On this Earth Day, owner Colleen Callahan and her husband Ron Sisler share their contribution to sustainability and the environment.
Three years ago we really wanted to start a vegetable garden. Our backyard isn’t the best location for one, however, as it is heavily shaded by hardwoods. Not to mention our two dogs, Gus and Trane, rule the roost back there. I did a little research on gardens to see what our options were and ran across something called #foodnotlawns.
What Is That?
Essentially, instead of growing grass and ornamental plants, Food Not Lawns believe you should use your yard, or a portion of it, for edible plants, like a veggie garden. After Ron got over the initial weirdness of the idea, he got into it full force. Over a couple of weekends, we spent from sun-up to sundown skimming off sod and moving it to bare areas of the yard that were staying grass. We then tilled the hard Georgia clay by hand, mixing in manure and lime, then planted tomatoes, peas, green beans, pinto beans, raspberries, yellow squash, cucumbers, green peppers, dragon peppers, corn, mint, rosemary, basil, stevia, strawberries, onions, potatoes, and gourds. We may have gone overboard. 🙂
How Did It Go?
That first year was pretty good. We harvested countless cucumbers, tomatoes, and dragon peppers. We got a nice little crop of about 20 gourds (which Ron later made into pipes), and we got a small handful of green peppers and squash, and about 12 ears of corn. We learned much more during that time, though. Peas need to be started MUCH earlier or later in the year, so those were out moving forward. You need much more than 4-6 bean plants to give a decent harvest and more than 6-8 corn plants for the same reason. Our raspberries, onions, and potatoes perished and our strawberries just kind of existed. The herbs did quite well. At the end of the season, we pulled out the dead plants, put some mulch over everything and left it through the winter.
What Happened The Second Year?
The second year we cleared the mulch and planted new crops. We used what we learned from the previous year and planted gourds, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, watermelon, green peppers, bee balm, lavender, and thyme. We moved a mum plant to the front to try to attract bees. The strawberries, basil, and mint all survived the winter, so we left them. A peach tree was our big purchase and became the front cornerstone of the garden. Well, this was not such a successful year, unfortunately. The herbs all did well as did the mums. The peach tree survived and grew (we didn’t expect it to do much that first year, so survival was a win!) Unfortunately, the corn was stunted and the watermelons kept splitting. The tomatoes were few and far between as were the cucumbers. The strawberries again were just there. We got about 5 gourds and a pepper or two. Meh. Again, we pulled the dead plants and mulched.
And This Year?
This year Ron considered re-seeding the area with grass, but I prevailed. We considered the possibility that the fact we didn’t till the garden last year might have affected the growth of the plants and we took two days to dig out the planter beds and till and rotate all the dirt. We decided on tomatoes, cucumbers, and gourds again and brought back the squash and beans (42 plants this year!!). We added green onions, a couple of new strawberry plants, a cilantro, and a parsley. We still have the bee balm, the mint, the thyme, and the lavender and we added echinacea this time. So far everything seems to be doing well. It’s only been a couple of weeks so check back through the summer to see how it all actually does.
Oh, and peach tree? There are about 30 peaches on it in various sizes. So excited!
How are you celebrating Earth Day? What do you think of the #foodnotlawns idea? Chime in!