Organic Gardening Blog

Welcome to my organic gardening blog. At certain times of year I post gardening tips weekly and other times much less frequently. Sign up for my ebook over to the right if you want to get my best stuff :)

Low Maintenance PlantsMy elderberry flowering white over my left shoulder.

It's pretty tricky to make a list of low maintenance plants when your readers live all around the world.

But I wanted to have a go at it anyway because it's winter and I miss my garden!

What makes this list more interesting than other low maintenance plant lists I’ve seen is that each plant is not only relatively easy to grow, but also highly beneficial to have in your garden.

Here's a quick review of biointensive gardening.

The 8 steps are to:

In the fall of 2012, I looked at a patch of weedy lawn in the back yard with some old cedars beside it.

It was on a gentle slope, with average soil at the bottom and poor soil at the top.

The area isn't big and the slope isn't much, but there's enough of a grade that the bottom floods seasonally and the top is bone dry.

So I realized it would be an interesting little microclimate in which to plant a garden - good for experimenting and learning.

That October I planted 2 apple trees, 2 pears and 2 cherries and made a big sheet mulch over the whole area, which looked like this...

If you want to grow a lot of food, in a small space, using not too many resources...

And are willing to put in some work in order to accomplish that...

Biointensive gardening may be for you.

Companion planting means placing plants together that grow well together (and may even help each other out), while avoiding placing plants together where one inhibits the other.

The companion planting charts you can find online and books shouldn’t be treated as hard science, but can be very worthwhile as a starting point when you’re trying to figure out how to lay out your beds.

Biointensive gardening advocates for intensive planting.

When you position your plants close together, you can grow more food in a smaller area.

Plus, the plants will blanket the soil, decreasing weed growth, erosion, and soil evaporation.

If you’re trying to grow most of your own calories, it makes sense to grow calorie-dense food, which especially points to root crops such as potatoes and parsnips.

When growing biointensively, 30% of the land is often allocated for this.

With 60% of land going to ‘carbon’ and 30% going to ‘calorie’ crops, that leaves just 10% for vegetables.

Many of us get our compost materials from elsewhere, perhaps the garden center or a local farmer.

And that's okay. Most of us are gardening on the side, doing other work that enables us to purchase these inputs, thus helping out the person we’re buying them from.

If a garden store or farmer is selling or giving away straw or manure, you’re helping them out my buying or taking it, so I have no problem with this.

But if we want to be truly self sustainable, we should be growing our own compost materials.

The main biointensive method for improving soil fertility is to use compost.

The purpose of compost is to bring beneficial organisms and nutrients into the soil, as well as improving water-holding capacity, drainage and aeration, among other things.