Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Grand Vision

How best to utilize the land is a constant topic of conversation in our house. Josh is really getting into the whole permaculture thing, and while mostly I just nod and say, "okay, that sounds good" when he launches into long explanations about nitrogen fixers, swales, and greenhouse best practices, I am definitely on board with using the land in productive but low impact ways.

Our ideas about how to set up food gardens and what structures to build change weekly, but the image above gives a rough idea (at least for this week!) of how we are planning to use the land. Some of the projects are quite ambitious, and will take years (if ever) to complete, while others are already underway.  A few additional projects we've been working on (the kitchen garden and forest gardens) are not included in this post because those areas are not in the photo.

The Pond
On the left edge of the grass, the land slopes down into a shallow, marshy basin. We are considering constructing a small pond site in this area. Pond water would be used to irrigate plants on the hillside and inside the greenhouse.

The Pergola
We would like to construct a simple pergola made from wood cut from our forest. The pergola will sit in front of the existing fire pit, and have room inside for a large table and chairs.

Stone Steps
Large flat stones gathered from our land will create steps down the hillside toward the pergola. Outdoor solar lights will illuminate the pathway.

The Greenhouse
Josh has been researching greenhouse plans, and would like to eventually build one on the flat area at the top of the hill. This spot receives good southern exposure, and the growing season would be extended for plants inside the greenhouse.

As mentioned in this post, we would like to get a few laying hens for eggs and soil cultivation. We'll grow kale and swiss chard near the blueberry bushes on the hillside across from the stalls for chicken feed along with nitrogen fixing cover crops to enrich the soil. The chickens will graze the hillside, and their waste, combined with the cover crop nutrients, will eventually create fertile land for growing other types of food in the future.

The Orchard
This summer we planted 2 apples, 1 peach, and 1 plum tree on the lower portion of the far hill. We may add additional trees in the future.

Plans for the top portion of the far hillside are up in the air. That spot is somewhat shaded by the tree line, and does not get as much sun exposure as the hill closer to the house. For this reason we are holding off cultivating the back hill for the time being. Eventually we may cultivate the soil and grow shade crops.

Berry Bushes
Blueberries grow well in our area, especially in acidic soil like ours. We are planning to plant a few bushes on the hillside behind the greenhouse near the kale and swiss chard.


  1. so fascinating to see it all appear. looks like you've done your homework too. it sounds absolutely lovely.

  2. Hi Claire, this is such a great and grand vision. Also, I wish I knew how to do fancy graphics like you.

    I just found your blog again. Glad you guys are loving Reading. Vermont is such a wonderful place to live isn't it ? -kate