Tag Archive for gardens

Gardens Continued: “Wild Gardens” or “Wildcraft” Gardening

“Wild gardens,” of “wildcraft gardening,” is just as interesting as it sounds. Wild gardening works off the premise that all gardens can be fed and nourished on their own in a wild setup, needing minimal attention and yielding optimal production.Wild gardening is the practice of simply planting in the land around you and letting things grow, well, wild. This practice utilizes the natural weed growth as a protective barrier that provides shade and helps build the soil. It also allows insect populations to naturally help protect, pollinate, and tend the plants as well.

There are three key rules to the practice of wild gardening.

1. No cultivation. – Cultivation is still considered a more modern practice when it comes to growing crops. It is well known that over cultivation strips the land of the topsoil which in turn causes nutrient loss and is the primary reason while fertilizers need to be added back into the soil.

2. No chemicals. – No chemicals can be use. No chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or additives can touch either the soil or the plant. Using these can upset not only the seedlings in the wild garden, but the surrounding weeds and insects as well.

3. No weeding. – Obviously, in a wild garden which is purposely grown among the weeds, weeding out said weeds would be a bit of a shot in the foot as it breaks down the ecosystem that you’re borrowing to grow your garden.

The most important piece in planning a wild garden is in investigation work that is done before hand. The season following the start of your wild garden is a season of observation and discovery. In order to plan out a wild garden, watching the weeds that you plan on planting among is necessary.

By watching and recording the health and vigor of the different types of weeds it is possible to determine if there are any soil deficiencies that need to be addressed first. As with any garden, crops will grow best if the soil is ideal. Being able to prep the soil in the fall leading up to planting season is the easiest way to ensure the produce will being growing in the best soil conditions possible.

Tracking down when the two different sets of weeds sprout and die out is also important for planting the wild garden. Many areas exhibit two sets of weed growth, a summer growth and a winter growth. The best time for planting your spring and summer produce is just when the winter growth is done dying off and the sprouts for the summer weeds have yet to start growing. The reverse is ideal for the winter crops – summer weeds should be dying off and winter weeds sprouting when the seeds for the winter crop are planted.

While I would love to be able to give a list of what plants grow best in a wild garden, it would all be conjecture. We have yet to attempt a wild garden, though I think we might be game for one this spring. I can say that, in my readings on wild gardens, I have noticed that there seems to be a pattern. It seems that the produce more apt to grow haphazardly in the garden – such as tomatoes, squash, lettuce, bush peas – do well in wild gardens. Potatoes do so well that many folks simply leave them in the one spot for years on end, leaving enough in the ground for the next season’s garden.

If any of you have practiced wild gardening or are planning to do so, please comment with your experiences! This is a topic that I would love to learn more about from those who have actual experience with the process.

 

Gardens Continued: Raised Bed

One of the most prolific forms of gardening is the raised bed method. The raised bed method sinus tad it sounds: you are literally raising your garden bed.

Raised bed gardens start with selecting an area to fencing, or boxing in, with wood timber, cement blocks, or anything else that may be fashioned to hold soil. 

The height of the bed can vary form only a few inches above ground soil to a height tall enough to accomadate the elderly and handicapped. The minimum height is based off from whatever crops you are growing in the raised bed. The minimum height for growing lettuce allows for a very shallow box. Carrots, on the other hand, creates the need for a minimum of 12″ of raised bed depth. 

The width of the bed can vary just as much as the depth, from one row up to the entirety of a garden. The basic rule of thumb is this: make sure your raised bed isn’t so wide that you can’t teach to the middle for easy weeding. Additionally, it’s important to make sure that you leave enough space between the plants and the box framing to assure that the roots aren’t short on space. 

Some people plant their crops extensively in raised beds. While that is a possibility, depending on the size of your garden, it’s an expensive possibility. For our homestead, where we try to grow as much of our food as possible, raised beds serve a specific purpose. We save our raider bed ares for herbs, shallow root crops, such as lettuce and time intensive crops such as broccoli.  Not only does it make the certain crops more easy to notice in a large garden, but it also allows for easier access. The more thourough drainage of the raised bed is also a plus, prohibiting drowning and molding during wet seasons. 

‘Tis the season

Things have geared up full force for spring.

Saturday we went fiddlehead picking. In the course of a week, the fiddleheads have poked their lazy heads out of the sandy stream banks and bolted. They’ve gone by. Normally the picking season is just gearing up for the second week of May. This year, it’s done and over with all ready. We didn’t even get a quarter of what we picked last year. Tonight we’ll cook off the few pounds we have, enjoy some for dinner, and freeze the rest of the cooked ones to be added by the handful to pasta and other dishes. We still have four frozen servings from last year, so we’ll have some throughout the summer, just no Yule time fiddleheads from the freezer this year.

The next thing on the list for foraging and trying is a tie between Japanese knotweed and dandelion greens. I know, what type of homesteaders are we that we haven’t tried either yet? Insane! ;-) Both are things that I think I’ll be trying solo as neither Hubster of Little Mister seem too enthused about the idea. Regardless as to whether I get to try the greens or not, I need to start harvesting dandelion root as I’m almost out. At least I have more of a plan this year, so it should go a lot smoother than in the past.

Saturday we were also able to sell our original, and now unused, chicken coop, which gave us the funds to purchase our first blueberry bushes. I’m hoping to get them in the ground this weekend at the latest. I’ll be doing a more in-depth post on those later, but needless to say, we’re all excited! They’ll be going in down amongst the rhubarb and will really help pull that piece of the yard together.

Sunday saw us outside practically all day. Hubster, bless his heart, was devoured by black flies in the morning while beginning the tilling on the gardens. The large garden that we added last year as been extended a bit and we mergered two older gardens together and expanded those as well. We also tilled a 6×10 plot for Little Mister to have as his own first garden. He and I will be working on the fencing for that this weekend, most likely. He’s super excited about it. Now if I could get him to understand the blueberry plants aren’t for his garden….

Given the crazy season, updates on here might still be a bit more sporadic than what I would like, but I’ll try to share and re-link past posts from our excursions and adventures in order to keep things more entertaining.

Ice Storm 2013

Well, we finally got hit with another ice storm. Took fifteen years for it to happen, but she’s here, that’s for sure. It’s been raining ice since Saturday night. I’m proud to say, though, that I was preemptive on bring wood to the front of the house. On Friday I filled the front bin, the empty half of the kindling bin, and brought in enough wood for two full days to be dried out around the stove. Needless to say, we still have a good stock pile no more than five feet from our front door, which is a godsend as the only way we would be able to get to the woodsheds right now is via ice-cleats and a pickaxe.

Hubster used the massive halogen work lights I bought him last year to finish up the interior structure of the new shed during the middle of the rain/icestorm. It’s a little too flimsy to leave it to its own accord in a Maine winter, that’s for true.

The chickens, dog, Little Mister, and this homesteader are all getting cabin fever, however. Given that the past three weeks have been too cold for walking (all except for one day and we only got in half a walk as Diamond split her nail that day – on the walk of course), and now with the ice which will be dissipating tomorrow only to bring in more arctic cold…Well, we’re stretching to find things to do.

Yesterday we used  cardboard box, copious amounts of ducktape, and a bit of imagination to make a garage with barn doors for Little Misters various vehicles. I have no idea what to do tomorrow, though. He’s refusing naps now and doesn’t want to hang in his room by himself anymore. Today was a bit of a “win” as he’s now napping (with Bubble-Mater in bed with him) and actually played in his room for half an hour. I’m trying my hardest to try and get him back on a schedule that will also help me get time for thesis work next semester. Here’s hoping all works out, right? Bribery with a popcorn lunch is a good thing, don’t ya think?

On the plus side, with all this stuck-being-indoors, my house is slowly getting cleaned up, which means after my “sabbatical” from thesis work is over at the end of this week, I should be able to crank out more work without having to worry about things. Oh, that and get some very early seedlings goings. Right now I’m looking at getting some greenpeppers started severely early, along with some herbs and lettuce, in hopes that we might get the chance to get a mini-greenhouse constructed out of pallets and windows either during a January thaw or early in March. One can dream.

Let the work begin!

Seeds have been ordered from FedCo and will be shipped in about two weeks. Potatoes have also been ordered and will be sent out at the beginning of April. While it might have cost a bit, I am so happy that we decided to go with FedCo, not to mention that the seeds will most likely last us two planting seasons.

Bring on the busy work! :-)