Off the Grid on Wildcat Mountain

The Cabin - Catskills NY

This past week I went to the Catskills to visit my friend John. He’s “off the grid”, meaning no running water, no electric and a wood burning stove. He does have a propane tank he uses occasionally for the stove – he can’t live without pasta! John also has a generator he uses for power tools – it’s a necessity because he’s building a four quadrant garden on top of the mountain, next to his cabin.  Matt, our friend Russ and myself, visited John at the cabin for a work weekend. Our intention was to finish bed number three.

I was ready to take a break from the city and get my hands dirty – very dirty.  I can’t tell you how much fun manual labor can be! Add some beers into the mix and cook-outs over the fire at night and I’m lovin life. The adventure begins…

Catskills NY

Our first day John showed us around the garden. He pulled this carrot right out of the ground for me to munch on. “Some vegetables grow better than others up here, I plant what works” John explained.

Root Beer

Pictured above is yellow birch, the roots smell (and taste) like root beer. This native tree is used for drink flavorings and ice cream floats – yum!

Catskills NY - off the grid

Getting started – the before picture of the third planting bed.

Raking out rocks

Once all the weeds were removed, the next step was to rake out rocks. The soil was filled with them and under the dirt (about 8 inches) was solid bedrock. Stone racking seemed never ending – a drink break was required…

Drinks - Catskills NY

John and I decided to make flower arrangements during our break using the native flowers around John’s property. We wanted to brighten up the cabin!

Catskills NY

With the third bed cleared we were now waiting on the compost delivery. It was scheduled to arrive the day before but never did. After reaching the delivery man’s wife on the phone we were hopeful it was on the way. In the meantime, we  started de-weeding bed number four. Below are the before and after photos.

Catskills NY

Catskills NY

We all agreed showers were needed so we went to the local watering hole – part of the Neversink River. John warned us the water would be cold….

Catskills NY

It was very cold, but the alternative was to spend the rest of the night covered in dirt. After the initial shock, it felt amazing to rinse off – it was a long hot sweaty day after all.

The thirteen ton delivery of compost arrived early Sunday morning and the shoveling commenced…

Catskills NY

Luck was on our side, after three loads, John’s neighbor RJ offered to give us a hand….

Catskills NY

Hardcore, thanks RJ!

Catskills NY

After a long day of removing weeds, stones and shoveling shite, we were ready for dinner. We used cilantro and osmin purple basil from the garden for the salad.

Catskills NY

John’s Mother Mary who arrived on Sunday, brought this delicious local trout! We cooked up a bunch of food over the fire and spent the rest of the evening hanging out under the stars.

The following day we finished planting bed three. Matt spent a considerable amount of time building the raised bed walls with the stones we dug up the prior day. The process was similar to solving a puzzle. Without stone working tools, Matt needed to find the right fit, so the wall was sturdy and solid.

Catskills NY

The final step was to rack out the compost…

Catskills NY

Planting bed three completed by Monday. The work was worth the reward!

We’re thinking about another trip in the fall to work on the final planting bed. The fall foliage will be spectacular by October. Interested parties welcome!




tagged in gardening