What Am I Doing?
I often think that as I go about my day ... but on this day when I stared at the various seed packets that were either waiting to be planted or were already in pots out in the backyard doing their "winter stratification" thing that "what am I doing" question went through my mind more than usual. I mean, I knew what I wanted ... I wanted a garden. That was one of the reasons that I bought a house in the first place. I wanted space to play in the dirt and grow things -- pretty things to look at and tasty things to eat. But what things should I grow? Native or non-native? Annuals or perennials? Flowers or fruits or veggies? Heirloom or modern cultivars? While the choices and decisions to make are endless, the space in my yard and my budget is most definitely not. My intentions are good. I didn't do a lot to my yard during the first growing season. I wanted to study the sun patterns and see what perennials I may have inherited when I signed that mortgage (answers: full sun in most of the front yard, part sun on the west side of the front yard, and shade in the back yard; not much other than a couple of very sad rose bushes and some random bulbs). I added a few plants but not too many. I quickly discovered that I needed to educate myself on all things plants and gardening (wait the ever present day-lily of midwestern fields and ditches aren't native to America?), as well as do a better job planning (yeah...when those trees leaf out, that full sun area isn't full sun anymore).
In the fall and winter, I began to read/research. I quickly decided that I was going to save the plant and pollinator world by only growing native plants in my yard. I went all out (obsessive personality anyone?). I joined the New England Wildflower Society and the Maine Wild Seed Project. I bought my native seeds and planted them over New Years so they could get their cold stratification and hopefully germinate in the spring. I was committed. And then in late winter I attended a talk at my library by Jim Masse from Estabrook's Nursery. As he was talking about all the new and beautiful plants for the 2018 growing season he kept saying something that surprised me "this plant is non-native but good for pollinators". Wait what? How could that be? As I dug into it more, it turned out that this was a thing. A recent study in England concluded that a mix of native and non-natives are best for pollinators. My conclusion? Things aren't as cut and dry as they may first appear.
This little discovery really got me going. How can I make the most impact in my little postage stamp sized lawn? Is it by growing just natives or a mix? What about edibles? I began to think about the concept of the victory garden. During the world wars of the 20th century, the victory garden was a concept of people growing their own food so that more farmed food could go to the troops; it was a real impact to the war effort. In our modern times, while we are lucky enough to not have a full blown world war occurring, there are still some serious issues that we are battling -- climate change, loss of biodiversity, pollinator populations dwindling, along with concerns about modern industrial agriculture practices like mono-culture, pesticides/herbicide use, and so many other scary things that keep me awake at night. It's going to take more than just a garden to solve all these problems, but that's a good place to start. And what if, we expanded our focus to the rest of the yard -- not just a 10 x 10 vegetable patch in the corner of the back yard? It was here the idea of the Modern Victory Yard was born.
This blog is going to record my journey as I try to turn my yard into that little place of positive change. I will share my research and readings, along with the plantings and experimentation that goes on. So to answer the question of "what am I doing?" .... I'm going to create a Modern Victory Yard.