2023 Garden Update

Aug 21
Written By Kenna Kanneberg

One evening’s harvest from July

A little goes a long way…

Shane and I bought our home in the year 2020 with big dreams of raising chickens and having sprawling gardens. We had tended a garden in my moms backyard and in community garden plots, but this would be our first venture into a permanent garden bed on our property. Well, more permanent; we always have big dreams for how to continue to develop our property!

The family before us didn’t have an existing pot, so we were able to decide where we wanted to create our own. The front yard seems like a perfect choice. Partially because seeing the weeds in our garden from our house would encourage us to tend to them more regularly, but also because we were so excited to watch our garden grow and bloom throughout the year. If we were going to put work into something, it only made sense for us to be able to enjoy it from our home. (Our family garden plot is visible from my kitchen sink, which makes doing dishes seem slightly less mundane of a chore.)

Once the location was set, we decided to cut out a giant rectangle in the center of our front lawn! We invited some friends over to help us till the sod, we went through it and pulled out clumps of grass, and we even let the chickens help us break the soil. Converting lawn to a productive food space was going to require some work upfront.

Garden Prep Chickenspng

The first year, our garden produced a lot of weeds. Yet it also grew enough plants that we grew in our excitement! We must’ve had one million mosquitoes living in the area; that was about the only bug that we saw, aside from a Japanese beetle infestation in our eggplant the next growing season. Shane kept dumping wheelbarrows of woodchip mulch onto our garden, promising great results. I was skeptical, but hated weeding, so I allowed him to experiment with our garden. Fast forward into our third year of gardening in this plot, Shane has added almost 100 wheelbarrows of mulch and allowed the roots to decompose in the soil, rather than pulling them or tilling them, and we have the garden of 2023!

We had to wear raincoats in the garden all summer to protect ourselves from the mosquitoes - even in 90 degree heat!

This year we can count on two hands the number of times it’s rained at our house all summer. (I think we’re up to 6 times from May to August). We had a newborn baby in the beginning of the growing season and we have had virtually no time to weed or tend to our home garden as we got the farm started. I have remembered to turn on the sprinkler less than 5 times all season. For those familiar with gardening, this is a recipe for disaster! However, about two weeks ago Shane and I walked outside Into our home garden to take a look at the garlic. We were blown away by how abundant our little garden plot was. Because of the tender, loving care that we have given it in the last few years, our small garden that received virtually no attention, except for the occasional transplanting and direct seeding, is producing more than our entire greenhouse! (Don’t worry, we plan to give the same love and attention to our greenhouses!)

In our yard, that was once just a haven for mosquitoes, we now see different types of butterflies, (we’re up to eight different species so far this summer). We have some song birds and we have a very friendly hummingbird that likes to spend time visiting our flowers and helping Shane in the greenhouse! We have some parasitic wasps living near our garden that control the grasshopper population. Now we just need to find something that controls the parasitic west population! All jokes aside, it's been really cool to see how the beneficial insects have come to enjoy our property alongside us this summer.

In our home garden, we have mushrooms that come up each year that no longer require any work besides harvesting. The mulching that we did years prior has enriched the soil and created its own compost while maintaining weed control and protection, which is really something we needed this year. Plus, our garden upfront is just an experimental relaxation place!

This year we modified the Three Sisters' method of corn, squash and beans, and growing beans up sunflowers and shading the ground with cucumbers. Our salsa guilds have slightly adjusted because my tomato and pepper seedlings did not do very well with no attention this spring. But the tomatoes that did survive, are now taller than Shane! They’re loaded with fruits that we’re so excited to share and preserve!

Where garlic was planted for the last 10 months is now sown with buckwheat, a cover crop meant to enrich our soil and give it a break from the demands that tomatoes require from the soil’s nutrient profile. And the rows that were our dry beans last year are now rotating through different crops like greens, radishes, kale, more dry beans, and poppies!

When starting something new, it can be really frustrating to hit different obstacles. Hardpan soil, annoying pests, and minimal yields were just some of the obstacles that frustrated Shane and I in our first couple years in the garden. But with patience, perseverance and a little bit of work, it’s been so cool to reap the abundant rewards from our garden this year.

Our greenhouses are in soil that has been farmed conventionally for the last 50+ years, so we’re noticing some of the same issues that we saw in our home garden. We have plenty of weeds, plenty of compaction, but we also have a different kind of hope this year.

Seeing how our efforts have made our home garden so prolific, we plan to continue returning back to nature as much as we can of our yard. This will remove some of the work from us and also continue to bring excitement for how our farm can continue to grow in beauty and increase our yields! We hope you come out and visit our farm this year. We’d love to show you pictures from the first two years! And we hope that you continue to come out to our farm and see how we continue to develop the land that we were given to steward and enjoy the abundance it returns to us as a result.

Until next time!

Your farmers,

Shane and Kenna