Permaculture Gardening at Cedar House Inn

Our property at Cedar House Inn is not known for good soil for growing flowers or gardening. We have planted over 250 trees and shrubs since we purchased the property and struggled with digging each hole. First we have a very thin layer of top soil, then hard clay and finally a rock layer. To have a viable garden we have no choice but to haul in or make our own dirt.

Rather than hauling in dump truck loads of top soil I decided to make dirt the way mother nature intended. Down by the yurts we have a forest of trees and layers of leaves under the trees that have accumulated for many years. Raking back some of the leaves you notice decomposition of the organic matter. Worms, insects and fungi are all doing their part in breaking down the leaves. Could I use a similar process to make good dirt in areas where only rock and clay exists? I read about Permaculture (sheet mulching) and Lasagna Gardening that explains just how I can do that.

Last Fall I identified where I wanted the vegetable garden to be. I then took large sheets of cardboard and placed them on the ground as a weed barrier. The cardboard decomposes over time like the layers of leaves in the woods. After watering the cardboard sheets I hauled many loads of leaves to place over the cardboard. Next I added wheat straw, then more leaves. This created a “lasagna like” layer. Some beds were covered with black plastic to help the composting process. When my wife had vegetable scraps I dug a hole in the bed and bury the scraps. I also buried rotted wood to add other microbes and insects to assist in the composting process.

One bed has a worm tower that I made. The tower is a 5 gallon plastic bucket with holes the size of a pencil that I drilled. We add vegetable scraps and red wiggler worms to eat the scraps and make worm castings and tea.

I have read that by Spring if the organic matter is not fully decomposed that is fine. I can dig a hole in the garden for the plant, add some top soil in the hole and plant. This type of gardening also requires no weeding which I like.

We are looking forward to growing vegetables using this simple permaculture gardening method. Be on the look out for more posts about how our garden grows once planting season arrives.

The main problem we have now is that our trees have grown so well that we have too much shade for some vegetables to be productive.

For more information on our inn using permaculture visit Cedar House Inn.

sheet mulching
Sheet mulching

Using Urine in the Landscape- Liquid Gold


“There’s Gold in them Thar Hills” is favorite old time saying in the Dahlonega area regarding the prevalence of gold during the early 1800’s Gold Rush.  In this post I am not referring to the precious metal gold but liquid gold. A substance that every human being produces in varying quantities. Also called Urine.

In Sweden they have found that urine is a valuable natural resource and is used as a natural fertilizer in farming. High in nitrogen it is especially good for leafy green vegetables. It is diluted with water in a 8:1 ratio.

They also found in Sweden that it is easier to process human waste more efficiently if the urine is not mixed with the feces. It is also better for the environment. They have even developed urine diverting toilets to separate the liquid gold from solids. It’s also interesting that privy’s or outhouses do not create odors when the solids are separated from the urine.

The innkeepers have used urine for years on the property. Correction: Mary Beth would not donate hers. We both purchased urinals at Wal Mart for collection of the liquid gold. Mary Beth’s was called a “sheurnal” and has never been used if anyone is interested.

We found many great uses for the urine besides serving as a nitrogen fertilizer in a 8:1 ratio mentioned above. It also can be used without dilution on the compost pile as a compost activator and breaks down the pile quicker. It also can be poured around the perimeter of your garden or plants to keep the deer away. We learned that this would work when deer were not a problem when our dog Stu was around marking the property. When Stu passed away we had the deer return so Fred had to mark the property not always using the urinal (don’t try this guys if you live in a neighborhood or the neighbors may talk, using a urinal is safer).

For more information read the book Liquid Gold which can be purchased on Amazon.

For more information on our eco friendly practices visit green page.