Korie in her backyard homestead was one of the most enthusiastic gardeners that replied to my emails and once we met I found out she is definitely a kindred spirit. Monte Rio, Vacation Wonderland is a very small town 2 hours north of San Francisco, along the Russian river, known as the fastest rising river west of the Rockies. Driving from through the Sonoma and Napa areas I saw many beautiful vineyards, then from Santa Rosa I entered a 2-lane highway through beautiful trees and glimpses of the river to reach my destination.
Korie bought her home about 10 years ago and has been working on making her back and front yards an oasis of raised beds filled with veggies, fruit trees, berries shrubs, flower and herbs. I walked into an outdoor courtyard with containers of lemon, lime trees, flowers, herbs and funky wooden benches to sit on. She said the citrus grew well so long as she protects them over the winter. As we did a walkabout everywhere we turned there was another hidden corner filled with something beautiful.
The front yard had blueberries, shrubs and beautiful flowers. There was a pile of wood chips she got from the local tree trimmer, which she uses as mulch around the raised bed and there was another pile of rich looking soil waiting to be moved into the back.
In the back yard there was a huge apple tree in one corner and several raised beds filled with lettuce, squash plants, cucumbers, beans, herbs and nasturtiums. There were others beds in various stages of being built; she had mentioned she was reworking the soil and rearranging the beds. This year she is also experimenting with shade cloth to protect the veggies from the heat so some of the beds were covered with the green cloth.
Along one fence she had perennials, berries bushes and huge pots with more blueberries. As we walked around there was an old bed edged with railway ties (she plans on taking these out as they are filled with creosote) where her empty compost bin was residing. Further along she had just installed barrel compost, which she loves.
Under the apple tree there was a hidden patch of grass, her friend and tenant needed her spot of grass, a wonderful place to throw a blanket in the heat of the day. Along the other fence there were more shrubs, some a bit overgrown, which she asked my advise on some pruning tips. More beds in front to the apples tree filled with more herbs, flowers and roses. The side of the house was where she stores her firewood as she heats with wood in the winter months. A beautiful and packed full backyard.
Her biggest challenge she said is with snails and white moth fly. She and her friends save eggshells and she surrounds her seedlings and garden beds with and inch of crushed shells, this seems to do the trick in keeping the snails at bay. Because of the white moth fly and aphids she has never been unsuccessful growing brassicas except for kale so chooses not to grow them anymore. Great advice, its best not to fight something that is not doing well in your conditions, choose what works.
She has a drip irrigation system and also collects her gray water from the kitchen sink for watering her beds and containers in her backyard homestead. She was looking for mulch ideas to help retain the water in her beds. We chatted about adding in some aged horse manure, which she can get locally, this can help with drainage.
She likes to can as much as she is able and from the help of her neighbour, she cans enough fruit and apple sauce to keep her through the winter and as giving away for gifts. Her neighbours behind her have several large fruit trees and they are only there a few times a year, so after a few years of seeing all the fruit just drop to the ground she now has permission to harvest. She uses the pears and apples for canning, the oranges and figs for fresh eating.
There were a couple oranges within reach over the fence, my first time to pick oranges – very exciting for me.
Over dinner of fresh salad and grilled veggies from her backyard homestead garden we talked about all the other things besides gardening that we had in common – shamanic journeying, healing touch, spiritual healing and she gave me a tarot card reading. A lovely evening spent with a spiritual sister.
Thank you Korie for sharing your home and garden with me.