All photographs by Jane Grueber Copyright 2017
Here we go. Finally the time has come to get our food garden plans underway on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. It is so wonderful to see people sharing their joy of growing food on social media. Their joy and enthusiasm are highly contagious and fill me with inspiration for 2017. I am inspired by the principles of Permaculture (being fully aware that it is so much more than ‘gardening’) and appreciate Geoff Lawton’s inclusive invitation to his Permaculture Circle to those who are just starting out or perma-curious as well as those for whom it’s old hat.
Last year, we started growing our own food in our back and side yard for fun. It was a way to show our three kids where food comes from and how to grow it. After seeing and tasting the results of what benign neglect in a garden can produce, I was eager to grow more of our own. Our front lawn has a usable area of about 360 square feet (9 feet by 40 feet). We have planted fruit shrubs among the existing decorative bushes and trees and it is now time to turn the grass into a vegetable garden.
Read more about our Front Yard Urban Garden Project here.
This year, we have decided to conduct an experiment in our very sunny front yard which has thus far been a haven for weeds, dandelions and moss. The plan is to set up garden beds using compost, yard ‘waste’ and mulch to grow vegetables, herbs and companion plants in semi-accordance with Permaculture principles that I have managed to glean from various sources.
On a side note, our fenced backyard is well on its way to becoming a self-sustaining fruit forest (tall native fruit trees, native fruit shrubs underneath, perennial herbs and flowers, etc.) where the deer and bears can’t get at them while still affording some room for three young kids to roam.
Read more about inspiring examples of Urban Agriculture here.
At the end of this experiment, I want to be able to answer the following questions:
- How much produce can a roughly 360 square foot garden yield?
- Can a front yard garden feed a family of 5 for an entire 22 week growing season and beyond?
- Can we grow enough food to share with others?
- Can growing our own save us money overall?
- Can we set up a viable (and deer proof) garden with minimal investment of time and money?
- Is the effort to grow our own food worth it? (or is it just easier to go to a store and buy)
- Can we help other busy families and neighbours set up and grow their own food with minimal cost through sharing of resources, seeds, and skills?
Read more about Creating Food Security in your small circle here.
With six 8 foot by 4 foot garden beds to fill (to be built), we decided to start a few plants in the house now. We will start more in about 3 weeks in order to stretch the yield over a longer period of time. Last year, I put everything in at once and felt the consequences of feast and famine later.
My hope is that once the weather gets warmer in April, these seedling will be ready to go.
We also have plenty of seeds saved from last year which will go directly into the ground.
This is what we planted so far:
18 tomato plants
- Money Maker Tomato – heavy producer
- Bush Beef Steak Tomato – great slicing tomato; sweet flavour
- Cherry Tomato Sweetie – plants produce sweet (1 oz) cherry red fruit throughout the summer
- Jubilee Tomato – in intermediate beefsteak variety that produces golden-orange fruit 1/2 lbs in weight
- Waltham Butternut Squash – a very heavy producer of bulbous shaped, creamy yellow smooth skinned fruit
- Golden Zucchini (C. Pepo)
- Yokohama Squash (C. Moschata)
- Dark Green Zucchini – easy to grow, plants mature quickly, heavy yield
- Spaghetti Squash – winter or storage squash
- Ronde De Nice Zucchini (C. Pepo)
- Beit Alpha Cucumber
- Sugar Baby Watermelon – a dependable, easy-to-grow variety that produces round, sweet, crisp melons.
3 Giant Atlantic Dill Pumpkins – produces pumpkins over 3 feet across weighing over 100 lbs
- Single Tall Climbing nasturtium
- Alaska Mix – dwarf nasturtium with marbled foliage
- Empress of India
- Oregon Sugar Pod – Mild, sweet flavour, heavy yield
- Lincoln Homesteader Peas – good early crop, heavy yield
- Tendergreen Bush Beans – great flavour and large yield
- Bush Beans – early starters