This is a photo taken from the front porch of my home in Pennsylvania in late July of 2020 as I was working this garden for the first time in four years. It has been a VERY dry year around here so far. This has been a new start for me, made possible by the necessity of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The garden is 40′ X 92′, and this year I am using two different approaches — standard intensive growing in 30″ beds on the left in the photo, and a milpa-style system, mimicking indigenous American traditions, on the right. The story of how I’ve successfully used the latter approach in the past can be found in this post on my blog. I do not consider myself a “farmer” in the sense that I make a living at it, but I do think that feeding one’s own family (and some of the neighbors too) from a significant garden plot constitutes a farming venture of sorts. The neighbor across the street has a lovely orchard that brings him much enjoyment in his retirement, which is yet another function farms serve these days. But everything you can see here is in our valley, which is also our watershed/foodshed, which I think is what everyone should see from their front porch. Maybe this is one definition of “heaven” as well . . . at least that’s how I feel with a glass a whiskey in hand as I gaze out from the porch, following a long day of work in that garden!
Brian, you have an expansive (&beautiful) view both from your front porch and your writing. Practically though where did you grow up to have a tradition of digging potatoes on Thanksgiving? The South? You risk freeze damage, waiting to dig them so late, where you live now.
Next year undersow your tall finishing crops by Sept 1st with tillage radish, or by Oct 1st with oats, or by Nov 1st with rye, wheat, or triticale. Just sow them right on the surface a bit thicker and rake them in slightly, no need for additional plowing, Even sowing the later crops now if ground isn’t frozen solid will allow them to start coming up in Feb long before you can get on to the ground with any tillage equipment. Even now with ground frozen you could sow rye or wheat seed , mow down crops residue and cover with compost for a head start next spring and have a cover crop to till down next May. With the radish or oats you should get good fall growth and then winter kill leaving basically bare ground by spring, with few winter annual weeds, that will warm early and be ready for planting some early crops with minimal hand or no tillage needed.
As for keeping bees; you probably already do, native ones that is. You can enhance their habitat and get more benefit from them. Infact if you are a commercial grower NRCS will pay you to install native bee habitat!
Thanks for the tips on establishing cover crops. I need to learn more, though have not needed such innovative approaches in the past because I was just more on top of things. As for the potato tradition, that has just been for the past decade, when we’ve had a big group of friends join us who wanted to do some harvesting for the meal. It’s the first time we got caught by frozen ground, though. My soil is ideal as a place to store root crops. One year I dug potatoes on New Year’s Day and got perfect specimens, even though there had been no green on top for almost six months. Would’ve been fine this year too, had I made the effort to mulch the potato patch sufficiently. That was another negative effect of having the FSMA comment period close just a few days before Thanksgiving!
Okay, Ill have a glass of wine instead of the whiskey.LOL, But seriously where are your bees?
I don’t keep bees, but still have plenty in the environment around home. My neighbor sometimes rents bees for his orchard, of which I am probably also an unwitting beneficiary. Looking forward to slowing down someday and learning to keep bees myself!
Beautiful, I clicked on the picture hoping to find out where it was and low and behold, you actually had a description and location. Great job.
How blessed you are for such a view and healthy garden. I am new to your blog as well as gardening. I am appalled every day as I learn more and more about how the FDA and “powers that be” want to control and manipulate our food system for their gain. I have been trying to educate my own family members as well as anyone who will listen about the need to grow your own food and making use of local providers. It just makes sense!! Looking forward to continuing to learn and discover more ways to make my voice heard.
wish i had found this blog earlier. i’ve got some catching up to do!
Brian, the view is stunning and the sentiment true and beautiful as well-the way things should be! Thanks for sharing.