That’s a BIG Garden

We bought the plants for the lower garden on Tuesday and it rained Tuesday night until Friday morning and turned a little colder so we didn’t get to plant until Friday.  So Friday we went down and planted the 9 broccoli , 9 cauliflower and 9 cabbages in the first and third  rows of the garden.  On Saturday I put in 100 onion sets in the second row. Photo on 4-12-15 at 10.27 AM

The rows are 23 feet long so I could not get a picture on my Mac that included the whole row and yet close enough to see any plants.   We left enough room between each plant so that I could put in two parsnips between each plant.  While I planted the onions Norman tilled up two more rows.  Today we went down and while Norman planted two rows of green beans, I planted 24 holes of parsnips.  When we farmed in New Hampshire we discovered how to plant parsnips.  You use a crowbar, slam it into the ground so that it goes down 15 to 20 inches, rotate it around to make a deep hole.  Then fill the hole with light soil removing any rocks or sticks, tap it down and in the top one half inch plant two parsnip seeds.  It takes 21 to 28 days for the seeds to germinate.  In the meantime the broccoli and cauliflower are growing and protecting the parsnips.  When the parsnips come up the broccoli and cauliflower are tall enough to protect the small parsnips but don’t bother them.  In New Hampshire the parsnips would grow as large as the hole we made for them.  With nothing to stop their downward growth they grew hugh.  Last year we put the parsnips between the broccoli and cauliflower and found they did like growing together but we did not make the holes for them as the soil here is so free of stones we thought they didn’t need the hole but found anything in the soil interfered with their downward growth so this year we are making the hole for them.  Today I got 24 holes done and the next good day we have I will do the last 24 holes.  I put 2 seeds in each hole but if both seeds germinate I will need to transplant one out of each hole or just thin them– however I find it hard to just throw away a good plant so am sure I will transplant it somewhere.

The humming birds are back so Saturday we put up the bird feeders in the front garden.Photo on 4-12-15 at 10.18 AMIt is hard to get pictures with my lap top but this shows you there are two feeders.  One I can see from my chair in the living room and one Norman can see.  Also in all of these pictures things are backwards.  If you stand in the road the house is on the right side but in the picture it is on the left so those of you who have been here keep that in mind.  The blue box in the distance is the box of strawberry plants.  We put it in the turn around as that is one of the few places that gets sun all day.  You can see my front flower boxes get no morning sun, only afternoon.  Photo on 4-12-15 at 10.19 AM #2This gives a better idea of where the feeders are located.


For several years we hung them on the porch.  The birds liked that but Norman did not because the feeders always leaked the sugar water and that stained the wood of the porch.  So now they are in the garden and on rainy days the birds have to eat in the rain.  They don’t seem to mind.   From here I will take you for a walk to the lower garden. Photo on 4-12-15 at 10.20 AM


Going down the drive we pass the rock garden.  You can see the hosta, the hellebores and way at the bottom is the bleeding heart.  There is a drainage, sand filled ditch up next to the house but the flowers here insist on growing in there, which is a no-no so two or three times a year we have to pull them out so the water does not go into the cellar by damaging the cinder blocks.  At first I tried transplanting those plants into the Hickory Grove but now I am over loaded with vica major, coral bells and black eyed susans so we just throw them onto the compost pile.  Photo on 4-12-15 at 10.21 AM

Next to the rock garden is the grape and berry beds.  The grapes are the first at the top of the sloping yard, next is the blueberry bed and thirdly is the raspberry bed.  Note that the lawn looks green but there is very little grass on that lawn right now.  As the summer goes on more grass will grow.  Photo on 4-12-15 at 10.21 AM #2

Going on down the road we pass the Hickory Grove on your left.  You see what is left of one dogwood tree.  Last year that was much bigger but this year a tree fell on it and broke off one whole side and several other branches.  You see one of the floor beds in the fore ground with the iris getting ready to bloom and the barn in the back ground.  At this point I am on the only road that a truck can drive on to the lower garden.  There is a smaller road in front of the barn on down to the garden that the tractor uses.  Photo on 4-12-15 at 10.22 AM

Looking down the road you see more of the Grove and a couple more flower gardens.  You see the road on the right is not much of a road but the truck makes out fine here and that is how we got all those truck loads of stable manure down to the garden.  Remember the grove is really on the right, it is the lap top that makes it look as if it were on the left.  That is the garden in the distance.

Photo on 4-12-15 at 10.23 AM

Turning around and looking back at the house you can see how large the Hickory grove really is.  I get my exercise each day with two or three trips to the garden to work or pick vegetables for dinner. Photo on 4-12-15 at 10.23 AM #2

Now looking down toward the garden you can see all out fancy work we have gone through to keep the deer out of the garden.  The first year we put up a fence around the garden with just the streamers on it and that worked for one year.  The second year we added barbered wire to the fence and put the streamers on and that worked until we had green beans ready to eat and the deer just jumped right over to get at the beans.  This year Norman added another fence around the whole garden about three or four feet away from the inner fence and then we have another fence inside that I will show you later.  If this doesn’t do it I guess we will just give up and plant only things they don’t like to eat if there is any such thing.Photo on 4-12-15 at 10.24 AM  Going inside the first fence you look in on the potatoes.  Deer don’t seem to like these so they make out fine.  Notice the stakes at the end of the rows.  we will add strips of lace on these to make an inner fence around the garden also, so the deer will not be able to see a clear spot to jump into. This is a narrow annex on the main garden and does not offer the deer a good spot to jump into the garden.  These rows are only 15 or 16 feet wide.Photo on 4-12-15 at 10.25 AM

Walking down to the gate you pass the rhubarb plants,  There are two of them and as you can see they are almost ready to pick.  Joe and family are coming up on Sunday this week and I hope to have a rhubarb pie ready for dinner.Photo on 4-12-15 at 10.25 AM #2

Down the side of the garden is where we plant the tomatoes.  Note the tall stakes for the tomatoes.  This has acted  as a fence for two years now.  The deer never jump into the garden from this side so I am putting the pepper plants with tall stakes at the end of most rows and will lace them together to serve as a third fence around the garden.  Right now the only thing we have coming into the garden is a skunk.  He comes in and digs for grubs. So far he does not touch the plants so we leave him alone.  We have a sonic wand in the garden that keeps the ground mice, voles, and moles out of the garden and for four years now they work fine.  When a ground hog finds the garden there is only one cure and that is to catch him in a trap and shot him but we have only had one in the 8 years we have been here.  Photo on 4-12-15 at 10.27 AM #3

And so we are back into the garden.  There are four more rows to till and plant and then the seven rows for the corn.  Up near the rhubarb we will put zucchini and at the end of two rows we will put a large tripod for the cucumbers to grow on and it too will act as part of the inner fence.  Photo on 4-12-15 at 10.27 AM #2

This morning I planted the three peppers at the end of the broccoli row and onion row.  When they get large and heavy with peppers I will tie them to the stake.  Photo on 4-12-15 at 10.28 AM

Out side the garden at the end is where the deer stop on their journey from the top of the mountain down to the goat farm.  They like to nibble the grass but we yell at them whenever we see them so they are not tempted to try to get into the garden.  The soil is not good enough out here to plant so we don’t enlarge the garden in this direction.  The people who owned this land before us bull dozed out this area for a campsite and when they did they bulldozed off all the top soil.  It was in a pile on one side of the clearing but we took out the rotting trees and stumps and burned them and used the soil we could dig out for the gardens up around the house.  When we came here it was all forest except for this little tent site clearing and the area around the house where they bulldozed out a spot for the house.  We had to cut down all the trees and brush and slowly work out the stumps and roots and make the gardens and groves that you see.  We were in our 70s then and could work longer each day than we do now.  We find in our 80’s we get tired quicker and so have stopped enlarging the cleared area.  We have all we can do just to keep up the gardens we have and besides we don’t need any more land under cultivation, we grow all our own food and can lots for our kids.  We found it does not pay to grow our own tomatoes to can, we can buy bigger and better tomatoes at Dunlap than we can afford to grow.  25 pounds of great tomatoes run from $10  a box at the beginning of the season to $6 a box late in the season so each week we go down and get 6 boxes to can until our jars are full.  This year we will need to buy more jars as we want to do lots more green beans and those we do grow ourselves if we can keep the deer out. Notice the path that leads out of this area at the top of the picture.  That is the path to the bluff.  We do need to pick up and burn more brush from there as the ice storm this year left it a mess.  Also just in the woods is the wild blueberries which we like to pick each year to make blueberry muffins and cake.  The wild berries are so tiny they stay up in the cake instead of all sinking to the bottom  and are by far better for cakes and muffins than the large cultivated ones by the house.

Photo on 4-12-15 at 10.28 AM #2Here at the end of the garden are the burn barrel where we get rid of all the brush and downed trees.  We have gone through three sets of these.  When you burn a lot in a barrel the bottom finally burns off them and they need to be replaced.  Photo on 4-12-15 at 10.29 AM

It is in this area I have been putting my left over plants that I just can bear to throw out.  Here is one of the chinese bitter sweets I dug up.  Norman makes the arbors for me.  This one will grow up into the trees this year I am sure.  I will also put another one down here when I get Landen to dug up the big root for me.  Last year I put the cuttings from the forsythia bush down here and this year it bloomed for me so I’ll try some more of that down here this fall.   I hope you have enjoyed the journey , it has been fun showing you the farm.  Have a great day.

About Carol (Ouma) Petts

I am a retired teacher. I have taught all levels from kindergarten through college and have been retired now for over 20 years. The last ten years we have lived on a farm and lived off the land, growing our own food and canning for our extended family. Now we have sold the farm and are moving to Florida to truly retire. I guess I have always had a short attention span as this is our 11th move. We have moved from a small farm in New Hampshire, to more city type living, small business adventures, focusing more on traveling, Florida living, Georgia, and Tennessee farming and now back to Florida. My blog is a way to keep my children up to date on what I am doing and letting them know I am still alive and well. My children are spread across the country from New England to Florida, Nova Scotia to New Mexico and CA and several places between, They let me know what they are up to by commenting on my blog but they are so busy with their own lives most times I have to assume " no news is good news". Now I are starting on a new adventure so will try to give daily updates until we get settled into a routine. Then I know even if I am getting older and should settle down I will start looking for some new and exciting adventure to start. Welcome aboard. Norman died Oct 30, 2017 so I am continuing the journey alone with the aid of my children, grand children and great grand children. At present I am living with my daughter and we are 7 in one house and cover four generations. We range in age from 7 to 85 and are finding common ground, we are living proof that multi generations can live and function in a three bedroom house if they really want to. Soon my grandson will have his house built next door so we all will have a room of their own except for the seven year old twins who by choice will share a room.
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4 Responses to That’s a BIG Garden

  1. Shanti K Khalsa says:

    That was such a great post! The farm looks wonderful and garden looks huge (and so clean and weed free). It looks like a great start to a good year. Love you lots,

  2. Rosemary Rafuse says:

    I just read your advice on how to plant parsnips. John just can’t get them to grow. He says that sounds like a good plan and he will likely try it. Our snow is starting to melt but the fields are still covered with about 2 feet of snow in most places. Today was the first since last fall that I let the furnace fire go out but made it again this evening. You and Norman are hard-working farmers!

    • Hi Rosemary, We love parsnips and have tried growing them all our lives and the crowbar method is the only way that has worked well for us. They take 21 to 28 days to germinate so usually the weeds over take the parsnips and I wind up pulling out the parsnips with the weeds but with the broccoli or cauliflower to shade the ground it slows down the weeds enough that I could see the parsnips and not pul them all. You do have to leave them in the ground until after two hard frosts. It is the cold weather that makes them sweet. This year we left some in the ground all winter and they were great when we came back in March. Norman says we did that in New Hampshire also but I don’t remember that, here our ground does not freeze. I do remember the first year we tried and our soil was not very fertile and we didn’t know much about feeding our plants so the parsnips never got very big so we left them in the ground t grow over the winter and some mole went right down the row and pushed them all out and laid them out in a neat row. Of course they all froze and didn’t grow so were no good. Good luck with them this year and let me know how they work out. Remember they are avid eaters so fertilize them well.

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