The last couple days of January were lovely and after the past two weeks of snow, I’m thinking back to them very fondly. So here’s what I did on my two days. I tilled up the spot that will be two new garden beds in the veggie patch. Tilling is my only alternative to having my knees replaced from the shoveling in such rocky ground. Above, the rocks have been removed already. Then you have a lot of rocks to put somewhere.
So I’ve started making rock columns like Ozark farmers of old, the ones you see at the corners of garden spots and fields around here. (Does anyone know what these stone filled columns are called in the Ozarks?) They are actually handy. You can build tables on top, or use them as the base for a garden planter. When you have this many rocks in your soil, you figure out variousways to use them. But one of my new year’s resolutions was to have more fun making garden ‘art.’ I’m not talking fine art, I’m talking fun art.
So you take a concrete chicken, and add it to your stone column. Oh, and I built the column on top of a stump, which I’d previously decorated with a broken rake, painted purple of course…
And there you have it. I’m going to add a few more objects, and call her “Our Lady of Larrapin.” That’s what I did with my two pretty days at the end of January.
—A Larrapin Garden www.larrapin.us
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I love the colors of Autumn in the Ozarks. Not just the trees, but how some fields take on new green, the sky is that amazing blue. Love it. Plus, late September and October means an end to the stunning summer heat, except this year the summer was cool and rainy alternating with wet and sweltering. My garden wasn’t too fond of this particular weather combination, though we did get lots of veggies as always. To be honest, the chickens probably got more that we did becuase there were so many things going on with my livelihood and life that I didn’t take the usual amount of time gardening.
So despite my heartfelt intentions to a) have a full-out fall garden and b) not fall off blogging around the dog days of late summer, I did not accomplish either of those goals. You’ll have that. Who knows what happens? This year it was a million things to do to take our little publishing company to the next level, a long October holiday back to our previous homeground in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina & Tennessee. Plus, I was just beat down by Bambi.
I’ve posted before about the deer/rabbit/raccoon challenges we’ve had since our old farm watchdog, Sugar Bear, died of old age in the springtime. We do have new farm dog named Ada, who is 8 months old and slowly growing (and growing!) into the job. But in the meantime, the onslaught of Bambi and her six best friends was just a bit too much. I faced a decision: fence or flee.
Since our veggie garden sits smack dab in the middle of the front ‘yard’ of our three acres, fencing seemed like an awful sacrifice to our viewshed. While it was lovely to look our from the living room or the dinner table onto the lush garden, looking out onto a deer-fenced garden would be less aesthetic, to put it mildly. I nevertheless priced fencing, envisioned lovely flowering vines along it, sketched out a quaint flower-covered gate arch in my journal. But no go. I just couldn’t do it. The garden has to move. And have a tall, tall fence that will not just keep deer from going over the top, but also raccoons from going over it to get to their favorite sweet corn and cantelopes. Things are about to change for Larrapin garden—a westward move by about fifty yards. More about that in the next post.
There was one thing that went really well in the late garden: a cover crop!! Finally, I got it together (ok, Mendy reminded me it was time and helped too) to plant the Soil Builder mix from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply. It has oats, peas, vetch and more. The cover crop protects the soil all winter from rain compaction and erosion. Equally important, the presence of live roots in the beds keeps the microbial life going over the winter. This is the main advantage over my second best covering system used till now: a layer of chopped leaves (6-12″) as a deep winter blanket. The bright green plants looks wonderful in the sunshine. One catch, the plants should be well over a foot high by now. While we did plant it a little late, there’s another reason I just figured out this week. The tops of the crop are snipped off as if with scissors. Bambi and her BFF’s are keeping it mowed to a neat six inches. ….sigh. But that’s OK. Westward Ho. Or rather, Westward Hoe!Read More