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Restoring an abandoned space to create a small-scale permaculture garden


Europe, Italy, Umbria, Località Ponte Parrano

Having moved to a rural area, I've been very fortunate to have the opportunity and the  physical space to create and research this project. 

The land is part of the village where I am living. The space I'm currently restoring became a dump 25 years ago, where some discarded building materials were left accumulating there. A tree and some bushes had been cloaking the unwanted stuff with their branches.

Three weeks ago (today is the 9th of March 2021) some people in the village cut the tree and the bushes to "freshen up" the lawn.

While I was helping the lumberjack to move the chopped wood, I expressed my desire of having a small garden close by to grow "a couple of tomatoes and some spices"."Why don't you create a garden here? If you clean this space from the debris and make a garden, it will only be nice and helpful for the landlords too, Plus, it's facing south so you'll have a lot of sun." He suggested.

And there we started. Me, my partner and a curious neighbor.

Scorpions, lizards and other small creatures were inhabiting the debris. Along with plastic pipes and rusty metal containers piling up and buried under the ground, there where many still usable and recyclable materials. Hence, we used some of the stones and intacted terracotta roof tiles to shape the garden.

Clearing the space was fun and rewarding hard work, but we had an emotional set back when the landlords came to visit the place. They were shocked with all the changes and not exactly pleased for the development of it. Maybe they would have preferred a proper "golf-like" lawn. The now very supportive and excited neighbor, sarcastically suggested to "move back all the debris and the trash and let them rot for another 25 years".

Later on we got the official permission to create this small garden. 

Here below some pictures of the process.


⇓ Progression:

  • Mulching
    At the moment we have created several beds / sections in the garden and covered the top soil with straw, to keep the humidity and protect the different organisms and plants in the soil. (see mulching)
  • Sowing
    A week ago I sowed several medicinal and decorative flowers and vegetables.
  • Composting
    As there was a lot of rubbish and grass that we removed, most of the topsoil was damaged.
    The topsoil is very important to keep the soil aerated and it is necessary for microorganisms to grow healthy underneath.
    To re-establish a healthy and rich ecosystem, the top soil must be rebuilt with compost. Thus we are in the process of preparing the compost (so that the plants and vegetables can grow with all the necessary support).
    Stay tuned :)