I don’t make resolutions or set goals. But when I think about the garden from the vantage point of early winter, I do wish, imagine, envision, dream about the next garden, the one I will plant and tend in a few months, God willing. Some of my desires for my yard this coming year:
- To create more animal habitat. Not just for the deer, chipmunks, voles, mice and squirrels that eat my veggies and hostas, but for monarchs and other butterflies, all kinds of insects and spiders, reptiles and amphibians, and birds. So I am thinking about what I can plant, install, arrange, and finagle to entice and welcome furry, winged, crawling and scaled animals into the garden. This has been the overriding priority for all my gardens, I think.
To plant what I love and what I find beautiful — in shape, pattern, texture, colour, contrast, scent, taste — whether it “matches” the other plants or not. I know that good design demands repetition, multiples, planting in 3s and 6s and 12s and so on, but I am more drawn to a collector’s garden, with one of this odd thing and one of that Dr. Seuss plant. I want to honour that impulse and play with it more.
- To plant what I really want to eat. I can grow tomatoes, herbs, chard, most herbs, etc., without too much trouble, but often I don’t harvest it, because there’s not enough at one time (chard, spinach, lettuce), or I don’t really like it (tomatoes, zucchini), or I don’t have a use for it when it’s ready to be used (herbs). And as I type this, I realise that that’s OK: something else eats it and derives nourishment from it. And I support the local farms and CSA here by buying lots of veggies from them. It’s only when I think about a dystopian future — farms destroyed by monocultures, pesticides and genetic modification; no fuel for transportation of food from California, Florida, and beyond; and people forced to raise or grow everything we eat — that I feel anxious about my harvesting skills. Still, I’d like to grown ever more peas and cucumbers, because I love them so much and they really only taste excellent right from the vine. And if I could find a way to grow olives, pistachios, cashews, and artichokes (not Jersusalem) in this climate, I would do it!
- To either plant a tea garden or harvest and dry some herbs for tea-making. Wonder if I can grow jasmine here?
To take back more of the lawn for non-lawn. I have designs on a large swath of grass and ground ivy on the south-east side of the house right now, with an idea to sheet-mulch it in very early spring.
I’ll be part of a discussion group starting in a week about Peter Bane’s The Permaculture Handbook and will probably have more ideas after we start reading and discussing it. To be continued …