Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Sloooow gardening

So you've heard of Slow on our farm we practice Slow Gardening. Whether we want to or not!

We're starting the huge task of preparing the soil in the garden and planting the seeds that can go in early. I had two eager helpers, so we got lots of planting done quickly. Not exactly.

After two hours of working in the garden, with three trips inside for snacks and drinks, one poopy diaper change, one rescue of a crying explorer from the woods, one kiss on a hurt knee of another intrepid adventurer, countless admonishings to " Stop wandering away", numerous splittings up of battles with rakes and shovels, we had two partial rows planted.

Only twenty-nine more to go! Thus was born the Slow Gardening movement.

This is how baby Lily helped.

Starting our garden last year was completely different than this year, as we were starting from scratch last year. That meant that the soil was similar throughout the garden, and so we planned the placement of the vegetables in the garden according to their benefit to each other. Many plants have companion plants that aid in detracting or fending off harmful insects or other pests, and some plants do poorly placed next to certain plants, so we planned our garden based on these facts.

This year will be different, as we'll be placing our vegetables in a four-year rotation plan, using the soil needs of each plant to determine the placement in the garden. Companion planting and pest control will also factor in, but soil needs come first!
We'll divide our crops into groups on the basis of their nutrient requirements, growing the 'hungry' ones in the most fertile soil and the lighter feeders to follow. Also, some families of plants are prone to particular diseases and specific pests. By rotating the crops each year, certain diseases and pests won't take hold and we give the soil a chance to replenish itself.

We're still working on the perfect placement of each vegetable in the plan, but our starting point is maximizing the benefits of the nutrients left in the soil by the peas and beans we grew last year.

Legumes such as beans and peas fix nitrogen in their roots for future crops. For this reason, it's best to leave the roots of these crops in the soil when they're harvested. The brassica group, consisting of vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radish, turnip, rutabaga, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kohlrabi, mustard and oriental brassicas, are leafy crops that need nitrogen-rich soil.

In order to capitalize on the nitrogen-rich soil created by the peas and beans last year, we started by planting lettuce, kale and radishes in these rows.

First, we cleared away the branches used to support the peas and beans last year.

I had some help clearing away the branches!

Elijah and Tucker supervised.

Next post: preparing the soil


  1. Anna, just saw this now from facebook. It looks amazing and is so informative too! I don't know how you're finding the time to do the blog between researching for the garden, actually doing the garden, and watching the kids ... but keep at it. I hope to need this info one day soon! Jenn

  2. Thanks Jenn! Well, I'm really not finding too much time for anything other than watching the kids...that's why it's called sloooow gardening!! The actual gardening seems to be a good way to spend time with the kids and keep them busy, which is how we got the idea for the blog in the first place. I thought it would be a good way to share the ways the kids get involved with the whole process. As for working on the blog, I just do that when I'm sitting and nursing the baby-since I have to spend so much time staying still and feeding her, it makes sense to get this done at the same time!