The Overhead Garden Plan

Here is one way to get a broader overview of a new garden plan.  Get a bird’s eye view of your property!  Look up your property on Google Earth and print off map.

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From here I can see where the trees are, the shady areas, the barren areas, the possibilities.  I can see that the space by the garden is shady in the summer so I need to plant things in that area that can handle partial shade.  The spot that I considered for the hoop house is partially shaded too.  Not to mention that the lawn chairs in that area are constantly blowing away.  I can see where new fruit trees would work and where a pond could thrive.

In planning a new garden it is important to analyze and observe the space diligently.

Wind- We can sure get our fair share of wind out here.  But because I placed different reading and eating areas all over I can better see where the wind goes.  Beside the house, under the elm trees, is protected.  The cushions on the chairs haven’t even budged.  This is where we will erect a canopy and build an outdoor, off grid kitchen this year.

Sunlight- The porches are very sunny right now.  They will make great spaces to grow food in pots and five gallon buckets.  When the trees are in their full foliage I should be prepared to move them around to get maximum sun or grow cold crops so that by the time the leaves are out the plants won’t require so much sun.

Space- I can see on the map where the trees expand in the summer and can lead me to plant trees a little further out.

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There are many benefits of downloading and printing the overhead view of your land.  You can see where best to fit a chicken coop, where to put a windbreak, or where to put a pond.  Or where to put a hammock!

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You can use little pictures like these and move them around before drawing in the final idea.  Just one more way to plan a new garden or implement a new idea!

Year Round Greens

You know you are a homesteader when things like poop that doesn’t have to be composted excites you.  Alpaca poo isn’t “hot” like other types of manure so it doesn’t have to be composted for six months.  We filled a wheel barrel full of alpaca droppings and took it over to one of the raised beds to spread.

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Now in November I had every intention of getting every bed cleaned out properly, covering them with compost then mulch for their long winter’s nap.  A good kink in my shoulder decided otherwise.  It would have been nice to have it all done, but it will surely wait for me, I decided.  So, on the bed that we started putting manure on, I noted emerald green from the patch of otherwise browned kale, chard, and collards.  Tiny Swiss chard leaves, two inches high were trying with all their might to grow.  It certainly was an epiphany for me.  If I cover the greens well with loose straw next year, I could be harvesting well into January!  That is without the help of a greenhouse, hoop house, or cold frame.  An easy way to extend the season.

Since I did not expect any more greens after November, I had been diligently snipping greens and freezing them.  No blanching necessary.  I have no desire to eat slimy food…ever.  All you do is pack sandwich bags with greens, release the air, and zip closed.  Put in freezer.  Now, the next day it will be frozen solid.  Don’t let it thaw!  Just crush it between your fingers so that the greens are crumbles.  When you need greens, crush the ones on top more and sprinkle handfuls into whatever you are cooking.  Replace the rest in freezer immediately.

I have been putting greens in all kinds of soups, in omelets, scrambled eggs, on potatoes to be roasted, and in sautés.  There are innumerable ways to use greens and the nutrients are especially desired this time of year.  The perfect blend of calcium and magnesium to make it bio-available, iron, A, C, E, and K, full of anti-oxidants and cancer killing properties.

Greens are one of the foods that I would have with me if I were trapped on an island…along with margaritas.  Is that a food?