We have reached the end of our first growing season at ‘ Rocky Road Farm’, and have really learned a lot about growing vegetables on a larger scale compared to our small space, backyard plot.
The amount of work required to renovate an existing farm and vegetable garden was enormous! But so worth it! We turned and screened old compost piles, dug up and weeded the old raised beds, started our own seeds and planted them out. And despite the disappointing spring weather, we managed to get an impressive first years crop of vegetables.
The constant weeding, watering and tending to all the beds, not to mention the 7′ deer-proof fence we had to install before any seedlings emerged, paid off, with enough vegetables to feed ourselves as well as sell a few at our little ‘Farm Gate Stand’ near the road. Didn’t make a million, but it sure felt good. Cucumbers, beans and squashes were our most abundant crops. With peas, beets, chard and even BROCCOLI as a complete surprise!
The one thing we had the most fun with, was the squashes. Experimenting with the soil and locations of where to plant them.
Funny, our most disappointing pumpkin came from the spot where we thought they would grow the best, and all the leftover seedlings we planted not so carefully in the compost did amazingly well! We had butternut squash growing like science fiction over the entire garden! They were VERY large too, so it got us wondering and researching on the effects of cross pollinating with pumpkins?
It was all good as they were a hit at the Farm gate stand fetching a good price. We also entered our most ‘weirdest’ squash in the Community Fall Faire and it got us first prize in that category. The compost proved to be an excellent place to grow pretty much anything with cucumbers bursting out between the wire cage and tomatoes we forgot we even planted there, in fact we didn’t plant them, they were excess seedlings we didn’t have space for, so were tossed into the pile? Also born from the compost heap were an assortment of interesting pumpkins. Some grew very large, very fast and seemed to want to stay yellow as if trying to be some other vegetable? We babied them along for the latter part of the summer, measuring their growth on a daily basis. We were always so surprised at how much change could happen in one day! Well, two of these beauties ended up award winners, one of which we entered in the largest pumpkin contest and won first prize…..and a spot in the local rag! What a lot of fun that was.
One of the crops I am personally interested in is the perennial flowers. I have been collecting a variety and am always looking for more, and unusual types. Due to having to ‘renovate’ this area of the farm gardens as well early this spring, we were set back with planting and organizing the beds. My plans to expand my perennial assortment will have to wait until next year. Despite this and the cold spring weather to start, we were pleased with a lovely show. Some of the flowers that I grew were:
Echinacea (white and pink varieties); Black-eyed Susan’s ; Coreopsis ; cape fushia; lobelia rubrum; Campanula takesimana and many varieties of hosta.
Being new soil we were working with we had no idea of what weeds and volunteers we were going to have to deal with. We had lots of columbine; Love-in-a-mist; lemon balm; fennel; and our biggest intruder….comfrey!! Ohhh for a plant that is so good, it is so bad! Very difficult to dig up as the tap root goes way down and if any part of the roots break off and are left in the soil, they sprout up again. We spent most of the summer trying to control this one. So if you ever want to plant comfrey, make sure you plant it in its final place. Such a beneficial plant, its very high in nitrogen and phosphorus. You can make a tea with the leaves and water on your plants. Or put the leaves on your compost to activate your pile. Do not put flowers or roots in as they will produce offsets!
At Rocky Road Farm, we seem to find no end to Fall projects. Every corner of this property begs for our attention and imagination, and yet left alone it is still stunningly beautiful. Take the goat shed for instance, made many years ago, out of logs and shakes, by someone’s loving hands. It sat precariously on the edge of the ravine when we arrived, inching I am sure by the day closer to its demise…in the creek. It took our imagination and ingenuity to give it new life and a new location.
We prepared the shed for the move by blocking it up onto skids made of very round logs. The shed had to be turned first, and with the aid of an electric winch and some strong planks we pried and twisted, pulled and rolled for a good part of the day. We changed the placement of the winch 3 times before we finally got that precious little goat shed to its final resting place!