Hi! I'm going to share some of my plans for my garden after I virtually attended the Garden MasterCourse a few weeks ago. But first an introduction to my land...
Located in the Pacific Northwest
Douglas fir young forest growing on previous farmland, broader area is Southern Puget Prairies
Gardening Zone: 8a and 8b (literally on the line between zones on the map), 10F
Average first frost- Oct. 21-31
Average last frost- April 11-20
Warm-Summer Mediterranean Climate
Palmer Drought Index: "Extremely Moist" So much rain until July and August and then there is pretty much nothing for those two months. Growing up here, I just thought that was normal for summer and I was always so confused by movies or books mentioning about summer rainstorms.
Heat Zone Days: Rare over 86F Though lately we have had a lot more days in the 90's as early as June, and even a few days in the 100's in August. Growing up, it was never hot in June and I remember camping in August and being cold at night. Things are definitely changing and that is something I am trying to keep in mind as I plan long term.
Slope: 13’ slope from northwest to southeast (mostly very gradual slope)
Soil Type: Mostly clay, some sand, with glacial till (lots of rocks under the topsoil)
Soil pH: acidic
Soil Fertility: varies widely
What grows well in my garden?
wild: dandelions, clover, thistle, blackberries, reed grass, spotted lady’s thumb; in the woods: salal, red huckleberry, vine maple, beaked hazelnuts, alder, douglas fir, wild cherry, big leaf maple
things I’ve planted that do well: tomatillos, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, Asian pears, blueberries, golden raspberries
How long does it take for water to drain? about 24hrs
Hours of sun and shade: full sun in the majority of the garden areas
One thing that I really took away from the Garden Master course was to develop a friendly relationship with cover crops, keeping my soil covered and disturbing the soil as little as possible. I've really struggled with rhizomatous grasses drowning my annuals, bushes and even trees so in the past I've used cardboard as a mulch and spent so much time pulling up grass and trying to smother it and tilling it when I get really mad at it. I am considering how to use other plants instead of cardboard to compete with the grasses. Birdsfoot trefoil is one that grows abundantly and has smothered out the grass in one area. I was fighting it too but realized that it actually is very easy to chop and drop and keep under control. We also usually let grass and weeds grow up pretty tall for the pollinators and bugs but then mow it all down in one go. So I like the idea of selectively mowing and weed whacking certain areas while leaving others tall for those bugs and animals and then switching it up a few weeks later to mow the other areas while leaving the recently mowed areas long. Thus allowing there to be more hidey places for those beneficial animals.
Ah, the baby is crying and so I will continue to share more plans later!
The relatively newest part of my garden is our field. I tilled up a 30'x20'-ish rectangle of grass a few years ago in what was a very soggy lawn. I've gradually expanded it to to the size show in the picture below. Each square is 1'x1'. I tilled it for the first three years. The first year was amazing but the second and 3rd years, my yields were not as good and I realized that my tilling was killing the soil. I knew too much tilling would do that but I just didn't see a practical and fast way to get from thick lawn to plantable soil. Another issue is with my kids and all the neighborhood kids regularly running up and down garden paths, parts of the garden have gotten very compacted. Last year, rather than tilling, I piled up the soil and compost onto the top of my rows and I put short stakes with bright colored string designating the edges to keep the kids from walking on it. The plants did ok but the soil just doesn't look very alive so I know its going to take some work to heal it.
All that tilling has brought a bazillion weed seeds to the top, some plants that I had never noticed before. I make it a point to learn what something is before I pull it up and a lot of the weeds are actually edible. So that ended up being a positive result from tilling- changing the monoculture of grass to a polyculture of mostly edible weeds. But they take over and weaken the garden crops I want to grow when they grow around my veggies. Last year I spent a lot of time weeding and the aisle ended up bare but also baked hard, like pottery almost This year I am going to try mowing or chop and drop in the aisle, rather than pulling up the weeds by the roots. Except thistles... I will keep pulling up thistles since they make it really hard to walk and pick produce.
I'm also thinking of pulling some logs out from our woods to line each row, making the raised rows a little more stable and adding to the definition of the row.
I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay, I sleep all night and work all day. Tiny lumberjack ad:
World Domination Gardening 3-DVD set. Gardening with an excavator. richsoil.com/wdg