The Gardens at Russet House Farm are have been planned following the principles of permaculture. Fruit trees are found throughout, and swales edge some of the larger beds that have been created on contour. Permanent raised beds also make it possible to practice no-till gardening, thereby preserving the soil as a habitat for many organisms. A wide variety of vegetables, herbs and pollinator plants are cultivated. Produce that is not eaten fresh is dried, canned or stored in the root cellar for winter use. In addition, we donate a portion of our produce to A Place Called Home.
We operate on the principle that the garden should be a home for all creatures. Insects and birds that are also interested in our vegetables are controlled, therefore by using exclusion (row covers), timed plantings, and beneficial insects attracted by pollinator plants. Occasionally insects are hand picked and fed to the chickens.
Our use of heavy mulches reduces the need for weeding, however, unless they are a threat to the well-being of our cultivated crops, we welcome a wide variety of wild plants to flourish in the garden.
Large water tanks catch water from the roofs of various buildings on the property. A pond was dug in 2015 to catch water from the roof of an outbuilding to augment the other water catchment systems that are already in place. All watering is done by hand. The use of swales, no till practices, and hay for mulch has greatly decreased the need for watering.