My Family Garden in the Woods




About: I am a recent graduate of the Sustainable Manufacturing program at California State University Chico. I currently consult with local businesses and provide freelance design work. I've been making things for ...

First and foremost, I need to point one thing out. Not all of these pictures were taken by me. Some may have been taken by my mom or dad. Also, I couldn't tell you the exact time each picture was taken. This garden has been on our land ever since my mom and my grandpa built it back in the early 80's. Over the years, we have snapped nearly a thousand pictures of various garden things, on various cameras, in various formats, all have which have been converted, found, lost, or generally become disorganized over the last several years. Three years ago, we sat down and piled all these pictures into one big computer file. This file serves as our garden's visual history. I can't offer much more than to say that someone in my immediate family took these pictures, and that I hope you enjoy seeing them.

Our garden is not near our house. to get to it, you need to walk about 500 feet through the forest to get there. it sits in a clearing on top of a small hill, surrounded on two sides by a canyon, at the bottom of which is a small creek. Around all this are huge Douglas Fir and Tan Oak trees. At one point in the past, this site must have been an encampment for Native Americans, as we have found arrowheads and pestle stones here.

Our garden is surrounded by a fence that is made from all kinds of stuff. several different types of fencing are present, held up with various poles from the forest and odd sized fence posts. All of this is held together with rusting bailing wire. This fence was never really intended to keep anything out except for deer, and it has been moved or rebuilt to accommodate changing garden designs.

We grow everything in raised beds, with the dirt in the beds dug down to several feet below ground level. The beds themselves are ramshackle, built of wood scraps and old barn siding. Everything we put in this garden is organic. We amend the soil every several years with natural soil additives like bat guano and fish emulsion, and add in goat and horse manure from local farms when possible. We pass all of these amendments through a 1/2 inch screen made of hardware cloth before putting them in the beds, to keep rocks and big clumps out. Thankfully, we have no problems with gophers, with only the occasional mole.

We irrigate our garden with a drip irrigation system on a water timer, fed on a gravity system from our clean 9-gallon-per-minute spring up the hill. Every year we have to slightly modify this system, which is a lot of work, but it pays off because it makes the garden less dependent on our care for watering.

Every garden needs a shed. Ours is more like a hut than a shed, with a back porch, a whole wall of windows looking out on the garden, and even an old Winner wood stove. It was originally a wreck when my mother first bought the property, but my grandpa fixed it up. it has since fallen into slight disrepair, with some leaks in the roof and a door that has stuck open. Repairing this shed is something i plan to definitely do this summer.

We have grown so many things in our garden over the years that I will invariably fail if I tried to list them all. Here goes anyway.
Tomatoes of all kinds, specifically Roma, Early Girl, Beefsteak, and others. Bell peppers. Corn, both Indian and sweet. Black Cap Raspberries (we make these into a delicious preserve). Green beans. Various kinds of peas. Lettuce. Bok Choi. Swiss Chard. Spinach. Carrots. Kale. Onions. Garlic. Beets. Cucumbers. Zucchini. Squash of various kinds. Pumpkins. Comfry. Mint. Wild Strawberries.

And that's all I can remember right about now. (whew!)

Our garden may not be technical, modern, safe, or efficient, but it's a family tradition. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting in the grass playing with my dog while my parents planted and harvested. Living out in the woods may seem hippie-ish or backward to some people, but we like it. The birds and deer sure beat the cars and advertising of the cities.

These are some of the pictures I like best that I unearthed. We are just starting the planting season for yet another year, and our tomatoes and peppers are in pots waiting to be transplanted. At the end of the summer, I can't wait to eat them!



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    12 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Reminds me of our family garden when i was growing up in the Piney woods in Texas. It was in the woods and we grew absolutely everything. My parents made jellies, jams from the fruit and canned and froze the vegetables. We didn't eat store bought vegetables at all (and ate a lot of game meat). We had plenty of deer also and had a fence like yours but they would some how get in and while working in the garden they would catch our scent and we could hear them snorting but because of the dense woods we could't see them. Unfortunately we had to move to another state so we don't have the garden anymore but we do have great memories.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Oh garden! The lovely joy of summer! And yours seems very nice, the irrigation system seems really cool! Do you grow Kohlrabi? I also have some lovely summer memories of the garden! Ahhh...

    5 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Yes! They are really really tasty! We normally grow them in our garden!