|Bigleaf maple over deck 2011|
|Bigleaf Maples 2011 (one on right is above the deck)|
|Same one in picture above on left side 2013|
|Bigleaf maple over deck 2013|
I've watched every year since 2007 the changes that have taken place to many of the trees around us, especially noticing the one by our deck. What was once a big beautiful canopy towering majestically over us is now a mere skeleton. The leaves (some of what use to be a foot across) are now about half that size.
Recently I read an article posted in the Eugene Weekly here: http://www.eugeneweekly.com/20130530/about-time/its-about-time-june-2013 stating that it's a "banner year" for the bigleaf maples. Today I emailed David Wagner to find out exactly what that means?
I remember when the tree over our deck served as a big umbrella, it's branches reaching almost to the ground from the weight. When sitting under it, we were completely shaded from the sun and it was quite interesting to look up and see nothing but green.
|Umbrella of bigleaf maple by deck 2013|
|Making Tomatillo sauce 2012|
In 2002 we purchased a small 4WD diesel front end loader tractor with tiller and mower attachments. I cleared an area of brush, wild blackberries and weeds and brought in a few loads of chicken manure from a local farm. Along with the 50 yards of Blended Mint Compost we had delivered, we collected maple leaves and grew cover crops of annual clover which I worked into the soil. This allowed us to grow food for a few years before reading Eliot Coleman's books, Four Season Harvest and The New Organic Grower.
In 2006 after reading these books (which I highly recommend), I decided to build all raised beds which would keep the costs low and make the garden easier to manage. Our decision was based on the size needed for a small community of six people as this was our goal. Since then we have found most people don't want to work that hard for food and our community building efforts have failed.
For our design of raised beds, I tilled a large area and used string to mark each one 4' x 28'. I heaped up soil in between the string and tilled and heaped again until the beds were 10-12" high. This left a 2' flat walkway between them in which I planted perennial clover. I continued this process tilling on each side of the finished bed I was working on until all 50 beds were completed.
|Garden raised beds planted with onions 2013|
|Framed hoop house before raised beds, planted with perennial clover 2012|
|Framed hoop house after raised beds 2013|
I have found that this system keeps the integrity of the beds intact (alleviating the need for wood), feeds the bees (which we really need to do), fixes nitrogen and is aesthetically pleasing to look at. I keep the clover trimmed and use it for mulch.
The beds/garden have not been tilled for over seven years which allows the growth of microorganisms as well as increasing water and decreasing soil erosion. This method also allows for carbon sequestering by increasing the organic matter that is kept in the soil. We use no chemicals and maintain by cover cropping, composting, mulching, companion planting and crop rotations and all maintenance is done using hand tools...manual labor.
|Crop rotation chart for lower garden|
Our wide variety of flowers and herbs help with pest management and our ducks are allowed in the garden at the end of the season to clean up.
|Ancona ducks in Spring garden 2012|
I sit under my skeleton of a bigleaf maple that is dying while I peer down into the garden that is full of life. Even though the majority of the work has been done, I'm now 11 years older and even the maintaining has become too much to handle. Our property is now up for sale; such a great find for those who are not afraid of hard work and can appreciate knowing where their food comes from.
|Main garden below April 2013|
|Main garden 2012|