A start to the garden, a long way to go…

Here we are, two-months into our move to Bloomfield, and I have to say I’m pleased with our progress. I never imagined that after spending 22 years creating a whole life in another town we could so easily make this shift, but our stuff is unpacked and we’ve started to decorate so I guess we’re here to stay. It’s a really good feeling to know we made the right move and watching this place morph into our home. Getting some art on the walls made all the difference.

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Adrenaline, stinky well water, dirty carpets, overgrown blackberries, poopy pipes and the potential El Niño have spurred us forward and helped us get an absolute crapload done in a short amount of time. We had a ton of cleaning and clearing to do, starting with the blackberries which had practically swallowed the barns from both sides.

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We cleaned out the henhouse and gave it a barn wood floor …

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and removed some rat-infested bushes…

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And yet… there is still so much to do! Boredom will not be an issue here –my next project is a doozy. It’s time to figure out the garden. Normally I only like to share pretty pictures but if I never post these, how will you know how much cool stuff we’ve done?? Here’s what we have to work with, garden-wise. It’s basically just a gopher amusement park, and that stand-alone gate isn’t fooling the deer for a minute.

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Since fall is the best time to prep garden beds for spring planting I needed to get started despite not having a plan. I managed to knock together a few raised beds from our flooring scraps and decided to use lasagne gardening to build the soil. This method of layering carbon-rich ‘browns’ and nitrogen-rich ‘greens’ and allowing them to break down over time is my favorite way to create rich soil. It’s easy because Mother Nature does most of the work and it also uses up all kinds of crap I have laying around. As a bonus I end up with healthy soil for planting!

It would have been so easy to just fill the beds with moving boxes, chicken poop, grass, sticks and kitchen scraps, but in typical unfetteredfox fashion I had to go complicate things. Remember my T.M.F.I. post from last year when I read too much and ended up overwhelmed trying to combine everything I’d learned? Yeah, I’ve done it again, but I swear it wasn’t my fault. Damn internet.

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What happened was that we had a bunch of piles of logs and sticks left behind by the previous tenant. I’ve been reading up on Hugelkultur, a common system of sustainable gardening in Europe that uses rotting logs as a base. Traditional Hugelkultur beds start by digging a trench, filling it with logs, then adding layers of compostable materials. The result is a raised bed with a self-sustaining source of good bugs and bacteria produced as the larger logs break down over time. And here I’ve got all these logs! Seemed a shame to waste them, so I chucked them into the raised beds. So much for lasagne.

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I layered sticks, grasses, coop litter, leaves, and a thin layer of soil on top, covered everything with a thick layer of mulch, watered it down, then jumped on it (because it’s fun to jump on things).

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I woke up in the middle of the night worried I hadn’t added enough green material, but at this point I think the best course of action is to wait and see what happens. I can always add more grass and chicken poop if necessary, no doubt I’ll have plenty of both. The beds look pretty and I feel like I got something done, a step in a direction anyway. Is it the right direction? That remains to be seen.

Overall I’d be feeling pretty good about things if I hadn’t delved into the principles of Permaculture and started thinking about how to turn the meadow into a food forest… but that will have to wait for another post, and perhaps another lifetime.

Happy gardening! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. Pat Sherwood says:

    You wore me out just reading all you’ve accomplished in such a short time! I’m looking forward to seeing what is in the future!!!! Love the scrap iron art I see in the pictures!

    Like

    1. Sheri Fox says:

      I think a break is in the future! I’m ready to just exist for a while, I’m exhausted LOL

      Like

  2. joy simon says:

    i love to follow you reminds me of myself when i was younger, 82 now. enjoy

    Like

    1. Sheri Fox says:

      Thank you Joy, that made me smile 😊

      Like

  3. Hilda says:

    Things are looking good.

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    1. Sheri Fox says:

      I appreciate that, even if you’re just being kind 😉

      Like

  4. Steve says:

    I’ll follow your progress with interest. I moved from city life in the UK to the side of a mountain in Italy last year and had to get a lot done, including removing 26 stupid “decorative” spruce trees which had grown 90 feet tall, 24 diseased woodland trees, preparing vegetable plots, fencing the growing areas to keep out the wild boar and deer as well as working on the house. I’ve had a great first year, though, being self-sufficient in vegetables since July. I’m running a vegan system, no animal inputs. I’ve just planted 18 fruit trees as the core of my food forest system. And now, its winter so I can slow down a bit and plan next year’s work. With 120 square metres of vegetables, a big polytunnel, 1000 square metres of food forest, flower and herb gardens and 5000 square metres of woodland, all on a steep slope, it should keep me fairly fit!
    Looking forward to hearing, and seeing, how your land develops
    Very best to you…..

    Like

    1. Sheri Fox says:

      WOW!!! That is a HUGE project you’ve taken on! Makes my plain little meadow sound like a piece of cake. It’s amazing what you’ve accomplished in such a short time! I’d say you should be blogging as I’d love to see photos, but can’t imagine when you’d have the time. Have you studied permaculture or are you just figuring out and implementing the concepts as you go?

      Like

  5. Kathy Sturr says:

    It’s so fun to see your progress! I have heard of the hugelkultur method through Margaret Roach – so interesting! I leave “nursery logs” in some of my garden beds to attract beneficial insects as I started with a slab o’grass. One of the farms on nearby Wellesley Island has planted an edible forest – it is spectacular and I plan to post about it one day. I don’t have nice enough photos to do it justice but she, Dani Baker, was inspired by the edible forests of England and the permaculture behind it. Her plan alone is stunning and I wouldn’t have thought we could grow so much edible food in our very cold Northern climate. You are going to have some kick*ss soil!

    Like

    1. Sheri Fox says:

      It’s nice to hear it called “progress!” I feel like everything happens so slowly, but then I remind myself we’ve only been here 10 weeks and suddenly it seems like we’re doing quite a lot. I like that idea of leaving a log in the beds. I’ve never had logs available except eucalyptus, which were no good for the garden but very good in the fireplace. I keep poking around the beds to see if anything is happening but so far I don’t see anything. Hopefully it’ll start cookin’ soon!

      Liked by 1 person

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