Our son the professional gardener was here; I proudly toured him through the no-dig-beds project and he waxed somewhat pessimistic, not to me (was he trying to save my feelings?) but later to Beloved, who assured him that all of the ground we turned over this year would be included in next year's beds, so that we would have a fail-safe garden in those parts while cover cropping most of the rest to give ourselves maximum opportunity to get this right.
He helped with a few wheelbarrow loads of wood; we're cutting trees near the road and on the west side of the garden to get more afternoon light, and to make sure there is enough fuel to get through the winter. The new firewood is very green, but it will get sunlight every day and no rain, and we have three cords of good dry Douglas fir to see us through to the time when we will need it, and, though there is some cottonwood (which could use two years of drying), the bulk of it is cherry, maple, and ash. Later, when we are working on the number four bed, where the blueberries and raspberries go, we'll take down the grand fir as well, so that its needles and twigs can be included in the mulch for these.
This useful young man also brought me a huge pile of knotweed from along the creek, which I spent several hours reducing to beanpoles and compost. It still hasn't gone to seed.
It looks like, if all goes as planned, there will be seven long beds, or, really, four-foot-wide rows, with, initially, mown grass paths between.
Bed number one, to the east, has in it already a pear tree (sapling), plum (too big), two apples, and may get another tree, and a crop rotation section about seventy feet long. One of the apples is unproductive and may come out.
Bed number two will have a section for shade-tolerant crops, such as mid-summer lettuces, and another seventy-foot crop rotation section.
Bed number three contains two apple trees, one of them a very prolific Granny Smith, the other a Macintosh, another pear tree, and another seventy-foot rotation section.
Bed number four has the grape arbor (all new canes, no grapes this year), and is tentatively slated to get the blueberries and raspberries. Maybe also the Jerusalem artichokes, which means digging up a lot of them and suppressing any that we miss.
Bed number five will have 100 feet by four available for crop rotation. At its end there is another green apple tree.
Bed number six will have 100 feet by four available for crop rotation.
Bed number seven, on the west, is the ornamental bed along the sidewalk, and the rest of the "bed" is slated to contain a variety of fruit trees.
There's also a bed number eight, the side of the garage, currently in irises, tulips, and mint, which we might rehab (keeping the tulips) and plant to espaliered apricots (we're experimenting with collecting the seeds from pits, which breed true).
Bed number nine is on the north wall of the house and around the corner bedroom to the east wall, and is currently under new cardboard to suppress periwinkle (vinca) and is intended for winter and spring crops as it is along the concrete sidewalk. Like wise bed number ten, across from bed number nine on the east.
All beds except half of number nine run north and south. The garden will be surrounded by poultry fence, and the outer boundary of the poultry area will be surrounded by deer fence. Some of the fruit trees mentioned above will be in with the poultry, and will have to be stone-mulched. I may have to ask my son to help with that, as carrying buckets of stones from the Stony Run (poorly named Pudding Creek on area maps) gets old for my old back very quickly. We have cherry trees (Bing) in with the chickens, and their stone mulch is doing very well.
You absolutely cannot mix chickens and a mulch of grass clippings or the like. And I have shed the tears for that lesson!
The runner beans are our primary crop this year, and might well be the "soil-improvement" crop for next year, so we hope to dry a lot of the seeds for saving. They are everywhere; climbing the peas, leaping from among the potatoes, hiding beets, and adorning all the fences. They are very bee-dependent, so it's been gratifying to see the honeybees, which have been scarce lately, nuzzling among them; also they attract a lot hummingbirds, whom we have been neglecting as we can't seem to find any of our feeders.
Today I should be painting, as it is overcast, but I'm pouting apparently and hiding in bed with the laptop. But the day is young yet.
Plant something: heirloom beets, red lettuce, and radishes. We're discussing the timing for winter kale, broad beans, other goodies as well.
Harvest Something: zucchini, eggplant, cucumber, peas, red onions, walking onions, kale, chard, beets, apples, knotweed, dill, marjoram, mint, parsley, lettuce, rhubarb. Had to pull up some cabbages that were dying the Great Aphid Death and give then to the chickens, who were hugely appreciative.
Preserve Something: sugar snap peas (again!).
Store Something: firewood, beanpoles, mulch.
Manage Reserves: Beloved is going through the house reducing inventory of things not needed (her high school rhetoric trophies! "Are you sure about this??" I asked her, incredulously. "Yep.") and discovering treasures (canning jar labels -- from the seventies!!). Carrying water by bucket-yoke to fruit trees.
Prepped: Accessing afternoon light for the garden/orchard.
Cooked Something New: Apple-zucchini bread with much less salt than in days gone by.
Worked on Local Food Systems: All of the above. We will be getting in some plain wheat berries to experiment with, on the next food co-op order, and will ask about spelt and other precursor wheats at that time.
Reduced Waste: I'm cutting down the slash from the firewooding into kindling and into shredded mulch. We never need to burn slash piles if we make time to do this, which so far has worked out well.
Learned a Skill: Re-learned how to drop a tree where it is wanted. Learned to disassemble and sharpen a shredder.