“I have a dream today.” ~ Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

I know exactly how that feels. My dream may be on a smaller scale, but it’s a big one for me. I want to be self-sufficient and eat off of my own land.

Even in suburbia, I know I can make it happen if I’m resourceful enough. I originally wanted to grow vegetables, but it has turned into so much more. Herbs, fruit bushes, and medicinal plants have already started making their way into my landscape, but the standard veggie garden wasn’t in the master plan until this year (though it was in my plan for a couple of years).

It has turned into my Mt. Everest. Intimidating and very difficult to prepare for.

I can ferment food and drink, make my own household and personal cleaning products, homeschool, cook all our meals from scratch, and offer witch doctor advice to those in need. A simple veggie garden? Kryptonite.

I find it hilarious and slightly disturbing at the same time. This is the first year I have been able to make it happen and cannot contain my excitement over growing my own food and sharing it all with my daughter Katie. She will be four next month and is the perfect age to help and enjoy the experience. What a great way to kick off our homeschooling journey!

I bought heirloom seeds early last year from Seed Savers Exchange when I originally planned to start the garden. The non-profit company is dedicated to propagating and sharing heirloom seeds with a very impressive community of gardeners/farmers, and I love that they give the history behind many seeds.

I adore descriptions like “Roy’s Calais Flint Corn: (Zea Mays) Heirloom flint corn originally from the western Abenaki (Sokoki) people of Vermont. Subsequently grown by local farmers Roy and Ruth Fair of North Calais, VT.” How cool is that?

So this year’s garden plan revolved around the seeds that have been patiently waiting to sprout for over a year now. The clover and celery are the only two not part of the original garden plan. The clover will be transplanted from the lawn and the celery will come from cuttings (another homeschool lesson). Here’s how the celery should work.

Garden Plan

garden planclick on picture to enlarge

I organized my beds based on companion planting guides and some great advice from my friend Dorothy who is a whiz at gardening. She blogs over at Life With Boys.

I will mainly follow the square foot gardening technique. The beds are 4 ft x 8 ft x 12 in. and run north to south to maximize sun exposure. We’re getting started super late, so I think most of our harvest will end up being late August through the early fall.

In the meantime, I plan on utilizing our farmers’ markets over the summer and preserving our produce for winter by freezing, fermenting, and dehydrating much of it. Make the best of a less than ideal situation, right? I really don’t mind. I’m just happy to have a working garden. I am trying to keep my expectations low and use the first couple of years as a learning experience.

My ultimate goal is to grow at least 70% of our produce in five years. Currently, I have an herb garden and blueberry bushes that we started last year. The herb garden is growing like gangbusters, but the blueberry bushes won’t produce for another year or two.

I’d like to add an apple tree, elderberries, and raspberries to our landscape but will probably extend that list further as I learn what we can actually grow and rethink the yard plan.

My long-term plan is down with the lawn! I’d like to completely replace it in the front with flowering perennials, herbs, and decorative grasses (and maybe some vegetable plants tucked in here and there like a squash trellis and whatever else looks nice and strikes my fancy).

Three 4 x 8 x 12 raised beds made from untreated Home Depot wood

The ground is now tilled, and I will empty my compost pile and bags of organic peat moss into the beds to mix with the soil this week. More to come as soon as the seeds are planted.

Have you planted a garden this year? Any future plans for growing food on your property?

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