By: Lien Hahn, Vietnam
I started redesigning my garden in July 2019. Why did I have to redesign it? The garden belonged to my parents during my childhood. When my mother passed away, my father moved to his hometown and inherited the garden to me. My husband and I intended to live there, so we broke down my parents’ old house. For a conflict between us, we stopped building a new house and moved to another site for living. The garden was left wild with so much construction waste for 10 years until I caught an online permaculture course. I decided to redesign my garden to make it a permaculture garden in my small city.
After redesigning the site, I immediately started implementing this small project even without any supports from my husband. As I do not have much money, the principle (among permaculture principles) which inspired me a lot in obtaining a yield. How can I obtain a yield from the beginning? This question was always in my mind.
The first thing I considered was all the problems on the site. After 10 years of being left wild, the site was full of biden pilosa which is an invasive weed in the locality. I searched and realized that biden pilosa is used by many Vietnamese people as food and medicine. It means that it is edible. I cut some to feed my neighbors’ chicken and felt excited. I fenced the weed area and bought 20 chickens. I was really happy that all the weeds disappeared after 3 weeks. The chickens were all strong and what made me happier was when they started giving eggs after one month. Of course, I had to eat nearly all the cocks in the following weeks because they were so noisy and flown out of the fence when there were no more weeds for them.
Then, I found and supported all the useful plants existing on the site. I made a trellis from bamboo for a wild gourd (Benincasa hispida) and helped ‘mo tam the’ (Paederia lanuginosa) climb on the surrounding walls and legumes. That was the way I had herbs and vegetables for food and medicine at the beginning.
I also used all old bricks available on the site to make garden beds. The site is on the light slope, so water run-offs take the soil nutrients away easily. Old bricks put on the contour lines help to cover the soil and prevent it from erosion. I planted legumes as a living fence, windbreaks, nitrogen providers, and food sources for chicken and my family. Legumes quickly grew, so I could get its yields within some months.
After testing the soil, I knew that it is sandy. I decided to choose some easy-going plants which are local and prefer sandy soil such as tomatoes, lettuce, chayote, pineapple…Easily, these plants grew well without any pests and provided a good source of food for my family.
9 months passing by from the beginning, I have had yields from all that I did on the site. The question ‘How can I obtain a yield from the beginning?’ is still in my mind. It has become the first and most important question whenever I start doing a thing. Obtaining a yield is like an order because ‘You can’t work on an empty stomach’. To do that, turning problems into solutions, making use of available resources, and using appropriate plants are the keys.
Yields include food, fibers, fuel..and many other physical and tangible things like my chicken, eggs, herbs, tomatoes, lettuce…Yields also may include other things that I can feel. That’s the change in my neighborhood. Some of my neighbors started gardening. They came to my site to ask for information, seeds, and materials. This encourages me to work harder and share more.
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