One of the many winding paths that our zero waste exploration has led us down is the question of our food. Where are we getting it? How far does it travel to reach us? Is it coming from ethical farms and practices? And how can we be better in touch with and connected to our food source?
When we moved into our house together just over a year ago, we knew that one of the big reasons to buy property was that we wanted to garden. Our ideas started out vague, but quickly took shape into visions of berry bushes that provide both privacy and food, ripping out the old garage and lawn and transforming all that wasted space into garden, and starting with a few crops and doing lots of them so that we could learn in this process.
Neither Jesse, nor I have any real garden experience… I had a blip of a week when I was eighteen where I planted a tiny little garden, spent the day weeding it, and then abandoned it to nature as soon as new weeds began to sprout. Needless to say, we’re both in better stages of life to care for a yard full of responsibility now. In fact, we *want* the responsibility. There’s a sort of visceral satisfaction that comes from providing for your basic needs in a direct way, and gardening is infinitely more attractive to me than it was ten years ago.
Last summer, we began by tearing down the rotten, slanting garage that filled half of our backyard (related, we also discovered how difficult salvaging wood can be in demo situations). Jesse did a bunch of reading on no-till gardening and wanted to give it a shot, rather than having to rip up all the lawn in our backyard. So going into winter, we covered all the grass with cardboard, and started to daydream about what plants we wanted come spring.
We started off the adventure by having a yard consultation with our friend (and inspiring ecologist) Elizabeth Bekolay. Once we had her suggestions in mind, we headed out to Dieter Martin Greenhouse for the fun part – picking all of our plants!
We ended up opting for a goji berry bush, several haskap bushes, saskatoon berry bushes, rhubarb, a raspberry bush, peppermint plants, potatoes, and sunchokes gifted to us by Jordan and Elizabeth. We also have a bunch of tomato and pepper plants in pots on the deck, and our trying our hand at growing squash from seeds that Jesse has been saving from when we eat squash.
Once we had our plants, the hard work started. We began by pulling off all the cardboard from winter, and laying a layer of manure over the dead grass. No-till meant we didn’t need to rip all the grass out – just re-cover it, and keep it from getting any sunlight.
Once the carboard was re-applied on top of the manure, we cut out holes for the potatoes, and dug down!
Once all the potatoes were snug in their holes, we spread a good layer of mulch – in this case woodchips and pieces – to keep the moisture in, and add an extra layer to keep the grass from getting any light.
We followed a similar method with the berry bushes; cardboard over the soil, dig holes, backfill with some manure and compost, plant bush, cover with mulch (in this case, straw). Now that it’s been a month since we planted, we are *thrilled* with the results. It keeps the moisture in, the weeds down, and our plants are all chugging along happily so far!
Just last week our first potatoes sprouted… one day there were two sprouts, then seven, then ten… it’s a relief to know we didn’t screw them up! So far, this has been a satisfying start to our gardening, and we really can’t wait to learn more as we go. ❤