Monday, March 3, 2014


"I want it all, the whole far-flung earth and everything in it. I want streams and hills, rivers and seas, mountains and pastures. I want a whole, happy earth. And when I'm not being overly ambitious about my environmental desires, I also want a garden with a little bit of everything in it. These two desires are not unconnected: my happy earth will, in part (and no small part), be achieved by my ability to grow a large percentage of my food in my garden, in a way that does not devour resources."

These are poetic words from Alys Fowler's new book The Edible Garden, How to Have your Garden and Eat it, too. - aka our gardening guidebook - as we embark on what will (hopefully) be our most successful garden-growing year yet. I say that with a smirk because our philosophy for the garden last year was "if it doesn't grow there it doesn't go there" and we were adamant about not "wasting" water on the garden and simply letting nature do her thing.  Well, that's precisely what she did and her thing was crusty, and dry, and bug-laden sooooo this year we have renewed our spirit when it comes to creating in our own back (but mostly front!) yard.
There are neat tips + tricks we've learned just from skimming the pages of this book. It's written like a love note to her (Alys') existing/developing garden. The care she takes in nurturing it and giving it every fighting chance to survive and thrive is akin to that of a mother and child. Her love for the art of gardening has started a botanic fire in me.
What I've learned so far (in a nutshell):
1. Growing a garden in neat lines and rows is a Victorian-era throwback. I figured it's just what gardener's do but but as Alys describes it planting in drifts can be much more functional and beautiful.
"It's this rule-breaking style that's won my heart. I have set out on a journey to make an art out of supplying my kitchen. I can only guarantee one thing: there will be no straight lines."
2. Gardening isn't just a horizontal venture. Thinking outside the box is only occasionally my strong suite. My eyes are like a child on Christmas morning when thinking about the possibilities of building growth upward and outward with tools like: string, old branches, ladders, thrifted pallets (make sure they're not chemically-treated!) etc. What's more: those upward growing beauties create a space of shade underneath that is a unique environment for a whole other slew of growth!

3. Newcomers aren't limited to what's available at the store. There are certainly a great variety of plants available at any local plant market, but those seeds often come full of limitations. They may have been chemically-treated, unethically raised, damaged, or even labeled F1. The latter, as my husband recently shared, are seeds that grow one season but cannot be grown again from the seeds they then produce. More about that here. Heirloom seeds are a good way to go, too, if you want to save your own seeds and replant them year-after-year. Alys speaks to responsible foraging for plants which has my attention. We tried a bit of family foraging last year with great success, but never for plant parts before. I'm always down for a brand new adventure!

photos summer 2012, Dayr

What unique gardening tips are you implementing this year? I'd love to hear from my readers any other yard tricks we can incorporate. Spread the love and the knowledge! 
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  2. I'm growing up! Super excited too because when harvesting comes it means less backache. Great post.


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