NOTE: Make sure you read the first three posts (in order!) before tackling the rest, or it could be confusing: Post 1 is Designing the future, Post 2 is Setting up the problem, and Post 3 is Estimating basic requirements.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Subsystem design: Garden requirements

Gardening is an inexact science, which can make for difficulty when trying to apply Systems Engineering. I’m very much a beginner in the realm of gardening, but I’ve gathered a short list of items from various readings that we can develop into requirements. For more in-depth help on permaculture and gardening try DJEB’s, Aaron’s, or Emme’s blogs, or check out Farmgirl Fare.

We may be getting ahead of ourselves here in the design process, but I want to work on some ideas for developing requirements on our gardens. To keep matters simple, we’ll make this a design problem separate and distinct from the Peak Oil Homestead Example Problem.

For now, I’d like to throw out some general concepts I’ve learned about sustainable gardening that we can turn into requirements in a later post.

1) Keep it modular – Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew emphasizes growing plants in an easy-to-manage area grid (as opposed to rows), which really appeals to my engineer’s mind. This way you can work on your garden one square at a time and avoid overwhelming both yourself and your plants.

2) Diversity – A variety of plants is important from a nutritional standpoint and as a method to thwart pests. Diversity becomes even more important when we consider the reports of dwindling pollinator species and climate change affecting growing seasons. A genetically diverse collection of plants could help protect against this and other random devastating factors (e.g. the Potato Famine…)

3) Mulch – A thick layer of mulch (some recommend at least 12”) is essential for a healthy, low-maintenance garden. It keeps the soil moist and soft, and prevents weeds from growing. The No-Work Garden Book by Ruth Stout is a great reference on gardening with mulch.

4) Composting – A constant source of decomposed organic matter enriches your garden and reduces (or eliminates) the need for fertilizer.

5) Raised beds – Raised beds protect against some hungry critters and improve soil drainage.

I’m sure the permaculturists here can offer many more key pointers :) I’ll take a look at how to transform these types of ideas into requirements over the Thanksgiving week. Happy Turkey (or Tofu) Day to all!


At 12:16 PM, Anonymous Jeff said...

Soil management?

At 12:51 AM, Blogger DJEB said...

Under the "modular" part, you might be horrified by my designs. I loath straight lines; and one can get more productive edge out of a curved line than a stright one. One possibility for laying out a garden path that would efficiently use space and the gardeners time is to use a von Karman trail as a template for the path.

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