Gardening over the Years
Thursday, February 13, 2020
I have been living on this half acre property for over forty years. There is woodland behind me, and a dozen or so mature trees dotted around and in my property. There was not a shade problem when we first moved here, but it's starting now.
Over the years I've added seven flower beds and two veggie gardens. Three children came into our lives and as they grew grew up, they needed more playing space. Less time to garden, work and other responsibilities led to down sizing to one just veggie garden. A 6 foot chicken wire fence was erected with hopes that it would keep the deer out. IT WAS NOT HEIGH ENOUGH. I came home from work to find two deer inside unable to jump back out. There was a track worn around the perimeter showing where they kept trying to find a way out. Parts of the chicken wire bulged where they tried to force a way out. Weaving stalks from the bamboo (growing near the chicken run) along the top of the chicken wire that stuck an extra 2 feet above the wire worked. They never tried getting in after that.
What better way to start living off the land than to have chickens? We started small, one house and a dozen hens. Bamboo planted out side the chicken run served two purposes, shade for the birds and stakes for the garden. Several years later we had three chicken houses and 400 laying hens. All those eggs were sold at the road side and through a local health food store.
What's growing right now?
In the green house there are 30 lavender cuttings showing new growth. Nine butterfly bush cuttings and 24 laurel cuttings are still alive, but not showing new growth as they were placed in the soil only a few weeks to a month ago. The snow and below freezing cold snap has taken a toll on the geraniums - hoping a few will have survived.
In the organic garden compound, garlic and strawberries are showing new growth in their raised beds. The compost bins have reduced themselves to half their autumn size. The maple leaf mulch cover that was 6 inches deep, has been blown about in the recent wind storms, There are a couple of bare patches, but with all the rain, (three inches a week or so ago) I'm not walking in there just yet.
The blueberries have their own "cage" to keep the deer, rabbits, and birds out. It works most of the time, but the birds are tiny and do find small holes in the netting... I have to let them out or else they will eat all the berries or die from exhaustion and dehydration trying to get out. The bushes are budding, so it won't be too long before the leaves come out. I usually harvest 7 to 9, gallon buckets each summer - unless those birds beat me to it!
Front yard is not inside the fence as it is three big beds all ornamentals - daphne, butterfly bushes, native shrubs - osier dogwood, kinnikinnick, ferns, Alberta rose, lavender, hellebores, bulbs, and various other plants the deer are not supposed to like nibbling on. A maple and an evergreen) are in the boarder at the road edge of the property to help shade the house in the summer.
The trellis out front runs the length of the house through two of the beds and is covered with honey suckle and clematis. In the summer months, it's covered with sweet smelling blooms and bees. The two bird houses are full of life during their chick raising season.
I've just had an 8 foot chain link fence installed around most of the property. This should help to keep the heard of local deer (18 at last count) out of the best growing areas.
With the new fencing, I hope to be able to grow more natives and add a few more vegetable growing areas. Going to garden share this year as one of my friends said she's on a 6 year wait to get a plot in the community gardens near her.
I heard about "No Dig" gardening and will be trying it out this year. I don't have enough aged compost to do a large area, but that won't stop me from making a couple of small beds. Plus will be fun to experiment with growing root veggies in both the older garden and in the new beds to see which method produces more.
If you have any suggestions, tips or thought son no dig gardening, please post a comment. I'd love to hear from you!