Yesterday I participated in a sustainable garden tour. Five home gardeners (myself included) as well as the local community garden all offered tours of their set-up. What I noticed most of all was how different we all were. The longest standing gardener has a asparagus patch that is still actively productive after 20 years. (My patch is in its first season and has yet to give us anything edible). Some gardens were formally laid out, the oldest garden incorporated a variety of structures including a pole teepee for his pole beans. Most of the gardens had fencing around them to keep out pests like rabbits and deer. Some were spacious, others were very small and made great use of every inch. Several had raised beds, mine included, but those were made of wood while mine was made of repurposed used cinder-blocks. We all were having problems with pests (especially snails, slugs, and caterpillars), although my slug problems were by far the worst.
The biggest difference between my garden and the others were the weeds and the crop selection. I’m not allowed “livestock” according to the neighborhood associations bylaws so sheep, goats and/or chickens were out. So I was incorporating fruit trees into the gardens. Also, as a natural dyer, I had a lot of dye bearing weeds represented in my gardens. Jewelweed abounded, beloved for its healing sap and peachy-pink dye, so did Queen Anne’s Lace (bright yellow). Sulfur cosmos (orange) was mixed into the asparagus beds, and tiny Black Eyed Susan plants (bright olivine green) were mixed in with the tomatoes.
Rhubarb (tans, light maroon, and a tannin mordant) and red currants played among the Joe Pye Weed (greens) and perennial sunflower (yellow) and fluffy pink topped sedum. Golden Rod (yellows and golds) is just coming into season now.
Perhaps in one last way, something we all had in common was our love for our land and soil. Each of us had created an oasis in our own unique way.