With the holidays (mostly) out of the way, I’m starting to fantasize about next year’s garden… This year will be different in a few ways. This year we will have fifteen 8×4 raised beds, and also two potato boxes. This is more than doubling our garden space. We’re also adding a greenhouse and a chicken coop with four chickens!
I’m doing a thick border on the other side of the yard for perennial herbs and flowers (both medicinal and just plain pretty, even some for natural dyes), and also planting various fruit bushes like raspberries, currants, service berries, and quinces. I’d like to at least study the art of espalier so I can plan for next year with some more heavy duty fruit trees like pears and peaches.
Since our front yard is so heavily shaded in the summer, we’re probably going to plant lots of native species to help foster a mini-natural habitat for insects and animals, and also so we won’t have to mow it at all. We also might incorporate a cob playhouse for Vera (but we’ll have to put a picket fence around the front yard, it’s a somewhat busy road). I had plans for that front yard, lots of plans. They were plans that necessitated cutting down at least one of the two big trees in our front yard. However, the more I learn about what we humans have done to this world, the more reluctant I am to see those big trees in the front yard as being in my way. I have been taught that it’s always my right to cut a tree down if I want to, because I’m a human and I make the rules and I "own" this piece of land. We’ve all been conditioned to exploit, whether we know it or not. We can’t just let a place be. Well, this small patch of land gives me an opportunity to learn a little something about that. Hopefully I can create a space that is both beautiful and full of life, and those trees will continue graciously shading the south side of our house (which is very welcome in the heat of the summer).
Just writing about all this gets me excited.
Am I crazy for taking this stuff on? Come planting time I’ll be a good 7 months pregnant… and I’ll have a one month old infant (plus a two and a half year old) when preserving comes on in full force. I’ve thought about this. All I can see is me with a baby in a sling on my back, Vera "helping", and being surrounded by the fruit of my labor. Plus I’m sure we’ll have more "canning parties" this year. It honestly sounds like a dream to me. I’m totally addicted to this. I’m sure it will have many challenges, but women for ages have been doing much harder work than I’ll ever do and popping out babies left and right. I’m thinking my level of success is going to be less about my ability and more about my attitude and my priorities.
I have to say, being able to write like this again is really refreshing. I think I have it pretty good as far as pregnancy symptoms go, but the fatigue of the first trimester leaves me feeling lethargic and uninspired. This happened last time, too. I felt like I was floating. I couldn’t seem to get much done, ever. My patience was shorter. Then, all of a sudden, I started to wake up and come back to my old self. Well, it’s been much of the same this time around. I’m in the last week of my first trimester, and I’m finally feeling more present in my own head! I can’t tell you what a relief it is. I also felt more morning sickness this time around, but that’s been gone a good couple of weeks.
Sweet Max. I will get a good one of his killer smile soon. He’s got such a good sweet energy, this fat little boy does. I snuggle him and find myself cooing and saying things like "We’re friends… you’re my friend!" He gives me a lot to look forward to, with his sweet baby smell and his big eyes…
And Max’s sweet, yet increasingly mischievous sister, Tuula. We were all getting together at my parent’s house on this day, and she walks in with marker all over her face… Apparently she’s a cat and those are cat whiskers on her face. Duh.
Super nursing mama, that sister of mine.
Vera and Tuula playing in the snow.
And just some randoms.
Quote of the day:
"Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude." (W. Shakespeare)
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Oooo, I like that potato box idea! I really like the sliding sides for stealing a few of the tubers.
This year I made potato cages out of 4 foot fencing that I filled up as the plants grew, and the harvest was incredible. Since they are so easy to make, I will stick mostly with the cages, but a few of those boxes would be handy as well. Instead of using only soil, I chopped up straw and filled the cages to their new height with that, then poured in a mixture of 2/3 soil and 1/3 compost to fill in the space between the straw. This worked really well, and made digging out the potatoes a lot easier. Not to mention the supply of really high organic matter soil I now have for topping off new raised beds this year.
There is food that you can get from shady areas, but you have to be somewhat creative about it. In the hot summer, it can even be a good place to grow your salad greens so they won’t bolt. Understory berries can be incredibly tasty, if not as productive as their domesticated cousins.
I’m from the Eliot Coleman school when it comes to trees and growing space. I will try and figure out any way possible to arrange my garden so I don’t have to take a tree out, but I will if there is no other way to do it. So far I’ve gotten away with just trimming the upper story native trees. I have taken out loads of douglas fir and big leaf maple seedlings that pop up everywhere, as well as a mid sized, diseased non-native blue spruce.
I always plan far more garden stuff than I actually accomplish, but that’s part of the fun. As long as you keep looking forward instead of beating yourself up for what you don’t accomplish, dream away! Whatever gets done, gets done. Whatever doesn’t get done is something to look forward to next year.