The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Fruitful garden tour

Grape flower buds

Ripening strawberriesI was going to title this post "Fruitless" and talk about how Blackberry Winter wiped out all of the tiny fruits on the peaches, apples, pears, cherries, gooseberries, and plums.  The tale wasn't going to be all doom and gloom since blueberries, raspberries, grapes, strawberries, and blackberries either missed the frost or bloomed over a long enough time frame that we should enjoy quite a lot of fruit this summer.  And yet, even that isn't the full picture.

The truth is that I tend to go in the opposite direction of most folks, telling you about all of our failures but only focussing on the biggest successes.  There are simply so many garden achievements every year, you'd be bored stiff if I regaled you with the first snap peas (Sunday), the first real meal of non-frost-nipped strawberries (last week), and so on ad infinitum.

Front gardent

Squash seedlingsIt occured to me that you can't walk around our garden --- prettier this year than ever before --- and see it for yourselves.  So here it is in all of its mid May glory!

The photo above was taken in our front garden, the oldest vegetable patch on our farm, where the soil is the best, the sun the worst, and the aisles in need of streamlining.  I set out most of our garlic there last fall, along with a bed of Egyptian onions, some chives, and our experimental potato Potato sproutsonions, so the area feels like one big mass of Amaryllidaceae.

The empty beds are filling up fast with summer crops, many of which have already popped up.  Once we put in our second planting of things like green beans, corn, and squash this week, the front garden will be pretty much full.

Garlic garden

The back garden (shown below) is nearly all coated with annual ryegrass in an attempt to repair the waterlogged, topsoil-less ground.  Mark's been doing a great job of mowing the Chicago hardy figgarden beds each time he cuts the aisles, which maximizes the grass's growth and means lots more organic matter works its way into the soil.  That one bare bed is coated with tiny basil seedlings, and you'll notice I snuck strawberries into the back garden despite this being its fallow year.

Meanwhile, the chick brooder is hidden behind our second oldest peach tree.  Even though we won't be enjoying luscious peaches this year, at least the tree provides some much-needed shade.

And, at the bottom of the back garden, our Chicago hardy fig only died partway back this past winter.  I pruned the bush to three stems, cut off the dead tops, and am hoping to taste figs for the first time this fall!

Annual ryegrass

Moving on, I forgot to take a picture from afar of the forest garden, home to this year's tomatoes, but the photo below pretty much sums it up.

Tomato flower buds

Young cabbageAnd then there's the mule garden, from whence most of our meals are coming at the moment.  I've been putting all of my energy into getting the front garden ready for summer crops lately, so the mule garden is looking a little ragged around the edges, but not so much that the crops are suffering.  This week, I'll be starting my next pass through, taking down the last quick hoops, weeding the seedlings who were too small to work around a month ago, and adding more mulch.

Mule garden

I'm already thinking ahead to fall since this sunny garden is the best spot for overwintering greens.  Soon, I'll plan where all the late summer and autumn crops will go, and will probably set aside a lot of the mule garden beds to be planted in wave after wave of buckwheat.  That will prevent me from sneaking summer crops into areas slated for the fall garden, and will build organic matter at the same time.


Another alternative is to let some of the spring crops go to seed.  Every year, I add one or two more vegetables to my list of easy to save seeds, and the new experiments this year are kale and Swiss chard (the latter of which is shown below on the left.)

Pea and swiss chard

I hope you enjoyed your garden tour!  If you were here in person, you would be snacking on a sugar snap pea and a juicy strawberry by now, but hopefully you'll get the gist photographically.  2012 is far from fruitless!

Our chicken waterer keeps all three flocks happy with a minimum of effort on our parts.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I could smell your garden through the pictures. Sure miss our garden this time of year.

Hubby and I will be going back home in mid July. Just in time to get the winter garden going.

Comment by Mona Tue May 15 08:47:21 2012
I love this! Helps us folks still stuck in our non-farm settings to get a farm fix. :)
Comment by mitsy Tue May 15 11:37:11 2012
Mona and Mitsy --- So glad the virtual tour hit the spot! Hopefully you'll both be enjoying your own gardens soon.
Comment by anna Tue May 15 16:12:18 2012
Anna - thanks for the tour (beats me fording the creek to get a peek!)- beautiful and yes, the gardens have all come a LONG way!!
Comment by Jayne Wed May 16 07:49:37 2012
Jayne --- Mark and I were just talking about your visit the other day, trying to remember whether you'd been here once or twice? I remember you and Rose Nell lugging that huge trash can full of food back through the mud soon after we'd moved in, and feel like you were here one day when my whole family was. But Mark thinks that other visit might have been Rose Nell and Sue Ella not Rose Nell and you....
Comment by anna Wed May 16 08:04:15 2012
A lot of work has gone into the growing and caring for the beautiful plants in these photos....SO INSPIRING! Nice work! ~ Barefoot Mama
Comment by barefootnmama Wed May 16 18:32:41 2012
barefootnmama --- Not as much as you'd think, thanks to all the straw Mark got for me!
Comment by anna Wed May 16 19:36:26 2012
Seems like twice, but I only have pictures from once, I think. . . However I do remember one time your Mom was there, and she didn't pull up after we got there, so I must have been there twice. Once Mark was off to shoot a video and you had the mule. Once we ate lunch in your original homestead before you tore it down?? Could have all been the same time, but I am not sure. Regardless - it has been a couple of years at least!
Comment by Jayne Wed May 16 20:41:50 2012
Jayne ---- Mom remembered that shared visit too! Too bad we weren't blogging then, so I don't have my external memory to rely on. :-)
Comment by anna Thu May 17 16:47:49 2012

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