Greetings from our humble garden. It’s early July as I write this and the plants seems to double in size after every good rain. I’m eyeing the hundreds of swelling green tomatoes and I know that life is about to get really busy in the kitchen. We’ve been toiling away at it since April and it’s finally looking lush.
My husband and I started gardening about 10 years ago in our modest suburban backyard with a few raised beds and fruits trees. We read one too many Wendell Berry books and here we are on 65+ acres with an ambitious dream for productive farmstead. We migrated from suburbia to rural life in 2020 and spent last Spring prepping a large area for produce. We dove head first into the world of regenerative ag research, amended the soil, formed fourteen 40’ rows, planted living clover pathways, installed irrigation and direct sowed most of the crops. (ProTip: cancel your gym membership. You won’t need it!)
There were lots of successes, but equally as many failures. Such is gardening. We made notes and consoled ourselves with cover crops and ambitious goals for next year.
Goal #1: Grow What We Eat I sat down and really thought about the dinners we like to eat and what we can grow easily to support those favorite meals. Two particular dishes come to mind. My mom’s beloved Chicken Pot Pie and a tried & true Spicy Pesto Chicken Linguine recipe that my family has been cooking since it first appeared in Bon Apetit magazine circa 2004.
Goal #2: Work Smarter, Not Harder I spent the majority of last year’s summer weeding by hand. Just as the blisters on my thumbs healed up, it would be time to do it all over again. We decided to go full-on black plastic for the next few years just to get the weeds under control. We are aiming to cover the soil whenever possible. If not with plants, then with ground plastic, straw mulch or cover crops. (2024 Goal: a Silage Tarp!)
Goal #3: Clean up the Water Currently, we are on city water, so we installed a small filter on the water faucet in an effort to remove some of the basic chemicals that aren’t beneficial to the plants.
Goal #4: Experiment! I love that gardening is both an art and a science. We’ve designed this year’s garden so that the first 1/3 is tidy rows with symmetry and repetition, where we play with companion planting, succession planting and intercropping. The rest of the garden has been dedicated to a Milpa cover crop from GreenCover.com. We broadcast the seeds about 2 weeks ago and are starting to see some exciting progress.
Some other improvements this year include: our first cool weather Spring garden, row covers, lots of cardboard and wood chips, Florida weaving, flowers, and spraying regularly for pests and disease.
Thanks to the generous guidance of the Build It Up program, this is the best year we’ve had in the garden. This class has provided us with a foundation of information and incredible tools & plants to help make us successful. We are so grateful.