We have a piece of land that has been a huge challenge to garden that is right in the middle of our main garden space..
Lets talk about its challenges..
- For our flat level farm land, It has a wicked Slope.. I mean it drops by 18 to 20 inches from the front to the back, I have been working on that for ten years.. by no means is that is the same as a hill slope but it certainly does have a great effect on rain fall an so forth.
2) When it comes to water, its feast or famine.. in the spring, dig down inches to a foot and you will drown out the seeds and rot them in place, my most successful gardens in there to date are in straw plantings.. but once the land drains, and summer hits, it can dry out and if we miss even a few weeks of summer rain, it shows in the plants.
3) Half of it is a half-shade garden for the day, with only the bottom half being a proper full sun garden, effecting what and how its planted..
4) Its a area that got overrun with that bad boy wild parsnip and an so two years ago when I broke my foot, it was a garden area that I said to hubby.. let it go.. we need to focus on what can really produce.. and this year.. well this year.. It was so full of parsnip that it needed a skull and cross bones on it.. I swear if I used chemicals, I would have just taken it to ground Zero..
However 2016 is coming.. and I want that land back in production this year.. o yes, I have plans for that area.. its good size piece of land., not including edges, walkways or the hedgerow, its a solid 20 feet wide by 60 feet long, so that is 1200 square feet of garden that is not being used at the moment..
But what to do.. how to get it back into production.. well, here is my plan, Fence it out, then I am going to put a small hut on one corner and run my spring pigs in this area..
I will go in and feed in squares to get them digging and turning, and they will eat those parsnip roots and all the rest of the goodies, they will munch on those fresh baby mustard greens and I will run the chickens in there as well, (which I will keep a eye on, to make sure the small pigs do not dine on the chickens, if needed I will put a mobile chicken tractor in the fence and keep them apart, the pigs are to root, the chickens are the fine tiller.. the mustard from last year will have helped clean the ground, but this will mean that the area will get a later start to the year, it will be a fodder growing area, which means in most cases, it will be a one or two crop max garden.
It will be planted into fodder raddish (ground breaker), Yellow and red Mangels (fodder Beets) and fodder turnips (winter not summer) interplanted with white and red clover and alfalfa. The plan is to plant it crazy thick and then thin all season long till by fall, I will have used dried the clover flowers, dried and chopped the Alfalfa as both a feed and made meal for the garden use. I will pull and cure and store the roots for critter feed and finish, then I will put the pigs back in for a long fall clean up, and ease of access for me to give them extras to compost turn for me.
Then we will get one wheel barrel of 1st year compost per ten square feet added and spread and turned.. Left over the winter and in the spring, the pigs will have one more go and then in 2017, it will need to be planted one more year in chicken and pig raw friendly plants..
So no rhubarb babies, no tomato’s, no potatoes, it needs to be something that is safe for them to fully eat from stem to leaf to root.. mostly like it will be done into a corn, squash and bean for year two.
Year three should see us back to being able to use it for whatever garden plantings I want to do, but I might like the above enough to just keep doing it over an over, we will see..
So have you ever needed to retake back a area that you let go fallow, did you have a real problem plant in it? If so, what did you battle, how did you deal with it? Did you also find that you needed a multi-year plan.. anyone else use their pigs as plows and their chickens as tillers?
posted on green thumb Thursday homestead bloggers