Monday, July 14, 2014

Planting a Garden Now - Experimenting with Permaculture and Fall Gardening

Aaron and Mara working on digging holes for planting.
 When we decided to sell our home and build a new one this year I knew that gardening might be complicated. We did buy our new land in January and so I optimistically thought that we could easily plant a garden both places and then we would have plenty no matter when the house sold. Enter reality. :-)

  I did not want to plant a garden out at the new place until I had a fence up to keep deer out as we had seen ample evidence of our land being heavily populated with deer and our new neighbors told us many a story of the deer eating everything at their place. So, I figured we would put up a fence. But that wasn't quite as simple as it sounded either. There were permits to be obtained (which took a while and if I remember right depended on other things being done first),  the ground needed to thaw too, trees and brush needed to be cleared and then just a lot of other things coming up as well. The fencing is still not all done.

   Meanwhile at home I did get a garden in but not as much as normal as we have been very busy working out at the land and then some things got in late and it has also been a fairly chilly summer so plants have been growing quite slowly. We have gotten some stuff from our garden but not a lot and now our closing date is in just over a month and I don't think we will harvest all that much before then. That is all right - we thankfully have many sources of food (including grocery stores :-) ) and things will all work out fine. I just don't like missing out on garden produce so I am working to figure out whatever I can to change this outcome.

Jonathan hauling mulch and Megan gathering up sticks.
 I had been saving Tomato, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi and pepper plants to put over at our new land and even though Ken hadn't had time to help me finish the fence (The kids and I weren't strong enough to get the fencing stretched properly) we decided to go ahead and get some things planted and we would put some fencing up temporarily.

  We hadn't gotten the garden tilled either and Ken wasn't sure how well it would work with all the roots (from the trees and brush that we had to cut down) anyway. Dad has been reading up on permaculture however and he suggested that we simply lay down the black tarps (which we are able to get free from the lumberyard where my brother works) and cut holes and just dig down into the soil without tilling at all and then water then with river water and muck. So that is what we are doing. Sometimes the hole digging is a big challenging as we work around roots but it seems to be working. So far I have planted 77 plants of Broccoli, cabbage and kohlrabi (my garden is going in very haphazardly with no records and very little keeping track of what is what- mainly I just want to get some produce to eat). I also planted a couple plants of cutting celery and a marigold. Hopefully I can get the tomatoes (some of them are already blooming) and peppers in this week as well as plant some seeds.

Mara helping with planting.
  Permaculture is something that I want to look into more. Here is a quote that I found that explains it:
"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system." - Bill Mollison

I find the 12 permaculture design principles (which you can find here) very interesting and for the most part it is my goal to put them to work on our homestead. Here are a couple of my favorites:  "Observe and interact: By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.  Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste. Integrate rather than segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.

  This summer of working out at our land has been a fun time to observe what already does grow out there, how the water flowers after it rains, where we have sunshine and where we have shade and so much more. Taking time to observe is an important part in gardening.

   Producing no waste has always been something that is important to me. We are definitely not down to zero waste yet but more and more we learn to repurpose things that used to be considered trash or we creatively find ways that we don't need to buy those things that produce trash. In the gardening scene compost bins and chickens are great for using up all those kitchen scraps and then the chickens in turn produce manure which we can use to feed our garden.

  When I think about integrating rather than separating I think about how we placed our garden, chickens, bees and garden shed all together. The bees can pollinate my garden and then also produce honey for us (and really we have found they don't tend to bother anybody unless we bother them first). The chicken manure will be handy to add to the garden compost bin and the weeds that we pull can easily be thrown in for the chickens to enjoy. After the frost when it will be garden clean up time we can also easily turn the chickens into the garden fence to enjoy the run of the garden and help clean things up (though with the perennials fenced off so they don't destroy them). Integrating also makes me think of the things I have learned about the helpfulness of planting various types of plants together. It also brings to mind a plan that Mara just suggested which was planting some of our herbs (mint for example) along with the wildflowers that already grow on the embankment along the river.
Our garden in the making.
I have never really done a fall garden before. I tend to keep on planting throughout most of the Spring and some into Summer but never a full fledged fall garden. It has felt like our season is nearly too short for that. But this year I don't have a lot of other options out at the land so we are giving it a try.

   Here are some of the things that I have read work well in Fall gardens:

  • Kale
  • Collards
  • Mustard Greens
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Cole crops (when you can put in a already started plant)
  • Carrots
  • Rutabagas
  • Turnips
  • Shallots
  • Multiplying Onions
  • Garlic (to be harvested the following Spring)
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Bush Beans
  • Beets
  • Cucumbers (I wonder if those will really work up here planted this late - this might be for more southern climates)
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Zucchini (I think this could be best for Southern climates too when started this late but I think I'll give it a try.)
The bolded ones are plants that I hope to plant this year. I also plan on trying quite a few herbs.

 Do you ever plant things in the middle of Summer for a Fall garden? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas and what has been successful for you!


Sharmayne said...

Good luck with your fall garden. I put one in here and we are now into has been very slow. The turnips have gone really well! Chinese cabbage is so so, onions are growing & will be ready in another couple of months I'd say......peas did nothing at all. Potatoes were going great, but the frost is killing them off, so not sure if anything will be viable.......I'll leave digging them up for a few more weeks and see what happens.

Abbi said...

Thanks for sharing what worked for you! It is always interesting to hear what others are doing. I sometimes have trouble with peas not doing anything too. I think maybe I need richer soil!

raven92562 said...

I had a small garden, where I dug in the plants and lined the holes with news paper. It slows the water from soaking out into the surrounding soil, so you don't need as much water. Another thing was I let the weeds grow up, along my fence, which gave the insects something other than my garden to eat. Significant reduction in losses. By leaving the majority of the soil intact, you have less evaporation and less erosion. One neighbor watered daily and his picture-perfect garden burned under the Summer Sun, while mine kept producing grape-tomatoes and okra until after the Winter chill turned the tomatoes watery.

Abbi said...

Raven, Thanks so much for the tips! I love hearing about what others have done and what worked for them.

My fall garden wasn't overly successful as we didn't manage to get it completely fenced in and the deer had a wonderful time eating things but I think it would have worked had we completed the fencing. As it was I did get some spinach, Chinese cabbage, basil, radishes, a few peas and some other odds and ends.


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