Downsizing Our Garden – It takes work to close garden space

Downsizing Our Garden

Days of Kristin and Taylor living at home, growing for farmers markets and restaurants, and huge gardens are over. The girls have their own gardens now, Kristin in containers on two porches outside of Boston, and Taylor in a 4′ x 8′ raised bed at her duplex in western Maine. I’m growing three pounds of bush beans for us but as little as they’re home these days the timing of loading them up with fresh vegetables is tricky. Downsizing our garden is in order.

I’ve started the work of major downsizing. Is that an oxymoron? I’ve decreased the garden space considerably but not in ways I’m doing now. I ordered a Victoria rhubarb from Fedco this year. Since that needed to be planted I thought I might as well dig up and divide my best producing but old and roots-dying rhubarb. A little time on the tractor with the rototiller and seven holes later, I have a new bed that’s weed free and will stay that way now, and a lot of rhubarb to give away. There were other plants in the box from Fedco that have been neglected and were in need of planting – immediately. A mock orange bush I probably killed by letting it dry out, six Rugosa roses, and three grape vines are settled into the nursery spot. I planted a monarda I forgot I ordered in the perennial garden. Sage and oregano were transplanted into the kitchen herb garden and two rows, about 30 feet rather than 500 feet, of potatoes have been planted.

dividing rhubarb, divide rhubarb, Victoria Rhubarb, Fedco Seeds, downsizing our gardenIt was 80°, five over my oh-my-gawd I’m dying of heat stroke limit, but the breeze was strong enough to keep the black flies away and the humidity was a dry 57%. Perfect. I kept working. Three plum, three pear, two apple and peach tree along with two hazelnut bushes have been fertilized. And then I pulled weeds.

Steve came home from work with great news. He ordered seven yards of topsoil for me. Just for me! Seven yards of soil. It’s mine, all mine! And his, of course. I’m going to level some ground, build flower gardens around the garden shed, fill raised beds I haven’t yet made, and fill containers I do have. It’s going to be delivered today.

how to plant potatoes, downsizing our garden

We went to Gleason’s Cove on Sunday afternoon and came home with two bins of rockweed. I’m going to use it today to mulch the peppers I still need to plant in the high tunnel. It will help with weed control and will feed the micro herd in the soil as it breaks down.

This doesn’t sound like downsizing our garden, does it? Some of the topsoil will be used to level off the space between the edge of the lawn and where the soil drops into the garden. It’s dropped from years of rototilling. One garden is disappearing completely. I’ll rototill it many times this summer to kill the hairy galinsoga that’s taken over, then will seed it with grass. The edge of the big plot will also be leveled off to make it safe for the riding lawnmower and seeded with Dutch White clover. The last eight feet of the small plot in the backyard will be filled in and seeded, and when I move the horseradish and asparagus that far end of the garden will be returned to lawn.

Instead of more than 100 tomato plants, this year there are 16. There will be no beets for pickled and canned beets this year. I put up two or three year’s worth last year. I’ve planted a few for the greens. No turnips until later in the season when the weather will be cool enough to hit them with frost and turn them sweet. The second wave of broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage and the first round of Brussels sprouts are still six week away from transplanting. There won’t be a continuous supple from early July into November this year. Hundreds of plants have become dozens now that we’re downsizing our garden. Two adults can eat only so much even though we’re huge veggie eaters.

My tree order next year will be for ornamentals and one American chestnut. The voles killed one of the chestnuts over the winter. The perennial flower garden in front of the house is full now and there isn’t room to enlarge so I’ll start on the back yard. I have ideas of how I want the backyard and field to look in five and ten years but nothing concrete yet. With less work putting food up and downsizing our garden there’s more time for landscaping.