Four or five years ago, I purchased two AeroGardens as the Northeast Ohio winter months tend to wear on me, and having green growth and full spectrum light helps my mood (blah). An AeroGarden is a hydroponic indoor garden that can grow certain vegetables, herbs, and flowers. I’ve had the most luck over the years with cherry tomatoes, basil, dill, mint, garlic chives, thyme, and parsley. This year I’ve taken a next step by purchasing two additional AeroGardens – a smaller one for work and a taller one for bigger cherry tomatoes. I also purchased an AeroGarden seed starting kit to do starts for my outdoor gardens this season. Because I get SOOOOOO excited and antsy with spring just around the corner, I’ve already planted some starts (Maybe too soon? Guess my royal Snarkyness will find out), including parsley, Swiss Chard, broccoli, leeks, kohlrabi, and two kinds of kale. And of course Johnny’s Selected Seeds got an order from me this week for spinach, cilantro, lavender, cutting celery, echinacea (which means “hedge hog” in Greek), fennel, and Agribon+ row covers to protect my broccoli and Brussels spouts from those creepy (and hungry) green cabbage fly worms. As indicated by the lavender, echinacea, and fennel, this year I’m adding some medicinal herbs to my primary garden to both make me feel better and attract beneficial insects. I’ll be writing about my “thymely” herb efforts in much more detail in future posts (just love a good gardening pun).
Last year I signed up for GrowVeg.com Garden Planner (“The smart way to plan your garden.”) It was $40 for two years and let’s me play “SimGarden” as much as I want, moving my virtual plants around and adding new ones. I just discovered a feature that publishes one garden plan at a time. The Fenced Back Yard garden plan (which is my primary garden) is located at http://www.growveg.com/garden-plan.aspx?p=312234 and also appears in the Garden Plan links to the right. My goal is to republish every month so everyone can see the current state of my gardens (yes, there are more than one). I will also post plans and pictures each month so each garden’s evolution can be tracked.
As you can see from the pictures below, the fence is laying (or is that lying?) down on the southern side as I’m increasing my garden size from 50’x20′ to 50’x30′ this spring. I will be tilling the new area in March or April (weather permitting) because it’s currently lawn, but not the rest as I’m going no-till as much as possible. Also, in the foreground, you can see the mounds of leaves that I piled up during the fall (thanks to my John Deere lawn sweeper). All these leaves from my lawn (oak and maple mostly) will be used as garden mulch throughout this year.
The plants you see in the garden plan below are those I wintered over. The top of the plan is to the north with a big sugar maple tree to the north west. That means I can’t plant anything that needs full sun in that corner (where the “Vit” corn salad/mache and “Seven Top” turnip greens are currently). I found this out the hard way in 2011 when I planted corn and cucumbers over there and they grew poorly (micro corn anyone?).
I spotted a Meetup.com post (in the Beyond Civilization Sustainability Group) for a seed swap Food Not Lawns Cleveland (FNLC) was hosting and couldn’t have been more excited (sad but true). Pictured below are most of the seeds I received, plus some kale and Jerusalem artichokes. With this mother load of genetic material, 2013 will be the first year I will do all my own starts instead of buying them (not that there’s anything wrong with that). FNLC does ask that we produce seeds from these and share them at next year’s swap. Hopefully I get a bumper crop and am able to give back to the cause. This time around I was able to give as well as receive (mustard, kale, corn salad) as I tend to order too many seeds at a time from Johnny’s Selected Seeds (a packet is usually $3.45 and an ounce is $5.25 and since I have to pay shipping anyways . . .).
If you are interested in joining Food Not Lawns Cleveland, their link is http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/foodnotlawnscleveland/
If you are interested in reading the book that inspired the group, check out Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden And Your Neighborhood into a Community