The Gardens

We’re running three different garden setups currently, each with a variety of plants and purposes.  Our largest garden is a 3/4 acre tilled plot, divided amongst three different types of growth.  The southern most section is for animal fodder (field wheat, wild oats, sugar beets, dent corn,) the middle is dedicated to rows (potatoes, cucumbers, carrots, beets, peas, watermelons, cantaloupe, strawberries, etc.) and the northern section is dedicated to a Three Sisters style garden, with sweet corn, amaranth, sunflowers, squash, zuchinni, pumpkins and several different kinds of beans.  This entire section is still in an early growth phase, with tons and tons of sprouts all over the place.  So far, the growth has been excellent–better than we could have hoped for–and we’re already keeping a mind towards the soil after the growing season.  Many of the peas will be allowed to grow wild and then tilled under early next year, and a portion of all plants will be allowed to go to seed.  By far, this is the most traditional of all the gardens, and has more plants and plant variety than anything else we’re doing.

The most experimental garden is our straw-bale garden, composed entirely of bound square bales that have been well-fertilized and topped with rich top soil.  We’re growing tomatoes, peppers, beans, and greens in these bales, and while the rate of seed success hasn’t been nearly as high as our tilled plot, the plants that have come up are doing well.  After two growing seasons in the bales, we”ll have a ton of excellent compost to spread over our soil plot that will grant us many rich growing seasons to come.

The third and final garden is my baby.  John built it for me about a month ago: it’s a raised bed,but rather than a standard soil fill, the bottom half is filled with logs and large sticks that will slowly rot and replenish the soil fill above with nutrients.  The top is rich soil, which hasn’t been fertilized at all.  I’ve got it about half-filled right now, mostly with herbs, and a few odd plants that I purchased (collards, eggplants, tomatillas, and a chocolate pepper plant.)  The vegetables have been given a fair amount of spacing, but I’ve planted my herbs (with the intent of adding a LOT more) in an intensive style.  Far and away, this little bed is rocking right along.

This picture is probably a 2×2 square near the southeast corner of the plot, and contains three kinds of mint,  catnip, some lemon grass, thyme, oregano, and the edge of the tomatillo plant (which is actually planted a good twelve inches away from everything else.)  There’s also lemon verbena, rosemary, and some sage in there.  It’s my favorite part of the whole plot, and all the mints can be smelled a good 10 feet away.  I absolutely love checking on it first thing in the morning, before it’s too hot.  There’s two or three honeysuckle bushes near by, and all of the smells combined give me a sort of boost that we’re on the right track with all this.

Gardening seems simple enough: sunshine, seeds, water… but our spring has taught us that isn’t the case at all.  This single plot, however, which is nearly weed-free, has such a riot of growth in it that it serves as a great reminder that this is what the earth is meant to do.


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