So I started researching, for real, about a month ago. I have read just about everything I could get my hands on about urban farming, homesteading, different methods of gardening, permaculture, you name it. I've been gardening many years, but I still consider myself a complete noob when it comes to this stuff. I mean, I usually just put some seeds in the ground, and hope they grow! This year I thought it was finally time to really figure it out.

I think that desire began when I changed my eating habits. In January I gave up all processed foods, sugar, and all grains. And that meant that my diet was made up of primarily meat and plant foods, all lashed generously with oil. Buying 7-10 containers of organic greens each week at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's got expensive quickly, and that was just for my breakfast! The farmers market was better, but I still wanted the ease of walking out my front door to harvest my meals. I knew that I could grow food, as I had done it for years. I just wanted to change the amount and variety of food I was growing.

So, I started reading, which is what I do when I want to learn stuff. I enjoyed books by Novella Carpenter (Farm City and The Essential Urban Farmer), Backyard RootsLittle House In The Suburbs, Toby Hemenway's (essential!) Gaia's GardenFarmer Jane, some books about chickens (chickens are on the five-year plan) such as Free-range Chicken Gardens, books on homesteading, like The City Homesteader... the list goes on and on. All these books gave me IDEAS.

Too many ideas. Not enough money. Definitely not enough time. Tom works crazy hours as an administrator at a local college. I work much less, as a para-educator helping autistic children, but I've got our home and two kids to take care of, plus a dog and a cat. I wondered how we could keep it small scale, or at least manageable.

This is when I decided to take one project at a time. If it got done, terrific. If it didn't, oh well, it was on the 'next year' plan. The other thing I knew was that any purchases I made had to come out of my weekly budget, so I needed to do a little at a time.

The first thing I did was attend a local bee association meeting, join, and order a colony of honeybees. My dad has kept bees for many years, and I always knew I wanted to, as well. So I dove in to that without thinking too much about it. Luckily my dad is also a woodworker, so he is making a hive for me. The bees arrive April 12, so you'll hear more about that adventure then.

I was also sure that I wanted more fruit. So Tom and I bought a fig tree, two blueberry bushes, and several strawberry plants to join our currant strawberries, and the peach, apple, and quince trees in the back yard.

Next, I built a hugelkultur and made it in to an herb spiral. More on this project later.

It's spring, so our minds (and stomachs!) turned to asparagus. We can eat quite a lot, so I dug an asparagus bed. More on this project later.

I already had about 30 packets of seeds, annual Native California stuff, so I planted those. (I get my native seeds from Larner Seeds; the owner, Judith Larner, is incredibly knowledgable about natives and her demonstration garden is heaven.)

Then I ordered my vegetable seeds. This year I ordered everything from Renee's Garden, I've used their seeds before and they always do well in my climate. They are based in California, too. I ordered everything I wanted to eat, sometimes more than one variety (using a permaculture premise - more variety is good!).

And then the sheet mulching began.

So here's the point I'm making: It's impossible to do it all at once, unless you are independently wealthy and/or retired. My sometime-in-the-future plans for the garden include chickens, a run and a coop for them, and a dry creek bed. I also would very much like more native clover seeds for the 'lawn' (basically just for the bees). And I'd like some new outdoor furniture because ours is old and run down. We only have one rain barrel, and we need one at every downspout. We also need to convert some of our sprinklers to drip. Olive trees? yes! Citrus? yes! The list of things to want and do just keeps growing!

So we'll evolve. We'll change, we'll explore new ways of doing things, the way we planted this year may not work and it might be a total failure, or it'll be great and we'll expand even more.