New year, new state! We left Chicago on 2.26.16 with all our belongings, the kitties, and our house in tow. Our hearts were full & ready for our new home state: NORTH CAROLINA. We arrived at our new parking spot bright-eyed & ready for this new adventure. We had found a good place to park our house with nice hosts that we met through craigslist. We had really lucked out with finding the perfect people! They own 10 acres of land, have a micro-animal sanctuary & offer lots of vegan-friendly events through their event center! It’s such a blessing to live with & create community with like-minded folks! They agreed to let us put in a garden next to our house! We took a few days to get our house situated, and all of our systems working properly.. Then it was time to get to the gardening!
Lasagna Garden Beds: On 3.3.16 we prepped our four garden beds using the “lasagna gardening” technique. This technique was low-labor & easy to do: We covered the grass with cardboard, then layered straw, leaves, compost, food scraps & manure. We topped the beds with top-soil, I got one pickup truck bed of soil & also added 2 cu ft of higher quality bagged soil to each bed. We added a bamboo trellis to bed #1.
Our Seedlings: We started our seedlings on 3.6.16!
Early Mistakes (a.k.a. valuable learning lessons!) : When we first arrived in March is was SO WARM.. Compared to Chicago… Which lead to be a little presumptuous & think that it was OKAY to start transplanting plants out.. I was very, very wrong.. Many plants died. I killed ALL of my tomatoes =( I also ran into another learning experience: the manure we had added to the beds was pretty fresh, and therefore all of the plants we put into the beds got nitrogen-burned & died =( Our beds took a few months until they were ready to be planted in.
Cover Crop: This was my first time planting a cover-crop. I scattered some clover & radish seeds over the bed & raked them in. The radishes perished due the the manure within a month (see above image), but the clover grew happily. I learned that baby grasshoppers love young clover, and many of them lived out their youth in my clover patch. It was fun to watch them grow up, and see them chomping on the clover!
Figs: We bought our first fruit tree at a plant sale, an Ischia Fig tree, we named the tree Chia & potted it up in a bigger pot. We got two figs off of Chia! I also experimented with rooting fig cuttings & had success, though all the cuttings did die…
Shiitake Logs: I had a great opportunity to go check out a local farm, and help the farmer inoculate Shiitake logs! For each hour I volunteered I got to take a log home with me! The spawn we were working with was Night Velvet Shiitake!
Sprouting/Microgreens: I love growing sprouts & microgreens forever, especially when there isn’t much growing in the garden beds!
Flowers: While I didn’t plant any flowers, I tend to always let some of my plants go to seed to provide pollen to the sweet critters that visit my garden!
Purslane: While working my job as a landscaper, I found some wild purslane growing.. I brought the plants home & transplanted them in my garden. My love for purslane grew throughout the season.. Thus “Purslane Gardens” was officially born!
Our garden growing throughout the year: Our summer garden wasn’t very impressive.. Not enough time & the beds weren’t very developed yet. By the time fall came, a lot of plants had self seeded themselves. I had also quit my landscaping gig, and had more energy to be out in my garden. As of 11.2.16 we were still frost free & our peppers, tomatoes, & basil were still growing. Our fall garden was quite productive & we had various greens grow uncovered all winter long. Our best winter crops were lettuce (3 different varieties, but we loved sweet valentine romaine the most), bok choy, & turnips.
*SOME* of our Bounty! We of course harvested more than this, but here are some of the highlights of the year!
2016 was my most productive gardening year to date! I finally got some experience creating garden beds on the earth, and had some decent success. I learned a lot about weeds, North Carolina weather, and the other new challenges I will continue to face as a gardener. The longer I garden, the easier (sort of) it gets.. Experiences turn into knowledge & familiarity with the rhythms of gardening. It’s my favorite thing I do in my life, and I hope this glimpse at my year of gardening has inspired you to get out there & grow something!