This is your chance to feed yourselves and your family and to pass on that legacy to your children. In addition, converting any part of our lawns to carbon sequestering plants and compost is an important part of offsetting greenhouse gas emissions.
Every back yard offers unique opportunities and challenges for different plants to be successful. The following species are aesthetically interesting, versatile, resilient, adaptable, and flavorful. They will produce food across the growing season, and most survive on less water. The perennials will eventually require less work, and flowers increase the likelihood that beneficial insects will pollinate and even help you control pests. If you canít use the plants, something other species will.
Note that some home ownerís associations ban food production, including vegetable growing. Find out what restrictions, if any, exist in your area. Talk to your neighbors and others in your community to eradicate those restrictions. It is important that we protect our right, and indeed our responsibility, to be able to feed ourselves.
Building Your Soil Understanding the nature of the soil you have in your garden and how to make it more healthy will be more important than any other step you take in the sustainable gardening process. Good soil not only nourishes your plants from the ground up but also helps to curb disease and pests that feed on those plants. Have your soil tested and find out the steps you can take to improve that soil year after year. Contact your local extension agent for assistance. Selecting Seed When choosing varieties, avoid hybrids and anything genetically modified. The following list will help you locate dependable seed sources (many of these are local to the Kansas City area):
Mulching Mulch with whatever you have or can get locally that is not contaminated with pesticides (leaves, grass clippings, sawdust) to about six inches every year. It will decompose readily with help from microorganisms and earthworms, producing fabulous nutrients. Nutritious foods can only grow from fertile soil. Sustainable food growing does not deplete your soil; rather it maintains and enriches it. The most fertile soils are not tilled. Mulch on top of the soil acts like a blanket preventing weed growth and protecting it from wind and water erosion, and temperature extremes. Mulch will also help conserve moisture.
One Last Tip Experiment; explore the unusual, and keep notes or a journal about your experiences. Have patience and be persistent. There are no mistakes, just enlightening learning opportunities.
"Tell me of what plant birthday a man takes notice, and I shall tell you a good deal about his vocation, his hobbies, his hay fever, and the general level of his ecological education."
(A. Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, Prairie Birthday Essay, 1949)