Home garden

From Stewardship Institute
Jump to: navigation, search

I live in a garden, around 6 miles outside of Olympia, on glacial plateau above Henderson Inlet.


When we first moved onto our land in 2006, it was relatively empty. I have designed and built landscapes for middle class urban clients. Those were traditional ornamental gardens, relying on continuously imported materials and continuous labor to maintain a simplified and restrained vegetation. I have also designed and initiated wild landscapes based on native vegetation patterns. Our home garden is an attempt to find something in between.

I now have a shy acre of land, but also a full time job, to pay the debt on the land. Among my suburban large-lot neighbors, the prevailing management approach is clear--the riding lawn mower. Using gasoline engines to keep the forest 2 inches tall is the preoccupied persons approach to land management: culturally legible, and efficient in its use of mental effort. I wanted to fully harness my allotted portion of sun energy.
House in winter of 2006 following purchase
House in summer of 2011

How do you transition from a battered two inch vegetation of around 50 species, mostly ruderal refuges, to a multi-layered self-regulating assemblage of over 500 species to provide sustenance, beauty, and a daily connection to the life of the earth?. I want to achieve this with a minimum of fossil fuels, both in installation and maintenance. This will represent a personal restoration of my relationship to land, but I want it to happen without radically altering my relationship to my professional work in the community—it all needs to be done after work and on weekends between family vacations. It needs to be fun.

My potential sources of grace are threefold:

  • prior experience laboring on private gardens and farms. I know how to make my body function well, the rules of labor and have installed many traditional gardens.
  • I have this nine year academic education in natural sciences culminating in a career as a restoration ecologist specializing in vegetation, and
  • Suppressed enthusiasm. Over the last 20 years I have been landless and endlessly dreaming about ecological design, agro-forestry, permaculture theory, organic agriculture, and ecological system dynamics.
2006 aerial photo
Conceptual design overlaid on 2009 aerial photo

My goal in these pages is to informally layout my personal case study. A public documentation of my home garden projects, mistakes, failures, successes, surprises, and oddball ideas, as I try to design and build a durable and edible ecosystem for a shy acre of land, with me and my hand tools as one of the ecosystem architects. It seems like perhaps a most interesting and useful task, after a day of struggling with ecosystem restoration through computer screens. A smashing alternative to the collective ecological death march proposed by our corporate aristocracy. My one acre response to the anthropocene.

The Range of Topics

I'll eventually write down my home garden site assessment, and conceptual design, as well as providing some photo documentation and storytelling about the evolution of different spaces, based on that conceptual design. Other thoughts from my home garden are found throughout this website

  • Our intensive garden and crop field is where we get most of our food.
  • Our first two pilot food forests, the apple forest, and the pear forest have some lessons to learn.
  • The the chicken palace, and its paddocks integrates domestic animals into a portion of the system.
  • Various experiments in hedgerow and living fence are starting to populate the edges
  • Endless experiments with deer fencing are heading toward a more permanent configuration.
  • The little nursery for growing out the plants is in constant use.
  • Earthcrete experiments are down the pike, trying to figure out how little lime or cement is necessary to create durable hardscapes.
  • Roof water and gray water management is another down the road process, but lots of conceptual design mumbling around.
  • Coppice and bamboo is located out in zone III, which leads to,
  • Cooking with fire and other uses of the coppice fuel, including dreams of a rocket stove mass heater.

© Paul Cereghino, 2011-16, All Rights Reserved

Personal tools