Do you garden? We have a growing garden that primarily grows food for our family. Here are the goals I hope to accomplish related to our regenerative garden in the coming six months.
Each year, I’ve made our garden a little bigger. Although the previous owners created the fenced in space and left four raised beds, I’ve added several new raised beds, a couple of trees (that will hopefully be the beginning of a little orchard), and some additional berry bushes to better utilize the space.
Most of the additions require some initial financial investment in plant cages or supports, additional soil, or otherwise. Thus, I’ve tried to space out the improvements so I’m not spending a ton of money all at once.
Gardening is also a labor of learning. If you’re planning to build a garden, don’t be fooled by those who have giant and complex gardens. They didn’t start there! I’m taking my time to grow our garden a little each year as I slowly become more fluent in the language of our growing our own food.
Our Honest Garden Goals for 2020
This year, I have all sorts of visions about what I hope to do with the garden. Some of my “big visions” will take several years to realize. (I’m looking at you ducks or chickens…) However, here are my goals for our garden this year.
Set Up Our Garden To Grow Year Round
I’m not exactly sure what this looks like, but I know I want to extend the growing season in our yard. I have a lot to learn about growing late season crops like lettuces, root vegetables, and garlic, some of which can even overwinter.
Last year, I ran into a bit of gardening fatigue by the fall and decided not to do fall or overwintering beds. I got a bit of a late start to the garden this year as a result of the COVID-19 delays and such, so I’m (currently) feeling motivated to make the most of a longer season if I can. Ask me how I feel in October. 🙂
Add A Greenhouse
Related to year round gardening goals, I’d like to invest in a greenhouse. I want to be able to start my seedlings much earlier and grow from a variety of organic and heirloom seeds. I’ve got my sights set on something like this greenhouse.
More Native Plants
I don’t know much about native plants yet, in terms of what is native to our local area. So far, I’ve spent most of my time learning about growing fruits and vegetables. I’m hoping to incorporate more native plants into our garden and our yard starting this year, and it will be a process we continue over many years.
Start An Orchard
We have lots of annual vegetables plants and a few fruit bushes. Blackberries and raspberries have been thriving in our garden the last few years. We have a peach tree that is doing alright but still finding it’s place in our garden (thanks to crows that have been eating all the peaches before they ripen).
This year, I purchased a blueberry bush, an apple tree, and two pawpaw trees. Blueberry bushes require fairly acidic soil, so I’m a little nervous about how well this will do, but we’ll see. The pawpaw trees are native to North America and create a fruit that is a bit like a cross between a banana and a mango. I’m really excited to see if we can grow these. I’ve heard rumblings that they are growing in popularity and might be trendy in a few years. Wouldn’t that be novel to be on the front end of a fruit trend? I’m not on the front end of any trend (except maybe this one).
Unlike vegetable gardens, orchards are (of course) perennial, so they contribute to a permaculture environment that helps protect soil and provide habitat for so many living things throughout the year. If you’re thinking about starting a garden, don’t forget about the perennial plants that you don’t have to start from scratch every year. Not only are they good for the eco-system but they are easier on us often times as well. You just have to be patient because they often take a few years to settle in and produce fruit.
Garden More Intensively
Intensive gardening is the practice of growing plants more closely together than the packages might otherwise recommend. It works best when plants are paired together in meaningful ways, like The Three Sisters, and not just crammed together with abandon.
The Three Sisters are beans, corn, and squash. They are a trio of crops planted together (and a practice borrowed from Indigenous expertise) because they grow well together. The corn grows tall and acts as a support for the beans. The squash grows wide and low to protect the soil. The beans draw nitrogen from the air and replenish nitrogen in the soil that is used by plants (like squash and corn) to grow and flourish.
Intensive gardening also allows me to grow more food in a fixed amount of space. This idea has been around for a while, so I’m just following habits of much more experienced gardeners. While the name isn’t necessarily connected to more intensive labor, I expect more plants will require a bit more work and (fingers crossed) more harvesting of delicious and nutritious food.
So far, I mixed sunflowers with raspberries, tomato plants with marigolds and herbs (for our pizza garden), and strawberries with beans. I also plan to mix squash, cucumbers, and zucchini on a squash arch that I ordered last week (and am so excited to put up). I haven’t used vertical space all that well yet, and this squash arch will be my first foray into true vertical gardening.
Donate Excess Food To Our Local Food Bank
Last year, we planted less than I will plant this year and still ended up with more food than we could eat. This year, to the extent we have more food than we can eat, I plan to drop it at our local food bank. Food banks can almost always use fresh produce donations, but as of late, the need is greater than ever. Hopefully, my green thumb will produce with abundance, so we can be frequent visitors with a basket of food to share with our neighbors in need.
Do you have a garden (big or small)? What are your garden goals for this year? Even if it’s just one or two small pots, tell me all about what your growing this season!