Friday, June 28, 2013

My Organic, Low Carb Garden

I have a garden.  A very lovely garden.  It grows all kinds of flowers, and it's lush and beautiful.  Bees love my garden, and I have more dragonflies than a marshy swamp.  I spend many hours in my garden, and it brings me great joy.

I bet you think I have a really awesome English cottage garden, or a well planned Japanese garden.  No, not even close.

I have a vegetable garden.

A tiny little backyard vegetable garden, as a matter of fact.  A raised Square Foot Garden.  But it's my pride and joy, and it brings me more happiness than I can describe.

The cool thing about my garden?  It's low carb, and also organic. 

I went to a little trouble this year to plan a low carb garden.  Last year, I planned and planted my garden before I even knew the science behind low carb, so I was growing potatoes and corn, and probably other starchy vegetables that I can't remember now.

Another cool thing about my garden?  It's tiny by most garden standards, but it's able to produce almost all the vegetables Chad and I need through the summer, not to mention many pounds of fruit.

Here's my garden plan, which I made with my favorite garden planner, Gardeners Kitchen Garden Planner.

My garden isn't exactly the same as this picture; I tend to go with the flow and sometimes I can't be bothered to do it exactly like the chart says.  So there are no Brussels sprouts in the bottom right square garden, there are English peas instead of the second row of beans in the top left square garden, and I planted a dwarf tomato in one of the pepper spots.  But it shows pretty well what I did.  In case you can't tell what I've got in there based on those pictures, here's a list:

Bush beans
Pole beans
English peas
Bush zucchini
Vine zucchini
New Zealand Spinach
Loose leaf lettuce
Romain lettuce
Sugar Snap peas
Daikon radishes

And the only thing I have that I have growing that isn't strictly low carb is two small squares of dry beans, which I grew mostly out of curiosity and that I plan on eating slowly.

Organic vegetables can be pretty expensive, which is why I like growing my own.  Plus, I have such a love for nature, that I feel like it's the only way you should be growing vegetables.  I'm not saying it's always easy, but it does have its advantages.  Like, did you know that using pesticides actually increases your pest problem in the long term?  Plus, you can go out into your garden and eat something right off the vine as long as it looks clean (don't eat something with bird poop on it).

 It's too late this year to plant a garden (unless you live in the southern hemisphere), but it's the perfect time to start thinking about what you're going to do next year.  Go spend an afternoon in your yard and pay attention to how the sun falls across different parts of it.  Vegetables need at least 6 hours of full sunlight a day, and they do much better with even more.  But you also have to make it convenient for you to reach and water it, so don't put it as far away from your house as you can.  

If you have poor soil, think about having a raised garden, like mine.   It's more expensive initially, but you don't need to keep amending it every year the way you do with a traditional garden; just a little compost right before you plant.  Plus, its much easier to care for. 

And you don't have to have a traditional row garden, either.  They're a waste of time and space, in my opinion.  I live on 0.1 acre in town, so I try to cram in as many places to plant as I can.  When I'm done planting my raised gardens, I start looking for ways to add more planting space.  I've filled pieces of concrete molds with soil.

Cut-and-come-again leaf lettuce

I've filled 5 gallon buckets with a hole cut in the bottom.

Daikon radish buckets

I've filled window boxes with soil.  And yes, I've even filled cardboard boxes with soil.

Runner beans and pole beans

Vegetables aren't very demanding.  I mean, they are, of course.  They demand lots of sunshine, lots of water, and good rich soil to live in.  But otherwise?  They're happy to care for themselves.  They don't care if they're directly in the ground or in a container.  Of course, you want to give carrots and other large root vegetables like daikon radishes plenty of vertical  space, but even they're pretty forgiving.  I've seen pictures of carrots that bend at a perfect 90 degree angle because they hit the bottom of their container.

And if you're really trying to save money, consider heirloom seeds.  That's all I grow in my garden, with one or two exceptions.  Why?  Partially because I love the heritage and the stories behind those seeds.  Partially because I don't agree with how modern seeds are bred (using inbreeding, harsh chemicals, and sometimes radiation to create mutations).  But I think the biggest thing I like about heirloom seeds is that they're open-pollinated.  That means that they can breed and make seeds, and that you can then collect those seeds, and when you plant them, you'll get the exact same plant as the parents.  With modern plants, there's a good change you're getting a hybrid.  Hybrids either don't produce seeds, produce only sterile seeds, or if they do produce viable seeds, the plants that grow from them aren't the same thing as the parents and are usually far inferior.  

Plus, you get amazing variety with heirloom seeds.  I'm growing purple pole beans, radishes the size of your arm, tiny one pound watermelons, spinach that grows on a vine, white and green carrots, zucchini that grows up a trellis, tomatoes called "hillbilly", and dry beans that have pink pods.  Last year, I grew blue dwarf corn!

Now enough jabbering.  Here's all the rest of my garden pictures!  It's still early in the season for my area, so only the peas are really big right now.

Dwarf blueberry bush, with cute unripe berries

Peppers, kolhrabi, beets, turnips, garlic, dwarf tomato, vining zucchini

Close up of my Purple Top Milan turnip
Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and onions under a bug-proof net

Sugar snap peas, romaine lettuce, carrots, bush beans, and kale I'm letting go to seed

Close up of my Amish Snap sugar snap peas

Pole beans, English peas, onions, and zucchini under bug nets

Cucumbers, tomatoes, dry beans, and New Zealand spinach
My swing, and one of my raspberry brambles

My strawberry box

Some delicious strawberries

Onion and watermelons

My other raspberry bramble

Today's pea harvest

I hope you enjoyed my garden.  Now go out there and start thinking about how to start your own, or if you already have one, go take some pictures of it!

1 comment:

  1. *jealous* =P

    I appreciate this post--still thinking about starting my own vegetable garden someday. Still gonna be awhile, tho, sadly.

    But I'll definitely use this post as a reference whenever the time comes ^.^