I had a dream to live off the land.
We had a smallholding, one and one quarter acre to be exact.
When we began, it was a flat, open field with too much grass to mow. When we were done, we had eight apple trees, blackcurrants, gooseberries, a small barn with a hay loft, and eighteen 4 x 8 raised beds of herbs and veg.
It was a ten year love affair. I’d like to share it with you.
My method of gardening was a an unorthodox mix of organic and bio-dynamic principles, and plant communication, in the same way that gardening was approached at Findhorn Community in Scotland. Co-operating with the devic beings in my garden made for some exquisitely large vegetables.
This is me, at my best, barefoot in nature.
An essential part of the day was having tea in my garden, amongst the flowers. Including flowers in the garden design was dedicated to the birds and the bees, and an integral part of insect control.
Spring peas and pickled garlic scapes. Yum!
Spring mix, early lettuces and onions.
Old hay was used for mulch. I hardly ever watered. The mulch decomposed into compost, and added substance to the soil. This was earthworm heaven.
Using raised beds instead of rows allowed me to plant earlier, harvest earlier and I could pack a lot of produce into the beds using the square foot gardening method. Beds were re-planted as spring/summer produce was harvested. By using agricultural fabric on the beds, I could keep bugs and frost out as well.
Chickens: My companions and garden experts. My heritage breed layer hens ate garden weeds, bugs, created composted manure for the beds, and fresh eggs for the table.
Onions, a staple, usually surrounded tomatoes as a companion plant to keep away insects.
A homemade solar drier worked diligently beside the garden. For a Scorpio who craves order amongst the chaos of gardening, the raised bed method was a way for me to enjoy the process more and weed less.
Jam from black currants and wild blackberries.
Sage, rosemary, parsley and thyme: A few of my herbal allies for cooking and making of medicinal tinctures.
Willow: A starving stray whom I found behind my compost bin and who loved to lay among the beets and basil.
A harvest of hard neck garlic.
Morels: A springtime treat that we were lucky to harvest from our own property.
We are no longer stewards of the magical place we called Pan’s Garden. But it remains forever in our hearts.
It was the best of times, where the land and I made magic, from seed to table.
Author: Monika Carless
Editor: Renée Picard
Images: Author’s own