Updated: Mar 3
We downsized over 10 years ago to a home that had a larger yard and a smaller interior. This allowed me to spend more time outdoors where I feel more alive. We transformed the barren yard by first bringing in rich compost to layer into no-till beds over the existing lawn. We then begin to plant all sorts of fruiting trees, shrubs, and vines, as well as many varieties of herbs, berries, vegetables, and flowers.
My four raised beds are where I grow the majority of my edible annual food crops. There are brittle summer bean vines on the large arch trellises now. It is easier to pull them when thoroughly dry, and I will leave them to compost in place, right in the raised beds. The decaying matter will protectively cover the soil through the winter.
I have large woody compost pile, and turn it occasionally so that air and moisture is mixed in, and decomposition is hastened. This is one of my favorite garden activities for in it I am constantly in awe of the power of life coming from death. I weave the garden's care into my day so that it doesn't become overwhelming, and I embrace that care as a gift. My body must move and bend and adapt to its demands, and the garden strengthens it.
It's time to harvest all the lettuce, which is the least freeze tolerant of all the fall vegetable crops. All this winter lettuce was sown by seed about two months ago, intermixed with scallions, arugula, mustards, kales, carrots. and all sorts of other crops. I like to pull carrots while they're still small and tender, so they'll work well in my salad. Harvesting the watermelon radish is always so fun. I never know what size they will be, and it feels like a treasure hunt. One of my favorite garden tools is just a blunt steak knife as it works well in my hand for trimming the vegetables while I harvest and I leave the trimmings to compost in place. Arugula is one of my very favorite garden crops for fall as it grows so easily from seeds sown right into the garden and is a must have in a salad.
Violas are like pansies but smaller and seem to flower more, so I grow a lot of them throughout my garden spaces. Once planted in fall, they will grow over winter nicely and be there again in the spring. They're fully edible and I love incorporating them into many dishes and baked goods. Children particularly love to pull off their delicate petals and eat them fresh right from the garden. What a whimsical thing edible flowers are!
One of my favorite winter crops is red giant mustard, easily grown from seed directly sown in the fall garden. It is used extensively by landscapers for its striking color. It will create a stunning display right in your front yard edible landscaping. It is perhaps the most nutritious leaf vegetable that you can eat, so I always keep a stash of fresh chopped leaves in the fridge to sprinkle over bowls and soups. It is too spicy for most to eat in a salad, but it works well this way and is lovely added to rice or pasta as it will let off some of its purple color as it. Scallions are another staple of the fall garden that are a beginner friendly crop. I like to keep these handy in the fridge to add to all sorts of dishes, and of course to sprinkle over a salad.
Let me hear from you in the comments. What questions do you have about a garden centered life? Are you living grounded?