Hello Permies. After lurking for too long and biding my time, I have moved again to my long term property. A lot of hard work and generous people have helped me acquire a 1/2 acre homestead in Rutland Vermont. It has three mature appletrees, a proudicing young pear, sprawling grapes, asparagus, berries, HUGE comfrey patch (blk 14), 20+ raised beds, open meadow, and many more suprises in store. Before getting into the details of everything, I must officially relegate the previous Pancakery project log to the history books. It served me well to record my various permie projects across my journey to a permanent patch of land. The old log can be found HERE .
So now onto my piece of heaven. The lot is roughly 90'x200'. Mostly level with a slight depression towards the far(east) end of the property. The house is circa 1870, updated electrical/insulation/walls/fixtures a few years ago. The previous owner had taken the entire lot from grass to the raised beds, herb spiral, fruit trees etc. After working on the yard for 5 years, she devoted her attention to updating the house, leaving the yard fallow for three years. Needless to say the garden areas were overgrown 6' tall. The google image below shows the property while still in working order, it is NOT this clean and mowed now. The herb spiral has since turned into a 20'x20' comfrey patch.
And a closer look at the cultivated areas.
I have cleared the overgrown beds in the larger bed area. Two of the three apple trees are in the beds. It went from jungle to messy garden. I did not even know there were beds under all these overgrown plants! My goal for the coming summer is to mulch and cover crop these beds enough to have some semblance of a proudctive garden. I came up with a list of plants I want to grow in the beds, and a rough sketch of the primary plantings. There will be poly cultures built around the main crop plants, but it's not fully fleshed out in the sketch.
I have a woody plant list too. But have yet to make a larger map of the yard and overall plan of what goes where. I need to trim and train the fruit trees and grapes, so that might be my woody plant goal this year. Availability and time will be the true decider on how much woody plant gardening I get done.
I have a lot of planning and work ahead of me, but this is what I have been striving towards. Working a plot of land as an urban homestead. Thanks for reading so far, and I will keep adding more progress as it progresses. Here is my mountain view of Killington to send this post off. . . . . .
Winter progress update. I have gotten all the veggie seeds for the raised beds. Then plan is to start a lot of them indoors to help keep me aware of what is what in the beds. There will be a lot of "weed" pressure this first year after being fallow so long, so I would like to at least be sure of what I planted intentionally. That being said I am still going to allow some of the weeds to grow throughout the summer to see what they are and how I might find use for them around the garden.
With so much garden to manage, my cover crop must be simple. 10 Bean Soup mix will be my primary cover crop. It will be easily distinguishable from the veggies, grow large leaves, produce lots of inoculated roots, and cost very little in seed. Some plants won't like beans growing around/under them, and I'll most likely use annual flower seeds or no cover crop at all. I have found a local ag supply store that will have straw for $4 per bale. It will be the main mulch for the whole garden, mixed in with leaves from a huge pile in the far end of the yard.
Spring is getting close and I can't wait! Here is a few snowy yard pics. The white snow makes th beds and tree branches structure easy to pick out.
Hello Permies. It has been so nice out I have been able to start prepping the yard for spring. I moved the mulch off of 5 raised beds so they can warmup faster. I want to put my greens and broccoli family stuff in them as soon as the ice thaws out in the soil.
The asparagus patch got cleaned up too. I trimmed off all the old stalks before putting in a border of marble logs to help me keep track of where the crowns are. Besides asparagus there is cat-mint, flowers, and lavender. . . that I know of so far.
Walking around the yard cleaning up garbage that wind blows in, I found two Red Lake Currant bushes. And two other bushes in the row that I am guessing will bear something tasty too. Having moved in last October, there are so many plants I have yet to find/ID.
Good morning fellow Permies. It has been a rainy month, but there has been growth and progress. The apple trees and pear tree have the first tiny leaves out and the flower buds look like all they need is a dry sunny day to burst open. Blueberries and two of the three currant bushes have buds, I think the third may be dead but I will give it lots more time to show any sign of life. I have been waiting for the asparagus so show itself with ravenous anticipation, but nothing yet. Flowers are popping up around the yard, daffodils, violets, tulips, and some others I don't know names of. And, the comfrey is coming up, fast.
I have planted out a bed with ten strawberry root pieces. It has been around 9 days with no sign of leaves coming up, having never started strawberries like this I am hoping they just need more time. I put peas in the bed too. The strawberry spots I pushed aside the mulch and built little stick pyramids over them, helps me remember where to look :). I also planted out two beds of bean mixes. It is a bit early for them really, but if 5% sprout that's more than nothing.
Non-plant project stuff . . . I fixed a broken wheelbarrow handle. Yay. I had scrapped a load of woodpallets, and a broken piece from one had the perfect taper already for a handgrip. I love free materials !
Lastly there is my tiny army of seedlings that has been building. I bring them outside every morning and back inside every evening. It has been so rainy lately, I've needed to put them under some salvaged windows for rain protection.
And that's it for now. I have a feeling this next month will be an explosion of activity and fun. Thanks for reading everyone.
Well . . .it seems I got so busy that I never posted any updates for last summer. Sorry permies. The gardens produced a lot of wonderful produce. I have a list I kept of specific amounts, when I remembered to note what I was harvesting.
I was quite happy with the results from my first full summer at this location. I focused most of my physical effort of fully managing unwanted plants in the raised bed area and around the woody perrenials. While the front yard area remained overgrown apart from the asparagus patch. It paid off with a greatly reduced weed pressure and the favored plants grew and flourished. Below is some fun highlight pics from last summer and fall.
Now that last year is is behind us, haha, onto what's cooking in the Pancakery this year.. . .
The raised garden beds are brimming with growing veggies. The sheet mulching from last year has paid of with a drastically reduced weed presence. Last year I could not direct seed anything without a carpet of other seedlings developing. This year, after ripping open a soft half rotted cardboard giftwraping, I was able to direct seed tons of brassicas, lettuce, and root veggies. There is daily managing over the multiple beds, but it's actually manageable! Win :) The larger seeded plants (squashes/cucumbers/sunflowers) I started inside and transplanted out over the last 2 weeks. Sadly last night it got into the 30s and more than half the squash leaves turned dead and brown from cold damage. I'll try and direct seed into their spots if new leaves don't sprout.
Here is a freshly seeded and mulched bed from April 18th. There are peas in the long strip, and greens/brassicas in the square areas. I foster lots of nettles, dandelions, and burdock plants around the beds. They made great mulch plus I eat the dandelions and nettles.
And the same bed May 24th, no watering besides rain and snow.
I also have been taking some of the seeded patches and digging up a spade of transplants. The lettuce has been the best success this way. But its worked with radishes/spinach/cabbage/kale/beets. Here is a bed already planted with two rows of onions, getting lettuce between them and a comfrey mulching.
A close up of the transplant chunks. I gently tumble the clump in my hands until the seedlings start to come loose. Gently. Did I say gently? :)
And here it is about a week later. Every single one survived transplant and some hot long days. I did water them the first three days, but not since. I love the little world the tiny plants create.
The overgrown raised beds in the food forest patch have been moved into the main garden area. I wanted to connect some of the beds to get more gardening space, which now looks more "labyrinthy". With the leftover soil and lumber, I was able to build and fill a ~20" wide bed along the fence in the garden. These new beds are not doing too much, they have been sheet mulched with cardboard covered in yarrow stalks and yard trimmings. The Hardy Kiwis are planted in the beds along the fence, and they are indeed doing very well.
I'll finish off the post with a shot of the whole garden. And some greens that made their way into dinner. A little of everything edible right now and some onion greens for the seasoning.
Food forest update. Almost everything is alive and well. After marking the tree spots in the yard with stones, I wanted to add in some more shrub/tree plants like hardy kiwis and an apricot. My total order list ended up at 24 woody perennials. You can see most of them all in the garden plan.
And the first of three packages :)
The trees were put into the ground the first week of may. Next year I am hoping to plant the third week of May instead. A cold snap a week after planting killed two of the three Pawpaws and defoliated the bush cherry. The bush cherry came back with a vengeance thankfully. The Asian pear had it's root mass snapped off from the stem 80%, I tried to tape and plant it, but the tree never survived. The Sour cherry and one female Kiwi (not on map) had their leaves wilt and die last week. The total death toll so far is 5. Not too bad for my first try at bare root plantings.
Pear break . . . . .
Bush Cherry regrown like a champ!
I have learned the importance of shade for young pawpaws just fast enough to not kill the remaining one. The tiny leaves were yellowing and drooping. So I took two pallets and made a shade lean to around the sapling. The south facing pallet has the wood slats oriented vertically so the sun can shine onto the tree evenly over the day. And the western facing pallet is oriented horizontally to take the sting out of the harsh late afternoon sun.
Now the leaves are big and green and happy. I let them out in the "full sun" today since its very overcast and diffused light. Ill put the pallet lean to back after sunset.
The medlar tree has really taken off. It was the first to leaf out and has grown a nice bouquet of soft green leaves. It is a little island in a lawn patch, but the forest garden cover crops and mulching will slowly creep over the lawn and engulf the medlar tree.
The mulberry tree is looking like it will have six main branches to be coppiced. I will use wire to train the branches into a even spread this winter. Around the mulberry I have a mint patch next to a comfrey patch planted. The mulberry being in the center of the food forest, I want the best and most tenacious cover crops to help keep the weeding down while growing copious mulch and tasty herbs. Along with the black locusts this central area will be a slowly beating metronome of coppice
While the mulberry is young and small, I am having fun planting lettuce transplants and Daikon radish seeds. As well as some tomato volunteers transplanted from the raised beds. I made a big lettuce heart (insert sappy music riff)
I am more attached and in love with this forest garden than I thought would be possible. I find myself sitting and walking around it it awestruck everyday. The little chunks of lawn that I am planting are starting to add up to a lot of area. Ill end with a big family photo shot of the whole planting from the convenient 2nd story window in the house.
It seems like every time I look at the pawpaw, it is bigger. Even with its growth, the light sensitivity is high. The pallets let some sun on a bit of the top leaves and it bleached them with a straight line from the pallet shadow. Looking back this plantie has come a long way.
Hi Permies, happy July! The veggie garden is starting to kick into high gear lately. The lettuce bed is still producing abundantly despite slugs and snails being prevalent over the whole garden area. There is always a little leaf damage, but it never is so bad I wouldn't eat it. I have already eaten more from just this one lettuce patch so far than all the greens last year.
And a fun slugs eye view :)
The two all star beds this year have a healthy mix of greens, squashes, and tomatoes. Both these beds were planted with starts, not direct seeded, except for the tomatoes, they were volunteers. The mix of vining squash with taller tomatoes and greens gives a wonderfully picturesque image of a veggie polyculture.
The onion and lettuce bed has been transitioning to an onion and cherry tomato bed. There is an army of volunteers coming up fast from last year. I am happy enough to let them grow, with a little thinning. The lettuce is hanging on in the shade under it all. Nice big leaves for sandwiches :)
The other beds are still a mix of peas and direct sown greens. Along with the kale and spinach, a layer of clover grew. With the intense competition it has dwarfed all the plants, essentially giving me a long term source of baby kale and spinach for fresh raw eating. The clover is a nice bonus in flavor and vitamins.
Overall everything is going much better than I had hoped for this year. The garden has been providing food, entertainment, and therapy. I'll leave you all with a portrait photo of a couple garden residents.
Thanks for reading Permies!
The Greenhouse of the Future ebook by Francis Gendron