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I had the opportunity to join in on a house tour that Michael Judd conducted at his residence to showcase his work and design with edible gardens in the Frederick MD area. I came across a class he conducted at the Common Market, a while back, one I could not attend.

Michael Judd has worked with agro-ecological and whole system designs throughout the Americas for the last 18 years focusing on applying permaculture and ecological design to increase local food security and community health in both tropical and temperate growing regions. The founder of both Ecologia, LLC, Edible & Ecological Landscape Design and Project Bona Fide, an international non-profit supporting agro-ecology research.” 

In June he conducted three tours and I finally made one on June 29th.   About 20+ people showed up and Michael showed us his gardens, how he used the landscape to capture water, make soil, grow mushrooms and much more. An edible forest garden is an intriguing concept to me. When I came across Michael’s work I wanted to see for myself how these concepts  can be applied. Can you imagine veggies and flowers, fruits interspersed throughout a yard landscape rather than sectioned off and ones that build soil, conserve water simply or not so simply, by observing the natural contours of the land space?

Delighted and fascinated we toured his yard and gardens that demonstrated exactly what he talked about. For example he showed us a 4′ x 4′ area where he placed a 0629131822young food bearing tree. The tree itself was surrounded by fencing. The area around it was a place to build soil and he spoke of many nitrogen fixing plants that can help. He placed cardboard on the ground, covered it with straw and then inoculated it with mycellium which break down the material and create soil.  He showed us the results in several areas of the garden.  Rich black loam created quite easily and inexpensively filled his garden areas.  The photo above shows  straw in between planted areas. He uses lots of mint and other plants that he cuts down and that creates ground cover which conserves water and can prevent other unwanted plants from taking root. We were quite  surprised at the extensive use of mint, spearmint, allowed to grow in large areas.  He mentioned he uses other plants besides mint as ground covers, St John’s Wort, Siberian Tree Shrub, another nitrogen fixing plant, and comfrey. They grow well, hold in moisture.

The diversity of the yard garden areas was highlighted over and over. This diversity supported many species of beneficials and helped control the pests. No pesticides are used here. The photo to the right shows more of a vegetable garden with raised beds, straw paths . The curve of the paths and depth help capture and retain water for the plants.

Edible landscapes can provide food yes, but also replace lawn and save resources. Did you know lawn care and maintenance consumes $40 Billion a year here in America? If you are as intrigued as I am with these concepts check out Michael Judd‘s book in progress, a step by step guide to demonstrate his edible landscape ideas and expertise.

Part 2 of this tour with Michael continues with Friday’s post.

Enjoy your day. Judith



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