Gardening need not be expensive nor incredibly difficult. By necessity I have come up with ways to make widespread, prolific gardens quickly and easy on the homestead pocket.
The first thing that is imperative to a great garden is compost. Compost is one of those things that still baffles folks a little. You do not need a fancy, turning contraption to make compost. Doug screwed together five pallets to make two open spaces and it is tucked into a far corner of the yard.
The chicken coop certainly adds to it. In the fall the chicken bedding gets changed and the soiled straw goes into compartment one. For six months I add leaves, coffee grounds, lint from the dryer, food the chickens don’t like, and it builds up. Repeat in the spring, only use compartment 2. Put on the garden beds what you began six months ago and do this in the spring and fall. I do not turn the compost or water it or do anything to it really. It just does it’s thing. If it smells, add dry material like straw or newspaper or leaves. If it is not decomposing at all, add more wet items like food scraps or grass. Let the chickens play in it, they scratch it up nicely.
Time to clean out the garden beds. I let the plants go to seed. Next year Mother Earth will grow dill, basil, carrots, spinach, arugula, and many other plants for me. Everything is pretty well frozen and quite deceased so out they go and into the compost. Perennials and winter greens stay put.
Add a layer of compost. Then a layer of warm straw. Not thick enough to suppress weeds (because the water won’t get in) but enough to keep the soil cozy.
I have a third of an acre here and I am only gardening a quarter of it. But, we haven’t even been in this house two years; the changes in this property over that time have been impressive. As always, I want more garden beds!
This is my own design; a very easy gardening bed that combines many great techniques. Lay out cardboard where you want your bed. No need to rototill or disturb the beneficial guys underground. Ring with wood you have on hand, rocks, bricks, anything really, use your imagination! Then top with a 2 inches of thick straw. You can add your compost and soil now or wait until spring.
I am adding a bed that runs alongside the other one and putting an arbor over them. Next year I will grow pumpkins over them (and will try to outsmart the squash bugs). It will create an enchanted walk through that leads to the house or the gardens while freeing up space in the garden. Pumpkin Hollow Farm is moving up!
Plant tulip and daffodil bulbs and lots of garlic cloves.
Everything looks great! The garden is put to bed, the new spring beds are ready for next year, and the perennials are snug in straw. Bulbs are planted, muscles are tired, and the farmer is happy.
All this wondering what to do now that I don’t have my businesses. Should I go to school? Should I get a job outside my writing? Should I…? And as I spent the day hauling compost, designing beds, standing in the next herb garden, dreaming, being present, working hard, I realized that this is what I want to do. This is where my heart is happy. At home. Creating home.