Small Gardens, Big Impact: Abundant Edible Garden
As we move through the winter months, we will continue highlighting gardens of Western Pennsylvania that inspire us with their beauty and their positive impact on the environment.
Andrew and Liz Caswell’s bountiful fruit and vegetable gardens are a testament to how much food one can grow in a residential area. They grow a diversity of fruits and vegetables including some very personal heirloom varieties of tomatoes and pole beans. The tomatoes are a variety whose seeds have been passed down through the family for over 100 years. They also have “ancient” pole beans from a friend that date back to the 1800’s and his family in Slovenia. Liz and Andrew keep up the tradition by saving seeds from their own garden, collecting seeds at the end of harvest and planting them the following year.
Andrew and Liz grow many more vegetables including a variety of red and green peppers, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, lettuce, onion and salsify. Herbs that they grow include cilantro, mint, sweet basil and chives. In addition, they grow perennial fruits and vegetables: figs, kiwi, currants, gooseberry, black berries, red raspberries and rhubarb.
They manage their garden sustainably by utilizing proper watering techniques, growing a diversity of plants, supporting wildlife and focusing on the health of the soil. When they first began gardening on their property Andrew and Liz needed to amend the mostly clay soil. They planted white clover as a ground cover to improve the soil health and replant it each year. It has helped conserve the water in the garden and increase the amount of nitrogen in the soil. Additionally they add grass clippings and compost to the soil each spring.
We hope that this abundant edible garden will inspire you in planning and dreaming of your own lush garden for the coming spring.