Category Archives: Permaculture

Garden 2013–Let There Be Light!

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Dear Reader:

Here we are at the end of June, and my garden boxes are just beginning to fill in. I started late this year, missing my Memorial Day Weekend planting deadline. I picked up baby plants hither, thither, and yon–Tibbetts Family Farm for herbs and a thistle, Newfield Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market for tomatoes and a few more herbs, Snell Family Farm for veggies and flowers. Tibbetts again for truckloads of compost and compost/loam mix.

We also had 26 pine trees cut off the property–a mutually beneficial arrangement where the guys cut the trees in exchange for the lumber. Can I just say…HOORAY! What a difference this is making around my yard. Sunlight hits the garden boxes at least three more hours per day. Another area that was completely shaded from 11 a.m. until dark now gets more light than any other spot on the property, and my brain is turning and tumbling with ideas of creating a branching permaculture style garden there. First, though, there is the keyhole bed to finish, the hugelkultur garden to complete and plant, and–oh, yeah–making edging beds around the new forest perimeters so the blackberry brambles do not get a toehold.

While I have managed to plant the square-foot garden boxes, this will be the summer of garden bed preparation and transplanting of perennials, where possible. So glad I purchased a CSA share–the produce comes to me to me in large brown paper bags, all ready to eat. I’ve consumed more greens over the past month than I did all last year, I swear!

Anyway, here are the garden boxes this year, for a record.

Box One

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row 1: radishes; row 2: oregano, thyme, rosemary, thyme, oregano; row 3: garlic chives; row 4: borage, milk thistle, borage; row 5: dill inter-planted with spinach seeds.

Box Two

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row 1: tomatoes; row 2: sage, lettuces, shiso, green pepper; row 3: lettuces, chocolate mint (perennial), lemon balm (perennial)

Box Three

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row 1: petunias; row 2: sweet woodruff, basil, savory: row 3: bronze fennel, fennel, bronze fennel (radishes interplanted)

Box Four

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center: four pink salvia; corners: pickling cukes; spaces: salad greens mix

Box Five

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row 1: radishes; rows 2 & 3: kale, broccoli raabe, hot pepper; row 4: hot pepper, parsley, celery

Box 6

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row 1: calendula; row 2: fennel, celery, celery, fennel; row 3: basil, celery, celery, basil; row 4: zucchini

Box 7

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row 1: petunia, basil, petunia, pickling cuke; row 2: red pepper, fennel, curly parsley, red pepper; row 3: lettuce seeds, pickling cuke, summer squash, summer squash; row 4: spinach seeds

Box 8

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row 1: petunia, parsley, parsley, petunia; row 2: onions all across from seed; row 3: snapdragon, bachelor button, zinnia, dill from seeds; row 4: romaine lettuce and green lettuce from seed

Box 9

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First two rows: peas; Second two rows: bush beans

New Keyhole garden

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This will be the apple guild eventually. Apple tree will go in the back surrounded by borage, dandelion, comfrey, beans, and daffodils. The “arms” will be planted with various stuff. I stuck some alyssum, camomile, and butterfly weed in there, but more compost and loam is going to be added.

Hugelkultur garden

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This is a big hole where a stump used to be. The stump I tried to “rot” with lime and a plastic covering a couple years ago. When the tree guys came, they hauled it off (and took the beginnings of my hugelkultur garden with it!) I restacked the sticks and greeny stuff, started dumping on compost and old leaves, and will continue to work on it over the summer, eventually covering with a few inches of compost/loam. I wanted to plant potatoes and squash in there. Perhaps if I get my butt in gear…if not, there is next year. Maybe better to get some manure and throw it on and let it age over the winter anyway?

Various flower and perennial beds are looking fine. I have an elderberry to plant and one to transplant from its current location.

So, that is my 2013 garden so far. I am loving my plot of land now that the light is coming in. Now, I better sign off and get out there to work!

Spring!

spring!

spring! by localista featuring a straw hat

Dear Reader:

The snow is gently retreating from my northern lawn. The first brave shoots of daffodils have pushed up beside the front steps. And I am planning and plotting my garden–when I’m not interviewing subjects for my newspaper articles or working on my novella or making homemade granola, that is.

Granola is easy: just throw 3 cups of whole oats, some flax seeds, some chopped walnuts, some cocoa powder, some cinnamon, a dash of salt in a bowl. Mix in two tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 cup of local maple syrup (I love the darker syrup, a little smokey-flavored from the old-fashioned wood-fired pan-reducing process. The syrup I use is made out in an open-sided shed on a wooded property overlooking the White Mountains off in the distance.Thank you Dana Masse of Shady Mountain Syrup Company in Parsonsfield, Maine!)

I put the mixture on a greased pan and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes on 350 degrees, stirring every ten minutes or so. Once cool, add seeds and dried fruits of your choice. This week’s addition of dried cherries from Cornerstone Country Market was SO good with the light cocoa flavor of the oats.I highly recommend both the cherries and Cornerstone.

Garden plans: I’ve convinced Hubby to move his horseshoe pits to a different location which will make room for up to SEVEN more boxes in a mostly-sunny spot just shy of the septic field. That would bring my count up to sixteen 4ft. square boxes. If I can ever figure out the perfect soil to put in them, I should be able to grow lots of greens, peppers, cucumbers, and herbs. Maybe even some cherry tomatoes. But I’m giving up on regular slicing or sauce tomatoes. These I will simply purchase at the farmer’s market or my CSA (reminder to self: fill out CSA form!).

We’ll see how the apple tree guild area fared over the winter. I looked at it a little bit yesterday, and the hay and compost and leaves didn’t break down as much as I’d hoped. The remedy will be to top it off with some composted manure and maybe plant some legumes this spring to turn in. I will plant the apple tree this spring, regardless. It is time for that guild. A guild is a grouping of plants that complement each other. This is a permaculture principle. In this case, an apple tree ringed with daffodils and/or garlic, some legumes, maybe some dandelions to bring up nutrients from the deeper soil, some comfrey to work as a natural mulch, etc. I found this idea in a book called Gaia’s Garden. Click HERE to see the apple guild page. I’ll be researching crab apples as I’d like to make more crab apple jelly.

Last project: hugelkultur. I pronounce this hoogle-cool-tour but I don’t know if that is correct. You could say hoogle-culture. Doesn’t matter. What matters is that you can take old logs and branches and blowdowns, pile them up, cover them with soil, and plant on it. Click the link to read more. The idea is that as the wood breaks down, it retains moisture, reducing the need to water, and contains plenty of nutrients to support plant growth. I’d like to do this behind the raised beds, where the south-facing slope of the hugulkulture bed would catch the sun nicely. I’m thinking blueberries and potatoes, but I don’t know if those two plants make good companions. Will do more research.

What are your garden plans for this growing season? Are you itching to get out there with your shovel or trowel? Remember, food doesn’t get more local than your own back yard. Even if you set up a few containers and plant lettuce and some herbs, you are giving yourself a wonderful gift of homegrown food, a fun hobby, time outside in the fresh air and sunshine, and a science experiment all rolled into one. Enjoy your week, Dear Readers.