When is the best time to plant a tree? I get this question often, and I always have the same answer, “20 years ago”.
“It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth” Lamentations 3:27
When Jeremiah wrote these words he had the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit. As we age we experience affliction, which makes us less able to do the things we need to do for average survival. Luckily, by surrounding ourselves with family and friends, most of us will be taken care of as we age. However, we can extend the time we can care for ourselves and others by making things a bit easier on our backs.
This passage has multiple meanings and ways it can be read, but for our purposes today we’ll go with the idea that doing the hard work while one is young, will leave abundance for him later on if properly managed. In permaculture, this is the main goal. We plant, and in 10 years, we have an abundant and perennial system from which we mostly only need to harvest. At age 60, you have plenty of time to get this going until you are ready for your days of ease and rest, so don’t think it’s too late.
Many of us, however, are already quite mature in age. Is the hope of gardening abundance lost for those of us? Not in the least.
Gardening is something that can be done at nearly all ages. Of course, to have a garden there is some level of mobility necessary, but that can be mitigated as we’ll show below.
Here are some tips for those of us who may be more advanced in our years, but still would like a garden.
My sister’s “Grandfather-in-law” is 89 years old, and has had gardens his entire life as have many people of our Greatest Generation. He still has his beds on the ground because he can still bend over. However, I’ve built gardens that are raised 2 feet to 3 feet high, minimizing the need to bend over.For beds that aren’t as wide, having a 4 foot high bed can be ideal. These are easily built, and are even sold in many home improvement stores. Pictured is a design that can grow climbers or tomatoes. Take off the trellis and just use the “bus tubs” to plant your garden.
Buy smaller bags of soil.
If you don’t have any help to fill your beds, simply buy smaller bags of soil to fill your beds. Sure, this is more time consuming, but it will get the job done. Also, don’t be afraid to rely on the strapping youth of your church community to help with the heavy lifting.
Seed trays are pretty “bomb proof” and make starting your seedlings inside very easy. Once they sprout, and weather permitting, simply transfer them to the raised beds outside. Or, if you prefer, your local home improvement store or feed store will have seedlings available every spring for purchase.If cost is an issue, I highly recommend starting your own seedlings. I find this to be much more rewarding knowing you started the seed, and watching it grow into a fully blossoming, richly abundant and productive plant. “Jiffy” makes my favorite seed trays with the little peat moss pellets for easy planting and transfer to the garden.
Grow Vertical with Climbers
Cucumbers are a great example of a highly productive climber. With the right soil, as with all plants, your “cukes” will taste amazing. They will grow massive and can use any full sun fence to be highly productive. Pole beans and cantaloupe are also highly productive, easily grown, and easily managed. Climbing plants make it so you don’t have to bend over to reach your harvest. Pictured here is one of my trellis creations, where we simply took 16’ lengths of pig fence, folded them over, making an arched tunnel trellis. This allowed us to walk through and pick the beans and cucumbers at waist to eye level. Trellising can be very, very simply done with ready-made trellises at your local home improvement store, or just buy a length of chicken wire to attach to your fence.
Your Own Personal Work Force
God gave us these handy little guys called WORMS. They are super cheap, and never quit working for you. They will help your garden to be super abundant, rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, and keep your good bacterial levels up, which your plant NEEDS to flourish. Simply buy some red wigglers from your local bait shop and dump them in your garden to get started.If you want to start out with a good amount of them, go to www.UncleJimsWormFarm.com and order the “European Night Crawlers”. These guys are voracious eaters of your kitchen scraps, and will turn them into highly nutritious plant food.You can either raise them in a separate bed or bin for their “castings” or put them directly into your beds.I prefer to do the latter. The difference they will make in your organic garden is unparalleled by anything we can do on our own.
We don’t use fertilizer as it will harm your soil life that is very, very complex and designed to work by God. You can’t improve upon a healthy, vivacious soil life. We can however do things to help our gardens have adequate soil life, like adding composted leaves, kitchen scraps, etc. Worms will take care of the garden’s bacterial needs for the most part, but adding a good compost gets the fungal elements in there which are necessary for the plants to truly thrive at their utmost. Coffee grounds, veggie scraps/peels, and food that you’d normally throw away can be put into worm bins or an out of the way compost pile. Make your compost with about 75% leaves or hay clippings, while keeping the green food items and fresh clippings down to about 25%.You can either let it sit, or for faster results, turn it. Compost can be made in “tumblers” that are readily available for sale online or almost anywhere else every spring. Google “compost tumbler” to find out more info.
In permaculture, our goal is to take the land we have, and set it up for perennial abundance. If I want fish tonight, I go catch a fish. If I want fruit, I go pick it or go to my pantry where my harvest was canned. You get the idea. By growing our food locally, we are Caring for God’s Creation. We can give our excess to people who are in need, and serve God by doing so.
"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'” Matthew 25:40
Ideally, you’ll want to get started right away. You can create huge abundance on just a little land. One pecan tree will make 300+ pounds of pecans a year, two apple trees will create more apples than you can eat, orange trees, satsumas, muscadine, persimmons, apricot, peaches, plums, and more can be grown all in a single small back yard. Within 5-10 years, these trees will be large, productive, and you’ll have a perennial retirement plan. Add a few chickens to the mix and get daily eggs. You’ll eventually be giving your extra eggs to your friends and neighbors!
If you are at all interested in learning about permaculture, feel free to Contact Me Here at www.EarthCraftPermaculture.com and like our FB page at: https://www.facebook.com/EarthCraftPermaculture/