Our goal is to have most of the yard converted to a chemical free zone full of edibles, medicinals and lots of pretty things to look at. Something like this, or this.
Each year I add another significant sized bed, this year I added 2! I "build" the beds by composting in place and add log borders, which will be inoculated with mushroom spawn. They're pretty typical, incredibly simple permaculture methods--or you can just call me lazy.
Immediately below you can barely (sorry for the terrible pictures, I've no technical understanding of taking a picture) see how last year's new bed started off as an area for making compost (collage 1, bottom 2 pictures). As the compost heated up and the leaves broke down, worms moved in and tilled the soil underneath the bin. I moved the bin around and used the process of composting to create a rich layer of topsoil for what is now a perennial edible bed. Every year the bed gets a new dressing of browns and greens (usually leaves and grass clippings) which maintains the loose, rich soil texture and adds nutrients.
All of these pictures are the same bed--in 2010 it was planted with perennial flowers and some herbs, a pitiful horseradish root from Lowe's that I suspected was DOA (and it was) and some yellow pear tomatoes. Nothing really stuck around or came back this year.
Early spring of this year I added strawberry, asparagus and horseradish crowns, onion starts, transplanted rhubarb, and added some annuals like tomatoes and marigolds.
If you can see the giant boxwood towards the back of the bed (collage 2, bottom picture), it's now gone... It pretty much blocked the entire back left quadrant. One of the lessons that stuck with me from Permie Camp was not to have a sentimental attachment to plants. That's a hard philosophy to remember, the land we live on is the land my grandparents built their family on. The connection is deeply in place, and to cut down a plant that has been there through generations is difficult. In place of the old boxwood is a rain barrel; it's not set up to collect rain yet (we need to add gutters on the carport) so I fill it with hose water when it's empty. A sprinkler hose is attached directly to the barrel to water the bed.
There are a few perennial flowers worth saving from the area that was blocked by the boxwood, but the rest is covered in vinca and english ivy. Those 2 plants get ripped out with no remorse, they're mean, monstrous plants, if you ask me.
It's a process of subtraction and addition, but it's coming along. I'm thinking a bring your own plant planting party is in order. Think anyone would notice it would be a tricky way to get my yard planted for free?