This is the third blog post in an alphabetically organized introduction to homesteading. It covers ideas for starting an edible landscape on your homestead including: soil improvement, cover crops, perennials, attracting beneficial insects, and home-based food production.
Now, 4 years into growing much of the produce we eat, I realize that garden farming connects me even more deeply than I had imagined to the earth, the life cycle, my body and food. It is also more difficult not only physically, but mentally as well. Had I known more from the start, no doubt it would have been easier and more effective. It is in this spirit that I am sharing some of what I’ve learned.
It’s a common misconception in the home gardening arena that asparagus is a crop that should never be started from seed. I am not sure when this became the standard dogma, but it is far from the actual truth. Asparagus is a crop that thrives when started from seed and those plants that are derived from home-grown stock tend to be larger and more robust than store-bought crowns. Growing asparagus from seed is a rewarding experience that is easier than you think.
In spring, we plant several crops into hay mulch to help control weeds, including reducing the "weed seed bank". Few weeds other than perennial grasses will come up through a 4-inch layer of hay. Mulches of natural materials keep the soil damper, which can mean higher yields and less need to water. This method is quick and easy, and more effective than mulching around the plants after transplanting.
There is nothing like growing your own veggies and canning the excess. A good place to start your search is your local farmer’s market. Ask one of the veggie farmers if you can come out and help on their farm and see where it goes from there. All it takes is a couple hours every week or two to learn the basics.
It was becoming pretty obvious the crowding and lack of light were real limitations to my mini garden. Then, the idea of a trough on the windowsill came to mind, combining a way to water all the plants uniformly and efficiently all at once. Great, now how to make this trough? Wood? Sheet metal? The choices all seemed expensive, clumsy, prone to leaking...then the light bulb went on in my head: gutters!
Des Moines, Iowa, gardeners may soon find themselves in hot water with their City. A local resident recently took front yard veggie growers to task for what the resident feels to be unsightly lawn growth. Beets and berries, it seems, do not have the same aesthetic appeal as a green, freshly-mowed front lawn.
Heirloom vegetables are multi-use crops that have been passed down from gardeners for decades, sometimes centuries. Respected author and gardener, William Woys Weaver, discusses his reasons for using heirloom plants and saving seed.