I have completely failed to embrace the shade. Or our relatively short growing season.
Cramming everything I want to grow into our limited space is a test in geometry that I seem to get a C+ on every year. I've tried square foot gardening, row gardening and container gardening. There is usually enough produce to have a few meals of homemade happiness each week, but not enough to preserve for the off season. And to my daughter's dismay, not enough room to grow corn. I need to perfect my layout considering that my backyard farm is the most local food I can get.
While I try to keep my farming methods as organic as possible, there are times where I find myself utterly powerless to the woo of the non-organic seed racks and plantlings in the local garden center. However, I try to order as much as I can from Seed Savers Exchange. Not only is their variety of heirlooms unbeatable, but they are based in Decorah, Iowa (zone 4) which has a similar plant hardiness zone to Crystal Lake, IL (zone 5A). I can usually trust that if a seed performs well in their garden, it will in mine as well.
This year my garden features the following Seed Savers varieties:
Golden Sweet Peas (I grew these last year and they were a great performer. Yummy stir fry!)
200 mile road trip to Seed Savers' Heritage Farm anyone?