I’m an eclectic guy, and my gardening techniques reflect that. I have permaculture inspired guilds in the orchard, I have bio-intensive organic vegetable gardens that are managed using Coleman’s 4 Season techniques. I also have native landscaping with prairie plantings in the rain gardens and several island beds. But take it all together, and its a mix no matter how well it flows. Last year I settled on a term from my youth – I am a Yardener.
For better or worse, I am currently entrusted with just shy of .5 acres (.2 ha) and in the 4+ years that I have written this blog I have chronicled the process of taking it from a denuded wasteland to the budding Garden of Eatin that it is today. This year I will have many plans, but one that I am committed to is to grow as much food as I can in the yard – with a goal of 2000#s (907 kg) in 12 months. That is gonna take some doing as the fruit trees have years until they hit peak yields, and even with the expanded canning garden total garden space is still under 2000 sq ft (186 sq m) or so. Expected yield with “good” harvests sketch out to 1200-1400#’s (540-635 kg) which is still awesome.
A big component of this yield will be our newly built (last June) Pimped out Garden. At 1100 sq ft it gives us the room to grow serious amounts of food for storage and seasonal eating. I could surely get 2000#’s from this garden alone, but will plan on growing food we eat, rather than cooking the books with huge amounts of cucumbers, roma tomatoes, and potatoes. This garden will also likely get a 12′ hoop house in it late summer, and will have cold frames on it within 8 weeks of this post for early greens. The soil is still weak as over half of it was trucked in last June, but I mixed in plenty of compost and vermicompost along with some green manures and deep mulching before fall and laying the ground work for rich soil ecosystems. Still working through the planting layouts for the year, and need to catalog the seeds remaining from last year and fill holes, but this is all very exciting.
Up hill from the Canning Garden is my permaculture orchard. Complete with 9 trees (Pears, Apples, Peaches, and Paw-Paw) along with well over a dozen fruiting shrubs, a few hardy kiwis, a couple of hazelnuts and a growing understory it is a nutritional force to be reckoned with. to bolster its productivity while it fills in I liberally add annuals like peppers, garlic, and sprawling squash vines (these are actively managed and pruned to avoid crowding). This year will also see the planting of 7 more fruit trees (another apple, a cherry, apricots, and 3 plums) and we planted 4 nut trees (from seed) for a protein/fat producing overstory (in a decade or so!) of chestnuts and hickory/pecan hybrids. The fences will also be drafted into duty as a vineyard with a dozen grape cultivars for table eating and perhaps even wine. In 5 years of so, the orchard will likely out produce the canning garden, and in a decade it certainly will – heck the kiwis could be up to 200#’s themselves!
Pretty sure I made this word up tonight (the Google can’t find it), but I prefer it to the slightly less obscure “yardavore”. This is geeky, but -vore typically denotes an eating behavior that is by nature, where “-tarian” usually denotes an eating behavior of choice (herbivore v. vegetarian). I also like this contrast with Localvore, which has been our “nature” historically, and yarditarian which is more a factor of choice and privilege. Regardless, if one is gonna slap it on the table and try to grow 2000#s of food in one year from one’s yard, it goes without saying that we will be eating a significant amount of our food from our yard. From March’s first French Sorrel and cold frame spinach leaves to the final stored potatoes and onions of the following March this will be an outstanding journey as we work to eat our bounty, working through the logistics of harvesting, preparing, storing, and sharing the produce from even this 10% of our yard. I am not pretending to try to eat *exclusively* from my yard; self sufficiency is not, and never will be, my goal. But adding 2000#’s of food to my family’s diet will add a significant amount of resiliency to our food supply while also teaching my children and myself incredibly valuable lessons about what is possible on so small a plot of land.
Should be a great year!