Gardening · Homesteading

Building Fenced Gardens For Berries

As we come to our first month on the new homestead I still have a ton of boxes to put away, pictures to hang and a groove to find, but I can at least say I have completed another farm project for the homestead. While I haven’t seen them yet, there is plenty of evidence of the local island deer (a ton of poop in the grass field over the septic field).

The area to be worked is close to the house, so less deer traffic. It had a severely unkempt strip of forest between it and the driveway. I am still working on that issue. We did at least get the lowest part started on cleaning out. The forest was over the well house, and that was an issue we couldn’t put off. A few more trees will be coming out, with many more branches cut back. The goal is a perimeter around the well house, and no branches below 7 feet off the ground, so we can walk through the forest.

I had already been working when I realized there were no before photos. The ground cover is a mix of Salal, native blackberry vines (the ground trippers), evergreen huckleberries, nasty holly bushes and a few other items. The forest is ultra thick – no thinning – as it grew the past 12 or so years. No light gets in, so the interior is dark in daylight and everything is dead. Only on the outside is it green.

Heavily cleared out, suddenly one can see my brother’s car parked by an outbuilding. We can now see through parts of this forest strip, and see the driveway and outbuilding finally. My brother has been a huge help to me, with clearing it.

The house is built on the high spot on the land, and it runs downhill sharply at first. The patio off the house is the first level, then a drop to a second level, then a sharp drop to the third level (which then it gets mellow). For now I have a growing branch pile on the side of the well house, we have a chipper coming that attaches to our BCS tractor. When it shows up, then the real clearing activity will commence.

For now, we have opened up the forest to about 6 feet into it, and 7 feet high. It’s amazing how just that little lets in light.

Lets start with the steel head fence post driver. If you are putting in U posts or T posts, even just a few, the driver is more than worth the cost. In our old house, I used mallets to pound forever on posts, with aching arms. The driver? It sinks them within a few easy bangs. And more so, no missed blows. The posts go in straighter, and no smooshed thumbs.

When we moved I brought in a number of Golden Raspberry and Blueberry plants with us. The GR I had started from spring starts last year, from older plants I left behind (some were 4 to 6 years old). 6 were ready to be put in the ground, and will produce this year.

U posts lined up.

With these beds I am being lazy. It’s mostly moss, due to the trees having shaded so much before cut back happened. So we dug holes and planted. I like to add in small tomato cages, preferably coated ones, for GR’s. They grow upright, and don’t need to have canes trained, but the young canes can use some support.

A great use for the piles of cardboard that keep coming out of the house daily. Many boxes I gave away, but there are so many….I decided to use them to weed smother. I lay a layer, then add a few more layers. Thankfully we had rain over the past few days, which sogged it out, so less likely to shift. Still, we used stones on top to weight out.

On the middle level we planted blueberry plants, dropping in 6 there (for a total of 12 plants brought with us). We dug holes, and planted.

Again, we used cardboard to smother.

Since the berry beds are near the house, I used shorter fence for now. I am not worried a ton about the deer there, and I’d also the gardens to be dog free. If we had aggressive deer, the fencing would be MUCH higher. In this case I used metal gardening fence, similar to this. I used 6 4-foot high U posts per bed. This plastic would also work well.

I used zip ties to attach the fencing to the U posts, cinching tight, then trimming the ends.

Now then, how does one put in a gate? That is easy and cheap? At our local hardware store I was chatting with one of the ladies in the garden section and she mentioned she had seen an idea online using bamboo trellis and I realized I had brought 2 of those with us during the move. I had used them last year for trellising cucumbers.

I attached one side using a ton of zip ties and can open and close the gate. Is it classy looking? Well, no. But it works, and I can get in and out easily, as needed. Since I wont need in often, I closed the other end for now with a loose zip tie. I will replace it with a Velcro strip later or something else, once we are in picking season. All I cared is the plants were fenced off and I was done!

The final tasks are more cardboard (maybe I should go unpack more boxes….) and once the chipper is here, I will produce a ton of mulch, and smother the cardboard with it. It will look nicer then, more complete.