Hello! I've spent much of this beautiful, beautiful June weekend in the garden. I thought you might like a little tour of what we're up to in our first full season here - grab a cup of tea and come in with me. It is one of my many happy places - it's physical work with a purpose, is outside, things are growing, and you can eat them in the end - what's not to love?
We have the garden up by the house. It's surrounded by deer fencing that Adam put up, which seems to be the only way to keep them out. It's working well! The deer fence that we use is from Lee Valley. You take it down at the end of the season, and put it back up the next year, and apparently it usually lasts for two seasons. This is our second year with this one, and it has a few tears which I fancily 'sewed' with gold ribbon (that also helps the deer to see it at night). But even when we're done with it at the end of this summer, the netting can be used as bird netting on some of our berries or as trellis for peas.
And as I was out taking pictures at 6:30 this morning and thinking about what I would include in this post, I looked to the back field and saw a deer happily eating its breakfast. Proof of the need for fencing. Take that, deer!
Adam set up the beds two years ago. Last summer as we were moving in, we kind of threw in a few things willy-nilly, and had a surprisingly decent harvest. This year, we're being much more intentional about what we're planting where. Adam built the beds with layers of cardboard, rotted hay, seaweed, more spoiled hay, compost, and some purchased manure. We keep some hay on top as mulch; it keeps the weeds down and moisture in. There are a few weeds that pop right up through it, though - buttercups and bindweed. Ugh! I spent several hours pulling all of them up. (A job which would have been easier if I had tackled it sooner. Alas.)
Three favourite tools that we always have when we're out:
I love these garden gloves, and I can't remember where I picked them up, but I'm sure it was probably an end of season sale since I bought two pair. These ones are similar. They're super thin and breathable, brightly coloured so I might not lose them, and the fingers and palms are grippy. For hard core weeding and digging down in the soil they don't keep all of the dirt out (it kind of goes through somehow), but on the whole, I really, really like them. Really.
The hori hori knife in the middle (also from Lee Valley) is my favourite garden tool. It is pure brilliance, simplicity and utility - I no longer use a trowel. It works perfectly for planting bulbs, as there are measurements on the curved side of the blade, for cutting weeds or flowers since there's a super sharp blade on one side and cutting through mulch with the serrated edge on the other side of the blade. The blade is curved which lends itself to easy manoeuvring and weeding. It's perfect for digging down in around the weeds and loosening them up. It's sturdy and heavy duty yet small-ish and light - I looooove this thing.
The Japanese weeder (or Cape Cod weeder) is a close second for Adam. It's an amazing weeder - it has one job, and it does it well. It's also a handy shape for digging a little furrow to seed, and it looks kind of cool. He'd like to point out that it's a bit more useful in a garden without hay mulch - it's more effective in loose soil.
Our peas are up! Someone recently gave me a trellising tip, which is simple and brilliant, and works like a charm. Thin stakes (which we had) woven through chicken wire (which we had). Done! (Thanks, Adam.)
We moved some kale out here last year, and it seeded itself and we now have approximately one zillion baby kales growing. Unfortunately, the slugs seem to like them as much as I do - look how much they've feasted! Tell me your tried and true slug tips! I neatly sliced at least twenty yesterday; another use for the hori hori knife. The only thing ickier than slugs is squishing them. Ugh.
And the garlic! I planted it late last fall. Some of the tips are yellowed. I'm guessing it might be too much water? I dunno. Hopefully they'll do well and we'll have plenty at the end of the season. My fingers are crossed.
And the weeds. These are bindweed (morning glory) which has the nastiest creeping roots, and is really difficult to eradicate. Adam has since weeded this bed, but those bothersome things will pop back up tomorrow, I'm sure.
I rolled a stump from our wood pile over into the fenced are so there's a little place to sit and watch the bees or have a cup of tea. Thomas likes to do "tricks" with it. (Cue the Log Driver's Waltz. A song that I love dearly, it's often in my head, and I sometimes *might* hear myself singing it to the chickens. Or plants. Oh dear.)
Adam is the better of us at taking things one step at a time and planning them out carefully. I tend to dive right in and figure it out as I go; he likes things like maps on graph paper of what's where. And in this case, I totally appreciate it - we're rotating the beds a la Eliot Coleman, which is all kinds of awesome for keeping balance in the soil.
Unseen, but planted, we also have scarlet runner beans, squash, some cherry and pear trees, onions, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, a few hops to try, and pumpkins (those are down by the chicken barn). We still have more peas to put in, potatoes, and more peas. Did I say peas? I love peas.
For other garden love, check out Tend - a lovely collective blog written by several gardeners from all over the internets. It's full of little tidbits and tours of the contributor's gardens - I enjoy it very much. I've been listening to the Root Simple podcast lately, and there's quite a bit of garden chat there, and Gardenerd is a great resource. Happy growing!