Fresh from the Homestead: Gardening for Newbies

May I introduce you to my May garden?

Fresh from the homestead: we call it Giverny of the Mountains…

Here are the fruit orchard and vegetable gardens…

Homestead for the homeschooler
Two reasons I’ve given my homestead a name:

I opened a bed & breakfast last May (and hope to reopen it soon? another year?)

I have always loved Claude Monet’s chalky blue and green pastel colours, and our homestead embodies those colours.

I’ve been gardening since 2002, back before my second daughter was born.

In the province of Alberta, where cows have grazed on farmland for many, many years. The soil is rich and deep and dark and grows anything. Every last zucchini seed in my very first package of zucchini I planted (in my inaugural garden, I planted all nineteen seeds in the packet and every plant grew twelve zucchinis, and I didn’t even eat zucchini at that time).

Fast forward a few years, we built our first home in a central Albertan town. I designed perennial gardens and a very large vegetable garden on a 3/4 acre parcel in town.

Then fast forward a few more years: to a 1940s-built home in a semi-arid city in British Columbia’s interior where the neighbour’s peach trees grew abundantly. However, my tree cover and sandy dirt would only grow hostas, horseradish, and perennials.

Then we built this homestead on a 3-acre parcel in the Kootenay mountains.

With so many coniferous trees, we would never again need to buy firewood. We also inherited enough rock that we’d have to blast for a house foundation, a garden bed, and a driveway, and we’d line every last garden with rocks.

Every last bit of soil was brought in by me.

And five years later, we’re now watching the apricot, cherry, and plum trees bloom in the orchard, the cutting gardens and lavender bushes draw a variety of bees, and the black-capped chickadees and squirrels feast on the bird feeder above my fenced garden.

I love this little bit of land that I’ve dreamed up and put together with a piece of paper and pencil and a dream.
Gardening has been a challenge for us for three reasons:
  • There’s no soil available.
  • Deer eat everything.
  • Tree coverage prevents the sun from nourishing the leaves.
Therefore, I have…

Brought topsoil in and built it up with leaves, horse manure, vermicompost, chicken manure, minerals, comphrey, and fish fertilizer (more on soil building in another post).

Built an expensive fence and bought a large guardian dog, Violet the Great Pyrenes. (No deer eating my garden now).

Cut trees, and faithfully will do so every summer for the rest of our earthly existence. And since the land told us what to do, we listened: we situated gardens in the same place natural berry bushes grew in abundance.

In an upcoming homestead post, I’ll share how I built up the soil, grew individual vegetables and fruits, learned foraging, and built a perennial garden.

This is the ole homestead in May 2020. It seems more valuable now than ever, with the occasional grocery store shortages surprising us all. Are you delving into a garden or self-sufficiency this year too?

Here’s why it’s definitely a homestead life for us!

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