What a summer it has been. Hot, hot, hot. I just adore climate change. Yes, yes, I know we cannot attribute the heat of any one particular summer to climate change but I mean, really. Records have been broken all over the planet. You can believe what you want, for me, I’ll attribute it to climate change. But really, this post was not to be about that.
Hi. How’s it going? I’ve not posted in a month. I’ve struggled a bit this summer, much more than the first two summers here at the homestead. Not sure if it has been the heat or just my attitude but I’ve just not been able to be my normal fairly happy, content and appreciative self. Who knows? The human mind is a strange thing, I do know that.
But tonight and these past few nights (and days) of the first real cool wave in awhile, I’m happy and will enjoy it and try to extend it. Got the grass cut today and started chopping the winter wood from the aging pile. In theory it would be best to get it chopped, stacked and covered in the spring. In reality by spring I’m tired of chopping wood all winter and have so much spring time garden work to do I don’t do the chopping. I found last year that the wood I have is old enough that If I can get it chopped and drying by mid September it will dry out pretty well by my first fires, usually in November. It is mostly wood that has been down now for 3-5 years and so it dries out pretty fast. I’ll have to get that pile burned this year if it is to be burned because some of it has started to rot and by next winter will be too far gone.
Which brings me to my next subject. Huegelkultur. Yeah, hows that for a word?? Yeah, yeah, take that. Huegelkultur is apparently something that has been used in parts of Europe for a long time and really, sounds great. Basically, you take tree logs and stumps and bury them with soil, straw, wood chips or whatever you have on hand. The idea is that these are raised beds for gardening and can be anywhere from a foot to several feet high. The benefit is that the logs absorb winter and spring rainfall and then hold that into the summer keeping the beds moist. They also, of course, slowly decompose thus as long term compost will increase the soil structure and fertility of the beds. The downside is that they will tend to rob nitrogen from the soil but I’ll make up for that with lots of chicken poop and pee.
I’ve determined that next year’s garden is going to be MUCH smaller. In fact, I may do nothing at all in the old garden and will likely focus my food production on the area around my cabin, say 100 feet out in any direction, zone 1 in permie terms. The big kitchen garden I’ll likely cover with straw and cardboard and just let it be for the forseeable future. I probably will plant some flowers in there and may even work on making it a flower/herb garden for the next two years. Then perhaps when the hornworms have lost the scent and when I’ve got gobs of established strong smelling herbs and bright flowers I’ll try slipping in a few tomatoes and other veg. But really, for my personal food I think I’ll have much greater success and a much happier summer if I just focus on a smaller area and do it well.
Most everything in the way of berry bushes and fruit trees survived the hot dry summer. We’ve got a few apple trees that are overcome with cedar rust and need to come out. I’ve no interest in fighting that every year and would rather just put in those that are resistant. We lost one plum this spring and one peach tree that came back from the ground after dying up top. Looks pretty good actually. The kiwi vines are looking fantastic and growing very well. The potted eggplant produced but have struggled with the heat. Next year I’ll pot them up again but will transplant when they reach a foot high. The flea beetles that seem to devastate them the first year seem to have been much less of a problem this year due to the pots and/or the location over here by the cabin.
Biggest lesson learned this year is the garden is too big and way too much work when it is hot and dry. Yup. More to come, hopefully in an update before another month has passed. I’ve got a bit of news about projects I’ve been working on in town.
Hey Denny, I am Gulland. It's great to see another post from you. I know it's been a miserable summer; it's even hot in Wisconsin.
I have been following your blog for quite some time and I really like what you are doing. I want to send you a link to my website, but I don't want to seem like I am trying to use your blog to promote myself. I make a gardening tool that you should have, and I want to give you one at no charge. Please email me at email@example.com and I'll send you the info. Gulland
zomg… a broadfork! Those things are amazing. Grats Denny, I hope you get it as they are darn near worth their weight in gold for gardening.
The bugs always come in waves.. always the balance is out of balance. Glad to see you're back and best of luck to you.
We had a similar experience in SW Mo this year with the drought. Too hot, too dry, too big! We saw a hand row cultivator at an Heirloom Seed festival that looked like a helper, but passed it up…