For the love of carrots

Garden crafting has been on my mind a lot in the last month. I’ve watched my own garden struggle in its small space, and have been looking for other sunny areas to expand next year. Crop rotation and more diversity are on my mind. Mother Earth News had an article or two on edible landscapes/estates this year, and the concept really seems like the solution to increase the size of my kitchen garden.

I’ve grown onions along the driveway before, but that was just one year. That was as close as I’ve gotten to having an edible front yard. I replaced the veggies with perennials the next year. My perennials are taking more room, little by little, every year. When we moved here in 1999, my goal was to slowly decrease the amount of yard that needed mowing so that there would be less and less maintenance. Oh, I guess the chives count as both perennial and herb.

After I read about edible landscaping, my kids began wood carving class. While shopping for supplies at the Woodsmith Store, I HAD to walk through the garden section. I RESCUED transplants for “I” of GAIN’s long-dreamed of herb garden, Thai basil,.and tomato plants from ending their lives prematurely. I had no idea where to put them, so I took only a few plants, but I had to do my part and keep them from perishing in their pots. I also noticed that the end of June meant that all of my town’s HyVee Garden Centers were closing out merchandise in order to be gone in a couple weeks. I freed a couple heirloom tomatoes and 4 sweet potato transplants from their plastic pot confines for $1.50 total.

But where to put all those plants? Some of them ended up along the driveway. I’m thinking that this is a handy spot because I can walk out there and not worry about getting muddy feet. The rest were squeezed into the current kitchen garden.

I just finished Suddenly Frugal, by Leah Ingram. The section on ‘lasagna gardening’ looked like it would be a good way to transition into 2011’s garden, while giving me a peek this year as to what the yard will look like. For a lasagna garden, you begin a season (or growing year) before you plant, by putting down damp newspaper, followed by layers of green and brown material. These layers (the lasagna) mellow and you get a nice planting bed once spring arrives. The plot is laid out before plants go in so you can visualize the space. “I” doesn’t like change at all, so this is very good for us.

Here are my first photos of a small bed near her flower garden. It will be used for carrots, the only vegetable that she can stand to have there. Not that she eats carrots, but she likes the ferny leaves to play in. Yes, she is a kinesthetic/tactile child.

First, we laid newspaper on the ground, then added compost from our pile in the back yard. We didn’t used to filter out sticks in the early days. We leave them out now, because they get in the way when we’re retrieving compost from the pile. But we’re not keeping out the pine cones. Pine cones will never be totally excluded from the pile because there are too many of them in the trees above to control their input.

I had to take a break after this layer was down. I had to visit a nearby Starbucks. Thank you, Suddenly Frugal for this tip. I knew from an area homeschool momma that businesses might give you their grounds to use in the garden, but the book put Starbucks on my radar. Starbucks recycles their coffee grounds.

This is the bag I was given. It was heavy. Yay for the double sacking.

And it’s label was a nice touch.

Typically, the grounds are scooped into silver 5 pound bullet bags and deposited in a bucket near the front door. Calling a few different Starbucks locations showed me that every store handles grounds distribution differently.

“I” had fun with these coffee ground pellets.

Here is layer of coffee grounds on top of the composted material. I’ll repeat as needed. Yay for an unflipped photo!

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