Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Future food

Seeds for our square foot garden
I adore seed catalogs.  When we lived in Morgantown, I would sit and highlight, mark up pages, and daydream over the possibilities for our future gardens.  It didn't take long for us to realize that we wanted to grow heirloom varieties of our favorite vegetables.  From beans to tomatoes, there is such variety in heirloom seeds!  The catalogs often times read like a book as each variety tells a story from the past.

This year our garden will be small, including the seeds above as well as tomato plants, pepper plants, potatoes, flowers, and herbs.  I have ordered all of our seeds and tomato and pepper plants from Seed Savers Exchange.  From seed we are growing cucumbers, melons, squash, spinach, lettuce and carrots.  The Lemon Cucumber have a delightfully sweet crunch that pairs lovely with tomatoes for a light summer salad.  The Paris Market carrots are described to be highly desirable at Farmer's Markets.  We love fall squash, so decided to try the Long Island Cheese this year.  And some little boy I know loves melons in the summer. 

We will also be growing potatoes.  We ordered a variety that is good for storage since we have a root cellar and hope to put up as much as possible for the winter.  I ordered a variety pack of tomato and pepper plants, so it will be exciting to see what we get!

The herbs and flowers we will more than likely get at the local greenhouse.  The flowers will be there not only for color, but also to attract beneficial insects to our garden.  We plan to garden naturally, without the use of pesticides or insecticides.  Using flowers and herbs, as well as companion planting, helps to naturally control pests.  

If you get a chance, check out the Seed Savers Exchange website.  You will be amazed at the varieties of vegetables that are available!

P.S.  The numbers on the seed packets refer to how many seeds can be planted in each square of our garden.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Gardening plans

This lovely spring weather has me itching to get started on our garden!  I have put a good deal of thought into what the best route for us to take this year.  As we have found, we have a lot of clay on our hill.  I am not the biggest fan of plowing and tilling for garden space as we want to preserve as much beneficial worm activity as possible!  While I grew up with a traditional large row garden, I knew that weeding was something I wanted to spend a lot of time doing.  So, what options am I left with?  I want something that is low maintenance because having a toddler and 53 acres to maintain will keep us busy!

{ lasagna gardening }

No, it's not necessarily just like it sounds.  One might be led to believe that it is a garden where only veggies that are useful for making lasagna are grown.  The basic idea is to layer organic materials such as compost, peat moss, composted manure, and other things you can get your hands on.  A layer of newspaper or cardboard is laid down underneath the "bed" to kill off the grass and provide a yummy lunch for earth worms to start munching on.  Over time, the earthworm activity, combined with actively adding more compost to the bed helps to remediate poor soil. The beds can be planted in immediately, but do best when started in the fall and allowed to "cook" all winter.  I really like this idea and have saved the cardboard from our windows to use under the beds.

{ square foot gardening } 
This method really appeals to the analytical side of me!  The basic premise is building a raised bed of whatever dimension you choose, as long as it is a whole number.  Inside the bed, you put in a mix of peat moss, vermiculite, and compost.  You can plant immediately and since there is no remediation of the existing soil, you can have an abundant garden.  You plant in each "square" and can plant up to three times each year in one square, so crop rotation is automatic.  I have purchased the "All New Square Foot Gardening" book and have made a shopping list for materials to go this route.  I plan to lay cardboard underneath the beds to help kill off the grass.  I have some chicken wire to put on the bottom as well to discourage any rodents from a free lunch.  There is also a treillis system I plan to build for tomatoes, squash, melons, and cucumbers.  I will be updating with my progress once we get started!

Tomorrow I will share our choice of seeds and garden layout!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Finally, some pictures!

Apple blossoms - one of two apple trees on the property

Looking across the meadow to the house

The southwest view of the house - can't wait to watch some sunsets off the porch!

The southeast side of the house - not as many windows!
Sorry for my lack of updates lately!  Things have been moving so quickly :-)  Let's's where we are at:

* the entire house and garage are under roof and all the doors (sans the man door in the garage) are installed
* the slate tile has been laid down on the hearth
* the rough in for the electric work is complete!
* the roof is starting to go up
* the septic tank and leach field are in
* the HVAC rough in should be completed this week
* plumbing will be completed this weekend
* next week brings insulation and drywall!

We have spent one weekend night on the futon in the basement.  The unseasonably warm temperatures have been great!  We only needed two blankets and no heater!  Kole absolutely LOVED waking up and going outside to play right away.  I did, too!  We are so excited to be out there.

I'm working on gardening plans - more on that tomorrow!