Our take on the market garden is a traditional garden with a permaculture twist. The emphasis is on growing bulk staple crops in a division of diverse perennial beds. Adhering to no-till principles, we think of each of our beds as a lasagne of layered ecosystems, each with pivotal roles to play. We strive for an abundant and diverse microbiology in our soils. We combine worm castings, compost, biochar, compost tea and green manures together with crop rotation, companion planting, and intensive cover cropping to make healthy soil.
Our strategy for pest control is to give nature what it needs so that it will want to maintain its benefits. We use herbs and perennials to attract beneficial insects. Trap crops create demand for prey and predators. Wild birds work the beds while we are away. Diversity in plants and wildlife ensures there is something for everyone.
While we are not organically certified we strive to be beyond organic and rely on natural techniques for nutrition and pest control that are free of synthetic chemicals and guilt.
Our market garden grows the following annual staples: mixed lettuce, head lettuce, onions, carrots, chard, cucumbers, culinary herbs, asian greens, tomatoes, squash, potatoes, peppers (sweet & hot), parsnips, legumes, beets and radishes.
Our perennial crops give us the diversity we seek and something to look forward to each year. We currently produce: rhubarb, horse radish, berries (strawberries, honeyberries, raspberries, & blackberries), and perennial herbs (sage, oregano, thyme, mint, spearmint, lemon balm, & chives).
Mack Hill Garden
The Mack Hill Garden is our auxiliary market garden. Here we grow larger lower-maintenance, but high value staples that take a lot of space. We take the same approach as our original market garden mixing annual beds with perennial beds. The challenge with the garden at Mack Hill is its remoteness. In permaculture speak, this garden would be in zone three. Permaculture zones reflect the amount of visitations you have in an area. Our kitchen garden would be in zone one. Because it's right out our front door, it gets visited several times a day. Our primary market garden and chickens are in zone two because they are just beyond that and get visited only a couple of times a day.
Mack Hill is a short walk away from our main operation, so there is no power or water and it has increased pressure from wildlife. Because of this, we've had to get creative with our solutions for garden security and soil building.
Water collection batteries, solar powered fencing, beneficial insects and wildlife, companion planting, crop rotation, hardy plant varieties, and heavy mulch are the main components of our strategy here. Time will tell how successful a market garden in zone three will be, but we love the challenge and are excited to try our take on these traditional crops.
Our choice of annual crops grown here include: potatoes, parsnips, dry beans, winter squash, corn, and fennel.
Perennial crops include: asparagus, lovage, walking onions, perennial spinach, and garlic chives.
Since the Spring of 2020, we have planted over 67 fruit trees in our permaculture orchard and on swale systems throughout the property. As long time New England residents we've always had a shared dream of owning our own natural fruit orchard. As we learned more about fruit trees, it seemed there was almost an infinite number of challenges to overcome to grow productive trees naturally without chemical weapons. It was only when we learned about permaculture design principles did it seem possible at a modest farmstead scale.
We discovered a number of successful orchardists out there defying the odds by creating ecosystems that produce hardy fruit with nutrition and flavor. After studying these pioneers and their techniques it seems now we may not have to sacrifice one for the other when growing honest fruit. We look forward to the journey and for sharing any fruit abundance we may achieve.
The Again & Again Farmstead is in many ways an orchard in its entirety. We aim to have productive fruit and nut trees throughout the property in addition to a full scale (but modest) orchard in permaculture zone three (see Mack Hill above). We have tree growing swale systems planted with fruit trees, mulberries in chicken zones, apples and plums in the kitchen garden, and nut trees on upper and lower slopes. We also are constantly finding new places for fruit trees to provide shade for our crops.
So far we have planted a hardy mix of fresh eating apples, storage apples, cider apples, European pears, Asian pears, red mulberries, white mulberries, fresh eating cherries, peaches, plums, and nectarines. We are also growing hybrid hazelnuts and are looking forward to exploring these as a staple crop.