Starting a New Season and Perhaps a New Chapter
Not to long ago, we found ourselves down at the farm garden doing some work on a relatively warmish day for this time of year. (One of the few benefits of global warming.) The time was used to spread composted manure that has been aging for a number of years in a pile over both of our plots and to seed one of the plots down with red clover. We did that to force ourselves to cut back our labors to more enjoyable levels in the summer and to add more biomass to the other plot as it rests next summer.
Eventually we would like to create a garden behind our house and begin to transition away from the farm. While we enjoy the space to grow all kinds of things which we can do on the farm, we also don't enjoy the drive that needs to be made every weekend followed by the labor necessary to catch up after spending 7 days away from the garden in whatever weather we happen to have that day, be it cold and rainy or hot and dry. It would be much more enjoyable to maybe work an hour in the morning or evening behind our house a few times a week and on days with nicer weather.
We lack two things however, good soil and space. I have finally made the realization that the soil will never get any better by just thinking about it so at some point, we are just going to have to start and keep making it better like what has been happening to the farm garden for many many years. The space is harder to figure out. We do have lots of physical space around our house but most of it is covered in shade produced by lots of trees and much of that is too steep to really garden on without erosion problems. But we do have a spot now due to the removal of some trees due to storms and old age on the east and west sides of it now gets a fair amount of sun and is relatively flat. We can probably put in a garden there the size of the plot we have reserved for planting this summer down on the farm. So if we can make due with half the garden this year, we should be able to do so in the future as well.
At least for now, we don't want to abandon our farm garden yet either. We are still going to plant it this year and maybe another while we begin the transition of creating a new garden behind our house. When we make the transition, we still might use the farm garden for some fall crops like pumpkins and squash which don't need weekly visits and we still have fruit trees and berries down there as well. This seems to be the best solution for our future that provides adequate space and minimize the required time for maintaining.
This summer though, it will be business as usual though with a smaller garden. It will still require frequent trips but hopefully the labor part will be half and so make it more enjoyable. We may change our minds again too. Only time will tell for sure.
Sounds like a reasonable plan Ed - especially with the drive. If you are looking for recommendation on soil improvement, I do not think I can recommend a better book than Gabe Brown's Dirt to Soil (review coming later this week).ReplyDelete
I'll look for it. Since it is mostly disturbed clay with a thin layer of topsoil, I'm pretty sure I just need just about everything!Delete
I think I almost like the "building a garden" phase more than the actual established garden phase. The garden/experimental plot I have at the farm might be one of my best gardens and I built it with cover crops, composted cattle manure, hay mulch, and a little biochar (if I lived a little closer, I'd give you a pile of biochar to try) .ReplyDelete
My home garden was started decades ago by planting potatoes into an area where I tilled in a mountain of leaves over the winter. I'd rake up leaves, spread them into about a foot layer, then run my tiller over them, wait for a rain, then do it again. Plant potatoes on St. Patrick's Day, hill them up, and dig them with a spading fork to loosen everything up, then I broadcast blackeyed peas in late summer followed by winter wheat in the fall. The next year I moved to the next section of garden and did the same thing until I'd "potatoed" the whole garden. Doing that turned red clay into decent soil over time.
I look forward to reading about how you build your new garden.
I miss reading of your garden testing! If you ever start up your blog again, be sure to let me know.Delete
I admire you for making that drive. The garden spot I have was in a hay field, that is slowly being brought back into production. I have added a lot of biomass to build it the clay soil.ReplyDelete
Two of the obstacles I will have to deal with are hauling ability for materials and accessibility. The hauling part is fairly easily remedied with a hitch put on one of our vehicles and a small trailer bought. The accessibility is another issue though. There is a very steep hill to back down edged closely be an extremely steep hill that any vehicle would easily roll down or simply shovel and a wheelbarrow and being quick on one's feet. Anytime I've needed a lot, such as concrete for my outbuilding project, it is done with a skidsteer through the side yard which gets really torn up every time and is about three times the distance to get down that way.Delete
Your plan sounds well thought out and organized. Too ambitious for me but then you're a LOT younger than I am!ReplyDelete
It sounds really ambitious to me too, and I AM a lot younger than you!Delete
I do better being able to see what's growing. Out of sight, out of mind. That's why the birds and critters seem to get more from our fruit trees in the pasture as opposed to those by the house. We don't have much garden space set aside anymore, though. Our former swimming pool was a great spot, but it's now where we have our solar panels and it hosts a few dog graves, as well.ReplyDelete
We have lost crops unnecessarily to pests and critters as well.Delete
Good plan. As you age the extra trip etc will become more onerous.ReplyDelete
That is for sure!Delete
Sounds like you have a good plan for now, while gradually making the transition to the land around your house. I'm guessing, as the girls get older and busier, you'll want to make that drive less.ReplyDelete
We've almost missed that boat as the oldest will be a senior next year.Delete
I have a 2 small garden plots but I need to tidy them up. The advantage of living in Hawaii is that it is growing season all year round.ReplyDelete
I pondered that during my time there. Over here, letting the soil rest is deemed beneficial. It would be a whole other learning curve to know how to plant and harvest year round.Delete
We are doing some garden switching as well. We've had a terrible time with tomato blight. It has gotten worse. We will do a smaller, smarter garden this year while we figure out what to do next.ReplyDelete
We've been fortunate with tomato blight but we mulch. I've heard others have success by hollowing out a straw bale and planting a plant in those using sterilized potting soil.Delete
Sounds very logical and I agree you made the right plan for the right reasons. Geoff Lawton says it isn't difficult to build soil, but you're correct that it doesn't build itself! Hopefully, your transition from farm to home garden will be fairly smooth and quick.ReplyDelete
We shall see how everything goes. But honestly, I'm soon reaching the point where even half a crop is better than a whole crop 40 miles away.Delete