|My new garden is a little patch of soil that's had nothing done to it for a long, long time. That suits me just fine - but it also means that I won't be growing a bumper crop of tomatoes any time soon unless I'd like to spend an awful lot of money bringing in soil amendments (and I don't). The area slopes downward, and there's a gully that formed underneath the roof where the rain falls.
Our winter rainy season just started, and the weeds are just now springing up. Mostly, I see an awful lot of bermudagrass and sourgrass. The latter is an edible weed that I don't like much because it has a tricky way of reproducing. Each plant grows from a little underground bulb, and as the plant develops, little "bulblets" form on the root. Eventually, each of the bulblets becomes its own bulb and its own plant. That means I have to do an awful lot of digging to eliminate this stupid stuff.
My first initial move was to dig a ditch along an area that is level. From now on, when it rains, the water will run off into the ditch instead of continuing on into the street and the gutter. Then it can seep into the soil. Along my little ditch, I planted a few "hard to kill" plants - thyme, rosemary, and yarrow. A few lavender plants were already established on either side of where I dug the ditch.
I also tossed some cover crop seeds (buckwheat and hairy vetch) out all over the area along with several native wildflower seeds (including California poppies) before the rain began. With luck, some of that will sprout up.
I think the next thing I'd like to do is deal with the gully. I think planting a pomegranate tree right where the water falls from the roof would be a great way to divert the water from continuing to form the gully. I'm choosing a pomegranate because they are self-fertile, they don't get too big, they can deal with heavy pruning and being kept small, and they thrive in our Mediterranean climate. The downside to the pomegranate is that they take 5 years to produce fruit. (A fig would produce fruit quicker, but fig trees get huge.)
My other activity of late is herbalism. I had an unfortunate chance to test my knowledge and skills when I got a nasty cold a few weeks back. Leading up to then, I had been drinking a tea I made myself to boost my immune system and I'd been regularly taking an elderberry syrup I made too. (Elderberry syrup is also an immune booster. And delicious!)
A roommate and I got sick at the same time. She was in bed for a week, I was in bed for a day. I'm pretty sure the difference was the herbs, because my colds usually follow the same pattern and they are never, ever as mild as this one. The one day I spent in bed was truly miserable. Prior to that I had been treating myself for a sore throat, and after that I began working to get all of the "stuff" to drain out of my head, where it gave me a nasty sinus headache. Once I changed strategies, I didn't suffer anymore.
It was incredible, the difference an elementary education in herbalism made. I'm still going to the doctor for serious problems, of course, but for anything mild like a sore throat, cough, etc, I am completely sold on the power of herbs.