• 11Mar

    GUEST POST from JOAN LAMBERT BAILEY. This post first appeared on her blog, Popcorn Homestead.

    Alternative GardenRecently on TwitterYou Grow Girl asked for thoughts on getting your gardening mojo back. Seeing that took me back to my early gardening days when I was just starting to dig in the soil and see for myself what all the fuss was about. We’d recently moved into an old farmhouse in Michigan, and to me the yard looked like a blank slate. There was no vegetable garden, but I slipped one in along a fence line and planted the usual suspects: tomatoes, beans, basil, and peppers. I sat out next to the garden just watching the plants grow, the sun set, and the barn swallows come around while our cat napped in the tall grass near the edge. (We’ve never been big on mowing.) I took notes on everything and read every book my husband’s uncle would lend me, and then some. It was great.

    But, it all felt a bit standard. Tidy rows of vegetables with a few flowers and herbs were all very nice, but it seemed a little…boring. Maybe it was too tidy and orderly for my taste, but I got tired of that standard line-up in fairly short order. Then I checked out Sally Cunningham’s Great Garden Companions from the library, and my world changed forever. I began planting not only in rows but in circles. I mixed herbs, flowers, and vegetables in the same area (gasp!), and my garden began bursting at the seams with blossoms, bounty, and lots of bees, birds, and butterflies. I was hooked. I drew up charts, made lists, kept a garden journal. When we moved to our own home a few years later with a bigger garden, fruit trees and chickens, I entered a kind of personal heaven. It was impossible to be bored.

    The Alternative Kitchen Garden by Emma Cooper could well have a similar effect. For gardeners feeling like it’s getting to be a bit of the “same old, same old” even as those seed catalogs come pouring in, this could put the heat back in your compost pile, so to speak. An A-Z guide of ideas for the garden and home, The Alternative Kitchen Garden informs and inspires. Like any good gardening book should do, it had me jotting down notes about things to research (trefoil as a green manure), things to purchase (borage is the newest perennial to be added with comfrey to follow in short order), and things to do (interplant chamomile to improve soil). In short, it gave me a boost after a difficult growing season when I needed it to start planning for the season ahead. Read more »

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