Wes and Cyndi prepare for visitors at the Gladwin Master Gardener Garden Tour on July 20.

We have always enjoyed attending farm and garden tours. Whenever the opportunity arose, we would sign up to participate in the tour, seeing new practices and experiencing new ideas.

Now it is our turn to host one of the stops on an upcoming garden tour. The Gladwin County Master Gardeners and the Chamber of Commerce are sponsoring their sixth annual garden tour this Saturday, July 20. The local garden tour will showcase flower and vegetable gardens and beautiful landscaping throughout the northern Gladwin County area.

We will welcome you to our Farm, Villa de la Cyanocitta cristata, (translates to “Home to the Blue Jay”). We purchased this property when we moved here from Virginia in February 2010. After retiring from careers as agronomists at Virginia Tech University we knew we would continue experimenting in our own garden and orchard.

Several items of interest to gardeners and produce growers will be highlighted; including our deer fence, drip irrigation and intensive planting system.

As soon as the soil warmed after our first winter here, we planted a small family garden and orchard. However, surrounded by woods, we observed a potential deer problem. In Virginia we had many years of research with deer fencing protecting high dollar crops like pumpkins, collards, and peanuts. We also conducted many forage experiments and the deer had to be controlled for any useful data to be collected.

Our deer fence is electric and works on the principle that deer lack depth perception. There are two poly tape fences three feet apart. As a deer approaches the outer fence it stops to contemplate distance between fences before jumping. They either sense the electric or receive a shock and quickly change their mind about entering the garden.

Our second concern was the very sandy, droughty soil. We decided to install a drip irrigation system. The drip system does not require a huge source of water and is something we could install ourselves.

We started selling produce at the Gladwin Farmers’ Market in 2011. The market was located in the parking lot behind the present day market pavilion on State Street. Last year Gladwin City built a market pavilion and we decided to expand our operation. We also sell at the Houghton Lake Farmers’ Market on Fridays.

This year we will market sugar snap peas, rhubarb, radish, spinach, Swiss chard, Romaine, mixed greens, cabbage, potatoes, snap beans, wax beans, tomatoes, summer squash, fall squash, zucchini, and cucumbers. In the future we hope to include fruit in our inventory as our young trees mature and begin to produce. We also specialize in honey and maple syrup. Our bees not only make honey but also are invaluable pollinators. We tap 100 maple trees and evaporate and bottle our own maple syrup.

The Garden Tour is also a means of raising funds for the Master Gardeners. A ticket allows access to all eight stops and cost $8 prior to the tour date or $10 the day of the tour. Tickets are available at Chemical Bank in Beaverton and Gladwin, Flower Scents, Lyle’s Flowers, Stone Cottage Gardens, Chamber of Commerce, Sugar Springs POA Office, and Lakeside Golf Course. For garden tour information, please call 989-429-9639 or 989-426-5220.