I decided to make a second garden in 2016 but this time on my own land (my first garden is behind my father’s house). What I’ve got is a 50 acre woodlot with parts of it that were clear-cut maybe 25-30 years ago. The previous owners were a family of mechanics and the land is littered with waste (rusted oil cans, tires, car parts, old windows, mattress skeletons, etc.) People used to do this back in the good old days, they’d dump their shit in the woods. Choosing a proper spot for the garden was a big decision. The best I could find isn’t ideal but it’s clean.
June 23rd, looking east. Note the rotten logs on the left
I started in late June. In August I had around 70×200 cleared. The area that gets full sun is much smaller than that but I figured it would be more than enough to start. The big logs were saved to make raised beds, the medium ones were cut for firewood and everything else (smaller than 3″) was chipped. I understand that some people here don’t like chippers. I love mine as chips make great paths. Walking on a path made of fresh fir chips gives me great pleasure.
Once the clearing was mostly done I made a pseudo hugel bed from a pile of half rotten logs. It’s not the real thing though. I just built a log pyramid and covered it the best I could with compost. I didn’t have seeds so it was left bare for the winter. I was curious about what would happen when the fall rains came. The bed eroded and bits of logs started poking through the compost. It didn’t take long before little critters moved in so I left them alone.
Snakes were living in the log pile so I left a small mound for them hoping it would be enough. I suspect they moved in the hugel.
September 6th, 2:30pm. Course chips mean dull blades.
October 4th, 4pm. The sun is much lower. I also sharpened the chipper blades.
I built three 3’x5’x12″ wattle style raised beds. On August 8 I was ready to sow. The first bed was planted with arugula, radishes, spinach and tatsoi. The second one was planted with red romaine, mizuna and mâche. The last bed was planted with garlic late in September. All of these plants were new to me.
The first two beds.
The internet says arugula is easy to grow but mine didn’t do too well. I was surprised as I got blisters in the mouth when I ate it. I had no idea you could be allergic to greens. My girlfriend likes it so I grew some for her. I miss the taste.
Floating row covers worked well against critters, much better than they did against bugs. Critters like to eat radish greens and they especially like spinach. Probably hares. Can’t blame them. I grew the Giant Winter variety.
Tatsoi was a wonderful surprise. I had never heard of it but now it’s one of my favorites. It gives cute little green spoons with crunchy stems. And it doesn’t mind the cold at all. It can grow big but I planted them thick and harvested leaves often, preferring smaller spoons.
Most of the time I try sowing carefully but then get impatient and just end up tossing seeds around. Mizuna was sown that way. It was slow to start but eventually gave me an insane amount of tasty leaves.
Red romaine (Rouge d’Hiver) and mâche were duds.
I planted three varieties of garlic close to the end of September and then crossed my fingers. Clearing the space for the garden produced a lot of leaves. Some were used as mulch for the garlic bed.
The garden on November 23rd, the last harvest.
When I told people what I was doing they looked at me funny because nobody starts a garden in mid August. Most were surprised to know I was still eating fresh greens a month shy of Christmas. Some didn’t believe me lol One day I harvested fresh greens while dressed in a snowsuit. I was sure my fingers would fall off from the cold.
So I guess that 2016 was a success.
I got my seeds online from a lovely store located in Nova Scotia. If any of you order from their store tell them I sent you
The sleeping garden on Christmas Day