Planning our garden

Our edible garden(Enlarge) ©Janet Allen
Some of our edible garden from the roof

This is most of our edible garden, taken in May a number of years ago. Since it was May, there wasn't much planted yet, and since it was a number of years ago, some things are missing, such as the grape arbor near the back fence, and we now have blueberries instead of the strawberries in the lower left corner.

The paths, though, are the same. We wouldn't want to change them since we've walked on that soil for so many years—and we haven't walked on our garden beds.

Eating on the Wild Side ©Janet Allen
Excellent suggestions for specific varieties!

Before we read this book, like most people we chose fruit and vegetable varieties based on taste, how easy it was to grow, and sometimes disease or insect resistance. Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson points out that our modern fruits and vegetables have been selected for taste (often meaning increased sugar) and also for toughness so it can be transported, stored in warehouses, and sit in the grocery story. And often aesthetics are of high priority.

Although eating a lot of fruits and vegetables is always recommended, some specific varieties are closer to the original healthy species we coevolved with. This book provides the names of those species that are available today as well as some general principles for choosing the healthiest variety. For example, the most nutritious lettuce would be the darkest leaves and be a looseleaf variety rather than a heading variety. We read this book in January 2014, just in time to reconsider our usual seed choices in favor of the most nutritious varieties!

Swiss chard ©Janet Allen
Swiss chard - not a favorite

Another important point in planning an edible garden is to choose fruits and vegetables that you like to eat. Even if the food is easy to grow, even if it's nutritious, if you don't like to eat it, you can find a replacement that's equally easy to grow and equally nutritious.

Unfortunately, swiss chard falls into that category for us (at least for Janet), and after growing it for many years, we've finally used the space for other things.

After planning our garden, we plant seeds either inside or directly outside.