our 997 square foot 1950’s Cape Cod Cottage in the fall of 2002. We
are located 900 feet from Nantucket Sound on .22 acres. The
cottage has good bones and only two previous owners.
When we purchased the cottage, the yard was not level and the rain ran towards the foundation of the house. We contacted a landscaper with an organic background to correct the problem and add peripheral gardens, patio and lawn. It was a much larger project than we had originally anticipated, but the end result was stunning. All subsequent treatments to the gardens and lawn have been organic (corn gluten, milky spore, organic fertilizers, etc.)
As we upgrade and renovate, we are trying to incorporate green technology where it makes common sense and is in our budget. The biggest lesson we have learned is the old saying, “the more you know, the less you need”.
Sophie ~ My Organic Gardener Mentor Angel(May 24, 1975 ~ July 17, 2010) ..."a woman whose religion is her life and whose life is her art"
I am privileged to have known Sophie these past 5 years and to have her as my friend and as my OGMA (Organic Gardener Mentor Angel). Sophie was helping me fulfill my dream to become an Organic Urban Homesteader here on Cape Cod. I met her through the farmer's market via her working with Jack Stacy. She approached me a year and a half ago at the Natural Food Store in Dennisport offering to work along side of me to teach me to help me fulfill my dream. She knew I was "crazed" about all things organic. I couldn't have asked for a better teacher and friend. Sophie was a walking Organic Gardening, Sustainable Encyclopedia. Her knowledge about Mother Nature and how it relates to science, her wisdom, her artistic ability, her patience never ceased to me.
In working along side of her we discussed many "life lessons" that encompassed so many areas beyond soil biodiversity which was the core of her teachings (family, men, dating, girlie stuff) you name it. We had so many laughs and such "worldly" discussions, She brought such joy, life and vision to my gardens and my life. I can never replace her, but only pray to honor her by aspiring to continue on to carry out what I believe is her vision for our humble Cape Cod urban homestead.
Sophie was passionate about creating a better future via organic farming practices for humanity. Those that knew her said she didn't have blood running through her veins, she had plant cells. She adored. respected and understood the complexity of Mother Nature and Mother Nature reciprocated by imparting remarkable wisdom to Sophie so that she could teach the rest of us.
To know Sophie was to know that her family was her her heart, especially her children Gabe and Fiona. She worked tirelessly to offer them the best life she had to give.I am grateful she will live on through her children, Gabe and Fiona. See them. See Sophie. They are Sophie's heart. A memorial fund has been established to benefit Sophie's children, Gabe and Fiona. Donations may be sent to the Sophie Corrigan Memorial Fund at Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank, 532 Rte. 28, Harwich Port, MA 02646.
Sophie had the generosity of her spirit to extend her love also to her friends and co-workers. Sophie was like a shooting star that flashed across my life that I had the privilege to witness. I will carry Sophie in my heart forever. I am blessed to have known her. I will miss my friend, My Organic Gardener Mentor Angel.
Ornamental & Edible GardensFor the past year and a half, we were privileged to have worked with organic gardener, Sophie May Corrigan, to gradually remove some traditional perennials and introduce organic edible fruits, veggie, herb plants and fruit-bearing shrubs. I'm learning about and we are also trying to incorporate some companion planting to attract beneficial insects. Companion planting can also sometimes improve the flavor or a veggie or fruit. In addition to the work in the existing garden beds, I am experimenting with some container planting of fruits, edible flowers and veggies. It sounds extensive, but everything is on a small scale. My intent is to grow what I would normally purchase at a farmer's market or grocery store (conventional or natural). I do plan to keep the original footprint of the professionally landscaped yard with some of my favorite ornamentals, but also to expand on the landscaping by incorporating eco-friendly methods over time.
Lawn PhilosophyIt is amazing in the short time that we've had the cottage the shift in thinking about lawns. Now that I've become a little more educated and ventured into OG veggie gardening, I've come to embrace my clover lawn rather than to seek a monoculture of grass (even if it's organic grass). It was Jean Iversen, founder of Cape Cod Organic Gardeners (http://ccog.wordpress.com/), who first taught me that "clover is a good thing”. My former landscaper’s original intent was that we would have a lawn that "looks like a golf course" . Thankfully, Mother Nature stepped in just at the right time and introduced us to clover.
I've since learned that clover used to be a fashionable lawn plant. In the 1950's everybody was adding clover to their lawn seed mix until Scott's came along and started pushing their broadleaf weedkiller. Clover in my lawn is in keeping with the vintage style of the 1950's Cape Cod cottage. Clover mixed with grass is slowly starting to become back in vogue. I didn't realize that not only does it fix nitrogen into the soil, but also helps break up soil compaction. This was an issue with the lawn when we had the riding lawnmowers mowing every week. Clover attracts beneficial pollinators like bees and parasitoid wasps that are welcomed by fruit and veggie growers and are not the nest making stinging wasps. Clover is widely introduced around the world as a pasture crop. A lawn with clover is a bio-diverse lawn and an eco-friendly lawn.
We purchased a Neuton battery-powered lawnmower (www.neutonpower.com) in place of utilizing a weekly lawn mowing service using a riding gasoline powered mower. Our lawn is now more lush and green that it's ever been since the landscaping project. I still plan to reduce the size of my lawn, but I will keep some with the clover because of the eco-benefits. Mother Nature is remarkable!
For more information on Organic Lawncare for the Cheap and Lazy, go to: http://www.richsoil.com/lawn-care.jsp