Plantings and Gardens
Last Updated: October 4, 2006
Most recent images first; text and additional references at bottom...

The gardens probably produced 90% of our fresh produce this summer. As of September, all the beds are (finally) double dug (we are now 1/3 through digging the herb garden's beds). In the main garden, the fall crops have just been started and include leeks, onions, cabbage, brussel sprouts, spinach, garlic and so forth!

Quinoa laid out to dry in the greenhouse




Harvesting Quinoa




Corn, beans, squash and sunflowers


Melons, peppers and asparagus


Basil, squash and tomatos


Cabbage, broccoli and brussel sprouts


The garden's are indeed coming along! Tomatoes & squash in front, potatoes behind...


The completed & painted U-Bar tool!


Candice trying it out



Fabricating/Welding a U-Bar tool for helping with the double digging of the gardens


Lastly, the prepared beds are covered with mulch made from the removed rye overplanting.


The top shovel depth's worth of soil is replaced.


Next, another shovel-depth's deeper is then loosened with a fork.


Double digging the garden beds (Biointensive gardening method). First the bed is watered and the rye overplanting is removed. Then a full depth of a shovel is removed and put aside.


The completed Greenhouse!.


Installing the first of two covers (not counting the shadecloth). [Thanks Richard!]


Greenhouse endwalls are complete (polycarbonate verilite panels), installing the vents and fans. Planting tables in place.


Getting ready to install the door (eastern view).


The Greenhouse frame up and endwalls being framed.


Building the greenhouse planting tables.


Tree plantings (#circles) and gardens to-date (Febuary 2006). Native transplants not shown. All plantings and most non-daily gardens are configured with drip irrigation (watch your elevation changes in order to keep your pressure within a tolerable range!).


The completed, fenced Main Garden (40'x80') with terrace beds (filled with compost) and bark paths. Beds have been over-seeded with cereal rye to help re-structure the soil before use. Note 1/2" mesh makes up the bottom ~12" of the fencing and extends down into the soil for gopher protection. Compost piles are in (far left) and filled!


The Main Garden with gates and posts in place (corner posts and gates concreted).


The Berry Garden with gates and posts in place (gate posts concreted).


Setting the greenhouse pier ties before pouring the concrete.


Drilling the greenhouse piers. The greenouse will be used by Candice for herb starts for her herbal business and will be 18' by 36' with the fans and blowers solar powered.


The berry garden with the trenches filled with wood chips and ready to be backfilled.


Trenching the berry garden. The trenches will be filled with wood chips we made from the brush we removed (ref. the roads, etc.) and a layer of top soil, soil amendments and compost applied over that. This will help to not only amend the soils but to also hold moisture in during the driest parts of the year.


Spreading compost in the main garden. The whitish powder are soil amendments (organic) applied first based on soil testing we had performed. The main garden was created from the top soil scraped from the house, PV and terminal loop (road) sites. It sits just south of the terminal loop, across from where the greenhouse will be. In preparation, the area was 'ripped' with the bulldozer to a depth of 18", giving a nod to Yeoman's Keyline principles. Note that due to the use of a heavy bulldozer for the ripping, the resultant soil was 'flour'. Once we worked in the amendments, we realized we needed to add back in worms. A good source for worms is your local bait shop (use mini-crawlers for the garden and red-wigglers for the compost pile to get them started)!


The greenhouse parts are arriving! Compost (for the garden) in the upper right and storage containers (1/2) in place.


Seeding the graded areas with a mix of oats and clover.



The berry garden and access. This area will be used to grow high value berries both for our use as well as for trade or sale at the local farmer's market. It is irrigated (drip) through a pond siphon.


Candice watering potted plants waiting their own place on the property (citrus, roses, berries, etc.)


Temporary irrigation setup (pre-well/water system). We use a Shurflo pump run off the truck battery and fed by a 100 gallon tank. This gives us standard pressure (~40psi) which we then use to irrigate either with a garden hose or drip irrigation we've setup.


Slope near homesite planted with redwood and incense cedar



Planting the upper orchard


Candice starting her herb garden containing source plants for her herbal business


The Gardens and Orchard

A garden and orchard are the soul of a homestead, especially a sustainable one. Our intent is to be able to raise a reasonable percentage of our basic food needs; while raising high value items (e.g. berries, honey, etc.) for trade with others for items we could not grow.

While the winter/spring rains held up major construction activities until early summer, they have not held back the planting as the picures below show. As of Spring 2006, we have planted nearly 50 varieties of trees (many in multiples), including sequoia (coastal and sierra varieties), incense cedar, liquid amber (gum), locust, elm, dogwood, ginkgo, elderberry not to mention the orchards of apple (several varieties), peach, plum, cherry, pear, apricot, walnut and another of olive varieties. Beehives were setup and additional nectar plants (clover, mustard, canola) were planted. The herb gardens have been started (part of Candy's herb-starts business) and the garlic patch produced its first harvest in July 2005.

For those that are interested, the source for the orchard's fruit trees (generally old, rare varities) is: Trees of Antiquity, in Paso Robles, CA (805.467.9909, Trees of Antiquity). The vineyard is comprised of organic, biodynamic Zinfandel stock obtained from Frey Vineyards and rooted here in sand. The greenhouse (partial kit form) is manufactured by CropKing of Seville, Ohio (330.769.2002).


Additional Reading for Those Interested:

How to Grow More Vegetables (than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine) -- A Grow Biointensive Publication, John Jeavons, 10 Speed Press, 2002 (Ecology Action)
Permaculture: A Designer's Manual, Bill Mollison, Tagari, 1988
Living the Good Life, Nearing, Schocken Books, 1970
Water for Every Farm; Yeoman's Keyline Plan, Ken Yeoman, 1993, Keyline Designs