Saturday, April 27, 2013

Waffle Gardening tidbits

Continued from this post.
Here's some more tidbits I've been learning about the waffle gardening as I go through this process.

1. The width of the walls vs. erosion from the water inside the waffle squares

Originally, on seeing some erosion of the walls after the first day or two of watering, I was concerned that I might have made the first walls for my waffle garden too thin, or that they might erode completely away.

That has turned out to be completely unfounded. These walls are like freaking bricks, let me tell you. My thin ones are about 1 1/2 inches thick, at least. There's a little area that eroded at first; it makes a sort of 'fill line' so it's easy to show kids how high they have to fill the squares with water. But after that, any erosion is so slight I haven't really noticed it being a problem.

I was less precise with my thicker walls (time crunch and sloppiness and all that). I didn't pat them down quite as carefully, or smooth out the rough edges as carefully. They have all shown more erosion than the thin walls! However, even with them, it's not so bad that it's compromising the walls yet.

The thin walls I believe will last all the way through the end of this gardening experiment. Some of the thicker walls may need some repair before this is done.

2. Wall repair

I have had to repair the walls a couple times, once because of that small burrowing animal, but mostly  due to clumsiness on my own part. In other words, I was moving around, tripped, and stepped on a wall. >_<  The repair is not too difficult really. You just need to make sure that not only is the dirt you are using for the repair wet, but also each part of the wall you are attaching the 'patch' to. As long as everything is wet or dampened down when you are making the repair, it seems to hold together quite well.

3. Grass vs. spiky weed mulch

There does seem to be a difference between the squares with the spiky weeds as mulch and those with grass. The grass mulched squares definitely have fewer plants. As to why, I'm not entirely sure. They don't seem to be retaining water much more or less than the spiky weed mulched areas and are receiving the same amount of water when they get it. They aren't getting different levels of shade, either.

One difference might be the fact that they aren't getting the rabbit manure or compost that the spiky mulched areas did, but other squares without the compost are doing okay. Another possibility is that the spiky mulch works and I lost some seedlings to critters soon after they popped up but before I really noticed them.

These areas were also seeded a little later, however, so more seedlings could pop up and surprise me. I'll be curious to see if this difference in plant numbers continues as they grow, and if I do notice any critters going after the seedlings here more.

4. Cats and waffle gardens

I've had problems before with cats digging up some of my garden beds to do their business, as it were. One unexpected bonus for the waffle garden has been that the dirt is so hard and unappealing that the cats have left it alone. They have come in to lay down on a bed or two, but that stopped as soon as the spiky weed mulching started. So at the moment, the cats mostly saunter on top of the walls but leave the garden beds alone, which has been an unexpected bonus for this technique!

More on the waffle garden next week!

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