Gardens of Eden

The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.    -Wendell Berry

We started our garden from scratch in March of 2013……….

 By October 2013 had harvested over 1 ton of food!!!

Scroll down to watch the unfolding of Eden’s first year garden.

turning the first soil

 

Turning the first soil

As soon as the soil was ready to till in the spring, I began by tilling the pasture grass in with a 5 HP tiller. If we had had a year or more to prepare the soil ahead of time we could have skipped the manual tillage by layering with alfalfa hay, manure and other organic matter. But because we rely on our garden to feed us, we weren’t willing to wait a year for food and went with the rototiller instead. It also helped to eradicate the grasses which , if not done early in the garden’s creation, can creep in and create a constant battle in the coming seasons.

 

 

turning the soil

 

 

 

We were blessed with a sandy, clay, loam- 17 feet deep!- but it had been years since it had been worked and the tilling was hard going.

 

 

 

 

 

bringing in the big tiller

 

 

Bringing in the big tiller

After going back and forth over the same ground 15 times and only getting down about 4″ deep, we decided to bring in the big tiller to get the cultivation done. I prefer to do things by hand if possible, but with a garden this size I was sure grateful for the big machinery.

 

 

 

first growing beds

 

First growing beds

Sunny built a sweet little gazebo in amongst the oak grotto in the center of the garden while Sequoia started laying out the first beds.

The beds are 4′ wide and each one was loosened with a digging fork to aerate down to a depth of 12 inches. Then I added 6 inches of alpaca manure from our local alpaca farm, kelp meal and Azomite for minerals, soft rock phospahte for phosphorus and some organic chicken manure for Nitrogen. Our soil test indicated that we had almost zero Nitrogen and Phosphorus!

Then about 4- 6″ of soil was dig from the 2′ wide paths to add to the top of the beds and voila!, beautiful raised beds. I have created gardens in many different locales and have used the raised bed system for 30 years with great success. People warned me not to raise the beds in arid New Mexico bcause the soil would dry out too quickly but with enough mulch and water they seem to be flourishing and healthier than the non-raised beds.

DSC00221Seedlings were started in flats in early spring thanks to the protected environment of the growing dome. Here we are hardening them off in the gazebo just before planting time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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First transplants!

Notice our mountains of alpaca poop in the background waiting to be dug into the new growing beds; to a gardener this is “gold” at the end of the rainbow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC00277Cool weather crops are the first to get sown.

Here you can see garlic, carrots, beets, spinach, lettuce and peas in early June.

Straw mulch was placed all along the exposed sides of the raised beds to keep from losing precious moisture and nutrients until the plants grew tall enough to shade the soil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC00231A flow-through pond in the pasture was created to feed water to the garden from the acequia, which is diverted from our little Rio de la Casa originating out of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

The pond was situated 10 feet higher than the garden which gives us about 5-7 pounds of water pressure( 1 pound of pressure for every 2 feet in elevation). Enough to run some low pressure sprinklers and plenty for drip tape irrigating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC00312Plant growth was discouragingly slow for the first couple of months because of drying winds and zero rainfall. We were watering by hand for hours every day with gravity feed flow from our new pond.

Heat loving plants like tomatoes and peppers were protected with walls of water and row covers( in the background)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC00332With a little patience and some help from summer rains, it’s beginning to look like a garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC00345The potatoes grew exceptionally well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC00394Once the monsoon season arrived, we could finally take some time to smell the flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC00457The Dancing Colors bees would arrive each morning to drink from the poppy nectar, while a diversity of birds, frogs, snakes and insects moved into call this garden their home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dsc01221Showing off the harvest.DSC00543

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is a beautiful Peruvian plant called Yacon grown for it’s sweet tuber.

The roots can be eaten raw and taste like jicama. Or they can be boiled to a syrup and made into a sweetener that is good for diabetics or those on a low -glycemic diet.

A big part of the fun at Eden is finding new and unusual plants to fill unique micro-niches in the garden; tuning into the needs of the plants and the landscape and finding the perfect nook for all to feel at home and thrive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC00393We welcome volunteers in our garden both the humans and the plants.Here we see some healthy barley that came through the goat manure and made itself right at home. The birds thought we planted it for them!

Diversity plays an important role in keeping a garden healthy. In keeping a community healthy for that matter, as well! Weeds can draw in good insects as well as draw nutrients up from deeper soil layers to make available for  vegetables to utilize. They also shade the soil and create humus and benefit the soil web in a myriad of ways.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC00528We start our vegetables from open-pollinated seeds so that we can save our own seeds to plant the following year. After a few generations of growing in the same soil , seeds and plants become more acclimated to our local micro-climate, therefore more vigorous and resistant to pests and disease.

Saving seeds also helps us to be more self-reliant and helps protect unique heirloom varieties that will keep our seed banks diverse.

Havinng lots of flowering plants in the garden also serves to attract beneficial insects who both pollinate and prey on insect pests. Not to mention the obvious….the color and beauty they add to the garden pallette.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC00566Living proof of the abundance that comes from Co-creating with Nature!