Tag Archive for natural

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.

 

Asparagus Has Been Planted

Asparagus 2014_2

Asparagus 2014_1We had to swing into the local hardware store today to pick up more screening and staples to chicken/groundhog proof the gardens. While I there I decided to buy myself a Mother’s Day gift: asparagus roots. Last year we planted a crown from my FIL’s old asparagus bed, but I know better than to think one crown could ever produce enough for us. When I saw the bin marked ASP – JERSEY SUPREME 25/$12.99, I couldn’t resist. In the top photo here you can see the asparagus bed is, marked out by the bright orange posts, and the five brambles that we transplanted last year (2 wild and 3 bought). This is down on the peninsular that our stream floods over every year. It’s the only area that has enough sun and drainage for both the brambles and the asparagus, so we’re hoping all will do well.

Asparagus 2014_2Here’s a picture of the bed itself. It’s about 6′ long and 2′ wide. After cutting the top soil with a spade, I flipped the chunks of sod over to help kill off the grass. I then added a wheelbarrow full of mulch that we had kicking around from another project. I placed the small root bundles in groups of two (and one of three) rows and placed a wheelbarrow full of compost on top of that. Hubster helped me cut a strip of chicken wire and peg down on top to help deter the chickens and groundhogs from investigating. On top of the wire we placed some grass that had been scalped from where the new garden bed will be.

All in all, I feel pretty confident in it. We’ll see if anything comes up this year, and more importantly, what comes up next year .

Seeds and Tubers On the Way!

Here are the seeds that we’ve ordered from FedCo for this year:

  • Ireland Creek Annie Bean OG
  • Patriot Shell Pea OG
  • Green Arrow Shell Pea OG
  • Little Leaf H-19 Pickling Cucumber OG
  • Tonda di Parigi Carrot
  • Atomic Red Carrot OG
  • Danvers Carrot OG
  • Antares Lettuce OG
  • Lollo di Vino Lettuce OG
  • Summer Lettuce Mix
  • Winter Lettuce Mix
  • Czech Black Hot Pepper OG
  • Thai Hot Pepper OG
  • Oregon Spring Tomato OG
  • Principe Borghese Cherry Tomato OG
  • Wild Bergamot
  • Catnip
  • Bodegold Chamomile
  • Caribe Cilantro OG
  • Bouquet Dill OG
  • Greek Oregano
  • Mammoth Grey Stripe Sunflower
  • Plum Purple Radish

We still have pole beans, bush beans, Ireland Creek Annies, radish, spinach, pie pumpkin, cucumber, carrot, Coral shell peas, tomato, and bell pepper seeds as well. We’re picking up a couple different tomatoes this year – Oregon Spring and Principe Borghese Cherry – as the Glaciers and San Diegos didn’t seem to do too well. I’m really excited about growing bergamot, catnip, and chamomile, as it will lower our necessity to buy tea a ton, especially when you consider that we already have a surplus of mint in one herb bed.

For potatoes we decided to be a little more selective this year. Last year we bought the “classic keepers” variety pack which really helped us to take note of what does and doesn’t grow really well for us. Out of the five types we got to try, we’re ordering Kennebecs and German Butter Balls, both late varieties. We’re also going to take a stab at Rose Finn Apple, which is an early fingerling, and Red Golds, which are about a mid season potato.

I’ll update more on what the gardens will look like and such later.

Beat that, CAFO.

I drove less than five miles this morning and paid Rob Rowbottom at Rowbottom Farm for our quarter of organic grass-fed, Angus beef.

I then gave him a lift to our mutual mechanic’s shop, less than five miles from either of our homes, where he needed to pick up his truck and I needed to drop off my car.

Vaughn and I walked home and I’m now working to getting things prepped for when I get a call from the butcher’s this week saying that our beef is ready for pick up. Blaisdell’s Slaughterhouse is less than five minutes from here, so I won’t need a cooler to pack it in.

What other lifestyle lets you meet the man that raised your beef and the butcher that delivers the final blow and packages it all within a stone’s throw of your home? I love it.

Gobbling Up Wood

At the beginning of this heating season we received some bad news: the family land where we had been doing our cutting would be sold. We had a feeling that this would happen. Once Joe’s grandfather passed away, it was only a matter of time. The problem with being environmentally minded folks who burn wood but only live on .75 acres is the necessity with being granted access to a woodlot.

The past couple months we’ve been on pins and needles trying to figure something out while not driving ourselves bloody mad over it. Through out meditations and schemes, we finally hit upon something. Being the type to barter our abilities, Joe was talking to a local turkey farmer and family friend that had mentioned a while ago about Joe taking charge of the business’ website. When Joe mentioned our predicament, Bob Neal of The Turkey Farm (this website is the current one – Joe won’t be working on a new one for a month or so) was more than willing to help us out.

While the details still need to be sorted, it’s a huge relief to know that we have a source of warmth for next winter.