~ For people who are passionate about respecting the earth, walking in nature, observing wildlife, local diet, making do, repurposing, organic gardening, foraging for wild plants and fungi, natural health, scrumptious healthy cooking, renovations, DIY, crafting, raising children simply and mindfully, taking time for stillness, and living in harmony with the seasons.
The last time I posted on the raised bed garden was back in May after it was just built. It was so exciting to see my vision of a circular Medicine Wheel raised bed garden come true! Next summer I will add a second row of triangular boxes and begin incorporating elements of the Medicine Wheel.
I planted potatoes, peppers, a variety of onions, leeks and garlic, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, Swiss chard, red and green cabbage, kohl rabbi, tomatoes and a number of herbs.
A week and a half ago, the garden looked like this:
Leeks, onions and garlic…Red cabbage…
These raised beds have been very little work so far this season. I haven’t had to water yet as we have been receiving plenty of rain. I have only weeded a few times and there were only a few small weeds to pull. My main job so far has been keeping the slugs off of the brassicas. I have been picking them off by hand and then sprinkling diatomacious earth on the plants (which dehydrates and kills the slugs as they travel over it). This works very well until the rain washes it off and I have to reapply. Tonight I will sprinkle some woods ash around the plants and then put out a few half-filled trays of beer (the slugs apparently drown themselves in it while heartily singing pub songs). I will also put out small aluminum tart trays with a slice of cucumber in it (apparently the slugs hate the smell of the chemical reaction between the aluminum and the cucumber which drives them to drink the beer conveniently located nearby). I’ll let you know whether I am successful this year. Last year by mid-summer I had a lovely row of green cabbage one day and just the naked spines of the plants after a week of rain (and my neglect). This year I would like to enjoy the brassicas myself, thank you very much!
Here we are at the end of October and I am still harvesting herbs and vegetables from the garden and greenhouse. The picture above features the heirloom tomatoes and peppers that I grew in the greenhouse all summer. I thought I would have been done weeks ago but there was just so much to do and with the reasonably mild temperatures (until this week) I was able to take my time in getting everything in.
I now have all of the onions (Spanish, yellow and red), leeks, potatoes, squash, peppers and tomatoes in.
I also harvested parsley, dill seed and coriander seed (they are just drying out a bit more so I will do a separate post on them). Tomorrow I will harvest the basil in the greenhouse and make a batch of pesto. I still have garlic, carrots, more beets, some hardy swiss chard and a few more cold-tolerant herbs left to harvest and then I will be done for the season. Wow! What an amazing first year!
And what do you think I did at the end of a long, cold and windy day of harvesting…?
I would like to show you the vegetable garden. When we bought the cabin last fall it was just a little postage stamp of a plot with some potatoes left behind. We dug these up in October and they lasted us until March.
By November, the land was covered in snow and I spent the winter planning my garden, making endless lists and researching ‘deer- and rabbit-resistant gardening’. In May, my wonderful neighbor, K, came over with her tractor and tilled the soil for me, enlarging the garden into it’s current size. The soil is good in this spot and I was told that years ago this used to be a large garden.
Once tilled, I mapped out a Medicine Wheel design using mulch for the pathways. I added some plants and sowed some seeds. Then I spent an afternoon pounding in large stakes for the fence. My budget was very limited so I used what I could find on the land. I also found some rusty barbed wire fencing in large rolls around the property. I carefully unwound these and wrapped these around the poles, using wire to fasten it to the stakes. I did two rows of fencing, one on top of the other and wired these together. This was tricky as I did this on my own, holding the fence in place with my head while wiring the fencing together with needle nose pliers and being careful not to get scratched with the rusty wire…
I choose a Medicine Wheel design as I wanted to be intentional in my creation of a garden. This place would be set aside as a quiet place for contemplation, a source of nourishment and healing. For some reason, stepping into a circular garden invokes a feeling of reverence and quiet power.
Both the design and use of sacred space are processes that draw on both the conscious and unconscious levels of mind and spirit. We learn as we create and we change as we garden. Let the process inform you spirit. ~Peg Streep
The circle has four quadrants (which were further subdivided into pie-shaped plots) set to the cardinal directions (north, east, south and west). Each direction has a corresponding element (earth, air, fire and water). The center of the circle is a place of concentrated ‘power’ and peace. At the door of the garden is a pile of stones found previously buried in the soil. Visitors are invited to take a stone, envision a prayer or request, wish or blessing, and imagine that they are putting it into the stone. Then they can place the stone in the center bowl. As I spend time each day working in the garden, I meditate, contemplate and pray. I sing songs, I laugh, I dance, I express gratitude for the earth’s abundance. I imagine this good energy being absorbed into the growing plants.
The creation of sacred space- how we set apart and arrange a certain spot and imbue it with reverent feelings… draws us closer to nature and affirms our personal ties with the earth. Medicine Wheel gardens are places for celebrating and teaching. Some go to the Medicine Wheel garden for vision quests, prayer and personal renewal. Others see it as a place to gather together for drumming, fire ceremonies and singing. -E.Barrie Kavasch
The above shot was just taken today. I love spending time in the garden and taking care of it never feels like a chore. I feel the earth supporting my body as I kneel to work, I listen to the wind and the birds, I feel the sun and sometimes rain on my skin and all of this brings me deep contentment. Today, it was a very hot and sunny day. Here are a few more shots of things growing in the garden…
I am noticing lots of green and yellow in the pictures but very little red. I do have red beets and radishes and red lettuce and potatoes; and soon will also have red peppers, chili peppers and loads of tomatoes, if only we would get more warmer weather. In fact, everything is behind this year due to the cool, wet summer. Perhaps we will have a hot late summer/autumn in time for harvest?
This season marks phase one in the Medicine Wheel garden design. Next year, I will add raised beds and incorporate the four elements into each quadrant (a bowl of stones for earth, prayer flags and wind chimes for air, a small fire bowl for fire, and a bird bath for water). In the meantime, we have a few months of harvest ahead of us. I will show you more pictures of the garden as the summer progresses.