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

Plotting out the new garden

Base map

The time has come for the most exciting part of our move --- our first perennial order! With eleven years of experience to call upon, it'll be easier to choose the plants that yield the most with the least expended effort this time around. But how many of each will fit?

Rough mapTo start with, I used a tape measurer to plot out the existing structures and shade trees in our core homestead, beginning at one square for every ten feet. Of course, once I'd drawn the rough map on the right, I realized I could have made the scale twice as big. So I replotted a better base map on a new sheet of graph paper (top image).

Garden plotting

On our previous homestead, we fenced the whole homestead with a complicated mixture of systems that long as we also had a dog to make the interior moderately scary to deer. This time around, we haven't yet committed to a canine companion. So we're planning a deer-proof fence for the tastiest edibles, then will be putting the less sensitive plants here and there around the remaining sunny areas.

The image above shows my plan for the less-deer-friendly plants so far. What do you think --- will the nibblers make me regret putting raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, asparagus, a peach, and a plum outside the fence?

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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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We've never had issues with deer bothering our asparagus but we don't have any of the other fruits here. But what about the walnut tree? Won't it inhibit the growth around it? Looks like you're moving forward quickly!
Comment by Mary Sun Nov 5 07:55:10 2017
have you considered using a bow/arrows for hunting the deer? wouldn't food crops outside of the fence lure them closer?
Comment by mizztanya Sun Nov 5 08:22:07 2017

Three years ago, I had to make the same decision about whether to plant fruit trees inside or outside of a fenced garden. I decided on outside and have regretted it ever since.

If you don't put a wire cage around the trees, the deer will eat the tips and leaves off of every branch they can reach. In the fall, the bucks will rub their antlers on the trunks.

If you decide on outside, plan on using a wire cage for 2-3 years (with the associated maintenance hassle) and trunk protection after that for several more years. I would also use standard size rather than dwarfs - otherwise you will need a wire cage forever.

Good luck and have fun with your new homestead.

Comment by Jeff Byrnes Sun Nov 5 08:53:55 2017
Hi Anna and Mark - good on you for the main garden deer fence. The deer fence for my plot (much smaller than your plan) has a top rail that deter jumpers. The hog wire, however, doesn't deter rabbits so my gardening goal includes adding a secondary fencing of chicken wire flush with the existing hog wire from the ground up a couple of feet. About your blueberries and raspberries - the location looks lovely and do consider some type of net or chicken wire structure around them, at least post-pollination. The birds will get them if the deer don't, and bunnies and voles love to munch on the stems and bark of blueberries and mountain huckleberries here in my Western Washington state location. Save yourselves from the disappointment I've felt from significant berry losses when I should have known better and protected against the winged and hooved critters. Congratulations on your newest endeavors!
Comment by PNW Jenny Sun Nov 5 16:21:02 2017

Maps are eye candy.

For five minutes I kept trying to read this but I didn't read A WORD. I just was staring at the maps. Soaking them in. Not intellectually or even understanding them, just like admiring works of art or meditative scenery (which they are.)

Wow. Wow. Wow.

I just can't get my eyes off of your beautiful maps.

I do plan to read it in a jiffy though. Just thought I'd shoot a compliment.

Hopefully not too unintellectual.

Comment by Maggie Sun Nov 5 16:55:36 2017

Maybe you will end up falling in love with transforming new pieces of land, and start doing that in profession 4 in a decade?

PS I love deterring deer with un-nibble-ables.

Comment by Maggie Sun Nov 5 16:58:16 2017
I would second what Jeff said about deer and fruit trees. Also, in my experience, bramble fruits are less bothered than others (namely, strawberries and grapes), but I'm not sure if that's universally true.
Comment by Jake Sun Nov 5 22:30:40 2017
I had to put a 7 ft deer fence around my garden, but groundhogs chewed through the mesh, so I put a 4 ft wire fence around the bottom of that. I discovered rabbits could fit through that, so I wrapped another fence made of thick plastic mesh around that. Then all my strawberries were eaten by chipmunks, who are impossible to keep out, my barn cat's valiant efforts notwithstanding.
Comment by Julie Mon Nov 6 18:46:36 2017

What I see is an absence of a GARAGE in that drawing. Come on, that little plastic Rubbermaid shed you keep the generator in is NOT going to keep all your tools out of the weather long term.

It will be really nice to have a place you can keep the car out of the snow, rain etc. I know Mark has his itch to "tinker" and you will have garden tools, lawn mower, chain saw etc that needs a dry and secure home!

Comment by Eric Mon Nov 6 20:10:32 2017
Deer decimate my asparagus. It is fine until they taste it. Then it is gone
Comment by Charity Thu Jan 4 13:32:20 2018

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