How does yurt garden grow?

There has been dramatic and all-consuming change around here as we prepare for the wooden yurt raising. There has also been slower change just outside the fabric yurt steps:

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A garden.  Smaller than the one we left behind in New Hampshire…

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(And goodness those children were much smaller too.)  But it’s a garden.  That appears to be capable of growing food.  Phew!

Up until last month I wasn’t sure if that would be the case.  For our old garden we brought in truckloads of something mysteriously labeled “super” loam from the local nursery.  But this time we MADE our garden soil, to questions of “will that really work?” that I couldn’t confidently answer.  I’d been told it would work, I’d read that it would work, but I had yet to see it firsthand.

Last fall we first dug out the many, many, many rocks in the future bed spots.  And then layered on any and all organic matter we could get our hands on – granite dust, seaweed, “weeds” from the clearing, kitchen compost, composted horse manure,  leaves, straw, hay…  Like making a lasagne.  But one you can’t eat until green things start growing on it…

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We topped it with an extra thick layer of straw just before the first snow fell last fall and crossed fingers that it would all compost together in place.  Would this actually work?

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This spring I still wasn’t sure, but stripped back the straw when I saw it was creating slug heaven, setting it aside for future sheet mulching beds (assuming this first experiment worked).  I worked in amendments based on a soil test through the local university – greensand, lime, fish meal, biochar, bone char.

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And topped it with a fresh batch of super slimy salty seaweed in an effort to deter the slugfest.

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Put up a deer deterring (hopefully) fence…

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Added a wider wood chip swath when the slugs were not deterred enough by the seaweed alone.  And then started planting, avoiding anything like carrots, beets, onions that would need to work down into the still composting soil…

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I held my breath again when I saw what my grossed out brain wanted to call “maggots.”  Little white wiggly larvae in the composting seaweed.  Oy.  But it soon dried up, they turned into little black flies and dispersed.  And finally, finally, things started actually growing.

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I’m still relatively clueless about the many mysteries of gardening, being one to generally just put things in the ground and see what happens.  But I also know that for the past week I’ve been picking parts of breakfast, lunch, and dinner from the garden.  Something I loved about our old garden, and wondered when, if ever, I’d get back to.  It turns out, NOW!

Today’s lunch:  mesclun mix, lettuce, dill, chives, baby kale, baby chard, pansies…

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Topped with the dandelion vinegar I made this spring (thanks to a super easy recipe from Taproot magazine that turned out to be quite tasty)…

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And a few strawberries we picked at Silver Ridge Farm (the other 40 pounds now occupying the freezer)…

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Bliss in a bowl…

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Now I can answer (very happily) that yes, it does appear creating a garden by composting in place can actually work!

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