This is the first year that Shawn and I have put forth serious effort to gardening. The past few years have involved us starting off with some excited attempts only to give up when the weeds overwhelm us. This year we heavily mulched the garden using the Back To Eden method. We've added mass quantities of wood chips and grass clippings and now weed maintenance is actually do-able!
I'm excited to say that we're actually harvesting and using food that we're producing in our garden. Today our lunch-time soup includes peas, carrots, and turnips from our own garden. After supper tonight we're having a fruit salad that contains our own blueberries and blackberries. Tomorrow night's supper will include beets and cauliflower that we've raised. It's an awesome feeling to serve food to my family that was produced on our own land. It really does make all the sweat, sunburn, and bug bites worth it!
Here's a view from the back corner of the garden. Since we're still on the GAPS diet, none of that corn is for our family to eat. All of that corn has been planted as winter chicken food.
Here are the arbors at the back of our garden. Starting from the left there is an arbor of pickling cucumbers, a second arbor of pickling cucumbers that was planted a couple weeks later, and then the last three arbors include two different varieties of pole green beans. We have watermelon plants growing in the middle of all the arbors so that "empty" space is utilized.
There's also more watermelon planted just to the right of the arbors in the back corner of the garden. We're growing two different varieties of watermelon this year..a traditional red watermelon, but also one that's yellow inside.
We ended up with more tomato plants than we had planned for so Shawn put up this spur-of-the-moment fence for tomatoes to grow on next to the corn. You can't see it because it's still too small, but on the other side of the tomato fence we actually have a row of cotton growing. That's one of our experiments this year.
The front of the garden is where most of our tomatoes are growing. The rows in front of the tomatoes that look empty actually have some small sunflowers growing in them. We're planning on using the sunflowers as winter feed for our chickens and rabbits. However, we're really having a battle with birds trying to eat our sunflowers. We've already planted twice and each time only a fraction have reached a decent size because of the birds getting to them. Behind the tomatoes you can see Shawn's tire potatoes still growing well. So far, we're really pleased with the experiment of growing potatoes in tires.
Here you can see more of the near-empty rows of sunflowers. To the left of that is our garlic that's starting to brown and then our onions that are growing along nicely. Between the garlic/onion boxes and the arbors are where our pepper seedlings are planted.
Here is the other back-corner of the garden where we have cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, and turnips growing. You can see a little glimpse of our blueberry bushes in the corner of the picture. The raised beds in the back that look empty actually have brussels sprouts seeds planted in them. The little raised bed in the very back corner has three eggplants growing in it. You can also see our three compost piles in the back of the photo. We have a big volunteer squash plant that has popped up there. I'm anxious to see what exactly it's going to produce.
Here's the front of the garden. Here we're growing four arbors of peas. Under each of the arbors we have planted cantaloupe. The two raised beds contain carrots with space left over for me to continually plant more every few weeks. You can also see our blueberries better in this photo.
Here's our small patch of beets located at the back of the garden behind the rabbit shed.
Finally, here are our two arbors of squash at the front of the garden. The first arbor with the larger squash is made up of volunteer plants that came up in our carrot raised bed. We transplanted them here so I'm not really certain what they're going to produce. The arbor with smaller plants contain yellow crookneck squash and some scallop squash. We've placed the boards on the ground near the squash to make it easier to kill squash bugs that come around.
So, at this point in our 2012 garden, I am very pleased with the Back To Eden method. It has taken a lot of time this year to get everything mulched, but that time investment is already paying off with fewer weeds. Lord willing, next year ought to be even easier.
If you'd like to watch the Back To Eden film, you can view it for free here: