There’s a whole lot a diggin goin on

dacha stencilYes! Everything has finally given in to green. Walking around on the land these last few weeks has been incredibly refreshing. Especially since our friends have been helping us identify the various trees and wild edibles already available to us. We are pleased to find several sugar maple trees big enough to tap next year for some syrupy goodness. Also, a new one for us all – ramps, native wild onions that have a garlic-like kick and make amazing pesto. We’ve been feasting on them for weeks!

We have also discovered some apple trees, black walnut trees and harvested a few cattail shoots (they smell like cucumber and go well in salad). But, of course, we’ve been doing more than just foraging for wild foods – say hello to the Dacha’s first Orchard and Garden.

Here is that garlic that we planted last year – comin right up!

Garlic in MayWe are excited about these guys and check in on them often.

Also, we decided that growing food was a major priority even though we aren’t yet living on the land. Lea came up with a really sweet garden design and in one afternoon we (with the help of our awesome new “interns” Brian and Jon) created the Dacha’s first garden.

Yoga - the garden variety

First, we went to Ithaca’s Public Works Facility for free compost. It was delicious…for the plants. After a lot of shoveling (thank you world’s best shovel) we had a truckful to use in the garden and to give nutrients to the trees.

Me and Danila take a stab at the compost pile.

Next, we spread compost in the beds and put straw down to make little pathways through the garden. Here I am with our friends Brian “Diamond” and Jon Karr who have been living with us and giving us some much needed help. Thanks guys, you rock! We are so lucky to have these guys with us.

Brian and John setting up the garden

Then we put up a fence to keep the deer from the veggies, and started planting. Right now we have some onions, kale, broccoli, peas, chocolate mint, chives, spinach, strawberries and a lot of other goodies peeking their heads out. Nothing beats the satisfaction of watching your own garden take root.

Ari's like "the deer will jump right over this, guys". Ha!

Photo by Shira Golding

Now that we have so many things that need watering, we’ve decided that we need a pond. In the process of digging we found a beautidul and enormous flat rock that we just had to crack open. Here we are in the hole:

hanging out in the pond....hole

Photo by Shira Golding

cracking open a nice rock

Photo by Shira Golding

We are still in the process of getting the pond to the desired depth. For now, we’ve diverted the water from the roof of our straw bale tool shed to go into a few large barrels – the overflow will eventually go through this drain tile into the pond. As you can see, goofing off is still a major priority, too!

not taking it too seriously

Photo by Shira Golding

Luckily, our friends Shira and Ari came to help us out. These cats work hard – you should check their project out on -

Ari and the drain tile

Photo by Shira Golding

And last but not least…THE ORCHARD. Thanks to all of you who were able to help us out, we now have a huge orchard. We just finished planting the last of the trees and bushes yesterday. It was a lot of work and a lot of planning…and re-planning. Our first idea for the placement of the trees yielded a lot of holes with standing water. Then we decided that some of the holes were too close to potential building sites….la di da di da… we dug a LOT of holes, many of which we didn’t end up using. Oh my.

making a plan

picking at the clay and rock in the soil

Photo by Shira Golding

jon at it

Photo by Shira Golding

At this point we have planted about 50 evergreens around the property as well as about 60 fruit and nuts trees, and maybe 10 bushes. Seriously a lot of work for the Dacha. Finally, we put these green tubes around the trees to protect them from deer and rabbits while they are babies. So right now it looks like some weird graveyard, but really… it’s tons of delicious fruit in there. Go team!

evergreen baby

Photo by Shira Golding

Danila is careful with the babes

downstairs orchard

Photo by Shira Golding

Now it’s on to plastering the straw bale, getting building permits and a billion other things. But we’re enjoying all of it, and sharing the experience with our friends. Check out the stencil Brian made for us! Thanks again to everyone who is supporting us in all the different ways… and come on by if you haven’t yet.

More soon…of course.

tractor time

going out on the land

Branding the truck