The Gardens at Middle Earth. Ahhh….the gardens….. the heart of Middle Earth. The gardens evolved over time. There are several garden areas…the North Garden, the North and South Pond Gardens, and the Kitchen Garden.
The North Garden was the first effort and came into existence because it was the only level, non-treed area and was relatively easy to turn over and get something planted. It is circular and fenced. As Permaculture concepts began to incorporate themselves into our life, we built the chicken house on the east side, and fenced the garden down the middle. Our “Girls” go to work on half the garden while the other half is planted, and then we send the Girls into the planted side when it is finished to clean it up, turn under what is left of the mulch, eat the weeds and turn the earth. We then can plant the opposite side. This has worked exceptionally well for us and the “Girls”.
The Kitchen garden was next and is smaller and just a few steps from the door on the east side of the house. Perfect for stepping out for produce and herbs fresh for the dinner table. The herb spiral is close to the Kitchen garden.
Then began a major effort on sloping ground from which trees had to be removed. It was at this point that one of our interns wanted to plant a market garden, and so the North and South Pond Gardens were born. These gardens have an east exposure and slope to the area of the House Pond. They were terraced and swaled in the beginning to hold water and prevent rapid run off. Now these gardens have so much humus and with mulching there is rarely any erosion. These became the production area gardens, whereas the Kitchen garden was for immediate use and the North Garden was mostly for household food preservation. The South Pond garden is now home to the olive trees and 2 of the fig trees.
Although we chose not to apply for organic status, none of the garden areas (or greenhouses) have had any type of chemical applied to them. They have had leaves, compost, straw mulch, composted chicken droppings, and stable cleanings from a horse farm. And, did I say mulch? Lots and lots of mulch! From time to time we have side dressed with Mighty Grow Organics living organic fertilizer (produced right up the road from us in Fruitdale Alabama). All the garden soil at Middle Earth is living soil….nurtured and tended since their inception.