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Squid & Birch is a lettering and design shop offering prints, cards, and flair for fans of all things nerdy and cheeky.

Small Beginnings + Reader Poll Results

Small Beginnings + Reader Poll Results

The first of our seedlings went into the raised beds yesterday and I'm so excited about these small beginnings!

In the last several months I read everything I could in preparation for starting our garden.  I've mentioned this book before and I can't overstate what a great resource it is for anyone trying to grow edibles in small spaces.

I borrowed this book from my mom (it was given to her by my brother and sister-in-law) and fell in love with its gorgeous matte photos and wild, earth-mama style:

I have to admit, too, to a certain amount of anglophilia.  A Brit's take on gardening is somehow more romantic when she refers to aubergines and courgettes instead of eggplant and zucchini.

Although I don't regret my research, I came away a little frustrated.  The gist of the message from all of these great sources was that they could tell me neither what to grow nor where.  They could tell me what works for them, but could guarantee nothing.

While my nature is to read everything and follow instructions to the letter, I did glean an understanding of why that approach won't work here.  Every yard is really its own microclimate, with unique wind currents, sun angles, and soil conditions.  So I resigned myself to having to just see what works in my own little microclimate.

Once we decided to treat this season as an experiment, I felt liberated in a way.  It gave me permission to try things and, possibly, to fail.  So we planted really small amounts of a lot of different vegetables.  We won't have an armload of any one thing to harvest, which is okay with me since I like variety.  And the hope is that we'll learn a lot about what grows well in our garden.

In this bed are fresno chiles, sweet orange peppers, spinach, collards, kale, chard, arugula, and mesclun.  We love the greens!

In the lower section of our two-tiered bed we have broccoli, brussels sprouts, okra, baby romaine, and bush beans.  You can see we got a lot of rain overnight.

The Unseen

The upper tier is for all of our deep-rooting seeds and sets: fingerling potatoes, cosmic purple and parisienne carrots, beets, garlic, and sweet onions.  I plan to experiment with planting some shallow-rooting annual flowers here to spruce up the place.

Next Up

Herbs!  We're going to have lots of them in one of our front beds:

A trellis will go up on our warm, sunny fence for four varieties of heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini.  Blueberries, strawberries, and asparagus crowns will go in, as well.

We're planning to plant comfrey near our compost and rainwater collection area, as well as a shade garden.

May I talk about the gorgeous white blooms on our redbud?  That's all.


We've been really happy with the materials we purchased for the garden set-up.  The dirt for our beds is a blend of organic compost and topsoil that we ordered from Missouri Organic.  They delivered a half cubic yard to our driveway, which cost about half what we would have spent on bags from the nursery.  The customer service was impeccable.

We picked out our seedlings and seeds at Family Tree Nursery in Shawnee, KS.  Their customer service was also awesome (can you tell this is important to me?) and they have the best variety of heirloom edibles in the area.

Our rain barrel and compost bin both came from Amazon.  There are so many options in both of these categories.  We went with inexpensive, utilitarian ones and we're pleased with them.

We've been using the same compost canister for the last few years:  

In Portland they have city-wide curbside compost collection -- how great is that? -- so we had use for one there.  Now we just collect our compostable materials in the kitchen and dump them into the bin in the backyard when the canister is full.  There's a filter in the lid so we never smell the veggie scraps and coffee grounds.

My other source is my mom, who will be bringing transplants of bushes and flowers.  I only hope you have someone as talented and thoughtful in your life!

Reader Poll Results

The overwhelming favorite in the Breakfast Reader Poll was...

Drumroll, please...

Huevos Rancheros!  I'm stoked to do a post about these beauties which include chorizos verde and rojo from The Local Pig, avocado relish, black beans, sunny-side-up eggs, and homemade tortillas.

I may have had a slight influence on the 85% vote for this dish when I mentioned these tortillas.  I'm not sorry.



Green Smoothie

Green Smoothie