Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tansform Your Yard - Garden Menu

Planting Justice specializes in maximizing your yard's productive capacity. To that end, we are experienced with the design and installation of the following garden elements - each supporting multiple functions towards the greater health of your garden.

During a consultation, Planting Justice will help you assess what elements will be most functional for your space and needs.
Keller Plaza Raised Bed being planted
Raised beds ensure rich soil for productive plant communities.  Beds can be constructed directly on top of concrete, lawns or just about any surface and shaped to fit tight corners. Because your veggies will be grown in organic compost, the quality of the soil (or lack of it) beneath the beds will not harm your plants.  In an effort to conserve resources, we build custom raised beds from salvaged redwood.
By companion planting and using other organic gardening strategies you can minimize the need to supplement your soil with fertilizers. Beds may be installed with or without a supporting irrigation system, but will need regular watering. As you visit your veggies to harvest, you'll notice their daily growth and ensure they are not being eaten by anyone but you.

Pear Tree
Fruit trees are a crucial element in any urban garden. You might think you don't have space, but we think you do! We suggest planting dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties with low chill needs to make the most of your space.  In the Bay Area, we've had success growing: Apples, Pears, Plums, Apricots, Peaches, Pluots, Cherries, Figs, Avocado, Kiwi, Persimmon, Lemons, Limes, Oranges, Mulberries, Pomegranate, Pineapple Guava (Fajoa), Paw Paw, and more. The sky is the limit!
We plant fruit trees with appropriate companion perennials that will maximize your yield by fixing nitrogen and mining important minerals.  Consider diverting your shower or laundry water to irrigate your fruit orchard!  If you plant fruit trees on your property, future generations will be awfully grateful.  

Herb Spiral!
Grow your own culinary herbs!  An herb spiral is a space efficient, beautiful and productive method of growing culinary herbs.  This design works great in the backyard near the kitchen door, so you can walk outside, harvest what you need for a recipe and walk right back in.  The spiral's design conserves water and takes advantage of vertical space in your garden.  Herbs are low maintenance maintenance and extremely useful! This is one of our most common suggestions for backyard food gardeners.

Three Bin Compost System
Millions of pounds of reusable food scraps are transported each year to landfills around the world.  Installing a compost system is a great way to halt the massive inefficiencies of the waste industry and create incredibly rich, nutrious soil for your garden.  No longer will you stare disparginally at at a pile of veggetable scraps, when you know that in several months you will be able to harvest your own soil.  Adding compost to your garden is an excellent way to encourage growth without buyting expensive fertilizers.  You will be suprised how much "waste" you can transform into rich, beautiful soil!

Chicken coop - eggs in laying box
Hens are easy to care for and wildy productive. Healthy hens will each give you one egg a day for 3-4 years.  We build our chicken coops out of redwood so they'll last for many years and with extremely sturdy wire so your hens will be safe from critters at night.

Laundry-to-landscape Greywater System
Installing a greywater system from your laundry machine is the easiest and least expensive way to reuse your laundry water. Laundry machines are equipped with an internal pump that enables an easy install without gravity reliant plumbing design.  Laundry water is delivered into mulch basins below the soil surface where nearby fruit trees can easily access the water.  A three way ball-valve enables you to send laundry water to the sewer if you need to wash with bleach or another non-biodegradable soap.  Installing a laundry-to-landscape greywater system, will lower your utility bills and enable you to control where your waste water is directed!

Shiitake Mushroom Log!
Turn a shady unused portion of your yard into a mushroom farm!  Each year you can harvest pounds of Shiitake, Reishi, Oyster and many other delicious fungi.  Growing edible mushrooms is an extremely low maintenence, facinating, foray into a realm rich with symbiotic relationships and communal interactions.  Mycelial networks created by fungal growth can cover acres!  These networks funnel nutrients from plant to plant, enable interspecies communication and extend root networks.  Planting Justice installs many different speices of edible mushrooms by innoculating cut hardwood logs or installing garden patches.  With proper maintenence these patches and logs will produce for five years or longer!

Shower Greywater System
Rather than send your shower water down the drain into the sewer system, reuse it in your garden!  A shower greywater system enables you to choose whether your water will be sent to the sewer or to mulch basins around fruit trees in your garden.  This saves you irrigation costs and conserves valuable water.  When diverting water to your backyard, use biodegradable soaps.  An automated switch allows you to switch to the sewer instantly if you need to use more intensive hair or body products.  In California, water shortages are expected to increase, installing a greywater system is an excellent way to take back control of your water!

Bees on honeycomb
Keeping bees is a fascinating, rewarding exloration into a highly intelligent and organized insect world. Within a year, harvest pounds of delicious local honey! Your bees will work in tandem with other elements in the garden, polinating many flowering plants for you and your neighbors! A single bee hive can take up as litle as 5 sq ft in your garden, and can placed in a shady, low traffic area that may otheriwise be unproductive.
Humans have been collecting wild honey for roughly 15,000 years and first began domesticating bees in 2000 BC in Egypt.
Keeping bees is a legal pastime in Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco! In urban areas, concerns about safety and allergies should be addressed with neighbors prior to installation. At the height of the honey season, expect to spend at least an hour a week managing your hive. Planting Justice will help you install either a Langstroth or top bar hive and, if desired, can provide longterm mentoring in the proper stewardship of a healthy hive.

Get your tomato started early!  Whether it's a small cold-frame or a large walk-in structure, a greenhouse is an incredibly useful element in the garden.  Creating a climate controlled shelter enables you to start seeds early in the rainy months, grow sub-tropical species and give your seedlings a head start in the spring. 

Worm bin cross section
Transform your food waste into black gold!  Worms are extremely useful for urban gardeners. A well bulit worm bin can be stored underneath a sink or in a kitchen pantry and produces no smell! Just dump your food waste into the bin and in a month or two you will have extremely nutricious worm castings.  Worm castings are typically more nutrient balanced than compost, making them a great choice for container gardening and soil ammendments.  In addition you can expect to harvest worm juice to make compost teas and have excess worms to feed to your chickens or give away to friends!  Compost piles can attract rats and other unwanted critters in an urban area, so install a worm farm to minimize you waste and maximize your soil productivity!

Potato Tower
Potato towers are an time and space saving way to grow your own delicious potatos.  Rather than digging in the ground looking for the elusive tubers, a raised tower enables you to harvest above ground when your potato plants start to die back.  Just relase the support system and the potatos will fall to the ground for easy collection.  Growing potatos vertically is also great solution for lead contaminated soil.  After using a potato tower, you probably won't want go back. 

Back Yard Aquaculture System
Have you ever dreamed of harvesting pounds of your own delicious fish... from your backyard?  These systems are quite remarkable.  The nutrients from fish excrement contains high concentrations of nitrogen which are pumped through gravel hydroponic beds.  Vegetables planted in these beds grow fast and strong, sucking up the constant supply of nitrogen and filtering the excrement water before it is returned to the fish tank.  Although relatively unexplored in North America, Australia has pioneered many home-scale aquaponics systems.  This is a water efficient method of raising fish and plants in the same small urban area! 

Ducks in the Garden!
Ducks make great garden companions!  Unlike chickens who notoriously scratch vegetable gardens to pieces, Ducks are much more delicate.  They meander through your tall kale and bean plants, hunting slugs and snails that would otherwise wreak havoc.  A well known permaculture saying:  "You don't too many slugs in your garden..., you have too few ducks."  Planting Justice will build a shelter for the ducks to protect them from raccoons.  In addition, to maintaining pest problems in the garden you will be able to harvest large, delicious duck eggs.  

Green Roof!
A green roof greatly reduces the heating and cooling costs of a structure.  Planting low-maintenance, drought tolerant sedums on structurally sound roofs creates an aesthetically pleasing living landscape.  Some roofs are strong and accessible enough to host vegetable gardens or bee hives.  Take full advantage of your usable space and put some living plants on your roof!

Cob oven work party at Martin Luther King middle school
Cob oven's are a wonderful gathering point in your garden.  Your friends will be begging you to host pizza parties.  Cob Oven's are a very attracive and  community.  In addtion to home baked bread, pizzas and fun neighborhood gatherings, cob ovens are an excellent way to use creatively use your own Bay Area clay.  We aim to design gardens that are both highly productive and highly enjoyable places.  Adding a cob oven is an excellent way to spend more time in your backyard!

White New Zealand Rabbit
If you are interested in raising, slaughtering and eating your own meat in an urban area, rabbits make a lot of sense. Rabbits are an important source of protein in many countries around the world. Their size makes them the ideal mammal to raise for meat in your backyard. They produce quickly and take little space. Planting Justice will build and install a predator proof rabbit hutch in your backyard. Rabbit pelts can be used to create fashionable rabbit fur caps!

Rain Water Barrels
Catch and store your own rainwater!  As California faces serious water shortages the importance of storing and reusing residential water supplies is ever growing.  Take a stand now to reduce your dependence on Municipal water supply.  Whether diverting roof water into large cisterns for storage, backyard ponds or into mulch basins around fruit trees, you will be impressed how much water you can harvest from your roof.  

Fire Pit
In our experience, this is one of the most effective and enjoyable ways to build community in your backyard.  Gathering around a firepit to play music, roast some marshmellow or simply enjoy the night, is an ancient human tradition.

Cob Building
Alameda County allows you to build an non-permitted 400 square-foot shed/studio in your backyard!  Rather than spending thousands of dollars in building supplies, let Planting Justice construct your building with natural materials harvested from local sources.  Whether it be cob, strawbale, waddle and dawb, bamboo, adobe, super adobe, rammed earth, there are so many different options to create a beautiful retreat space. 

Living Wall
Grow plants on a vertical wall!  Epiphytes, sedums and ferns turn a drab wall into a verdant landscape.  Growing plants on a wall can reduce your heating and cooling bills.  This is a beautiful way to repurpose a shed or an old cinder block retaining wall.  It's even possible to hook your living wall up to a drip irrigation system!


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