My family grows wheat.
East of the Cascades, we have very dry, alkaline soil. Wheat grows well here with crop rotation. Our naturally deep volcanic soils produce some beautiful grains.
We found a number of vegetables that do well in soil with a pH of 7.5 or higher. We’ve also found organic ways to amend our soils to bring pH down. We have trouble with acid loving shrubs like blueberries, but raspberries are known to do quite well here. Wood chips, pine needles and sawdust are among the materials we’ve added to our garden over the years, along with mushroom compost, manure, eggshells, kitchen scraps, wheat straw and more.
The result is a fluffy soil that holds moisture and resists freezing in brutal temperatures. Most of our soils are naturally rock hard and bake like clay in the desert sun. The wheat fields are regularly plowed, with straw worked back into the soil, which produces a better crop. Without adding a thing, the natural landscape would look pretty parched.
With addition of compost and wood materials, we’ve produced a bounty of fresh veggies.
Our goal is to bring back the traditional kitchen garden. In the old days, they were essential to life, in a very practical sense. Also called cottage gardens, they come complete with edible herbs and flowers. The cook would plan meals around which foods were ripe. There would be spices planted just outside the door for quick gathering before a meal. And it meant the family was eating fresh, organic, whole food. Locally grown, too.
Growing food in a dry climate is not easy. Through trial, error and a lot of tribulation, you learn what works and what doesn’t. Every now and then, you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
And that itself is the sweetest reward.
As it turns out, lavender loves alkaline soil. While it takes years to grow a full-fledged lavender farm and for the baby plants to reach full size with maximum production, that won’t stop us from trying. Winters can be brutal, but those lavender strains that survive both the dry heat of summer and the dead of winter will be cloned and replanted, row after row.
Meanwhile, our cottage garden produces more than enough lavender to suit our needs. Some of the herbs we grow are used in our own products. Some go into our cooking. Others are sold locally, both fresh and dried.
We love planting a wide variety of herbs. We love heirloom seeds and also love getting our hands dirty. It’s the best exercise you’ll ever find, complete with fresh air, sunshine and a little dirt under the nails.
Follow along as we continue to grow our garden, and get tips and tricks to start a wonderful garden of your own.