In February of 2009, my husband and I bought our first home located on a few acres in Johnson, Vermont. We live here with our dog, Ollie, two cats: Elvis and Atticus, six Nigerian Dwarf goats: May, Chutney, Poppy, Juniper, Willow, and Jokers Wild, and about fifteen laying hens. And to top it all off we welcomed our daughter, Isabel, into the world on January 11th, 2011.

We're slowly updating our 1850's farmhouse while steadily working towards a healthy, meaningful, self-sufficient life together.

This blog details our endeavors along with our successes and failures- all in good fun. Thanks for stopping by, hope to see you again soon!


May and I enjoying some sunshine
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Green Manure

Lovingly Posted by Melissa Thursday, October 8, 2009

Due to the serious lack of attention to our garden this past spring/summer we have been really packing it full of green manure which is great for the soil...but not so great for our pantry. We're determined to focus more on the garden next year.  With the "major" things with the house being done and our wedding over I think it should be pretty feasible.  So, while I daydream about garden plans for NEXT year I've been working on my sad excuse for a garden this year.

Probably about a month ago we roto-tilled the garden to get rid of the grass that had started growing and to plow under the beans and peas that had gone by (as well as some that had apparently gone to seed...found that out a couple weeks ago).  I'm not really a fan of roto-tilling...but I didn't want to lose our plot in a sea of grass so I let Kyle take a pass with his father's tractor.  But of course, as with many of the men I know, once just isn't enough- so next thing I know he is going back and forth, side to side, back and forth again, until all the soil had been deep-tilled to his heart's content. 

So I'm staring at this bare patch of soil and thinking "this just isn't good".  I know deep-tilling is bad for soil so I started thinking about what to do at this point.  I remembered I had a couple bags of fertilizer my Mom had given us earlier this year, perhaps I could turn that into the soild and cover it with old straw bedding from the barn.  Maybe I ought to nix the fertilizer but cover it with straw.  Should I just leave it and let it do it's own thing?  Loaded down with a too-many-options position, I decided to wait and give it some thought.  A few days later we received our new edition of Mother Earth News and they completely read my mind and came to our rescue!  They had an article in there about cover crops we decided to give it a go. 

I had never (intentionally) planted a cover crop before but had heard plenty of information about how super-wonderful it is for your garden, so I got in winter-cover-crop-mode.  As most of the local stores in our area only carry seeds for flowers or veggies I went online where I could get larger quantities of seeds for our moderately sized garden.  Johnny's Selected Seeds had a specific area for seeds in this category and happily ordered winter rye, crimson clover, and hairey vetch.  When it arrived in the mail a few days later I happily skipped down to the garden and started scattering.  I went a little heavy with the winter rye on one end, thinking that the bag of seeds would be never-ending, so they're mostly consolidated on one end with the hairey vetch and crimson clover taking up the rest.

With all the rain and lack of sun we've been going through lately I wasn't sure how they'd be faring, but much to my delight I went down to check them out last week and the winter rye is dutifully plugging along.  Thats the only one I'm really sure about...mostly due to how heavily I seeded that one end.  I'm not really sure which is what for the clover and the vetch, but who cares right!?  I'm not going to weed it!!  I'm just going to let it do its thing all winter until next spring when we turn it all under.  How low-maintenance can you get!?  I'm definitely looking forward to seeing something growing down there again (next year I fully intend on growing winter veggies...but one thing at a time).