The garden has been progressing in leaps and bounds, but the blog has been staying somewhat stagnant. I realized today that I really need to update, since people keep asking me if the Enchanted Broccoli Forest has a website. Yes it does! You're on it! I'm also planning on creating a Facebook page soon.
Also, why is most of my site traffic coming from Russia? That's awesome (Hi, Russia!), but I think you guys are a little far away to buy veggies from us.
So, things are progressing beautifully here. We have a 50' x 50' garden space completely fenced in now. It has 5 beds that are roughly 15' x 5', three of which are currently filled with seedlings and two more of which are being worked over and turned and generally made vegetable-ready. The greenhouse and every single one of our variously-sized pots and containers are bursting with plant life. We have set up the first half of an automatic watering system and just finished giving everything a nice organic seaweed fertilizer application. We have a fairy house in progress in a large half-barrel in one corner of the garden. I just purchased our next round of seeds, which include all the tomatoes we're going to grow this year (Eeeee! I love tomatoes!) Finally, and probably most importantly, I just filed our first taxes without a hitch.
We are presented with what is probably the best possibly problem we could havbe right now: overwhelming interest and not enough veggies. Everyone I talk to about the garden cannot wait to get their hands on some of our veggies. Right now, we are coming up on our first real harvest, which (if I've done my math correctly) will consist of about 50 heads of cauliflower, 50 heads of broccoli, 50 large bunches of kale, too many radishes to estimate (seriously, an army of radishes), probably only enough lettuce for the four of us, maybe 25 bunches of beets, and maybe 25 bunches of carrots.
That all will be ready in late April through May. There's much, much more to follow; I had just hoped we would have a larger first harvest to show.
I know some of you are probably thinking that 50' x 50' is a pretty small garden space for a business. Well, it is. It's very small. However, I've seen insane amounts of vegetables coming out of a much smaller space. The name of the game is vertical gardening. All of the vegetables I listed above are colder weather varieties which I started in the greenhouse back in January, and none of them are trailing or vining plants. Whereas I can only grow about 50 - 75 heads of broccoli in one bed, if I were to fill the same bed with trellises of peas and beans, suddenly we would peas and beans coming out of our ears... Which is the eventual goal. Not literally of course, I don't think you want to eat produce that's been in my ears.
Also, the main fenced in space around the greenhouse is far from the only garden space we have. There's a (roughly) 10' x 10' raised bed right outside my front door, and a plethora of old garden beds in different areas around the 5 acre property, many of which have perrenials from years past still growing in them. All told, we have 3000 square feet of garden space available to us, and plenty of room to expand if needed, and the owner of the property (hey, mom!) decides to let us.
Seeds are not an issue. We already do have seeds coming out of our ears, for every imaginable variety of plant. So really the issue isn't one of space, or money, or seeds, it's just: do we have enough to time to plant and tend enough vegetables to bring forth a bountiful harvest for our many prospective customers?
Hopefully the answer is yes. We all knew this first year would be a challenge. The start-up costs in terms of both money and labor have been pretty substantial, but not overwhelming. The real challenge is that none of us were professional gardeners before. We've all had our own personal gardens, and some of us (notably Phil) have experience landscaping and gardening for others. However, we're all pretty much rookies.That's changing quickly though.
This garden is my new passion. I've always loved gardening and learning about the medicinal properties and benefits of different plants and herbs. I have a substancial personal library of books on all manner of plant-related subjects, and I've been pouring all my free time into reading them.
My main interests and goals which have come out of this are vertical gardening (which I touched on above - basically growing UP instead of OUT, which saves tons of space), companion planting (taking advantage of the natural symbiotic relationships between plants), and various permaculture techniques. I want a garden that thrives based off of natural processes, that's plant-based rather than gardener-based. Yes, we have been and will be using some automated and commercial techniques, but for the most part I want the garden to take care of itself. That means plants which are native to or grow well in the climate of Northwest Washington, growing plants that fix nutrients needed for other plants into the soil, using certain flowers to keep away pests instead of nasty pesticides, and mimicking the plants' natural growing conditions rather than mimicking other commericial farms' growing conditions.
In other news...
Right now our business license only covers the sale of hand-harvested vegetables, but it is in the eventual plan to sell prepared goods (canned and pickled fruits and veggies, herbal vinegars, prepared meals, etc) and eggs. I currently have three grown hens: Pocahontas, Abraham, and Jah-Marcus. Yes, they are all female. No, I did not name them. Pocahontas is an Ameraucana who came with her name. Abraham and Jah-Marcus are two black silkie bantams who have little afros/top hats and sideburns made out of feathers. I named Abraham after President Lincoln, and Annie named Jah-Marcus.