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This year we have been inspired to try suggestions from Cindy Connor’s book, Grow a Sustainable Diet. We have learned some hard lessons a few times that we shouldn’t bring in outside inputs, but when just starting a garden in a new place, that is nearly impossible.
Cindy has some great ideas of planting at least 1/2 the garden in cover crops to build soil, add compost, and have some to eat and save seed. Since this is going to be a permanent kitchen garden until we build our new house, it made sense to get things going. So far this year our garden is about 6,000 square feet. We have plans to expand it slowly each year. This last year we had the pigs and chickens overwinter in this garden area to help fertilize the soil. Now that we have the permanent garden beds established, we’ll be adding compost and manure from this point on.
Here are some pictures of where we are right now. So far things are growing better than last year, and our soil is improving. We have a few more pests this year as we started from scratch, but we are building habitats for good predators and are applying beneficial nematodes to help with future outbreaks.
A few things I’ve learned/want to remember so far:
It’s super important to record when and where you plant. I started out really good, but I haven’t been keeping up with it.
Having kid helpers plant cover crops is fun, but not efficient. Daikon radish seeds spread all over the garden. It has been helpful with our flea beetle outbreak, though.
So here’s a quick walk through about half of the garden. More to come another day and I’ll make sure to share the garden map!
1/2 Row of kale, broccoli, and onions
We are trying to grow einkorn wheat this year
Odd shape around tree stumps is planted with daikon radish and vetch to help improve the soil.
Two full rows of cover crops. Buckwheat, birdsfoot refoil, an a daikon/vetch/rye mix.
We're trying two rows of the 4 sisters planting. Corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers.
Another row of the 4 sisters companion planting. Before this planting, there was buckwheat.
In the tubs along the shipping container, we have peas, swiss chard, and some perennial herbs.
Baby squash and peas peaking out of a tub
West side of garden: potatoes and onions in bed, peas line the entire garden fence
Tomatoes, celery, cilantro
Turnips and sugar beets
Another row of brassicas