Cages are filled in layers of shredded brown material, green material, and manure. The heap is left in a cage for a week then turned on a Monday then Wednesday then Friday for three weeks. There is also an urban chicken tractor made out of recycled materials. It covers 16 square meters (2 by 8 meters). Mulch (grass clippings from paddock) is put in the tractor, under the nighttime roost where the bird’s manure and drop features in it, for about two weeks. This high nitrogen material can go directly on nitrogen-loving plants or, more likely, put through the composting system.300 mm (one foot) high nitrogen material. Additionally, worm farms are used. There is a larger system in a bath with liquid catching beneath, but for smaller gardens, there is a sunken bucket with compost and worms inside and a birdbath on top, as well as a buried manufactured system.

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About Geoff:

Geoff is a world-renowned permaculture consultant, designer and teacher. He has established permaculture demonstration sites that function as education centres in all the world’s major climates — information on the success of these systems is networked through the Permaculture Research Institute and the website.

About Permaculture:

Permaculture ( integrates land, resources, people and the environment through mutually beneficial synergies – imitating the no waste, closed loop systems seen in diverse natural systems. Permaculture applies holistic solutions that are applicable in rural and urban contexts and at any scale. It is a multidisciplinary toolbox including agriculture, water harvesting and hydrology, energy, natural building, forestry, waste management, animal systems, aquaculture, appropriate technology, economics and community development.