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One Step at a Time

April 25th, 2011

Now that I have an extra quarter acre of land to work this I’m excited about the possibilities. I’ve been planning my new garden in my mind for years, just waiting to have a space with enough sunlight. There are a few things about this new garden space that aren’t perfect. It’s not a level lot and it slopes westward, not a southern slope as gardeners usually want. It’s also covered in saplings, trees and lots of brambles of blackberry, multiflora rose and wild black raspberries. There is also some damage from the first owner, the main one being a driveway area that was cleared and bulldozed so he could drive in to collect wood.

We had a professional tree remover come to take down a few HUGE trees that we didn’t want to deal with. We did cut down a few smaller multi-stem poplars and a few other trees ourselves. We’ve been working on clearing out all the saplings, pulling them with a tool we purchased called the Weed Wrench. I have to admit, it’s a fabulous tool for the job and we’re happy we made the investment in it! We also borrowed a vintage come-along from a friend’s dad. Our friend Shaun came over a few days and lent his muscles to help clear out some of the bigger saplings.

All of this is a lot of work, especially since we’re doing most of it ourselves and by hand. We’ve been spending a few hours each evening clearing out the lot, sawing, digging, raking and carrying all the debris to the compost piles in the back.

Now that a section is cleared I’ve been working on the amending the soil, clearing away all the weeds, brush and picking out all the rocks. I have been able to clear a small area and build a small 4 x 10 ft bed for onions. I used some logs to surround it to help with erosion. I’m currently working on another bed that will be roughly 4 x 15 for potatoes. I’ll keep working my way back towards the house on the top half of the lot. At least I’m able to grow a few crops this year.
I have to keep telling myself that gardening is about the process not the final product. One step at a time will lead me to a beautiful potager in a few years, I just have to be patient and enjoy the journey!

What stage would you say your garden is in: infancy, teenager, middle age, or mature?

26 Comments to “One Step at a Time”
  1. kristin @ going country on April 25, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Geriatric. There’s been a garden in that spot for at least seventy years. Possibly longer.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

    • Katrina on April 25, 2011 at 10:18 am


      Reply to Katrina's comment

  2. Emily Jenkins on April 25, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Some of my gardens are definitely in the teenager stage, but unfortunately all of my edible gardens are infants. We have only lived here a few years and it wasn’t until I was sure we were going to stay here that I started investing such time and energy into the edibles.
    Still, there are a few things that I enjoy about edible gardens. They’re predictably mediocre, for one thing. I always know to expect lots of weeding. I also know that when I’ve turned under a new section of ground there will be a nice bit of green compost as the grass/clover breaks down so there is usually a decent level of nitrogen the first year. My beds are all located in what, 30 years ago, was a dairy-cow-grazed orchard so the soil is fairly light from resting, the nutrients are plentiful from the years of being covered in manure, and the grass is so established that there are few perennial weeds (except the damned grass, that is!)
    I can’t wait until things are a bit more established, but with the way I garden there will probably always be at least one new bed in it’s infancy. As they get older and easier to manage, I find I need more work and so I dig another bed. :)

    Reply to Emily Jenkins's comment

  3. Nebraska Dave on April 25, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Susy, I have five beds this year. I plan on expanding by two more next year. The first bed is 20 years old so it’s an old codger but I refreshed it this year with 4 inches of compost. The next two are three years old and have been producing really well. Then the last two are new this year and have about 8 inches of compost in them. To answer your question, I have all stages of garden beds. This will be the first year to have produce that will provide a winter bounty. It will be great to eat food storage items this winter. These beds will provide enough produce to give away to the neighbors as well. I like giving garden produce away.

    Have a great spring garden day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  4. Songbirdtiff on April 25, 2011 at 8:39 am

    My garden is definitely an infant. This is the first year I’ve done a real garden, and I’m excited about all I’ve learned so far. I still have soooo much to learn!

    Reply to Songbirdtiff's comment

  5. Katrina on April 25, 2011 at 10:21 am

    My garden is a teenager…but growing fast! Started replacing the wood raised beds with cinder blocks this year. Here is Florida with the hot, humid summers, the wood just doesn’t last that long.

    Reply to Katrina's comment

  6. Misti on April 25, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Mine are in the “thinking about” stage! Since we are still living with the ‘rents it’s more about fixing their gardens up than ours.

    Reply to Misti's comment

  7. Brittany P. on April 25, 2011 at 10:37 am

    I guess all of the above..we have all stages. From 100 year old oaks and pines to 15 year old Azaleas, Oleander & Hydrangea, 5 year old Chinaberry trees (smell like heaven when they bloom) and even fruit trees just a year old.

    We have a couple of plants that grow wild here that are either wild blackberries or wild black raspberries but i don’t know how to tell the difference. Is there an easy way to know?

    We planted the rest of our vegetable garden this weekend and the kiddies hunted Easter eggs.

    Reply to Brittany P.'s comment

    • Susy on April 25, 2011 at 6:33 pm

      Black Raspberries will have purple canes and the berries are small and round. Blackberries will big large kind of pointy shaped berries, not round. Here are some photos:
      Wild Black Raspberries:
      Black Raspberries
      Wild Blackberries

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Brittany P. on April 26, 2011 at 8:30 am

        Thank you Susy!! It appears we have both wild raspberries and blackberries here though there are much more blackberries than raspberries. I can’t wait til pickin’ time.

        to Brittany P.'s comment

  8. farmgal on April 25, 2011 at 10:41 am

    My little farm has been one for just about a hundred years now but the owner we got it from didn’t garden, not even a flower bed was here when we got it, she called it park like.. and the rest was in hay fields.

    So the oldest garden that we have is coming six years, but I am sure that it was worked in the past at some point, It had clearly been dug well and no rocks in that area, and the quality of the soil, someone had worked it and done a good job on it.

    So guess if we go by just my own work, my oldest would be just middle age and the rest younger still.

    Reply to farmgal's comment

  9. Angela on April 25, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Toddler. My garden and my children are growing together. Last year I dubbed my garden the “Kinder Garden” in honor of all the neighborhood kids that came and planted squash seeds everywhere, and for my oldest making the transition to kindergarten.

    Reply to Angela's comment

    • Chicago Mike on April 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm

      I think that is a great way to describe a garden. My garden is growing with my youngest (its three, he is four) and the thought of that continuing makes me very happy.

      Reply to Chicago Mike's comment

  10. MAYBELLINE on April 25, 2011 at 11:22 am

    My garden believes in reincarnation and is constantly evolving.
    I always thought those tools were called winches. Whatever their name, they certainly are handy.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  11. Kimberly on April 25, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    we just moved to our homestead in january. it once had a very mature garden for food that has returned to pasture. we will be reviving in over the next few weeks. the flower garden area is wonderfully mature and an unexpected gift as when we moved in, it was buried in several feet of snow. i will be adding more flowers and tons of culinary and medicinal herbs. we look forward to summer and being able to sell at the farmers markets.

    Reply to Kimberly's comment

  12. Angela on April 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    It’s fun to read about the transformation of your new garden area. Good luck with the clearing and setting up new beds. Is that water behind the trees in that picture of you planting? It looks beautiful there!

    My current garden is quite small, both in size and age. I’d call it an infant going through the terrible-twos, but I have very high hopes that it will blossom into a mature, respectable garden.

    Reply to Angela's comment

    • Susy on April 25, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      Yes it is water, we live in a lake community. So in the summer it’s abuzz with boats & jet skis. We have kayaks as we’re more laid back kind of folks. We don’t have much time to get down to the lake though, sadly.

      I’ll have to take some photos someday and do a post about my community.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  13. Chicago Mike on April 25, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Seeing you and the hubby and friend out there working like that is a reminder of what it took to clear that land originally. Those pioneers sure were a tough lot. Most of them were doing it with some hand tools. And that come along brings back some cool memories, and a few muscle twinges.

    Reply to Chicago Mike's comment

    • Susy on April 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm

      Yes, we were talking about that, and how much we appreciate the time we live in. How we could have rented a bobcat and finished the task in a day or so. But we chose to do much of it by hand. However we’re using a chainsaw instead of an axe!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. KimH on April 25, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    My backyard sanctuary is a young adult… Its not exactly very young but its not exactly a full fledged adult either. ;) I’ve moved a couple things out this spring but plan to leave it be for the rest of the year..
    The little tiny vegetable garden in the front yard is a toddler.. Its a happy thing and doing quite well.. The established herbs and asparagus along the side of the house are middle age I would say.. They’ve been there quite a while, are well established and prosperous, but arent ancient and wont be for quite some time..

    I’ve really enjoyed seeing your land clearing. Sure wish I had some more to clear. :D

    Reply to KimH's comment

  15. Morgan G on April 25, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    haha! Great question, Susy. I’d say mine is a teenager – still making lots of mistakes, but finding itself along the way.

    Reply to Morgan G's comment

  16. elizabeth on April 26, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    What are you using for a border on that new onion bed, some type of rolled foam?

    Reply to elizabeth's comment

    • Susy on April 26, 2011 at 9:57 pm

      It’s a log. We cut down a few tulip poplars and they’re straight and long, so we used a few of those for the edge, a kind of raised bed.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  17. elizabeth on April 26, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    Of course its a log! Almost 40 and I guess my eyes are going bad! The logs around here don’t come that smooth, but we can get a cheap permit for cutting logpole pine which are long and straight. In fact, my friend built her beds out of stacked logpole.

    Reply to elizabeth's comment

  18. warren on April 28, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Now that’s a great come-along! I have broken 2. You shouldn’t be able to break a comealong…ridiculous! Anyhow, you got a cool one! I am jealous!

    Reply to warren's comment

    • Susy on April 28, 2011 at 12:01 pm

      This come-along is actually made in Ohio by a great small company – the one we used was probably one of the originals, they still make them the same way. We were actually going to purchase one (they’re much more expensive than the other made in China ones), but then our friend said his dad had his grandpa’s that we could borrow. It’s a beast to be sure, a worthwhile investment to buy a good quality one like this one.

      Here’s the company that makes them:

      Reply to Susy's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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