Thursday, 4 January 2018

Do you hide your vegetables? We do!

When folks come to our farm, they often come with the idea of tidy little rows of vegetables in a big flat field with maybe large greenhouses rising in behind.
Where are we hiding all of our vegetables???. They are often confused when I first motion to the Farmhouse Garden which resembles an organized chaos... upon closer observation it reveals a combination of annual vegetables and flowers in short rows. With companion planting and succession of crops in raised beds it can become quite something for a new observer.  Could we grow all of what we say we do in this tiny space? Not quite. We hide our vegetables in other places on the farm!!!😀
You see,  it isn’t our only garden. A walk up to the south pasture reveals a food forest garden where tucked amidst young fruit trees are new blueberry bushes and raised beds of perennial strawberries. Aunt Molly’s ground cherries sprawl under the waving heads of mammoth Russian sunflowers, and bees flit from tight beds of fragrant allysum to the large pumpkin blossoms in a nearby bed. Amaranth nods it’s reddish plumes to the backdrop of rare colourful corn and shorter rows of sweet snap peas.
A combination of annuals and perennials make up for a very non-traditional ideal of farming or even a market garden for that matter. But as we expand our gardens, this is the way we are growing what we sell.
You see, our farm is one hilly place. Not great for tractor work. So terracing has begun to prevent soil erosion, and reclaim some ground for orchard and food production. The beds consist of low fruit and nut trees, followed by perennial bushes and then ground covers. In front of these guilds and in between, we keep the ground covered with annual vegetable and fruit crops.
Our farm is only a few acres, so there is often creativity needed to making new successful growing spaces. A south facing slope along a fence pumpkins love for example.
A small 6x9 greenhouse allows a good head start in the spring for several flats of baby vegetables...tomatoes, peppers and tender plants with a little heat on the cool April nights... mid summer we start the second round of the fall crops in the green house.