permaculture of the ditch

Simon St.Laurent simonstl at
Tue Aug 10 16:47:17 EDT 2010

I'm wondering if there are visible and perhaps useful things we can do 
with the edges of property most exposed to the public.  This list is 
usually a little more meta than that, but I wonder...

In a hot year when we planned to do very little gardening (we had a 
newborn and have a two-year-old), I've found myself doing lots of work 
between 6:00 and 8:00am.  Even more to my surprise, I've been doing a 
lot of that work near the road in front of my house, Route 366.

I have a short hill (10'?) sloping down to a ditch before the road.  The 
state DOT mows from the road into the ditch once or twice a year, and 
that area also gets lots of salt and salt spray in winter.  Occasionally 
the state scrapes out the ditch, though they've skipped my stretch for a 
while.  There's also the unfortunate regular appearance of pollutants, 
from oil and gasoline to antifreeze and litter - even occasionally 
concrete if a truck has to stop there for some reason.

Josh Dolan and I refrained from planting food crops on the hillside, 
though some elderberries have appeared and I'm content to leave them 
there.  I'm mostly doing decorative shade garden work (and poison ivy 
removal) on the hill, though the Edible Forest Garden has been a helpful 
guide even for that.

My hard question is the side of the ditch that goes to the road.  Cars 
don't get much of an impression, apart from the whiskey barrel of 
impatiens the Varna Community Association put there, but pedestrians 
certainly see it, and I'd like to create some kind of reward for their 
patience in walking that stretch.

Are there plants more appealing and perhaps productive than goldenrods, 
ragweed, teasel, and garlic mustard that currently survive in that 
environment?  Are there examples of work people have already done that I 
could consider for inspiration?

I'm not looking for serious design here, just a rough idea of whether 
this is possible enough to be worth investing some time.  I'm happy to 
experiment, and share the results.

Simon St.Laurent

More information about the FingerLakesPermaculture mailing list