This post provides a mid-summer sustainable homesteading update. Included is a sheet mulch update, perennial garden update, groundhog pest update, and mowing the fields.
The groundhog has been working hard trying to get back under the deck. So far my first line of defense which chicken wire nailed to the deck and dug into the ground has stopped him. He has dug in several spots in front of the deck. But as soon as he hits the chicken wire, he stops digging and moves somewhere else.
The temporary chicken wire that I put up on the side of the deck seemed to work great as well. I simply tacked that chicken wire up to the deck and laid some heavy rocks on top of it. There was no evidence this past week of the groundhog even trying to get under the deck in this area.
Permanent Groundhog Fix
This weekend I removed the temporary chicken wire and rocks. Then I removed the lattice on the side of the deck and dug a trench along the side of the deck. I then put the coated chicken wire into the trench and nailed it up to the deck. Then I pulled the chicken wire tight and filled the trench in. After that I put the lattice back up around the deck. This completes the permanent groundhog deterrent.
More Groundhog Deterrent
Another thing I did this past weekend as a groundhog deterrent is to mow all of my fields. My property is mowed within a hundred feet of the house, but a little further out I have just been letting the grass and fields go. This is good cover for the groundhog to hide in, so I decided to mow them all down. I used my 1949 Ford-8n tractor with a 5-foot finishing mower to knock the two-plus foot high weeds and wildflowers down to about three inches high.
This should make the groundhog a little less comfortable, because he doesn’t have all of the hiding spots that he had before.
Sheet Mulch and Perennial Garden Update
I have several posts and videos showing how I put together the sheet mulch and perennial garden. The sheet mulch part was pretty straight forward. We used manure, dried leaves, hay, cardboard, and mulch in layers. This was all done to build the fertility of the soil and knock the weed pressure down.
The perennial garden consists of around eighty perennial plants that I put in with the goal of allowing them to grow together as they grow larger. Once the garden grows so thick with life, it will keep the weed pressure down itself. I added annuals in this year to take up some of the space because the perennials are so small.
A Wonderful Place
I’m amazed at how well everything is doing this year. My perennial plants are just taking off, as are the annuals. I credit the rapid growth to the sheet mulch and the manure that was put down. Even though we are now in a drought and I have not watered the plants once, none of them looked like they were lacking in water. I can credit that to the sheet mulches ability to keep water in the landscape.
I have one area of the garden that has two tomato plants with hundreds of green tomatoes. They are starting to ripen now and will keep the family and neighbors in tomatoes for a long time to come.
More Work for the Fall
I only completed three quarters of the sheet mulch project this past spring. I ran out of cardboard, so I just put a tarp over the remaining one quarter to keep the weeds down until fall. I have enough cardboard, hay, and manure now, but will wait until the cooler weather in the fall to complete the sheet mulch project.
Right at the border of the tarp I planted some annual vines. I planted butternut squash, watermelon, and cucumbers. They are coming along nicely now and they can grow on top of the tarp with no competition from the weeds.
Keep the Critters Out
Earlier in the month I put up four strands of barb wire around the garden above the fence. This basically extends the height of the fence and is used to keep the deer from jumping the fence and eating my plants. I also added the two-foot-high chicken wire around the bottom of the fence to keep the rabbits out. With any luck, this will take care of all of my critter problems.
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