Wednesday, February 1, 2017


As spring gets closer I start dancing anxiously, wanting to be out there playing in the dirt. I look out my window and I see the grapevines that need to be trimmed, the trees that need to be pruned, my garden area (now covered with a six inch layer of leaves for mulch!) and my fledgling forest garden.

The forest garden was last year's major project. Everything up there will be perennials or self-seeding annuals, and I mulched it heavily this year so hopefully I won't need to water as much. The tree I have right now is a rescued apricot. I need two dwarf cherry trees to finish the "canopy" layer, but for the understory I have akebia, gooseberry, currants and aronia. Akebia is a vine, which eventually will create a windbreak for the strong winter winds. I also have edible honeysuckle that I grew last year, but I don't know if it survived the winter. At groundlevel I planted potatoes, herbs, strawberries, horseradish and kale along with various scattered annual seeds. This year I'll leave it mostly alone so the plants can fight out their own balance and naturalize wherever they fit best.

As I said, last year I covered the gardens with a thick layer of leaves for mulch. The plan is to use the fall leaves from the trees to cover whatever area is lying fallow the following year, giving the leaves a year and two winters to compost. If there are sufficient leaves (or I can get enough) I'll finish a new garden area each year. Every area of the garden will get a thick layer of mulch at least every seven to ten years rather than a scattering of leaves every year.

I have two major projects planned for this year. The first is the greenhouse. The roof will be a watershed, directing the water from runoff into the forest garden. During the summer it will be covered with vines for temperature control and it will sit flat against a block wall for heat in the winter. A combination of geothermal and sun. It will have a door on either side to allow the winds to blow directly through for another layer of temperature control.

The second major project is removing a bunch of grass and planting fruiting berries and herbs as a border around the yard. We plan to raise the ground level around the edge by about 18 inches, which will necessitate moving the sprinklers in and up as soon as the ground thaws enough. The flattening of the ground will prevent much of the runoff we currently experience and the rainspout from the roof will feed into this area as an additional water source. Since the plants I'm considering are drought tolerant or local natives (Serviceberry, lavender, etc), it shouldn't ever need supplemental water.

My minor projects are growing potatoes from true potato seed (TPS) and grafting fruit-trees onto serviceberry root-stock.

I'm anxious to get started, but the ground is still covered with white sky-dandruff. :)

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