How About an Organic Garden in Your Landscape?

By Nancy Smorch

The gardens are finally planted here at the farm - well, for the most part!  We did some expanding and rearranging this spring, and I’m loving it!

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First, we expanded our regular fenced in-garden.  I ordered plants from Cinzori Farms, a 70-acre certified organic farm in Ceresco, Michigan.  Clare and Aaron Cinzori board their horse a couple of streets over from us at our friends’ farm, which is how I met them and heard about what they do.  For the past 4 years I have been placing a plant order with them, and they have been kind enough to bring it by when they're in the area.  This year I bought tomatoes, red and yellow onions, beets, sweet corn, lettuces, and strawberries, among other vegetables and various herbs.

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Also, Mike and I went to check out the new Downtown Market in Grand Rapids a couple of weeks ago. I thought I was all set for plants in our garden... and then I saw the booth owned by Trillium Haven Farm. Who can resist green, zebra-striped tomatoes? Their black cherry tomatoes not only sound gorgeous, the picture on the seed packet had my mouth watering. I ended up loading up, and grabbed extra plants for my older brother's birthday to boot.

Trillium Haven is another organic farm located in Jenison, Michigan.  They have 50 acres where they grow certified organic vegetables and herbs.  They supply local restaurants, including the relatively new Trillium Haven Restaurant in East Town Grand Rapids.  If you haven’t eaten there, you must go!  The food is amazing - especially this time of year with all of the fresh produce flowing in from the farm - and the smells from the wood oven are incredible.

In addition to all of those plants, my daughter Frankie and I planted a bunch of seeds I purchased from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  We got kind of a late start on them, but they are sprouting up nicely.  I can’t wait to see how they turn out  and fill my garden with  heirloom varieties of melons, tomatoes, carrots, eggplant in beautiful colors and patterns.

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Which brought me to the decision to expand the garden even more!

I knew that I would want more planting room, and I also knew that something different needed to be done with the landscape in front of our house.  The weeds were sprouting up faster than we could get them pulled.  Everyone’s answer to the weed problem was, of course, to put some RoundUp on them.  Those are fighting words around here!  So, in an effort to accomplish two goals, we decided to relocate a number of the plants in the landscape to various spots on our property,  and put in 4 large raised beds.

I was a little nervous to pull the trigger on this one, but we all agreed that it would be a great idea, and the extra space for growing food would be fun to fill - and thankfully they turned out great!  It really complements the house, and having a combination of beauty and utility right next to the house seems to fit right in with what we're all about.

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Putting in the raised beds for our landscape will also hopefully give an example of how functional landscaping can be.  I’m hoping others will see it and become inspired to try it at their own place.  Many people think they need a lot of land in order to have a garden, but if you have plants and flowers around your house already (and most people do), you can easily exchange them for raised beds - and still keep a few bushes, small trees, or flowers in between to keep color, flow, and aesthetics just as lovely.

So, the rush of springtime planting is almost over. As I stood in our newly expanded garden, I couldn't help but get a little teary-eyed at the miracle and perfection of plants - and at the immense gratitude I have toward the whole system and the soil producing fresh food right before our eyes!

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