Instead of a traditional blog, I want to take you on a tour of some of the projects we have been working on lately. It seems like we have so much going on it’s hard to focus on one thing, I wanted to show you a little bit of everything. All of the pictures were taken today.
South side of herb spiral, cilantro, sage, dill, roman chamomile, lovage, lavender, basil and more… I love walking by this feature everyday and smelling the wonderful aromas. This herb spiral was built over a stump from a huge rotted tree we had to take down in front of the house.
North side of herb spiral with mini-pond, growing mints, nettle, service berry, and giant solomon’s seal, we added rocks to the pond because we realized amphibians were getting stuck in the pond, so now they have a way to get in and out safely. The pond is home to goldfish, tadpoles, pickeral weed, water lilies and oxygenating water plants.
Top of herb spiral, growing rosemary, thyme, and shallots
This raised bed (#1) is currently home to cauliflower, turnips, an air yam, and perpetual sorrel (a perennial bitter green).
This air yam has maybe been planted for two weeks and it has already shot up the trellis we placed for it, this is a perennial that will grow edible tubers.
Raised bed #2: One of my favorite beds, this one received a lot of love in the form of rabbit poop over the winter and my plants have been very happy. Lettuce, radishes, elephant garlic, and carrots. The lettuce harvest never seems to end and we have plenty to share with the neighbors and the chickens. The lettuce I did start from transplants and the radishes came up quickly form seed.
I’m experimenting growing carrots with the lettuce, the little carrots tops have started to come up where they are protected from the lettuce.
A row of radishes. To the right of this row I harvested watermelon radishes the week before, they didn’t do as well as I was hoping but I think maybe I didn’t thin them enough, the tops were big and leafy but the radishes were small and wimpy.
We have comfrey plants growing everywhere. Comfrey sends a deep tap root that harvests minerals deep in the soil. Comfrey can be used as an excellent ‘chop and drop’ then when it breaks down it fertilizes your plants with nutrients. We started with a handful of comfrey roots and crowns 2 years ago when we moved in, now we probably have over 100 growing all easily propagated from our original supply. One plant can yield 30-50 plants just from root cuttings.
Raised bed #3: Cauliflower and peas growing.
This swale is growing onions, thornless blackberries, turnips and an autumn olive.
One of my other favorite growing spots, this is our giant keyhole bed with a little bit of everything, asparagus, strawberries, elephant garlic, rhubarb, a dwarf pomegranate, more lettuce, baby broccoli, and more…this bed also has many volunteer plants from things that were growing here before we repurposed this space for growing food.
Silver Berry, it fixes atmospheric nitrogen in its roots, leaves and berries. You can chop and drop it around other plants to give those plants a nitrogen boost. These plants are referred to as “nitrogen fixers” or “green manure” plants
Sea Kale, a perennial kale or collard. Plant it once and you will get years of kale leaves.
Our original hugelbed, put in without any planning shortly after we moved in, we managed to incorporate it into the overall design of the zone 1 garden and it has done well growing mulberries, service berry, choke berry, pomegranate, nettles, bayberry, and silver berry.
Oyster mushroom logs, these are recently inoculated, we have another mushroom area full of shiitakes that have been fruiting well since winter.
The other end of the giant keyhole bed.
I have been picking the strawberry blossoms off of all of our plants so that they focus on establishing their root systems, this is the one berry Shaun has convinced me to allow and save for him, but I told him I can’t make any promises that the squirrels won’t beat him to it
Baby broccoli has been one of the best discoveries for me this spring, we happened to pick up this little transplant at the local feed store not realizing how wonderful it is until now, we have new broccoli sprouts everyday growing like crazy and the more we harvest the more we get, I love it!
Hard to tell in the picture but this swale has brussels sprouts on the left and asparagus growing everywhere you see an orange flag, and some onions on top.
I took some advice and cut back this rose bush almost all the way to the ground because it was very sick but had previously produced beautiful flowers, it has certainly revived itself and is growing like crazy!
This wonderful stone bed and staircase was recently put in by Shaun, using recycled concrete that he broke apart by hand using a sledgehammer and somehow made it look pretty. Of course why not throw in a pond?! This has made an amazing difference with the erosion problem we were having in this area next to the house leading to the walkout basement.
More raised beds, these will be featuring some corn and hopefully giving the 3-sisters (corn, beans & squash) a try.
We have planted wildflowers next to the pond, can’t wait to see them when they come up.
Probably my favorite new addition, our “kiwi tunnel”
Terrace beds leading out to the front field, stoping erosion where we used to have a tractor road, some cantaloupe is planted here now.
New tractor road
Hulgel beds or hulgelkultur is a raised bed with buried wood underneath. The wood acts like a sponge for water that can wick water up to the plants. As the wood breaks down it releases fertility to the plants above.
Top Bar bee hives.
It’s difficult to grasp the depth of this picture, but it shows some of our swales and the beginnings of our permaculture food forest.
Chestnuts grown from seeds.
Can’t wait to get fruit from my gooseberries!
This used to be what I called “the island” in the middle of our front field, a big pile of brush and trees and ?roof shingles left from the previous owners, we recently cleaned it up and now no more island.
Elderberry, an edible and medicinal fruit. Extremely anti-viral, can be used for jams, jellies, wines, and pies.
Wild blackberry blossoms, hoping to get some berries this year.
Our dog Charlie playing with the goat “Jack”.
One of our roosters, “Bojangles”. The white bird in the top left corner is our only guinea hen.
Some of our adult ducks, the black/blue/green one is a male cayuga, the white ones are pekins, and the brown are khaki-campbells.
Necked neck hens that we had raised from chicks last year.
Baby ducks and geese, less than 2 weeks old. The large yellow fluff-balls are the geese, the brown ones are khaki-campbell ducks and the little yellow ones are runner ducks.
Naked neck baby chicks.
These chicks are the same age as the ducklings, just under 2 weeks, out and about with mama hen.
Ducklings and Goslings.
These chicks are about 3 weeks old now and were bred from our own chickens, we think the one on the right is a bard rock/naked neck cross.
This is a larger view of where the chicks and ducklings are hanging out, there are 2 swales that have been cover cropped. It is to the left of our back deck so we can keep a close eye on everyone. The chicken coop is in the background where the grown-up birds sleep at night.
This terrace (below the sun choke and raspberry beds is a bit weedy at the moment but the elderberries and Jostaberry don’t seem to mind.