Gardening 101 (Just Kidding!)

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Our First Homestead Garden
by Rachel Craig, OffGridHomestead.ca

2014 Was a great year to have a trial garden on our Haliburton, Ontario homestead. The odds were ever NOT in our favour. Spring was late and the snow aka unplowable flat igloo blocked early root and greens sowing. (Lesson learned: plow fresh snow in garden area next winter!) Summer was bipolar and mostly in that depressed, withdrawn state. Our leaves started changing in August. Rain was perhaps over-abundant on our side of the Rockies as well.

The farmer at the end of the road, in his seventies and growing here his whole life, had a bad corn year and his squash flowered late as ours. I am still waiting for our tropical plants (like tomatoes) to grow fruit. I may be canning tiny pickled green tomatoes, and I may have to bring our pepper in for the peppers to grow, if they even flower.

Our beans, peas, radishes, carrots and beets have done well. Our greens are just now starting to thrive. We have 85-day corn and I will aim lower next year (looking for 60-day organic?); however, the corn did grow! The corn is mostly taller than me now, is flowering, and maybe the snow will hold off long enough for it to mature. Our corn had a bit of purple in it’s leaves early on, which suggested low phosphorus, so I spread manure around it. It’s all green and healthy now. Corn even getting to this advanced state here makes for a very promising future. Here’s a picture of our dinky test garden:

Garden 2014

The tomato plant that took off compared to the micro-others shows quite a difference:

Tomatzoid

The cabbage and broccoli need a little more time, I hope they get it:

Cabbage 2014Broccoli 2014

Besides keeping the many feet of snow off next year’s garden plot, we are going to stick some sort of greenhouse frame (likely these “low tunnels”) and sheeting over it.

Deer have not been an issue for us, although as this year is a (myth or not?) 7-year peak, some gardeners have had deer and rabbits tearing through their crop. Squirrels beheaded my zucchini flowers and sliced through half my pea vines; I hope the greenhouse sheeting is enough to cut down on that. Chicken wire will come next, if necessary.

I have 2 1/4 going on 3 huge mounds/rows dug up for next year:

Future Garden

I’m also set to plant an asparagus bed, and perhaps onion-types of plants where last years wood pile killed the grass.

Our raspberry transplants are doing well! We’re set to have two types of apple trees on order for next Spring. The apple trees will need guards to protect from mice, and we’ll have to mind the deer. The deer aren’t very frequent on our acre. I think we get more bears! With all this fruit, we’ll need to install a bear/electric fence. To fence in the whole garden including where I might put a chicken coop, will cost about $500, half of the cost being the solar electric box. But I’ve put it off mostly due to the fun the rocks and boulders are going to be when driving in metal posts.

What big lessons did you learn your first year(s) gardening on your homestead?

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Posted in Living Off the Land
3 comments on “Gardening 101 (Just Kidding!)
  1. Rachel Craig says:

    Found the low phosphorus mentioned/confirmed in the book “Haliburton Flora”! Soils are acid, limited nitrogen too. So we’ll keep peeing on next years lot. 😉

    A neighbour said to make sure potatoes and corn are planted before the long weekend in May.

  2. Rachel Craig says:

    Most of our corn was blown over during a freak wind storm last night. Not uprooted, so we’ll see if the cobs keep growing..

  3. I learned that gardening in Canada is impossible, but miraculously you still harvest a whole lot of yummy foods. Just keep on growing!

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