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Marshouse

This property is a never-ending exploration of the intersection of management, wildness, and beauty. The overarching goal is to provide as much wildlife habitat as possible and do the least harm in making it a place of comfort and beauty for people. It embodies the principles of Two Thirds for the Birds: at least two thirds native plants, and no pesticides.

Just this year we considerably expanded the deer exclusion area with a new fence. This allowed for the addition of many new gardens that are still in the process of being planted. This journey is ongoing and adaptive as we continue to experiment with plants and planting schemes that provide maximum ecosystem services with minimum resources.

In all the plantings, now and future, we will be experimenting with “plants as mulch” ie leave little to no room between plants so that weeds are out paced without the use of growth inhibiting mulches. Over time, we will try out every native ground cover and filler type plant we can find to explore the best options for plant combinations that look great and require minimal care. 

The Fireplace Meadow is a meadow with a large percentage of flowers, and the Hut Beds are borders with a large percentage of grasses. The eastern Hut Bed is entirely new and was planted in seed earlier this year to cycle through latent weed seeds and have some fun with annuals and to minimize concerns about damage done by the construction of the HortHut, starting soon. 

We are constantly exploring ways to “close the loop” on this ecosystem by keeping all the biomass it produces and feeding it back to the land and avoiding foreign inputs. What better food than the food it made for itself? 

For example, throughout the property, we have built hugels, and as they break down, they get planted and raked out until they are totally incorporated into a new planting area. Elijah’s Hugel (by the tea table) has been seeded with a pollinator/nitrogen fixing mix in preparation for becoming a fern-based garden next year. 

Each year, the compost we create is used to make new beds and to spread on the existing beds that need higher levels of organic matter. The vegetable garden is the only area that is “extractive” ie we take more than we return, so it has been getting enhanced with imported manure, but now we are experimenting with kelp. This fall we plan to start our own kelp farm in the harbor which ideally will provide a home-grown source of nitrogen.

Nearby is the salt marsh, which is a highly sensitive and complex ecosystem. Our efforts on land will help to protect and ensure its resiliency in the face of climate change and sea level rise.