Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Shepherd’s Flock Farm Garden – Before and After

Part 1: Creating raised beds and planting
Kate Payne de Chavez

If you look back through the blog posts, you can see some photographs of work we did along the lake in early spring before we could really get out into the garden.   It was too cold and the ground was too tough for us to get out and plant our veggies, so we satisfied ourselves with cleaning up the winter’s debris and waiting for the daffodils to bloom.   It was our way of getting out of the house and back to the farm.  

We have quite a bit of work to do to get this place back to the level of early successes that Mama and Papi had a few years ago, so we’re working together as a team to draw up a plan.

In late April and early May the ground was finally soft and dry enough to work, so Jhan and I talked with Mama and Papi about what they wanted in terms of garden beds.   We decided on beds that were approximately 4’ x 10’ and 4’ x 12’ (with a few oddly shaped beds here and there; the garden isn't exactly rectangular due to a little stream bed/drainage ditch along one side).   The walkways are generally 3’ or 4’ wide to allow for a wheel barrow to make the journey from the beds to the gate and all the way down to the compost bin.   Jhan and I laid out a grid using butcher’s twine and garden flags, and Jhan and Papi went to work creating the permanent raised beds.   I emphasize the word permanent here, because my poor mother and father have laid out and created theoretically permanent raised beds several times in the past.   Life has a way of running off with our well-made plans, and weeds invade.   That is perhaps a story for another post.   In any event, here you can see the grid lines and Jhan working away on digging out walkways and piling the soil onto the raised beds  (Mama, aka Avis, aka Nana, is in the background tidying up the asparagus bed).

Once the beds were ready, we were more than ready to plant.   We planted lettuces, peas, and beans from seed.   We then went to Skipper’s Greenhouse (here in Carroll County at 2044 Canyon Rd SW) and bought a TON of plants: tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, basil, dill, thyme, peppers, and marigolds.   The raised beds are mulched with pine needles from the pine woods on the farm, and as much of the walkways as possible are mulched with wood chips from a local tree-trimming business.   Waste not, want not.         

Around May 25th we had a very late frost, so in these images you can see tarpaulins, crates, bits of pipe, and other random materials that Papi and Jhan used to quickly cover the plants when the frost warning was announced.    Of our 48 tomato plants, I believe we lost only about 6.   We were blessed to lose so few; many of the folks around us (including commercial farmers) had a significant amount of crop damage.   

Stay tuned for Part 2 to see some After pics with the current state of the garden.  
Take care, and God bless!   

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