We have planted extensive vegetable and flower gardens since purchasing the house and property in 1986. We began by immediately planting a large bed of asparagus, followed soon by a small orchard of apple, peach, pear, plum, and apricot trees. Over the years we have experimented with persimmon, almond, nectarine, Asian pear, pecan, and cherry trees, with varied levels of success, discovering that Midwest conditions do not support growing every possible fruit or vegetable. However, we now can consistently grow nearly all the garlic we need for the year as well as much of the tomatoes, onions, carrots, spinach, squash, peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, raspberries, currants, and peaches we eat and serve. We do not use any chemicals on our plants, and instead utilize Permaculture principles, companion planting, and occasionally natural pest control methods. Of course, there are some bugs that are most effectively removed by hand, so we do some of that too. Our yard is interspersed throughout with flower beds, mostly containing perennial flowers.
Our garden and flower beds have steadily grown to encompass approximately one-third of our three-acre yard. Ever since we began integrating permaculture principles into our gardening and lifestyle, all locations on the property have become fair game for raising food. See our permaculture examples page for some photos and discussion of how we apply these principles.
In the mid 90's we built a 4'x8' mini greenhouse that we refer to as the 'solar pod'. This structure has been very useful for extending the growing season. Click here to learn how we use it to grow spinach in February and peppers in November.
We try to utilize as a resource, whatever our yard produces. For example, we use our grass clippings as garden mulch.
We place manure from our chickens
into compost piles that are later used for fertilizer in the garden and flower
beds. We also compost all the weeds from our garden, although lately we have
skipped one step in the composting process by placing the weeds in the paths
between our raised garden beds, then covering the paths with mulch. Over time,
the dead weeds rot, then the next spring the composted weeds are shoveled on top
of the raised beds as fertilizer.
Click on pictures to enlarge