June 17, 2011

The Lay of the Land: Looking West

I am standing in front of my house sweeping my camera from north to west to south in this group of photos, just as in the last post of this series I looked toward the east. On the western side of the house is the "ell", called that even though it is a straight line addition to the house and not in the shape of the letter "L". I generally enter the house through the door on the tiny front porch, into the mud room. Adjacent to the porch and mudroom is a large open shed, where I store tools and the winter wood supply. You can probably guess from its door and windows that the western end used to be a small house; the traces of chimney holes and upstairs room tell a tale of living quarters of hired help or extended family.

Beyond the shed, just to its southwest, is my vegetable garden, which is about 50 by 60 feet and feeds me for almost the entire year. My land doesn't extend very far to the west, to just beyond the apple tree you see in the distance. I call that grassy bit of field my "back 40" and mow it only once a season.

A little further to the south stands my berry patch: two long, wide rows of raspberries–which are very happy with the rain this year–and three high bush blueberries. When I moved here the raspberries were one giant circle of brambles and weeds; I wrestled them into shape over a couple of years and now they are very productive, providing me with lots of berries for jam and fresh eating and freezing for winter pies.

And now I've swung my camera to take in the end of the berries and the western end of the pond at left. If you look at the previous post, you might get a sense of how it all fits together.

Here's a closer view of the garden, with poles for pole beans at the right, a row of tomatoes, then moving to a line of covered crops: peppers and eggplants, which I grow on black plastic and under floating row covers to keep them warm. It's often difficult to ripen warmth-loving plants here, such as eggplants and melons, which I also start under cover. The white covers in the far left of the garden are there to protect brassicas from the predation of devouring insects; I will lift the covers when the plants are large enough to be able to survive the chewing of flea beetles. The mass of large leaves on the left are rhubarb. I'm planning to have the entire eastern side of the garden lined with rhubarb plants; they are a dramatic presence, and I'll be able to make lots of jam.

To the north of the garden are my three compost piles: one being used, one being built, and one cooking. In front of the shed is a flower border, which at this time of year is in regal bloom...

with the deep rich purples of Siberian iris "Caesar's Brother". Their tall upright leaves, narrowly pointing, stay green and sprightly throughout the summer, after the flowers are long gone.

Previous blog posts in the series:
"The Approach"
"Facing East"


  1. What a lovely tour you are offering to us. Love the mention of the hired hand's home; makes me think of our Ohio country home with the milk man's entrance and rooms at the back....probably a hired hand, but Mama called him the milk man.

  2. Maggie, it's interesting to hear of similar house uses in different parts of the country. I'm glad you're enjoying the tour.