I can't remember when or how I first stumbled upon one of Corina's videos (Corina is now a SouleMama Sponsor as well), but besides the knowledge that she shared what emanated most of all from her voice was joy! And reading her answers to the garden questions below, I think I might have an idea where some of that joy comes from, and I get it, I really do. The soil! It's contagious, too, that gardening joy. Read on below to see for yourself.
Welcome to Corina's garden!
Name: Corina Sahlin with Marblemount Homestead
Zone: 7B or 8A
Garden Size: about 3,000 square feet
How long have you been gardening?
Why do you garden?
Of course I feel proud that I provide nutritious, fresh, organic food for my family many months of the year, but equally important is the fact that gardening is my therapy! Did you know that there are microbes in the soil that act like natural antidepressants? That explains why I love digging in soil with my bare hands. It makes me happy.
How would you describe your garden?
It's hugely productive. I grow tons of veggies in raised beds, so I plant them closer together, which yields more food. Since I raise goats, chickens and ducks, we have beautiful materials for making compost, and our soil fertility is awesome.
I like my garden to be tidy, which might be the German in me. My house is always such a messy disaster since my three homeschooled children are always home, that my garden feels like the only place I have control over. I garden for functionality and beauty!
What are your favorite gardening books?
All books by Elliot Coleman are great, as well as "How to grow more vegetables" by John Jeavons.
What’s your biggest gardening challenge?
We live in a rainy climate, so slugs are happy here. They can decimate a bed of freshly transplanted veggie starts in one night. I've sat in the garden and cried because of these slimy creatures. But since we've gotten our ducks, slugs are not as prolific anymore.
Also: deer. They come in at night and eat my green beans. Throwing bird netting over the beans keeps them away from the beans.
What’s your biggest garden accomplishment?
Feeding my family healthy food, while building soil fertility over time instead of depleting it. I think it's important to eat food grown in fertile soil, since you can buy organic food in the store, but it's not necessarily high quality if it's grown in poor soil.
What do you most love to grow?
Tomatoes!!! Homegrown tomatoes are sublime! A local band puts it best in their signature song: "Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes, everybody loves their homegrown tomatoes... only two things that money can't buy, and that is true love and homegrown tomatoes."
If you have children, what role do they play in your gardening?
A huge role! We homeschool them, and they play an important part in our homestead. (My six year old daughter is a joy and big help assisting with goat births).
They help to plant, sow seeds, weed, harvest and eat our produce. I love to see them grazing in the garden: pick raw kale and stuff it it in the mouth, pull a carrot from the soil, pour some water over it to wash it, and eat it right there, forage for peas as a snack...
Can you share one or two of your favorite gardening tips?
Plant in raised beds when you can. The soil warms up faster in spring, drains better, and helps roots grow nice and deep.
Don't till the soil if you can help it - it destroys soil structure and microbial life. I do my whole garden with a broadfork (I have a video on youtube on how and why to use a broadfork).
Amend the soil with compost and cover the soil in winter with a green manure crop. It does wonders for it, like a nice, cozy blanket that builds fertility and soil structure.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your garden?
I love flowers, and although I grow lots of perennials and Old English roses in different flower beds around our homestead, I do incorporate annual flowers in my veggie garden, because they are pretty and attract pollinators. Plus, they reseed themselves every year (calendula, borage, poppies).
Can you tell us about yourself?
Corina Sahlin homesteads on five acres at the edge of the wilderness near the Cascade Mountains, where she grows a lot of organic food. Together with her husband Steve, she raises goats, pigs, ducks, chickens, an adorable puppy, and a gaggle of three children, whom they homeschool. Corina was born and raised in Germany, is an artisan cheesemaker, writer, transformative life coach, obsessive-compulsive knitter, and teacher of homesteading skills. She teaches and inspires people to live simpler, more wholesome and sustainable lives in her online courses, as well as on her homestead. Together with her husband, she teaches wilderness and homesteading skills to children and adults. You can find Corina and her work on her website, instagram and you tube among other places!
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Thank you, Corina, for sharing your garden!
(If you'd like to share your garden with us this season, send me an email for more details. We'd love to visit!)