The 20 Acre Challenge

In June 2007 we purchased our country home on 20 acres (really 18.5 acres but 20 sounds more poetic and more challenging) and that first summer we just hung out marveling at the beauty around us and contemplating all the projects that lie ahead.   Little did we realize that owning a pond (3 acres or so) was such a high maintenance endeavor.

Needless to say we experienced the invasion of duckweed and our once gorgeous pond quickly turned to a nightmare!   We worked very hard trying to regain our pond and finally succeeded last summer. 

I was also learning the “lay of the land” as they say and thousands of gardening ideas were racing around in my mind.   I had to keep reminding myself that I won’t be at this home full-time yet and long distance gardening is not really a good idea.   I satisfied my urge to plant the next summer by growing Luffa and a few flowers.   I have to say the Luffa did remarkably well but key to its success was the fact that it was planted close to the home and we did add black dirt to the heavy clay soil.

First thing I did as I hopped out of the car after a 5 hour ride was run to the Luffa and water.   I am quite sure I would have had more to harvest if I were there on a daily basis but I was happy and knew  the Luffa would grow.  Here you can see the clay soil and erosion.   There are many slopes we do need to deal with to avoid future erosion.

So, of course,  nothing keeps a gardener from planting and I had lots of land, right?  I stepped up the plans the next year – summer of 2009 and I wore myself out….literally.   A local farmer plants and harvests 8 acres of our land for us – the first year we had Soybeans and last year he planted Milo. Soybeans above and Milo below

He also sells the harvest and keeps some of the money for all his work.  Well, I thought as long as he is plowing up the land, maybe he could expand just a bit so I could grow a garden out in the field. 

He did … I planted. 

The weather is quite different in this area than I am used to.  The spring was very very wet so seeds were not germinating and the heavy clay soil was holding puddles of water.    Traveling back and forth wasn’t much of an issue YET … until the ground dried up and plants started popping up along with tons of  weeds and grass!   I would spend hours hand pulling the weeds in the early morning before the sun started heating up.  Of course, as the summer moved along and heat took its turn I would return after traveling to find wilted plants or worse yet nibbled down stalks from the rabbits and deer.

See those deer!!I would haul buckets of water to the field and water my thirsty ailing plants.  Midway through all this I decided to move some closer to the house and after all the shock of the move, the heat and the wildlife munching I did manage to at least save seeds …………for this year!!

I have decided to do very little gardening at the permanent home and spend as much time as possible down at the 20 acre challenge.  I won’t be out in the field planting a garden.   Instead we have and are constructing raised beds using landscape bricks and bags of soil (many many bags).   Closer to the home, closer to water and closer to my watchful eye.   Hot humid weather and heavy clay soil is not part of my gardening background but I am ready and back for yet another summer and the challenge.

Blog posts will be further apart since there is no internet connection and no tv……but when you are surrounded by the beauty of nature….

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5 Responses

  1. It is very beautiful! What a nice place to get away from it all and relax…well, relax by gardening. I am sure it is a little overwhelming with so much land.
    We have clay soil, too. Every time I dig, I get frustrated with the effort it takes to dig a tiny hole.
    Enjoy your pretty views!

  2. Sounds like a challenge, indeed, but a grand one. Hope you’ll find time to occasionally post on your progress.

    Christine in Alaska

  3. Oh! To have 20 acres and a POND!! You’re living my dream!

    Deer are quite a hassle. Rodents have nothing on those devastating monsters! I’ve only had a deer in my garden once, and he didn’t stay long. He was far more interested in my neighbors doe statue 🙂

  4. What a beautiful place to spend your time. I hope that you have fun with your new raised beds and enjoy no tv or internet. How relaxing 🙂 Please post photos of your new gardens when you do get back online.

  5. Hi All and Thank you for the kind comments! I do plan on spending more time down at the “challenge” but I still have to come back to reality throughout the month for business reasons. It is quite the sight traveling down with 4 dogs and 3 chickens in tow – I pray I never get pulled over!!! I definitely will be posting photos of the progress – finally get to plant the peas this weekend!

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