Kale and Swiss Chard inspired me to expand my urban potager in 2006! We have a wonderful year round, indoor + outdoor farmer’s market in the Quad Cities. Not only do we have that but we also have several smaller farmer markets in the parking lots of our hospitals on the weekends. There are 100’s of vendors that provide many locally grown or created products, but I found only a handful that grew “Organically” or “Chemical Free” at the various markets.
Back in 2006, I would often frequent the farmer’s market since all of our children were still living at home. We needed quite a bit of food to feed everyone and all the extras that were hanging around. I was in the early stages of tearing up our “wall to wall lawn carpet” and developing an urban potager that provided food for our daily use.With five dogs and three kids, we still needed a significant portion of our open grassy areas. I also had a husband that was not too crazy about losing his lawn which meant I had to move slowly to show him that it was possible to have food and grass! I watched a Doug Tallamy lecture the other day, and he said “use your grass for walking paths” and the rest should be devoted to plants. I thought that was brilliant!
In 2016, I am in the process of putting in the last of our berry bushes and fruit trees. It is all done and should eventually provide most of our vegetables and fruits throughout the year, but I will be going back to the farmer’s market this year to supplement with some things that I would like to let others grow. I want to support our local farmers that have a bit more land, and only use our city lot to produce those items that we eat the most of each season, are difficult to find chemical free and just too darn expensive to purchase organically! Did I hear someone say berries?
This year I won’t be trialing a dozen different types of heirloom tomato seedlings or a variety of each crop, for example, five different Swiss Chards. Most of our annual herbs, flowers and vegetables are from seed saved from our plants. I am finding seed saving and sharing seeds to be a way of life.
I have made the decision only to grow out MacGregor Swiss Chard.It is Anthocyanin-rich and has the most amazing tender leaves.
I loved growing all the other Swiss Chards but needed more room for berries and other plants to create biodiversity on our city lot for ourselves and nature. It meant choosing only those that worked best in our growing area.
This week, I am starting Swiss Chard and Kale to go in our spring urban potager. Don’t forget to start your Chards and Kales if you live in zone 5!
If you want to read more about MacGregor Swiss Chard go (here)