I began my planting plan by asking each member of the family what they would like to eat from our garden. I have made the gardening error in the past of planting something because I got free seeds or because it grows just the way I want it to…bad choice! Learn from my mistakes and only plant things you will enjoy eating. It is a wonderful thing to be able to enjoy eating the fruit of our labor and knowing that the food is nutritious, safe, and free from chemicals. It is another thing altogether to find ourselves choking down those stringy, tough, green beans out of obligation when we should have just planted a variety that we crave in the first place!
So, here are my family's responses:
Husband: “Big, red, round tomatoes…not those purple heirloom ones…and melons.” (By melons, he means cantaloupe.)
Five year-old son: “Spinach, strawberries, and carrots.”
My seven year-old son started with listing tomatoes, which he doesn’t particularly like. When I told him to pick things he wants to eat, he said, “you guys like them.” Well, off he went to listing strawberries, pumpkins, and lettuce.
Then, I went to Rosalind Creasy’s website and referred to her list of edible plants for my hardiness zone (thanks to global warming, I am now zone 6) to create the rest of my list of food that I want to plant. Here is my list: tomatoes, cantaloupe, spinach, carrots, pumpkins, lettuce, rainbow chard, broccoli, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, sugar snap peas, calendulas, pansies, beans, cucumbers, peanuts, peppers, zucchini, asparagus, rhubarb, cilantro, basil, chives, oregano, saffron, thyme, mint, bamboo, onion, garlic, apples. I should mention that I already have strawberries, blueberries, grapes, sour cherries, and peaches in other areas of my yard, so that is why you won’t see the strawberries in the backyard plan. For those of you who still abide by the spacing rules on your seed packets, such spacing is completely unnecessary and all of this will fit in a small, urban backyard.