Thursday, June 21, 2018

Garden By The Woods

This long view of our garden by the woods was taken from our highest ground.  Our house would have been built where I am standing to take the picture if money had been limitless.  Two stories on the south side with only one story above ground on the north side was the plan.  The lower level would have been set into the hill with a wall of windows on the exposed side.  That did not happen but working this ground now is as good as it gets.  Remote quiet and distant views make this seemingly wilderness land perfect for the way I want to live.  Pictures show that this is the best tended land on our place.

There is a second ridge behind the one that can be seen.  It is huge and separates the Susquehanna river and Unadilla river watersheds.  The geographic impact on us is the miles of frost rivers that pour down these hills and sweep across our gardens.  I could not have put the garden near the house in a colder spot if that had been my goal.  As it is the cold flow sometimes stays just above this garden when it hits the lower one with full force.

The visible ridge is part of several square wooded miles crossed only by one seasonal road.  We have heard the old timers talk about interactions with bears, wildcats and wolves.  In my younger days I had the land owner's permission to walk his land to the top of the ridge.  Age and a small measure of common sense now keep me closer to home.  On many days it feels like coyotes are close at hand watching me.  So far they have kept their distance.

The original purpose of opening this garden land was to provide ground that had not been contaminated by garlic diseases.  Potatoes are the first crop planted in newly cleared meadow ground.  Next year garlic will be planted where the two rows of potatoes now grow.  Potatoes will then be sown where the pasture grasses now reign.  That area will be cleared of grasses and stones as time allows.  A quick count shows that there will be three more beds where garlic has never before  grown.  If I am still here then, the garlic will of necessity return to ground previously used to grow it.  Considering the elapsed time interval and the near disease free state of our garlic there should be no major problem.

The possible passing of the man that had operated a pick your own strawberry farm prompted me to plant strawberries in larger numbers here.  Previously we had grown only enough plants to supply fresh fruit for our cereal.  Two rows of purchased plants were formed.  New plants from runners were carefully set in four additional rows.  There was to be a one foot wide clear path down the center.  The berries had different ideas and we did it their way.  This year runner plants will be taken to start a new bed.  We hope to see three years of decent harvests from the original planting.  This is a learning experience for us since we know nothing about the proper cultivation of strawberry plants.  We do intend to move new plants into ground that has not previously grown strawberries.

This is the current state of our plants.  Filtered shade created by the nearby trees delayed the active growth of our plants.  Hot dry weather has kept the crop in a holding pattern.  We picked and processed eight quarts of berries from another location.  They were closed for three days to allow their plants time to recover from the ravages of hot dry picking.  We now have about one half of a years supply of jam in the freezer and we are counting on our own fruit to supply the other half.  The going is shaky and slow.  Yesterday's harvest yielded only two more jars of jam.  We clearly have enough berries.  We have little control over the weather and its impact on our crop.  Yesterday I trucked ten gallons of water for these plants.  Hand watering with a sprinkling can took considerable time and effort but likely fell far short of what the plants need.  Rain is in the forecast for the next several days.  My winters supply of jam depends on some real rain.

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