I went hiking in the mountains on Tuesday.
My surroundings got me thinking we could learn a thing or two about organic gardening by a good old-fashioned hobbit garden.
Did you know they just wrapped up filming for the new hobbit movies in New Zealand?
The Hobbit is J. R. R. Tolkien's prequel book to the Lord Of The Rings. They're making it into 3 movies (was originally 2 movies, but they've upped it to 3).
I've followed along over the last year as they've posted snippets from the filming process, since I really enjoyed the book when I was younger and loved the Lord Of The Rings movies.
The hobbits are basically farmers. You can see a snippet of their hometown, Hobbiton, in the first 15 seconds of this movie trailer:
Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic Mountains, WA
So what can we learn from the hobbit gardens?
1. Hobbit Garden Wilderness
The Shire has some wilderness right? Maybe a little bit of manicured lawn, but not much.
That reminds me that our organic gardens should have a wild spot, too. Ideally, the whole lawn area might be allowed to grow wild, unless you're planning to grow food or something else there.
But of course there are aesthetics to consider, and if you live in the city, you probably won't be allowed to do just allow nature to decide what grows and how big it gets.
But even a few hundred square feet in the back yard would be great. Or just 100 square feet in the back corner of the yard would provide at least some important services.
Perhaps the most important service is that it will contain some weeds, grasses and maybe wildflowers.
That means it will hopefully contain corresponding microbe, insect and animal life, a bit of a refuge for our beneficials.
A wild area can also tell us a lot about our soil conditions. When we see what comes up and how it responds, we learn about not only moisture conditions, but chemical and biological conditions.
That can really help with our soil management decisions, including which organic fertilizers and perhaps microbial inoculants to apply.
2. Relaxation = Planning
Hobbits like to drink beer and socialize. Phil prefers smoothies and reading, but either way, making some room for relaxation is more fun than toiling in the vegetable garden from dawn to dusk.
To accomplish this goal, we need to do a little bit of intelligent design up front, and a bit of soil improving and mulching in the first couple of years. That's what I teach in the Academy.
Then we have a garden that largely takes care of itself.
That's how I can leave my organic garden for a month or two at a time without much worry.
In fact, I'm away from it right now...
Where Am I Right Now?
No, I'm not in New Zealand. I'm actually writing this from a cafe in Eureka, California.
Heather and I are on a road trip from Victoria, B.C. down to San Francisco and back (hi mom and dad).
We hiked Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic mountains on day 1, which was awesome, and we've meandered this far down the coast in the 2.5 days since then.
The grass and wildflowers during our hike in the mountains are what reminded me of the hobbit garden.
Heather took the photo above on our hike, which is focused more on the view than the grass, but that's what I've got.
She also shot a quick video:
And a quick note for Academy members. I've been shooting videos with a couple of amazing organic gardeners out here on the west coast:
- I filmed a couple of organic garden design modules with Christina Nikolic, an excellent ecological landscape designer who also took over the Organic Gardener's Pantry from me in 2010. Those lessons are now up in month 6.
- I filmed some seed harvesting/saving/storing videos with Heide Hermary, founder of Gaia College. We covered all kinds of stuff in her fruit and vegetable garden. That will go up in a later food growing section.
I'm on such a roll that I may get the rest of the Academy filmed by the end of this year, after which I'll go back through and add some interesting footage on top of some of the existing videos.
I'm not sure if I would've had the guts to start this course if I knew how long it was going to take to put together, but now that the filming is 75% done, of course I'm thrilled I'm doing it and glad everyone is getting so much out of it. Thanks for your support!
So, any questions? Any more ideas for what we can learn from the hobbit gardens?