The last two months have been spent thinking deeply about the garden. I’m just sure you have been thinking about yours, too. Thinking goes a long way.
The intention here is to simplify the vegetable plot. The layout works perfectly, the problem is content. What we eat, what we enjoy, is changing and I have not been keeping up. So much of the produce goes into the freezer. I count on that. I plant enough for fresh, for guests, for “grands.” So there will always be spinach, kale, and chard but not enough to put into the freezer. We no longer want to eat greens that have been frozen. I don’t want the hassle of processing them. This is fair. The cole crops (broccoli, Veronica cauliflower) freeze beautifully and we deeply appreciate them. I harvest/process enough to see us through to the coming harvest.
There are carrots, red cabbage and beets in the refrigerator. Onions, shallots and garlic in abundance and at the ready. The rewards far outweigh the effort on my part.
No longer will I struggle with pumpkins/winter squash. They take up far too much room for so little return. I’ll be counting on the high tunnel growers to offer these at the Farmers Market.
By eliminating whole swaths of no longer treasured vegetables leaves me room for — are you ready? — chickens. Just two. Barred Rocks to be specific. We haven’t had chickens in at least 25 years. I closed that chapter and hadn’t looked back. Until now. So I put in my order at the Wagon Wheel, that makes it seem more real. John is trying mightily to ignore this situation. He is the one assigned the construction of the little house and run.
The plan is to take one of the raised beds out of cultivation and put the chickens there. Each year we will move the house and run to a different bed. The chickens will scratch around, eat whatever I throw in there for them, and lay some lovely eggs. They should be safe living within a fence within a fence. The run will have a cover so the bed won’t become a mud pit and the hens won’t be eagle bait. Yes, we have Jade the Dog who has been introduced to chickens and seems to ignore them, but chances won’t be taken. The hens will be secure. I can hardly wait.
Before you follow suit on this, check the covenants for your subdivision if you live in one. We have the great good fortune to live in the Anderson Subdivision where livestock is allowed. I can’t sell the eggs, but with two hens I’m not concerned about that. Also I’m thinking about my neighbors — there won’t be a rooster. Having lived with roosters for many years I am well aware that they don’t crow just at dawn. They let the general populace know of their existence 24/7. And their voices carry far and wide. Think about that.
I look around this little town and I see so much potential. What are so many of you waiting for? Why don’t you have a vegetable garden? There should be a little patch in every one of these lawns. You don’t need heavy equipment, not even a rototiller. Start now to gather cardboard to lay down over your grass. This will effectively kill it. No need to dig it up. Just smother it. Cover the cardboard with some topsoil that you can have delivered or gradually accumulate in 5 gallon buckets, depending on how ambitious you are. There you have it — a garden, ready and willing to be planted with this and that.
Think about what you want to eat. Plant just enough to eat fresh the first season so you are not overwhelmed. The seed racks are out all over town. Pick out lettuce, radish, spinach, and there’s your evening salad. How about a few peas? Start so very small, even a container on your deck. But please people START.
Think and think now. Plan.
Rosemary Fitzpatrick is a longtime Homer gardener. She has been writing Kachemak Gardener since 1990.