Tour of The Potager Gardens
Welcome to the Tour of The Potager Gardens at Mezzacello. These are the main food gardens at the west end of the farm (see map). These garden beds and their raised bed and table bed constituents all share a unique soil structure.
Each of these beds has a balanced soil structure of soil, amendments, compost, diatomaceous earth, paper, and burlap. This matrix makes growing food in them very easy. The format for this soil was developed over years of experimentation and trial and effort.
From The Dust Bowl To Mars
The beds are a hybrid raised bed configuration. They are all .85m x 1.5m (33″ x 60″) and 38cm (15″) deep. The soil is a mixture of lasagna gardens and soil mixed with amendments and mulching strategies. The compost is composted in place and mixed with organic humus and soil and minerals.
I refer to these as hybrid raised beds as they are set into the soil, but contain a mix of textured soils. Having the raised bed in the soil has benefits and detractions. These are that the soil stays moist with the ground around it, but the creeping weeds can get in.
Fresh Food over Three Iterations
Remember that many of the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals deal with health and wellness, ending hunger, equity, gender equality, and access to fresh food. This is a very important aspect of Mezzacello. We take our responsibility to food, innovation, and the fact that food is the GREAT EQUALIZER very seriously.
The traditional kitchen garden, vegetable garden, also known as a potager (from the French jardin potager) is a space separate from the rest of the residential garden – the ornamental plants and lawn areas. It is used for growing edible plants and often some medicinal plants, especially historically.Wikipedia
So what is the value of this potager or kitchen garden and the related systems around it?
- The potager garden is roughly 10m (19′) square
- It is divided into four quadrants (Alpha α, Beta β, Gamma γ, and Delta δ)
- Each quadrant is further divided into six beds for a total of 24
- Each bed is 38cm (15″) deep
- The potager garden beds and the table beds are water by the bioreactor tower automatically
- The table beds are also misted by the bioreactor tower
- The bioreactor tower us an automated compost robot and water collector
- The bioreactor contains a processor, weather station, and a pressurized pump that waters on demand
- All hydroponic systems are fed with nutrients synthesized onsite
- The beds are rotated and amended at least twice a season
- Most of the hybrid raised lasagna garden beds are reserved for root vegetables and some greens
- There is a series of underground sensors that determine pH, moisture, pressure, and temperature
- Greens are grown hydroponically or in specialized table beds to avoid hungry ground predators
- All compost and manure for these garden beds and tables are produced on site
- The steel structure in the center is reserved for climbing vines like squashes and cucumbers
- We use blackberries and raspberries to control squash beetles
- All pest control is organic and most is systemic in the soil
- Beneath each potager bed is a layer of diatomaceous earth (DE), covered by paper, then burlap
- If anything is planted below it pushed the DE away, anything coming from above is destroyed
- The beds generally get watered evey other day, unless it rains and the system knows not to water
- The entire system is powered by solar panels, wind turbines and batteries
- City water is ONLY used as a backup source.