The Grovestead

Farm, Family, Fun.

Good morning, kid.. Baby goats arrive!

Mama Goats

As I type this we have one new goat on the farm and another nanny in labor, probably giving birth to twins. We rigged up a webcam in the barn so you can watch live! See the top of sidebar on this web page to the right.

Here is a clip from yesterday:

Be sure to visit our YouTube Channel and subscribe so we can send you more videos of cute baby animals. :)


Gautschi’s Gardens

Paul Gautschi's Back to Eden GardenI’ve written on a few occasions of Back to Eden style gardening. Back in October my Dad and I made a pilgrimage to the Sequim, Washington in the Olympic Peninsula to meet the man who started it all and see his own gardens: Paul Gautschi.

 

b2e_paulgautschiI edited together a short highlight reel that captures the essence of our visit, complete with amazing edibles and Paul’s unique wit and wisdom:

The trip was unforgettable. From the moment we arrived Paul welcomed us into his gardens, offering perfectly ripened fresh fruits and vegetables for the tasting. All the while Paul described his gardening journey, declaring God’s handiwork in every step. I would call it bragging on God. “Taste and see!” Paul would tell us, referring to the Bible passage “Taste and see the Lord is good.” -Psalm 34:8

b2e_meetingpaul

Every Sunday from April through September strangers from all over the world show up at Paul’s 1/2-acre garden to see with their own eyes and taste with their own mouths the incredible bounty of his gardens. And Paul is not ashamed to share the secret of his success. For two hours or more on his garden tours, Paul preaches about the goodness of God.

Giant pears at Paul Gautschi's Back to Eden GardenDespite the hordes that descend on his property weekly to sample his fare, he still has more food than his family can eat. “My biggest problem is abundance!” Paul would often say.

The pear I’m holding above was literally a meal. I felt full after eating it, which kind of bummed me out because I wanted to keep eating! Paul explained I felt full because I was eating live food. Fruit starts losing nutritive value the moment its plucked from the tree. When you eat live food, you’re body is absorbing the maximum quantity of nutrients, minerals, and water-soluble fiber.

b2e_orchard-cabbage

Because of the deep-mulch wood-chip gardening Paul uses, his orchards are so healthy and loaded with fruit the branches bow down to the ground. “You can’t prune a tree to do that,” Paul said.

The soil is so healthy he can grow many vegetables in full shade under the tree canopies. Turns out most vegetables do not need full sun — they need good soil!

Back to Eden Gardens

Besides abundant fruit trees, what’s the big deal about Back to Eden gardening? Tasting is believing. It’s hard to explain flavors I’ve never tasted before. The best I can do here is show you some pictures.

b2e_parsley

Cilantro - Back to Eden Gardening

Winter Squash - Back to Eden Gardening

In this next picture you’ll see lavender growing next to a blueberry shrub. As anyone who has grown blueberries knows, they require highly acidic soil. They will absolutely not survive in high pH environments. Yet in Paul’s garden they thrive high-pH plants next to low-pH plants.

Lavender grows next to Blueberry in Back to Eden Garden

Same thing with Sage and Wasabi. This shouldn’t be possible, but there it is!

b2e_sage-wasabi

While Paul started with woodchips, he now grows all his own chicken food (they eat mostly kale and other garden scraps). His chickens turn garden and lawn waste into nitrogen-rich compost which Paul uses for a Fall fertilizing each year.

Paul Gautschi's Chicken Composting Factory

When I say visiting Paul’s garden was a spiritual experience, I’m not exaggerating. Paul does not separate the things of God from the things God made. Within a few minutes of arriving, tears welled up in our eyes as Paul talked about Heaven. During the tour you come to realize that Paul’s relationship with his heavenly Father is the real miracle and it leaves you hungering for a deeper spiritual walk yourself. Upon returning, my dad wrote this about our experience:

My mind and soul continue to reverberate in the aftermath of our time with Paul last Sunday. He is the epitome of God’s working in the lives of a person. Here is a man whose body has been ravaged by agent orange during the Vietnam war and yet exudes the loving grace of God beyond anything I have seen. The real benefit to people who come in contact with him is the potential of another changed life coming into alignment with the God of the Universe. The garden is only a byproduct used as a tool to bring people to Him. Maybe not intentionally but that is what’s happening. Wow! Thanks for introducing me to him! That time will forever be a pearl in my life!

Here is just one of many conversations we had about the goodness of God:


How much to grow?

How much do I grow?One of the most common questions I get asked about gardening is “How much should I grow?” Another question that goes along with it is “How  big of a garden do I need to feed my family?”

These are good questions and ones that I haven’t had a good answer for. Until now.

I just plant more of the things I like to eat and less of the things I don’t and hope it all works out in the end. But after doing this for several years, that system is not working. It’s a lot of work to plant crops you won’t end up harvesting and there’s a limited amount of time and storage when harvest season comes around.

Corn and potatoes

Planning the harvest to your specific needs is the only way to ensure you aren’t wasting precious time, money or labor. There are various “rules of thumb” on the Internet, such as “grow 5 celery plants per person”. But everyone has different preferences when it comes to diet. It makes a lot more sense to figure out plantings based on how much food you actually eat rather than vague per-person estimates.

So over the holiday weekend I created a spreadsheet that lists every vegetable we grow. Next to each vegetable I enter the serving size for each meal and the number of meals we consume that vegetable each month. For example, 1/2 cup of corn once a week or 3/4 cup of potatoes 3 times a month. Then it calculates the number of plantings needed to produce that much harvest for the whole year. For example, 78 stalks of corn and 17 potato plants.

Spreadsheet used to figure out planting calculations based on food we actually eat

Spreadsheet I used to figure out number of plantings based on food we actually eat

I also added fields for Family Size and Sufficiency Goal so it is easy to change the calculations as our family and goals change. This year our goal is to grow 50% of our own produce.

Lastly, I converted the spreadsheet into an online calculator and published it on this site so I could share it with others. It’s been a tremendously helpful tool already. Besides knowing we need to plant 177 onion bulbs, I also know how much area is required for each vegetable, so I know how big to size the garden plot.

I used the area calculations for each vegetable to lay out the garden plot

I used the area calculations for each vegetable to lay out the garden plot

At 50% sufficiency for our family, we need a garden plot with just over 600 square feet, which is about 25′ x 25′. But if we wanted to produce all our own produce, we’d need a garden double that size.

Click here to see the How Much To Grow Calculator or find it under the “Gardening” tab in the  menu bar. Let me know your thoughts to improve it and any other vegetables you’d like me to list.

 


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