Friday, July 29, 2011

Garden Crashing - A Full-Yard Garden

Earlier this week we visited some friends that my husband made sort of through work. Garth & Berri are glass blowers in town, and have this amazing garden that takes up pretty much all of their acre and a half property on the outskirts of town. When we arrived they welcomed us and then toured us through their gardens for over an hour - yup, their gardens are that extensive! We got to try out a cool garden tool they use that apparently makes their weeding lives way easier, we talked with them about their wheat crop, and they showed us how they efficiently water their plants.

They have a low little house that is built into the earth, and just installed a row of solar panels this spring. In front of the house they have a great herb garden with some ornamental plants & grasses in there too. In front of the herb garden, they have row upon row of veggies!
Below you can see the peas, onions & celery, peppers, tomatoes, more peppers, potatoes, and then corn.

Looking across from the house end of their property you can see their garage/shed and attached greenhouse, along with some fruit trees, more ornamentals (lots of flowers for cutting). Their raspberries, strawberries, and wheat are down at that end too.

They have numerous areas that are just great mixes of perennial plants. It was shocking just how short of a time they have been there working the gardens - about 3 years, the same length of time we've been at our place. They have accomplished so incredibly much in that time! I can't wait to see how much more function and beauty they accomplish in the next 3 years time.
  They have this neat little garden hoe-type tool that sits behind a wheel and you push it. As you push the wheel along the surface of the soil, the hoe rakes along just under the soil and cuts all the root and slightly disturbs the soil. Weeding without bending over, and without vigorous hoeing - perfect! I got to try it out, and it was easily done even with Little M on my back.

Here is a close up of the tool. They are made & sold by Valley Oak Tool Company, which is based out of California. You can check out their website if you are interested: They are a bit pricey, but think of the rows upon rows of weeds you could hoe quickly and easily with this thing! I suspect I would have to space my rows a little wee bit further apart to be able to make use of this, but maybe in the future I won't plant everything so close together :)

This is their wheat patch. This year they are just growing one variety, although in previous years they have tried several to see which one did best here and tasted best. I tried to remember which type this is, but I forgot - I'll just have to ask again if we visit again. The wheat variety is neat because it doesn't have the long spines off the seeds, so it is easier to deal with by hand. They use their wheat for baking - this past winter they made pancakes and other things with their home-grown wheat. How is that for self-sufficient living?!

They have irrigation shares in one of the valley ditches, it actually runs right between their land and the road. They have a great setup for watering all of their crops. They have their land divided into 8 zones, and they have a timer set up so that each of the zones gets watered at a certain time for a certain amount of time. Because they get their water off of an open ditch (unlike our piped gravity-fed irrigation water), they have to have an electric pump to pressurize the water. They also have several filters to get sediment and other things (for example we often get crayfish in our pipes...) out of their pipes so that their sprinklers don't clog up.

 Speaking of sprinklers, they have several different types that they use around the gardens, but these were the coolest. They had these jets that you can see, and then the top spun slowly around. but instead of the jets always spraying out water, when they got facing the shrubs on the right, they cut out! This sprinkler only watered in 180 degrees, even while rotating! Awesome, right?!

I definitely got lots of new ideas, both of veggies to try my hand at in the future (they sent us home with some kale and I had forgotten how much I loved it!), and also ideas for garden layout and irrigation set ups. We would have loved to stay longer, because there was still so much to see (including their root cellar!), but the sun was about to set and Little M was starting to get a bit fussy since it was past her bedtime.

Hopefully we will be able to go back and visit them again, and maybe they will be able to come over and visit our garden! I love touring around other people's gardens, seeing what plants they grow, how they organize their space, learning new ways to do things, and seeing what works for their spaces. I always learn a lot and come home feeling so inspired :) Thanks Garth & Berri for being so welcoming and friendly and for sharing all sorts of gardening tidbits!

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing property! Thanks for sharing.

    Little M is getting SO big!


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