Friday, February 15, 2008

Children in the garden

After receiving a great new book called 'A Child's Garden' by Molly Dannenmaier my husband and I have now become obsessed with the idea of installing a few special kid-friendly features into the garden this year. We have had many discussions this winter about what we think our son will like and what, physically and financially, we'll be able to do.

Some of our ideas include the extension of one of the beds around the veggie garden fence to include a pole bean tee pee and/or a sand pit; a twig and grapevine tunnel that goes between the back of the waterfall and the stockade fence; a planting of tall ornamental grasses to enclose the area beneath the tree house (we'll then put a tree stump table and chairs under there); a tent of branches tucked into the corner of the fence to make a little 'nest' for him and a buddy; a fallen log to serve as a balance beam; and a sunflower circle (an idea provided by Nancy Gift of Chatham College - her wonderful blog is found at And we're planning on clearing a path through our woods to easily access the miles of horse trails back there for family hikes and tent camping.

Basically, I want to have the yard that all the kids want to play in. I want families that don't have a garden to bring their little ones to my place to explore and get in touch with nature. I want my son to have the opportunity to just be outside in a welcoming place and never get scolded for being dirty.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Fruity gardener

I just ordered all the fruit trees we are going to plant in the yard this spring. I had so much fun looking through my favorite catalogs (Raintree Nursery and One Green World) to choose the varieties. At the farm, we did plant some new fruit trees, but most of the 30 odd trees in the orchard were planted many years ago by previous owners so I had no hand in choosing the varieties. My goal for the mini-orchard at our new place is to have something producing fruit for the entire growing season. The strawberries and blueberries and some black raspberries were put in last year, but this April will be filled with some heavy diggin' and lots and lots of promise for fruitful summers to come.

Being an organic gardener, disease resistance was a major draw, as was old-time flavor and decent production. I spent a lot of time making sure varieties were compatible for cross-pollination and that they would bear fruit at different times - I want apples in early August and early October! The 4-6 foot bareroot grafted semi-dwarf trees are due to arrive the first week in April from Raintree Nursery (I've been extremely pleased with them in the past). Here's what we're planting:

Apples - 'William's Pride' and 'Liberty'
Pears - -'Ubileen' and 'Conference'
Plums - 'Golden Transparent' and 'Early Laxton'
Cherry - 'Lapins'
Peach - 'Avalon Pride'

From One Green World Nursery we'll be planting:
Red Raspberries - 'Canby Thornless' and 'Heritage'
Honeyberries - 'Blue Bird' and 'Blue Lightning' - can't wait to try these!

Plans for future years include a persimmon tree and some Asian pears, as well as some Sea berries (I hear they are amazing) and maybe some gooseberries. I want my son to be able to climb fruit trees, pick raspberries, and help me make strawberry jam someday - I wish all kids could have those experiences!