permaculture of the ditch

joel gagnon joelpgagnon at
Wed Aug 11 10:21:41 EDT 2010

What direction does the slope face? Even if it has no overhead shade, the direction it faces will make a considerable difference in what plants would be happy there.

Joel Gagnon

> Date: Tue, 10 Aug 2010 16:47:17 -0400
> From: simonstl at
> To: fingerlakespermaculture at
> Subject: permaculture of the ditch
> 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.
> Thanks,
> -- 
> Simon St.Laurent
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