Saturday, October 25, 2014

Permaculture Garden with an English Cottage Garden Twist.

Peppers protected by the coverage of an olive tree with volunteer sweet potatoes covering the ground around the base of the tree.

Lots of seeds planted and giant crooked neck squash almost ready to harvest. 

A lettuce garden for daily picking.  Sweet potatoes taking over on the left and new pepper plants sprouting up on the right.

Boxwoods framing out the kitchen garden.

Vanilla Ice cream banana.

Newly planted boxwood framed kitchen garden.

A common breakfast from August to mid October. 

A gift for a neighbor.

A quick harvest for dinner and one of many cow pea harvests to store up for later.  The dried peas are stored in jars and the fresh peas blanched and frozen. 

My goal in this post is to give an overview of my garden and start a journal where I can share my gardening techniques in the future.  A lot of people ask me for help in this area and I have found that it's difficult to explain in a brief conversation.  I usually just get this blank stare back from the listener followed by a comment like "can I just hire you to plant my garden".  Gardening comes easy to me and I create systems and habitats in my garden without a lot of planning.  I read a lot about plants in my spare time and when it's time to garden that information just all comes alive for me. I want to be able to share that information with others in a way that is approachable.

When I started my garden 2 years ago I would have described my vision of the space as an English Cottage Garden with a Permaculture Twist.  Our front yard at the time was a 150' wide by 80' deep weed meadow with a lonely young palm tree in the middle.  I was planning and dreaming of the garden I was going to create in the back yard, because that is where you plant gardens, when I received a quote of $5,000 to re sod the front yard.  Yikes!  That didn't include landscaping or the monthly cost to water and pour chemicals on the lawn so it would remain grass and not become weeds again.  Everything in me knew there had to be a better way.  I was eager to start growing food and setting up the garden I was envisioning for the back yard was going to require a lot of time and hard work so I resolved to having the hubby build some large raised beds for the front yard that I would plant an English cottage style garden around.  I started growing vegetables in the raised beds and shortly after a friend introduced me to the film Back to Eden.  This film changed my life!  It all made since after watching this video and so began the front yard Permaculture garden. 

A few weeks after watching the film I heard a tree grinder grinding up a tree at my neighbors house. Oh the excitement!  I was sitting on the back porch reading and as soon as I heard that glorious sound, how I knew what a tree grinder sounded like I have no idea, I grabbed the kids and went running down the street barefoot in our pj's to find out if we could have the wood chips. They were delivered a few minutes later and I could not have been happier.  I felt like the Lord had delivered the best gift ever right to my front door.  If your not a gardener I'm sure you are thinking I'm very strange right now......

Since that morning almost 2 years ago I have shoveled 17 full truck loads of wood chips into my front yard and have converted 80% of the space into an edible landscape.  I still have a little left to convert and I have learned many other permaculture techniques that I now use instead of just wood chips.  It has been a process with lots of initial labor but as we head into year 2 I can see how this method of gardening has a huge payoff over time and requires very little work after it is established.  Now what was suppose to be an English Cottage Garden with a Permaculture twist is a lot more Permaculture with an English cottage twist.  Permaculture gardening works.  It's beautiful and functional.  It grows without watering and is free from pesticides and artificial fertilizers.  It's climate changing and habitat forming.  And the best part is it allows you to grow tons of food in a small space.  Before falling down this rabbit hole of Permaculture I feared that planting more than 3 or 4 trees in the front yard would shade out all my plants and I wouldn't be able to grow food.  Now I know how wrong I was and I currently have over 20 fruiting trees in this space with many other nitrogen fixing trees to support them and plans for at least 10 more before my design is complete. 

Did I mention it's BEAUTIFUL?!  At least I think so.  Job 12:7-9 But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, and the fish of the sea will explain to you.  Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? 

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Plant Terrarium With Tropical Exotics.

I have recently found a new passion!  It's no secret that I love plants but surprisingly I have very few of them that I allow inside our home.  I will do seasonal plants throughout the year but will eventually place them outside in the garden.  The reason is I haven't found many that match the look I'm going for with our d├ęcor.  The family and I recently took a trip to Deland, FL to look for antiques and a friend recommended we take a visit to EFG Orchids.  What a treat!  I could have spent hours inside this family owned green house full of tropical exotics and orchids. I have now found many species that would look amazing inside our home.  Many of these plants are good for air purification and removing toxins inside the home which is another benefit aside from their amazing beauty.  I was only able to snap 2 photos with my phone before the battery died.

I could only bring a few treats home on this trip so I decided to get the largest variety I could with my small budget.  I chose the tiniest plants they had with the plan of using this terrarium I have had tucked in the closet for years.  All of these plants are easy to propagate so it gives me a good base of tropical exotics to start my collection.  I chose Miracle Grow potting mix with equal parts Peat Moss mixed together and filled my terrarium with the soil mixture to approximately 5" high.  I then added my plants to the design I felt looked attractive.  I also added an orchid that I have had for 7 years that I'm hoping will come back to life and a small orchid that I rescued from the Lowes clearance rack for $1.00.  Once my plants were in place I covered the exposed soil with a few varieties of dried moss.  The orchids are attached to wood chips and I added a few rocks to help hold in moisture. 

  Here is the list of plants I chose for my terrarium going from left to right and top to bottom:

Top left I don't have the name.
Goldfish plant.
Pink Lady Orchid.
Ming Aralia.
Birds nest Fern.
Dwarf Caladium.
Baby Tears.
Fittonia white vein.
Fig Vine (This is the tiniest little fig leaf I have ever seen and I haven't been able to find out much about it.)

I originally placed the terrarium on the fireplace hearth temporarily and moved it to this table to take a photo because the fireplace lighting was poor.  I had no intentions of it staying on the fireplace or this table but later in the evening Tony asked me where the terrarium went and when I came back in the room I found it back on the hearth.  It seems this little terrarium has made a big impression on the hubby so for now it will stay on the hearth where he can enjoy it's beauty. 

I hope the fall season is bringing you much inspiration and creativity!

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