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Establishing a Mini Homestead:
Lessons in creativity, change and abundance

The reality of gardening - and of life in general - is that change is inevitable. Sometimes change hits us over the head and other times we invite change in, like a guest we think we might like to get to know.

In the garden, change comes and comes and comes agan, with seasons, with downpours, with droughts and with all manner of blight, fungus, disease and, of course, death. 

We plant poblano pepper plants and expect poblano peppers, but with them we also get an invasive weed brought in with some horse manure. We plant Culvers root and get the spectacular spikes of flowers we so wanted in our garden and with them comes more honeybees than we imagined. We plant a seductive butter yellow cone flower only to find it reverting back to its natural purple bloom in a couple seasons.

With the little homestead we've been tending and learning from, there is beauty in the change. We are still trying to get some of the "bones" of the

design right, moving our hoop house, rebuilding a pond, reconstructing a bean tunnel.

 

The message we've gleaned from tending this parcel of land is that it's never one-and-done with a garden or landscape. And that fact is both frustrating and beautiful.

We garden on a one-fifth-acre parcel of land, a property that may have once been one of the original houses on our street. Built in 1860, our quaint shingled home is surrounded by perennial beds, vegetable and fruit gardens, two ponds, a shade garden and other features.

People frequently pause when walking past to take a gander at our gardens or ask us what something is, and motorists sometimes do "the slow drive-by". We've even had someone stop to ask what our hours are! So, apparently people notice we are up to something in our little yard.

We hope the photos and descriptions on this page inspire and delight you. Thanks for having a look.

Fiddleheads, trimmed and washed
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We wash and trim fiddlehead ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) before stir frying with olive oil and garlic. These ferns grow in great abundance around our home.

We successfully transplanted ramps or wild onions (Allium tricoccum) into our shade garden from a friend's property. We cut the leaves but don't disturb the roots so that the plants continue to multiply.

We pack hops (Humulus sp.) "fairy tight" into canning jars and submerge the green nuggets in good-quality vodka for a nerve tincture. 

As much food as we reap from our garden, we leave a lot of space for blooms - some planned and some planted by chance.

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There's plenty of food for everyone in our garden (except maybe for bean beetles, squash bugs and tomato horn worms!)

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What a difference a year or two makes In the winter of 2018, I drew up some plans for a new backyard layout which involved moving our greenhouse to its new location n the early spring, and creating space for compost and more berry bushes. 

We planted bare-root blueberries and thornless raspberries, along with white table grapes along the fence and perennial beds for color. By the summer of 2020, grapes were vining on the fence structure and the raspberries were already producing thumb-sized berries.

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