KW Homestead

Pasture Raised Poultry from Our Family to Yours

our garden: just the beginning

since we moved to our new, 16 acre land in march of 2013, we’ve added the first portion of our backyard garden. it took time and effort, but all of the work has been rewarding and all the fruits of our labor (vegetables, really) have been delicious!

the picture below shows what our yard looked like before we started digging…

backyard before garden

a picture of the backyard of our home a few months before we purchased it in march of 2013

and here is the first step we undertook in building the beds:

hugelkultur experiment

digging the first, and most downhill bed

since we wanted raised beds, first we dug down about 8 inches and scooped the soil out.¬†as you can see from both pictures, we decided to line a portion of this bed with small, felled trees and dead brush. this was jason’s hugelkulture project and he wanted to experiment with how much the slow rotting and decomposition of the wood would benefit the roots of the plants growing above. the portion of the bed that is unfilled was later filled with leaf mold from the woods. this was my project: i wanted to see how the decomposing leaf mold would benefit the plants in much the same way as the decomposing wood. after filling the ditch with these materials, we layered all of the dirt on top and dug out an adjacent path (also about 8 inches deep) and placed that dirt on top too.

making a hugelkultur raised bed

the base of the bed–half filled with small trees

the reason for the half-and-half bed liner was simple: i wanted to do it one way and jason wanted to do it another way. so, we compromised and split the bed in two. this way, he could have it his way, and i could have it my way!

later in the season we planted tomatoes, peppers, basil, amaranth, chia, squash, potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, and various other crops. considering that we started everything much later than desired, the garden made quite a bit for us this year (much more on this later).

you can see our small dwarf apple tree in the foreground of the the picture below, and the tomato cages; we use woven wire bound in cylinders and pinned to the ground with bent electrical piping (my father’s tried and true method).

the first season's planting in our garden

the first season’s planting in our garden

our sweet potato vines really took over and yielded around 120 pounds of “wild man candy bars,” as my father calls them. you can see the lush vines in the second nearest bed.

raised beds with sweet potatoes, chia, peppers and tomatoes

the first season’s planting in our garden. you can see our barn in the background.

all in all, it was a great year for our first garden together. we learned something about compromise and also what you do when groundhogs threaten to eat all of your sweet potato vines…

i also documented each of the planting and harvest dates for our crops and whether or not each crop was deemed a success or a dud.

i will be posting the calendar that we followed this year and the outcome of our different plantings soon. this way, perhaps we can start a dialogue about planting and harvesting in our region!

.:.

3 Comments

  1. Jason and Emma,
    I think what you guys are doing is great. Jason you don’t know me but
    I know your family , both your dad and mom from bayside, ny. I saw your
    grandma and uncle Scott at a graduation this weekend, and your grandma
    gave me your web page. Im good friends with uncle scott, however I still
    live in the city but have a small farm in the catskills mountains of ny state.
    about 2 1/2 hours from the city. I recently planted a orchard consisting of
    230 trees, 10 variety of apples and 6-8 varities of peaches, pears, sweet cheeries
    and berry bushes. Its a great experience ! Im excited for you guys.
    ps I am in my second year of beekeeping , its a lot of fun. If I had to guess
    that’s already on jasons mind, its a natural for you guys for pollination
    purposes and the value of the wonderful honey. Any way good luck with
    your projects and I will follow your progress.

    Joe

  2. Hey Joe!

    Your orchard sounds really amazing. How often do you get out there and how is it coming along? I definitely want to venture into beekeeping soon, for the pollination but also for the mead ;)

    Thanks for checking out the blog!

  3. Jason,
    The orchard is great, all trees were planted 4 weeks ago bareroot
    aprox size 5/8″ to3/4″. Its awful to take the initial step of pruning
    all trees at 36″ height but it payed off . As of last weekend all trees
    popped and look great. The growing process has begun. Three years
    till a harvest begins. Any way my friend is a mead expert and if you have
    any interest ill give you his info. Hopefully the honey harvest in late july
    will be productive, I will send you some as soon as its available.
    keep in touch.
    joe

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