Sunday, May 24, 2009

Gardens grow

Between helping out with Home Grown Foods, organizing homeschooling physics field trips, working at our friend Rosemary's mini-farm in her co-op garden (I'm a field laborer now! From journalism to massage therapy to working in the fields, what an interesting career path I've taken :P ) and taking care of our own back 40, it's been a busy six weeks or so.

Steve's in Pennsylvania right now, for Grandpa Jack's 70th birthday celebration (that's a video of him paddling to shore from the sailboat, where he spent the night Friday night, taken by his brother). We miss him, Harry especially, but we've been keeping busy while he's been gone, visiting all the baby animals on Rosemary's little farm (kittens, kids, a lamb and a piglet), digging up perennial flowers and herbs from a homeschooling friend's garden and building an herb garden in the backyard.

Here's some photos of life on the homestead, as of this morning...

One corn patch is in the foreground, covered with straw, then there's the strawberry and greens beds, another corn bed where we're planting the four sisters (corn, beans, squash and bee balm) and our raised no-dig bed behind it.

Here's the 36-foot long bed, outfitted for plastic row cover in case of frost, or these days, hail, with our winter greens going to seed (I'm going to collect the mustard seed, in case it will be useful for pickling cucumbers.)

These are the raspberries on the upper level, and you can see below them a trench of potatoes that are just starting to sprout above the surface.

At the other end of the raised bed are the potatoes I planted under the protection of the hoop in March. They're ready to be partially buried again and start forming tubers on the buried half of the vegetation.

Some tomatoes and rhubarb in the upper corner of the yard....

And our chicken run, with the four laying hens inside and one of the pullets (almost ready to lay!) wandering in freedom next to them. The pullets don't eat the garden greens yet, so they're free to wander. They're not quite as big as the hens yet, so I"m putting off that fateful day of flock integration a bit longer. I've tried it once already, and it wasn't pretty. Much pecking, flapping and squawking. That, by the way is Hawk, a.k.a. survivor chicken. You can barely tell she was grabbed by a fox and stuffed under a woodpile!

Here's our big strawberry bed, which we covered with plastic starting in February. It's giving us a bowl of berries a day now, though it's a pitched battle between us and the robins. Theres' a second smaller bed on the level above it that's still setting fruit.

Here's a view of the south side of our yard. You can see the new herb spiral (closeups to follow), a trashcan full of last night's rain, and in the foreground, tomatoes, basil and chives and one of our greens beds.

Here's another south side view, with the chicken coop under the deck, the herb garden again, and you can see our solar heat collector, that big triangle sticking out of the south side of our house. I think it would be more efficient with some new, more translucent paneling, it's on our list of things to do.

Steve's bed of snappeas and greens is looking good.

And here's some closeups of the herb spiral I built yesterday, with rocks from around the yard and herbs from my friend's garden and from the nursery.

In the front yard, our south-side berm of raspberries and pear trees is doing well...

In the foreground is an elderberry bush, and on the other side of the mulched berm are some serviceberries, part of our edible perennial landscaping out front (yes, those are onions on the berm, between the sticks of bare-root raspberries. I ran out of room for onions in the backyard!)

And finally, my big digging project of early spring, the permaculture-inspired berm to retain water. Under that pile of dirt and bark mulch is an 18-inch deep trench filled with more mulch, which will hold moisture for the raspberries planted above, and the whole thing should keep water from running off our slanted front yard. After we finished it, I realized that I really should have bermed up by the sidewalk in front of the house, as most of the water retention benefits flow downhill underground from the berm, but I'm going to plant perennial flowers in the strip between the berm and the road, so they should be happy and well watered, at least! Oh, and in the driveway you see how we've been spending the occasional hot days we get -- in the purple canoe at the nearby fishing ponds.

Oh, and I can't forget that other growing project we've been working on...

eta: we just got our first egg from our buff orpington pullet! She laid this afternoon without much fanfare, so now we're up to 5 layers! Our poor americauna might be a bit behind the laying curve, what with having to heal up from those fox bites...