Saturday, June 14, 2014

Grassland Gardening in Pictures

Because I'm too tired to write anything much.

Three sisters are coming along. I am growing my favorite, Cherokee white flour corn (makes the fluffiest cornbread without additional flour), and this time I let the corn get a head start over the beans. They got a bit out of hand last year. The beans have just popped up and are growing from seeds I've saved for the past few years of a variety called Selma Zesta, a native rattlesnake heirloom bean developed not far from here in Newberry, SC. It produces loads of tender pods, even when large, and the beans can be dried as well. The pumpkins have also just come up, and are a variety saved for the past few years from a volunteer that grew out of the compost pile.

The rabbit tractor can be seen in the back, and this is moved up and down the rows to control weeds. (More weed control is planned by extending the chicken run from the lower garden to include wire chicken tunnels, or "chunnels" around much of the perimeter of the upper terrace.) The rabbits also tractored over the beds and grazed a little on the rye growing during the winter, after which the rye was left to grow to the pollen stage before being cut down with a sickle. It was then left to decompose for two weeks before the corn was planted. Rye develops a vast root system and as this breaks down, it leaves organic matter and channels in the soil for the roots of the following crops. A small bundle (too small, methinks) of rye is left standing for the seeds to ripen and be collected for next fall. Sweet potatoes are planted at it's base, so food can still be grown in the space. Lettuce, buckwheat, loads of sweet potatoes and tomatoes (that desperately need staking!) are more crops being grown in the upper garden shown here.
Snowflake and Cupcake enjoy weeds and things from the lower garden. Spent lettuce, wood sorrel (aka "lemony hearts") violet greens, johnny jump ups, dandelion, plantain, and grass, too much grass. There is plenty to keep them well fed without additional feed at this time. Some of the grass dries into hay during the hot days and this gives them something tough to nibble on to work their teeth down, along with occasional twigs.
Meanwhile, in the lower garden, a bumblebee enjoys some lavender blooms.

Gobs of ripening blueberries attract daily grazers...
...including three young boys I know.

And a formerly unmanageable thicket outside the garden fence has been graciously defoliated.... some rather obliging ruminants.