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a garden of eden, not THE Garden of Eden

March 10, 2011

There was an old, overgrown garden on the farm when Jude and I moved in.  Except

for 35 or so blueberry bushes, nothing was growing.  That might have been because

there was only part of a fence around it.

Our first spring we enclosed the garden, using small tree trunks for poles and used

fish netting bought dirt cheap from a netloft on the mainland.  We got 50′ square

nets for $25 each.  The fence has seen some truly harsh winters since.  It will need

substantial repair this spring.

The additional netting in the back of the garden protects the blueberries from birds.

Our first growing season, instead of planting, we concentrated on weeding and feed-

ing what was already established.  We got a magnificent blueberry crop and shared

it with our new neighbours.  The second year we reclaimed some of the old beds

with oregano, thyme, potatoes, peas, zucchini, marigolds, lettuce and beans.

The second year we rotated all the veggies and added a few more flower varieties.

We experimented with a small patch of quinoa, amaranth and flax with limited

success.  Our tomatoes didn’t do well in the cooler than average summer.

In April of ’09 we built a second garden with a greenhouse in the middle of our farm

so it would get more sunlight.

We used 3 mil plastic that is supposedly UV resistant.  It has held up well so far.

Right now we have Galvalume on the roof to bear the weight of snow accumulation.

In the spring we plan to replace that with several old windows and other sheets of

glass.  We planted tomatoes, eggplants and marigolds in the greenhouse the first


We used the guerilla gardening technique to develop the 50 foot square space.  We

didn’t plow or till.  Rather, we put down a layer of mulch, then cardboard, compost,

more mulch and straw.  Pathways of woodchips followed to divide the growing

areas.  We planted quinoa, amaranth, flax, soybeans, chickpeas, chicory, beans,

peas, lettuce, carrots, potatoes, squash, asparagus and even more varieties of


We got about 30 yards of woodchips from a crew clearing alder trees nearby.  For a

week the six young men would come down at the end of their day and empty their

shredded product by the garden.  In exchange we gave them two six-packs.  A per-

fectly balanced economy.

Last year we added chard, broccoli, kale, onions, basil and tomatillos.  This year we

plan to add more herbs and flowers.  I’ve been especially cheered by the success of

the chicory.  Its roots are used as an alternative to coffee.  It’s very popular in New

Orleans, so I hope to bring a little bit of the South to the Great White North.


I set the post that holds the garden gate in concrete, but used sand as the back

fill for all the others.  If we expand the garden, the posts will be easy to pull and


There’s a composting area in the back of the garden.  The netting at all the corners

except the one with the gate can be unhooked from nails for quick access.  We can

put yard waste by the compost pile and mow over it to shoot it right into the pile.


All thanks to my sweetie for helping me with this entry.

  1. Linda Swan permalink
    March 12, 2011 3:42 pm

    Allen, what a lovely garden you and Jude have. I am soooo jealous. It looks like you two put in a lot of work since Michael and I were there. Enjoy.

    • March 12, 2011 4:23 pm

      We are, especially with spring in the air. You kids really should come back and check our progress.

  2. Charlotte Wales permalink
    March 29, 2011 5:11 pm

    What a lovely garden, Allen – – strangely, I’m drinking chickory coffe from NO right now (can’t take the south out of this gal!).

    • March 29, 2011 6:54 pm

      I’ll bet it’s French Market brand. That’s the only kind I could find in California. French Market also makes a beignet mix, but I just couldn’t get the little suckers to come out like the ones at Cafe Du Monde.

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