Finding a New Path

Anyone who spends anytime outside can clearly see that climate change seems to be picking up in speed and size like a sticky snowball rolling downhill.    This is especially true now for gardeners.

What does this mean in realspeak here?   To put it simply, that I have been in the process of finding a new garden path.    I have evolved from neatly tilled rows to wide rows to not tilling at all.  Instead of tilling between the rows to keep everything neat and tidy, the garden paths are strewn with straw to keep moisture in and discourage those darned weeds.   By trial and error, my garden is gradually evolving into a new “look” that is better suited to the changing weather here.

For instance, although i LOVED the look of a heavy straw mulch in the garden beds, I quickly discovered that that provided unwelcome harbourage for rodents.    As such, I quickly learned that the straw mulch is much better suited for the pathways.   I find I am having much better success with a living mulch of annual herbs peppered with the ever present purple dead nettle that sprouts everywhere here.

Although I have a good drilled well, I have become much more careful about watering over the years.   Ours summers tend to be dryer now and even drilled wells can be affected by receding water tables.I Happily my garden already lies at the bottom of a hill.    Why is that helpful?   Simply put, water runs down the hill, eh?   To help things along,  I decided to try my hand at a new little science project called a hugelkultur bed.  How is that supposed to help?    By trapping the water where it can then gradually help the garden.

First I dug a hole.   ( What an incredible amount of work was packed into THAT short sentence!)

Then I rounded up old bits of fallen wood that were hanging around the yard and used that to fill the hole.

Then I layered leaves and compost  and dirt to gradually build up a mound.    Finally I covered the whole thing with straw .    Shortly afterwards, mother nature covered it up with snow.

Since then, the whole bed has sunk down in height by at least a foot.   That is supposed to continue as that old wood rots and starts providing valuable nutrients.   The bed will be two years old this season and this season I am going to try planting some squash there.

While I have not quantitatively measured anything,  this ‘new’ approach that I am taking in my garden has reaped results.     There has been no need for leisurely watering each evening.   Now I primarily only water transplants … those first year perennials and the early vegie starts.

As a sidebar note to all this, I have discovered that if I do not mulch the garden beds with straw, that planting a garlic clove every four inches or so really works well as a natural rodent repellent 🙂

Blessed be and good luck with your own garden