Regine Maligne has been garderning during she and Tim's summer sojourn to North Carolina. They have now gone on to France to spend time with Regine's mother but she has shared with us what she has learned this summer about gardening in a challenging location. See Regine's notes on cover crops, water catchment, etc.
Regine also furnished a copy to our teacher and inspiration, Anna Lee, who had the following comments to add:
"I was fortunate to have a few days to visit Regine and Tim at their vacation home near Franklin, NC in late July. I had seen pictures of the garden Regine had been working on for two summers before and was tickled at her irresistible inner drive to garden no matter what the circumstances and obstacles.
In this case, part of the problem is that she is there for so little time (and in and out during that short time!) that one might wonder if it is worth the trouble to set up a garden which will only be able to yield for a limited time before having to leave until the next summer. The mountains are very shady, steep in slope, and have different temperature ranges than that of Tallahassee. Not many people have gardens in the neighborhood because of this and also because some of them aren't there year round. Regine, a natural permaculturist, has turned the "problem into a solution" in several ways:
When some dying trees had to be removed she immediately saw the opportunity to use the increased sunlight in a very shady environment. The large stumps that were left nearly level to the ground are now fine "stepping stones" in the landscape.
When some soil needed to be moved alongside the house, her neighbor who was removing it added it to the very steep edge of a ravine on the opposite side of the house and this gave more garden space than possible to use before.
She has learned to bring some seedlings with her to give them a head start rather than starting everything from seed.
She is closely watching what plants grow best and fastest in this mountain setting so as to gain the most in the least time.
She has figured out how to cover crop and then leave this mulched to enrich the soil for the next year and is experimenting with different cover crops.
She has connected with her neighbors to let them know the bounty of food left for them to come enjoy which gives her pleasure and community connection.
She has set up different types of beds with some in more shady areas and some raised to hip level which give her access from her deck and offer different micro-climates to experiment with.
She is planting perennials like blueberry into the landscape.
She has brought in various native flowers and plants to become permanent members of her garden family.
She has utilized space that was allowing water to run on one side of the house to create beds to catch and store this water.
She reconfigured her initial beds into a "fish scale" pattern to better utilize the slope and provide better water catch.
She took roof top runoff and captures it in a big garbage can to gravity feed this rainwater to the garden and is planning more ways to utilize this.
But what the pictures and drawings cannot tell you is something I was able to observe and enjoy while there. Each morning Regine goes out to her garden and visits her plant friends. She picks greens for her morning green smoothie and herbs for her tea. She gains such pleasure and healthful benefits from this morning connection with her garden. It is a beautiful thing to see.
So you can see how many ways Regine's intelligent observation and reflection has continued to not only grow her summer garden but also to grow her understanding and appreciation of her mountain home. The permaculture admonition of "obtain a yield" is well used here in so many ways! What isn't always stated in permaculture terms is what Love can do in the whole scheme of things which is well demonstrated by Regine.