Our Homesteads Native Plant Ecosystem

I get asked a lot of questions about our gardens here on the homestead, especially when folks find out we are a Back to Eden Garden. This means we subscribe to using bark chips as mulch and to grow our flowers and vegetable here.

White daisy's bunch

White daisy’s, a pass-along-plant grows in our meadow border. This is a plant given to me by my neighbor.

In fact, I spend a lot of my day in my gardens these days and every year I add more and more beds and plants. I adore working in and sharing my gardens with others.

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The view from our three season porch; sidewalk and bird feeding bed.

As you know, most plants thrive in well-drained soil. But if your soil is sandy and lean like ours is then too much draining can become an over-kill. Water and nutrients also run through it quickly and plants have a hard time surviving in this kind of environment. Fortunately, there’s a fix for turning this barren soil into a thriving garden.

Lupines bricks diaganol USE

Our first native lupine bed in front of the brick raised bed. Perennial candytuft and lupines flowers about the same time.

When we moved to the Small House Homestead in 2000, my dream was to garden on a big scale. I came from a small city lot though compact and wonderfully shaded it also came with clay soil. Too many plants drowned there for my comfort level and I was not yet a point where I had the time to devote to my gardens.

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The view from the bird feeding bed back towards the house and porch.

What I really longed for was lots of colorful flowers, ornamental grasses, flowering shrubs, evergreens and organic vegetables and I looked so forward to getting my hands into the land where the sun shined everywhere.

garden back of porch chartreuse and porch

A low garden behind our porch allows us to look out over our property and enjoy the birds.

Once I began to dig, what I found was very lean, very sandy oak savannah soil. This acid soil was not idea for growing anything but oak and pine trees. They don’t call this ecology the oak and pine barrens for nothing!

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First a fenced in vegetable garden and now an open chicken run.

Sandy soil has its pro’s and con-s but it can be easily amended and improved. I knew I had my work cut out for me I know, but I was strong and optimistic.

Front sidewalk from limestone bench

Front of home sidewalk with shrubs, catmint and saliva in pea gravel.

I started by testing our soil to find out it was a base 7.0 Then I began to seriously amend it to make more loam to hold in the water and nutrients I was also adding.

Bird bed stone edge w flowes NICE

Our country garden beds are edged in found fields stones I have gathered.

I began to make homemade compost using kitchen scraps, grass trimmings and more. Then I bought mushroom compost and more recently found a source for free well compost horse manure. Now I use a combination of them all with bark chips mulch on top to hold in the moisture and keep out some of the weeds. This is a winning combination for us here!

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fall blooming clematis at our front door adds beauty and a sweet smell.

Gradually over the past 14 years our gardens have grown as have my skills and knowledge. I’ve made some mistakes for sure but I am known as the crazy gardening lady in my community and I can live with that!

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A metal gate in our repurposed railroad tie herb bed adds visual interest.

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A row of ornamental grasses hides a metal chain link fence around the pool at the pool shack with our wildflower meadow behind it.

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My granddaughters playhouse in the meadow garden edge.

Small House Homesteader and gardener Donna

4 thoughts on “Our Homesteads Native Plant Ecosystem

    • Thanks for your comments Kathy. Manifest your playhouse. I began to manifest our playhouse a few years before this one appeared for sale on the side of the road. I had looked at Craig’s List, tool houses at Home depot, old chicken houses and so on. Then this one was there for just $75.00 and I had a $10.00 bill in my pocket that day (for a down payment) and I had just started a new job with a salary. All the stars aligned! Best of luck!!

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