This darn cold is still lingering, so instead of moving lots of wheelbarrows full of manure in our surprising spring-like weather, I spent a little time outside planning and goal setting. I am still working on cataloging my full wish list. But I know for certain that we are going to make some changes in our annual vegetable garden this year.
So, I took my composition notebook up to a little table located at a high point in the cleared area of our property, near our greenhouse. This same table and chairs had previously sat in the center of our old suburban garden. There, Matt and I spent many nights lingering after dinner with a bottle of wine dreaming of what life would be like on the “other side”.
Now, on the other side, we have a 14-seater, mega-table –a Tuscan or Provencal wet dream of a table actually — that Matt built using local lumber.
But, even though we no longer dine at our 2-seater, it still basically serves the same purpose. It’s our dreaming table. We situated it where we have a good view so we can take stock of our landscape. It has become my favorite place to journal and sip tea in good weather.
Today the table worked it’s magic as I sat and contemplated the future of our annual vegetable garden.
When we first laid out the garden, we’d been under the influence of the John Jeavons Bio-Intensive method (which is awesome). We had double dug our beds and were planning to grow 60% of our available garden area as cover crops. Our 4000 square feet of fenced garden space wasn’t even going to be enough to feed Matt and I both, but it would get us started.
Then we got goats, ducks, chickens, and worms…and we realized we didn’t need to grow cover crops in our fenced garden since we had more than enough manure to provide fertility. We did need to grow animal food, but that could be much more easily grown in pasture or as field crops.
What became clear to me from today’s vantage was that our garden was now too big. We’ve implemented a lot of permaculture practices in other areas of our property and had food coming from over 2.5 acres of increasingly productive land. So, I got out my measuring tape and started walking the garden. The space is odd shaped and our rows are all different lengths which has also been a bit of a challenge for garden planning. But today as I roamed around, I could see the linear rows surrounded by food forests taking shape exactly as I imagined them from our dreaming table.
When I was done, our garden had been reduced to 22 rows, 3 feet wide, and 30 feet long. Our irrigation needs had been whittled down to 1320 linear feet of irrigable beds, instead of three times that, which then meant that we could irrigate from our upper rain catchment pond rather than needing to rely on our lower spring fed pond. The rest of the space will be transformed into food forests which will establish quickly given the quality of soil inside and the deer protection inside that fenced area.
And, when I went back to my desk with my revised plan, I stumbled upon this website:
It has an incredible wealth of information on irrigation system planning and the author has been extremely responsive to questions (even on a Sunday night!). It’s free, and if you have specific questions, he only asks that you make a donation of $5 per question if you get a satisfactory answer.
When I get our plans narrowed down, I’ll fill you in on the details. But, after a little time at the dreaming table and a little bit more with a measuring tape, I’m feeling a lot more hopeful that irrigation will be a workable goal for our garden this year.