Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow?

0.25 acre is all I've got. 95% of it is dense shade. The 5% with full sun is jammed pack with edibles. Sometimes I step into my yard, look up at our mature maples, and daydream of a time when our half-dead grass is replaced with lush vines and stalks. I know, I know--it's environmental blasphemy to wish for the early demise of our trees. But just look at the Dervaes family's front yard in Pasadena and tell me honestly that you aren't drooling, too!

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?

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