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Campers' Gardens.

 
Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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Has anyone tried making "Camper's Gardens"? I have a handful of favorite camping sites out in the boonies in my general area and most are within an hour's walk/hike from eachother. What I'd like to do is go out with some tools and make 1-2 areas with several "garden beds" with on-site found materials. These would only get used a few times a year by us, and possibly other campers, but would be left alone for months on end. I'd assume that I'd want to go Hugel with them to buffer water availablity and maybe keep some internal bio-heat up to help them through the winters. The idea would be to have fresh veggies and known wild-edibles easily accessible during longer camping trips without having to take up limited cooler space. I'd guess that at the very least I'd probably have a few types of Kale, some Fava Beans, and Potatoes, maybe a winter-squash of some sort.

One of the areas I was thinking of is sparse forrest edging on a mountain stream: Mainly Red Alder and Big Leaf Maple above, and Sword Ferns, Salmon Berry, stinging nettles, and LOTS of mosses below.

The other area is still "sparse forrest" but more covered canopy, also edging on lake: Mainly Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, and Hemlock uphill fading into Red Alder and some unknown types of Willow against the waters edge. Pretty much the same understory with far less Salmon Berry and mosses but more Huckleberry.

Has anyone had any luck with such an endevour?
 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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That's a great idea! I would think finding enough sun would be the tricky part for most camping sites...

I would probably add some greens that easily reseed to your list. Hopefully they would come back year after year. Maybe some wild onions too?
 
Matu Collins
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Posts: 1967
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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This is a fun idea.

What about garlic? That might help keep animals from eating the garden. Parsnips do well on their own here given enough sun.

I love nettles for greens, how about some spicy mustard too?

My first thought was not wanting to bring anything invasive in but food plants shouldn't be a problem, should they?
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Wonderful idea. Wildlife pressure might be overwhelming, depending on what you plant.
You could be doing some fine dining while 'roughing it'.
Of course, you could smoke the wildlife with all of that alder. LOL

Some suggestions for this region:
* Asparagus (seeds are cheap, unlike 'crowns'). Fernlike perennial, early season, & delicious.
* Ramps. Wild leeks that need spring sun, but shade all summer. Only do well in deciduous forests. Luxury eating.

Maybe something like artichokes (thistle family) would be exempt from wildlife? They love a coastal environment.

Most other campers would probably not even recognize these plants in this region, so they might be exempt from the greedy ones who might take all that they can carry.
 
Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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I was thinking of using local material to fence off a small area, say 10'x15' (6'x3' beds with 2' around each edge for walking = 10'x5' per bed, 3 beds = 15' wide) to keep out the bigger critters.

John P: We do some pretty fine-dining while 'roughing it' anyways. :p When I have the proper supplies and remember to make plans for meals, I make some "pretty damned good 'camp-grub'." Or so I've been told. It's not coastal but mountain lake-/stream-edge. Yes, I use the Alder to smoke wildlife, when I can. My girlfriend isn't a fan of Alder smoked food though. She likes it OK for fish though.

Matu C. and Jessica G: I'll definitely be putting in lots of Garlic/Onions: Tasty themselves, helps keep away critters, makes one less tasty to flying critters (flies/mosquitos).

Utilizing maximum cooler space, we have about 6 "People/Days" of cold storage (1 person is actually about 5 days worth, unless it's "fridge temps" or colder because of melting ice issues. 2 people get 3 days worth of perishable food, 3 people get 2 days worth, etc..) If we didn't have to worry about keeping veggies from wilting, it could be closer to 9-10 People/Days of cold food.

The stream-side site is fairly sunny due to the break in the trees caused by the stream. The lake-side site has a lot more shade in-camp but is about 30 second walk to the "beach" which has a southern exposure. Unfortunately, the lake is man-controlled via a dam and so the level goes up and down about 10' depending on season. I could probably clear an area above the "high water" mark but still far enough from the popular sites to attract too much attention from assholes.
 
allen lumley
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Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Brian Ham : W.O.W., did this one bring back memories, and made new connections in my mind in ways that would have been impossible a year ago !

Campers Gardens, with thousands of areas of state and public access lands close to where I live, It was literally nothing to find a new path to an out of
the way pond, in back of beyond, one of my First lessons taught me by nature herself, is where beaver dams had ought to be, I would often pop over a
hill I had not climbed before and find a beaver flooded valley with a clear line a crossed it, marked by bush after bush of elderberries, the seeds brought
there by red winged blackbirds and the path clearly marked by their spoor !

Later a 30X 30 patch of leeks/ramps and tiger lilies showed me one of the richest patches of rich black dirt that at one time was a beaver dam grown
shallow over time, as it filled in! And there, where its small stream had finally broken through that very old beaver dam, I saw where~ 30 years ago ~
the old beaver dam had had its own Hugelculture moment in time, and now was a Broken Earth wall 5 feet tall of rich Black Earth , going nowhere and
recording its history with a polyculture of Elderberries, Service and Raspberries, nettles,Leeks, wild turnup, pig weed and other spring treasures !

One of my all time favorite camping spots. was a combination of wandering beaver dam, and beaver house that a bear had got into, at that location I had
unlimited, stacked,, (mostly) dry fire wood, a great windbreak, clean water by the pail fill and a sloping spot to beach my canoe where before the beaver
had slid into the water.

I shared this site with too many Friends and all the free fire wood is long gone, and no one diverts their course to pass by, except me when I want Fiddle
heads to go with last years wild rice and young fresh caught trout ! A $100.oo a plate diner finished as the stars are starting to come out !

It has been less than 10 years since I found my own first patches of Buckshot sized Very sour wild cranberries, and though it takes a lot to flavor a drink,
I look for Venus fly traps, they seem to be a polyculture of two !

And this quickly jotted note has reminded me to take a walk tomorrow where certain crab apple trees, long heavy with their fruit and now touched by a
frost have now finally sweetened, and will with their pectin rich base, make gallons of mixed preserves. Time I found additional grow beds far from any
Chainsaws or brush hogs, a future treasure worth a short hike for those that have learned how to find a Secret Garden ! Thank you for allowing me to
share For the Good of the Crafts BIG AL !
 
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