You can still buy a magazine called Mother Earth News but it’s not the Mother Earth News I remember from the 1970s.  Back then it was full of do-it-yourself, back-to-the-land articles like how to convert an old truck into a water pump or how to tan hides using goat urine.  Schematics of neatly sectioned homesteads like the one above were a regular feature.  Those drawings really struck a chord with me.  Something about those neat rows of corn, compost bins, and tidy greehouses attracted me like heaven on earth. Now that I think about it, they probably were a major contributing factor to the particular path I followed through life.

Not that I followed the path singlemindedly.  There were numerous distractions along the way.  But the idea of developing a piece of land and harvesting the fruits of that labor have always  powerfully attracted me.

And so it was that Mary and I started talking about a garden last winter.  I’ve had a lot of gardens over the years but not recently.  The problem in Union Valley is critters.  This place is crawling with rabbits, moles, voles, turkeys, squirrels, bears, and deer.  Especially deer.  Deer have nibbled our roses and fruit trees into oblivion year after year.  The last garden at our house, my son’s, was denuded in a single night by deer just as he was about to harvest.

Mary and I schemed on how to outsmart the critters with chain-link fences, raised beds and electrified deterrents.  It all started to sound like something we might need to mortgage the house for so I went back to square one.  What I came up with  is the modest layout in the following photo:


By using scrap lumber, cinder blocks, and home-made hinges we’ve kept the cost at $100.  The frames are covered with plastic deer netting.  The bed is protected from moles with a steel mesh bottom.  The frames are hinged so that the garden can be tended from either side.  Last summer we installed gutters on all the roofs that feed barrels from which the rain water is pumped to larger storage tanks.  We hope to water the garden exclusively with rain water.


Home-made hinge.  The pins (bolts) can be easily removed from all the hinges on one side of the bed so that the garden can be accessed from either side.

Home-made hinges, scrap lumber – the old Mother Earth News would be proud of me.