Making the Most of One Acre

How Does Your Garden Grow? Sizing up our land and making the most of 1 acre.

My husband is a cultivator; it’s in his veins. By the time most people begin their Spring cleaning he is out tilling the ground and planning the upcoming year’s garden. When were looking to build a home all he knew specifically is that he wanted land. After a few years of searching and asking around, a coworker mentioned to me that her father-in-law was looking to sell an acre or so of his farmland. This acre happened to be on one of the most beautiful roads in our area. We became the owners of a little parcel of land and began the process of building our home.

In 2008, we took our first go at a garden. We moved into our home in 2006 but it took us about 2 years to get all of the rocks out of our dirt, grow grass, and add two more children to our growing family.

Gardening and homesteading has to start somewhere. Having long-term plans in manageable pieces helps keep a person sane. We knew that we wanted to grow everything from broccoli to fruit trees but with just the two of us, one of which was 7 months pregnant that summer, we needed to be realistic. Our first 576 square foot garden was cute at first. Everything had a place and space but come harvest in August it was really crowded, and ugly. Our garden did so well that we just hadn’t accurately projected just how large our full-grown plants would be. In spite of our naive attempt we produced more food than we knew what to do with. We found that growing food was easy, but preserving it was actually way more work.

In 2009 a friend came over with four of his small red raspberry plants and showed us how to plant them. He also took a look at the huge bushes on our property line and was excited to tell us that they were black elderberry. We celebrated that discovery, but also devised a plan to keep the small hands of our children away from the toxic raw elderberries. Those original four red raspberry plants have expanded into a complete 250 square foot hedgerow of bushes that line the south end of our property. These ever-bearing raspberries produce throughout the growing season and make some of the best preserves I’ve ever tasted!

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