The Suburban Micro-Farm by Amy Stross
I have created many gardens over the last 25 years. Big yard and small – I’ve done them all. We moved from Oregon to Texas and purchased our home just over a year ago. I went right to work on my new garden, hiring a tractor to get the soil tilled and the garden prepared.
Guess what; “if you till it they will grow” did not work out one little bit. My garden did terrible this year! It started off strong and then… disaster. No amount of organic bug spray or fish fertilizer fixed the problem.
It’s been a big blow to my gardening ego and I’ve seriously wondered if I lost my garden touch. Maybe Texas isn’t in my personal zone…
I’ve been reading a new book by Amy Stross called The Suburban Micro-Farm and I found this passage:
I had done everything by the book, so why was I getting these pests? …Through detective work, I discovered that this was common in new gardens because the soil life— the foundation of a healthy garden—was getting acquainted to the new conditions. My visions of healthy crops and abundant harvests would have to wait while the beneficial soil organisms were settling down in their new home. No pesticides—natural or chemical—would have saved my harvest; giving my gardens a year to settle was the only lasting solution.
Ah Ha! The answer presents itself. Patience and beneficial soil organisms are the answer. That makes perfect sense and I’m so glad to know the cause.
The thing that I love the most about gardening is that there is always more to learn. Just when you think you’ve mastered growing a vegetable garden your asparagus gets munched by some big bug. Now you’re digging around for more information about what really happened.
The Suburban Micro-Farm Idea
When you plant a new garden you naturally dream big. We tend to think of the harvest and not the work it will take to create it. Creating a garden that is too big for you to maintain, is one of the most common mistakes we make.
Another mistake is allotting the right amount of time for gardening. Once the weather warms up and those weeds start growing, you’ll need to have a plan for maintenance.
This all starts with preventing garden overwhelm by getting your garden plan on a calendar and using monthly checklists. Amy says that 15 minutes on most days is all you need to maintain a suburban micro-farm. I believe her.
In short, suburbanites have decided to take an active role in providing sustenance for their families, and they’ve committed to do so even with busy schedules and—sometimes—micro-sized spaces. Amy Stross
Plant What You love
She is able to produce enough fruit, vegetables, and herbs to incorporate homegrown food into 50% of her family’s meals. They plant what they love to eat and they do it on a tiny .10-acre lot in the suburbs. I find her suburban micro-farm inspirational.
Adapt Life Hacks for the Garden
Life hacks do four things:
1. They help focus your attention on what you really want.
2. They improve your chances of establishing a routine to achieve success.
3. They reduce the amount of brainpower needed to accomplish a goal.
4. They improve efficiency so that the time required to accomplish a goal is reduced.
In short, life hacks emphasize success over stress. They also leave little room for excuses. It doesn’t matter how big your garden is, we can all use micro-garden techniques.
I have been a reader of Amy’s blog www.tenthacrefarm.com for some time. She’s my go-to permaculture gardener and I know I can count on her to take a project and break it down into steps I can understand. She’s put her considerable knowledge into this new book.
If you are a busy gardener The Suburban Micro-Farm will help you learn how to:
- work with the land you have,
- work with the time you have available,
- create a beautiful food-producing micro-farm,
- and learn the best tips to help you start small and grow big.
In Part 1 you’ll learn about getting to know how the micro-farm works. Part 2 has ideas for organization, seed starting and maintaining a garden.
But I can’t wait to dig deep into Part 3, where Amy talks about the advanced micro-farming techniques of edible landscaping, using permaculture principles and making money from a suburban micro-farm.
Every gardener, no matter what size of yard and what gardening level, will learn something from Amy’s new book. Managing your garden expectations can be hard and early spring plans often do not pan out. Consider planting a series of micro-gardens around your yard instead.
About the author: At age 33, Amy Stross left her career as a high school teacher. Disillusioned and worried about her future, she turned to ‘dirt therapy’. After years of working as a professional gardener and transforming her 1/10-acre suburban homestead into a productive edible landscape, she discovered she had found hope and a soul-filling life as a micro-farmer. Many of the stories and lessons she shares began in her front yard.
For five years she led the development of a community food forest at her local university, learning many lessons along the way.
Amy lives in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband and farm cat. Their current adventures include transforming their 3.3-acre suburban property into an edible and biodiverse micro-farm.
Specializing in permaculture gardening, blogger, garden writer, and educator Amy Stross has reached hundreds of thousands of people with her adventures and expertise at TenthAcreFarm.com.
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