Posted by: terrapraeta | June 9, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
‘Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look? Ooh!
Some say it’s just a part of it:
We’ve got to fulfil de book.

Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom? –
‘Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs.

Bob Marley, Redemption Song

This was a great weekend. The sun was shining, the snow was melting, (and leaving behind a soggy mess!) For the first time this year, I was able to get outside and work on my gardens.

I wrote a bit about Permaculture a while back, and this will be my second season experimenting with the gardening techniques and design concepts. Last year, I had a small, Crab Apple Tree based garden that I started off with a sheet mulch in March (it should have been done the previous Fall, and I am sure this is directly responsible for the garden being less successful last year than I hoped). I already have seeds going, and the perennials I put out last year seem to be doing just fine, so we will see how it fairs in its second season.

This year, I am starting work on the South Side of my house. I have a moderate space out there, with two Big Leaf Maples, a Lilac Bush, some Coreopsis and Autumn Joy Sedum, assorted ornamental grasses, a strawberry patch and a self-seeding tomato plant. But this year, we are gonna crank it up a notch.

Saturday, I pulled out all of my research: the guild listing I had selected based upon the Maple trees, plus hazelnuts and grapes. I ordered my five dwarf hazel nut trees and my two grape vines. Then I ordered a couple of native fruit trees before I got serious looking for the really unusual stuff. By the time I was done, I found seed sources for almost every wild flower I wanted (many of which are edible), plus several plants that I had wanted for other uses and had never been able to find.

Then, today, we went out and began the tree trimming. We took a couple branches off of each of the maples to let more light into the central part of the yard. I think it is going to make a huge difference. I collected all of the little branches so that I can build a couple of potato mounds while the bigger pieces went into the wood pile to dry for the fireplace. We also stopped and collected the sap dripping from the open wounds in our cupped palms. Mmmm. Next year, we plan to try tapping them! (Edit: This morning, I looked outside and a squirrel was hanging upside down on the tree with the largest wound, lapping sap from the exposed wood 🙂 I think all of the squirrels had a taste because they were acting just a bit like they were intoxicated!)

I still have to move a couple of wild rose bushes. I’m not looking forward to the inevitable scratches and cuts that will gift me with, but I’m still kind of excited that I will be able to get on with it soon. Once they are out of the way, I’ll have to put in supports in preparation for the grape vines. I also have to build some new supports for my raspberry vines, but that’s a different part of the yard and a different project.

But for now, I’m looking forward to all my little packages coming in the mail over the next couple weeks. Then we get to start planting – the wild flower seeds will go into the ground as soon as I can get them out there. As will the trees. Then I have a few more plants to get locally: a couple Virginia Creepers, a Spicebush, A Wisteria vine. And I will tuck some of my ‘traditional’ vegetable seedlings in when the weather gets warm enough. And some legumes – for soil building. Then we will sit back and watch to see how it all fairs. With any luck, the primary components of the guild will do spectacularly, and it will simply be a matter of watching to see which, if any, of the ‘added’ vegetable plants function well with the guild.

Well, that, and to see which plants find a way to propagate themselves. With any luck, I will find more than one self-seeding tomato this summer – and next year will be even better!


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