How does your garden grow?
Within two years, the garden was producing more strawberries and tomatoes than we could eat, an annual feast that now includes lettuce, spinach, leeks, scallions, onions, carrots, potatoes, celery root and rhubarb. Garlic is our new obsession, and the scapes—the “flower stalks of hard neck garlic plants”—make an amazing pesto. We grow lots of herbs, and bee balm and coneflowers to attract pollinators. Valerian and amaranthus add dramatic shapes and color, and a small tree nursery is dedicated to propagating fringe trees (Chionanthus virginicus), a beautiful flowering native.
Our personal choice to embrace organic practices has made our garden much less expensive to grow, easier to maintain and infinitely healthier to eat—in short, sustainable. And sustainability in the microcosm of my own back yard translates to a bigger picture; if every home gardener followed organic practices, we could significantly reduce toxins in our water and soil, reduce the demand for petroleum-derived chemical fertilizers and reduce the carbon footprint of the manufacture and transportation of those chemical products. That would be a collective personal choice with global environmental significance.
Our go-to reference is Eliot Coleman’s book “The New Organic Gardener.” Fedco (www.fedcoseeds.com) is a great supplier of organic, non-GMO seeds, and Fertrell (www.fertrell.com) has a range of organic soil amendments.