|Here's a virtual tour of the garden, from back to front.
Along the side of the fence, I planted two squashes and two pumpkins, I think. I might have planted four pumpkins. That's the hazard of saving seeds without labeling them... At any rate, two of them, including this one, are John's Warty Blue Pumpkin. This one is going to take over the tree next to it and the geraniums, I am sure. The pumpkin in the photo was eaten by a chicken a day later, and after that I tossed the vine with all of the other baby pumpkins on it over the fence to where the chickens can't get it.
The other variety of whatever-I-planted (squash or pumpkin... looks to me like a pumpkin) has produced this:
Within the yard, we've got four beds. The first is doing impressively well, given how little I've amended the soil lately. I did put all of the worm compost in there, but that really wasn't that much. This year, I had a great plan to intercrop corn, beans, and potatoes in the bed. I have seeds from Chiapas that recommend making little hills one meter apart from each other and planting 3 seeds per hill. I did that, and then realized the problem with it after the fact. The chickens think young corn plants are delicious. But most of the plants survived, as did the potatoes. The beans didn't all make it, but that's OK. There are at least a few beans down in there, and an oregano. I covered it all up with straw mulch and I've been adding dead leaves from branches pruned off of our trees.
The second bed is a squash bed. Last summer, I tossed an entire compost pile into this bed. In the winter, I attempted to grow a cover crop on the bed - with limited success - and then let the chickens eat it up, dig in the compost for bugs, and poop everywhere. This year, I've planted it with my favorite kind of winter squash (no idea what the variety is - I saved the seed from something from the farmers' market), a zucchini, two cucumbers, and two melons (again - saved seed, very delicious green fleshed melon, no idea what kind). Various types of beans are intercropped between the cucurbits. Everything is thriving but I think it needs more mulch.
Squash vine climbing the fence, with a little baby squash growing.
Beans with purple flowers
A different kind of beans with white flowers
The third bed has the strawberries. They are old from last year and not terribly productive, given the amount of space they take up. You wait for a strawberry to ripen, watching it each day, and then when it is perfect - a bug got it before you did. Or you can eat it before the bug gets it, and before it's ripe enough. I'm going to put mulch and cardboard over the strawberries for a month to kill them. Something else can go in that bed next winter.
The fourth bed is tomatoes, basil, bee balm, and a lone Thai chili plant. This year, the tomatoes are doing great! I've got a black prince, a sungold, two green zebras, a purple cherokee, and a maybe Glacier/maybe Brandywine (I got some seeds mixed up). This bed had peas and fava beans that were innoculated with nitrogen fixing rhizobia bacteria before I put the tomatoes in, so I didn't add anything to the soil. This bed also has the thickest mulch - four or five inches in some places. It really holds the moisture in, and the tomatoes barely need to be watered. So far there are tons of flowers, but no fruit yet.
As you walk from there to the front gate, you pass my two baby fruit trees - a tiny but productive fig, and a tiny and not-yet-producing pomegranate. We planted the pom this year for Earth Day. The fence around the fig is to keep the chickens from eating the figs. My plant was to eventually prune off the lower branches so that figs only grow where chickens can't get them... but I'm actually moving to a new place in a month and bringing the chickens with me. So all of the fences in this garden can go away when the chickens move.
Then there's the section of the garden that is outside the fence. The soil there is really, really lousy. We call this section the Ladybug Patch. Because the soil's so bad, the plants get full of aphids, and that attracts ladybugs. When I first began gardening, this entire area was covered in weeds. Half of it was also covered in some kind of succulent. Over the last few years, I've dealt with the weeds and the succulent a little bit at a time. So the soil on one side has gotten some compost and had some crops grown in it in the past, and the soil on the other side has not.
The Ladybug Patch. The part I've worked on for the longest is on the left. I've only just removed the succulents and the weeds from the space on the right.
All along the front of the Ladybug Patch, I put brick pavers where they would fit, and then piled the soil up behind them. Behind that, I made a ditch so that water that rolls down the slight slope will be caught there instead of going down the driveway and into the sewer. Eventually, it'd be nice if the soil actually absorbed water, but it's all clay right now and needs tons of work. The mulch helps a lot.
On the part where I've been growing crops for three full years now, I planted fava beans and peas there this past winter. This time around, I planted amaranth and several varieties of potatoes. A few red, a few blue/purple, a few fingerling, and my very favorite: German Butterball. No idea which one's what though. I grow amaranth for the leaves, which are great stir-fried, especially with some olive oil, salt, and garlic. It grows well in the summer, when other leafy greens don't do so well.
A not-so-happy looking potato plant. Anyone know what's wrong with it? I checked one plant for tubers and they seemed fine and undamaged. Just the leaves are ugly.
Amaranth. Not very large for an amaranth plant, but whatever. At least it's not dead - and in this soil, that's an accomplishment.
Oca, a South American tuber.
I've got a space planted with oca in front of our house, and then one extra plant out here in the Ladybug Patch. Last year, I put sweet potatoes in the Ladybug Patch and some of them had some kind of disease. I won't plant sweet potatoes there for many years, but I don't know what else is susceptible to the same disease. So this oca plant is kind of a trial run.
The last part of the Ladybug Patch, the part that I just cleared and planted for the first time, has a sunflower variety that produces edible seeds. I've also planted beans and cowpeas among the sunflowers, and mulched it very heavily with straw and old chicken bedding. The sunflowers won't be as big as they would be in healthy soil - but they also won't be dead. Sunflowers just amaze me with their ability to grow in terrible soil.
Sunflowers and beans
A cowpea among the sunflowers.
I also have garlic, onions, a passionfruit vine, a banana tree, and tree kale planted in the Ladybug Patch. The garlic will be ready to harvest very soon. I planted five or six varieties of garlic last October and only three lived. The heads will be small... but it's still better than nothing. I'll save some to replant next year since these varieties obviously do well in bad soil.
So that's the garden. Now here are the chicks! There are four Easter Eggers (yellow), one Jersey Giant (black), and two Silver Campine (brown and black spotted).
All four Easter Eggers
A silver campine
A very upset Elizabeth, who wants me to stay the hell away from her chicks.
A chick eating. I don't have crumbles on hand, so I've been getting pellets wet for them and they dissolve, and adding some cornmeal too. They love it.
Elizabeth found a hiding spot. (The chicken you can see here is Diana, not Elizabeth.)
But I can still find her.