A Demonstration Garden For our Boonville Cottage
I’m planning the demonstration garden for the Boonville cottage as the rain comes pouring down. I’m stuck inside once again, so why not do something constructive? It’s been a long, wet winter this year, offering up very few days to get out there and work in the dirt…errr…I mean mud. We are expecting a few days of sunshine, starting this weekend, so I’m getting prepared. I’ve got the shovels sharpened and the rototiller primed and ready to go. Now, I’m drawing up a garden plot, even though the actual cottage isn’t built yet. No problem, I can work around that. The time to start the garden is now.
Demonstration Garden Will Educate
Grow Your Own Food
So, the big question is: What do I want my demonstration garden to demonstrate? What are the messages that I want to get across? Well, first off, I want my cottage guests to know that you can plant a garden to feed a family on a small, town-size lot. We already have a row of twenty, old, apple trees along one fence line and a pear and walnut tree in the back of the property. We could add a couple more fruit trees, such as a plum, or apricot. As for other fruits, were planning a mini-vineyard in the front and I hope to put in some thornless blackberries and raspberries somewhere; perhaps along the fence with our neighbor, so that he can enjoy the berries too. Of course, there will be large, permanent, veggie plots.
Edible Gardens Can Be Beautiful
I also want them to know that a self sufficient, food garden can be beautiful. Along with flowers and climbing roses, edible landscaping is a must. Honeyberries, strawberries and aronia berries should go around the house.
Elderberries will work well for a tall, informal hedge that will block off the neighboring fairgrounds along the back line of the property. Artichokes make nice landscape plants near the house. I feel strongly that there should be a spattering of medicinal herbs around the lot, either as landscape, or in the veggie plots.
Demonstrate Gardening Techniques
Besides the plants themselves, I do want to demonstrate a few of the various gardening techniques. Organic gardening is a must, but there could be much more than that. Perhaps one plot could show off Veganic gardening. Permaculture practices will definitely be part of the landscape. We could also compare a no-till plot to a double digging plot, or new varieties of veggies compared to ancient ones. There is a spot in the front of the shed that is always damp and shady, so that would be a good place to show off ferns and other acid-loving plants.
Creating the Garden Plot
So, how on earth are we going to fit demonstration garden in? It’s not as complicated as you might think. It’s amazing how much food one can grow on a tiny, city lot. (OK…so Boonville isn’t exactly a “city,” but you get my drift.) Our guests need to enjoy the garden and be right there in the middle of it. So, I’m thinking of designing it in a semi-circle of veggie plots, radiating out from the house and patio. There will to be an open area for horseshoe pits and BBQ, and a hammock hidden amongst the plots. We have to have a table and seating, so that our guests and can relax and enjoy it all. There also needs to be a sense of privacy…a secret garden hidden from view, so hedges and fences must be considered.
As for the existing shed, it desperately needs a makeover and we’ve already started on that. We’ve been priming the new exterior walls that will be going up on the backside of the building. The old ones are just too rotten to try to paint over. The final color of the shed will be a salmony, “barn red,” with cream trim. The yellow, Lady Banks roses will climb up the sunnier sides of the building. This building sits near the front of the property, so it will be a nice, welcoming feature as our guests drive in.
My biggest worry is how I’m going to actually DO all of this. I’ll definitely need some help. Volunteers would be wonderful, but I can’t really expect that, since this is a for-profit venture. I’m sure there are some young people in town that would be willing to work with me on the weekends for pay. My kids may pitch in once in awhile, but they have jobs and need some days off. Of course, my hubby is always there to lend a hand…thanks, Hon.
Why a Demonstration Garden?
You’re probably asking WHY I’m doing this. First, for educational purposes. The people that I expect will be staying at our cottage will probably be from the city. I hope that they come away from their stay with us with some courage to try building an edible garden on their own properties. Therefore, I plan to offer lots of books to read while they are there, as well as a notebook explaining the details of our own garden. Our guests will also have the joy of eating fresh, wholesome food that is grown right out the back door.
I also wish to produce enough excess produce in the demonstration garden for our neighborhood food bank. It always surprises me how many people just don’t have enough to eat, even in our little community, where everything appears to be so bountiful. I could go out and buy canned and prepared foods for donating, but those just don’t hold a candle, nutritionally, to fresh fruits and vegetables.
So, let it rain. While the storm is howling outside, I’m warm and safe inside, with my plans and promises. Ahh…armchair gardening is so much fun! Now, I just hope that I can follow through, roll up my sleeves and do what I say. Wish me luck. (Pix are coming soon.)