our gardens

finding purpose, breaking ground

In January 2013, Ryan and I were newlyweds….moving back in with the folks. For how long, we were not sure. We had made the gutsy choice to pack our bags and chase the unknown. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith, sacrifice a little sanity, and believe your dreams will work out.

We had been living in Massachusetts for the past three years while Ryan busted his hump to get his Masters degree in Landscape Architecture. After living in the south for 13 years, I was a little tickled by the situation of living in MA. I am one of those strange snow loving people (I did grow up in North Dakota after all). We did have a lot of fun while in New England…heck, Ryan even proposed to me on Cape Elizabeth! I have some serious love for Maine… gorgeous and delicious.


After graduating from UMASS, Ryan was offered a position in the Boston area, so we packed up and made another quick move. Six months, one wedding (ours), and countless hours stuck in traffic later, we saw an opportunity and jumped for it. Ready or not, we were headed south. Thankfully, I was able to transfer jobs, but Ryan found himself in a terrible market with few openings. So naturally, in-between the endless hours spent reworking his portfolio, job hunting, and interviews, he was in the backyard- gardening. ( I find this particularly adorable because it is the same ‘overgrown’ garden he put his efforts into when he was growing up.)

The first few weeks were mostly about giving the yard a little love and of course, creating compost (we love compost). Thankfully, Ryan’s dad gave us a head start. He’s had a compost pile going for as long as Ryan can remember (must run in the family). We spent time adding as much as we could to it so there would be plenty when we needed it.

With compost stewing, there was nothing left to do but map out and game plan the life we saw for our Knoxville garden.


Noticing a surplus of wood leftover from a tree cut down the year before, we decide to experiment creating a hugelkultur bed. Basically, hugelkultur is a raised garden bed created by digging a trench, filling it with wood (such as large logs), and covering it with soil. We were working on a low budget and were more than happy to use whatever we could get our begging hands on. That being said, digging this trench became the focus of Ryan’s work frustrations.


We then covered it with dirt dug out from the trench and compost that had reached it’s prime. It was just the beginning…


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  • Reply
    Cindy C
    March 1, 2014 at 3:18 pm


    I am looking forward to following the two of you through your adventures. There is nothing like being outside, and you will be canning before you know it.

    Please share some of your favorite recipes.


    • Reply
      this natural dream
      April 2, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      We can’t wait to get our can on. We have some foodie posts coming soon, stay tuned!


  • Reply
    March 1, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    I am new to this whole process and i have to say I find it very interesting. I have never seen anyone use the technique that you guys incorporated in the foundation of a garden. The idea of digging a ditch and placing wood debris, trees etc.. I am curious how this impacted the soil and above all how it impacted the production of the garden.

    I really like where you are going with this blog and I look forward to following you guys.

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