Lawn Converted Into Food

KevinApples, From the Garden, Fruit, Fruit from the Yard, Haskap, Kevin TV, Permaculture, Strawberries, Summer, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Viticulture16 Comments

Over the past few years I’ve watched a few hundred episodes of Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Library TV, and am a regular commenter there. Recently, I’ve been enamored with Daniel Klein’s ‘Perennial Plate‘ project about eating locally in Minnesota. So recently I had a bit of a ‘duh…’ moment, realizing that I had the gear to do some video blogging myself, and really should be using it as I really enjoy the nature of video for blogging purposes. So meet Kevin TV. I intend on keeping it a tad ghetto, one-take-esque, and uncontrived. We’ll see how it evolves. I’m especially excited about the video format come harvest and hunting season, and for farm visits.

This one is a simple mid-July garden tour of my recent ex-lawn. I intend on following it once a season over the next few years.

16 Comments on “Lawn Converted Into Food”

  1. Barry Preuett

    Love that Kevin, I always wanted to see what you’ve done with your property. Oh how I’d love to get rid of my lawn (especially in the back yard) and transform it into a place to experiment with plants and foods, and increase the biodiversity with which I could teach my kids a wealth of knowledge (I’m a biologist by trade). My wife wouldn’t allow that, especially since we plan on moving to a new house soon haha. Maybe in our next house (final house). I will definitely have most of the backyard dedicated to gardens and such but for now i have to make do with 4 raised beds.

    So here’s my main question for you. Do you plan out where to put things based on height and width of the plants, available sunlight etc, or is it simply a random placement dictated by what you currently have or find (I hope that makes sense). Do you just let them go or do you do any kind of trimming and pruning?

    Thanks for sharing the video, I look forward to more of them.


  2. Kevin

    Barry – good to hear from you! Answer to your question is yes, there is some method to the madness. The saskatoons that flank my front yard are suckers from plants that I’d say were 12-14′ tall, and highbush cranberries in the bush get pretty tall. So those will form a perimeter. Within that will be various mid sized plants [currants, haksap, jerusalem artichoke, etc], herbaceous plants such as good king henry, lovage, day lilly, asparagus, some wild clumping grasses, rhubarb, raspberries; and I’m also rather focused on ground cover [strawberry, thymes, etc]. Within that, where the sun remains, will be the annual veg beds. At this stage, it looks all about the same height. Once the saskatoons get established and have a good growth spurt, it should look quite different. I still have a couple fruit trees to put in the front, paths to build, etc. The back is further along as I’ve already got the gravel paths/swales developed, and a mature apple to provide some visual structure. I’m already pruning more mature trees, managing growth of aggressive species, and will certainly manage where plants are located so that they have the space and light situation they need. I’ve also got some plants growing to provide short term height and structure that I have no intention of keeping once the more desirable edible species come of age.

    I’d like to end up with a fairly laissez faire affair, but it will likely always need some…guidance. It most certainly will require many years to mature. Hope that answers your question!

  3. Mel

    I love this – both the video and the conversion of your lawns to edible gardens! I would have also liked to see a few shots of the yards in their entirety, to bring all the pieces together – maybe next time ;) But all the close ups were gorgeous.

    I’ve always hated lawns and thought they were just a waste of time and space. I just bought a house and will be moving in within a few weeks; now that I finally have control over the property, you can rest assured that I will follow your lead in transforming the space into a garden.

    Where did you get your seeds/cuttings from? I have been trying to hunt down local and indigenous Alberta plants. I found one vendor at the farmer’s market and I’m sure there’s more, but I’d appreciate any insight.

  4. Kevin

    Mel – glad you like it! I actually took the wide shots you refer to, and you’re right, they would help. Was trying to avoid spamming video of my house around the web, but I’m not sure it really matters, does it.

    Congratulations on buying a house!! Short answer on source: various sources. The vendor at the market is where I got my artemesia frigida [wild sage], wild grasses [I have giant rye, blue fescue, and purple melic], wild chives, and wild thyme [highly recommended groundcover]. Inspired Market Gardens at the City Market is a good source for young plants – my bloody dock and good king henry are from Gwen. Richter’s is good for obscure seed [mallow, french dandelion, purslane]. The saskatoons were from some friends who used to have the remnants of a saskatoon farm on their acreage – got lucky there. Nodding onion – my fav allium – I actually took a boat to a small island on the west coast to dig them up, boated them back to the island, and flew them home. :P You’ll find seed at the bedrock seed bank, I believe, but apparently it’s hard to start from seed. Let me know once you get started, and I’d be happy to help if you’re looking for something specific.

  5. Mark Schneider

    Loved the video approach to showcase the changes in the yard. I have taken a different approach to the lawn issue. Like you said cut the monoculture lawn down in size and increased flower options in the front yard. I reorganized the back yard 3 years ago. The back yard includes 2 apple trees ,4 saskatoon bushes, valiant grape producing like crazy after just two years, oodles of strawberries and raspberries, not to mention fresh garlic, tomatoes and various herbs scattered throughout the flower beds. I wish you well on your garden venture. Unfortnuately we have to move and I will sadly miss this yard.
    PS Robins have a voracious appetite for saskatoons. You may have to start netting the plants.

  6. Kevin

    Mark – I’ve considered the possibility of netting berries from birds. So far so good. The most damage I get from birds so far is house sparrows eating young seedlings of chard, beets, and other leafy greens – but once the plants get bigger they completely lay off. Strange.

  7. Mel

    Kevin, thanks so much for the tips. I’ll definitely let you know if I have any more questions. Unfortunately we’re not moving until the end of August, so I might not get a chance to really start redoing the yard until next year – though if the weather in September cooperates, I’ll certainly be able to start with some of the architectural stuff, moving shrubs and digging up the grass and such. Next spring will see me planting like crazy :)

  8. the inadvertent farmer

    This was a wonderful tour of what use to be less than useful grass to an awesome edible garden…LOVE it!

    Next time could we see your yards in their entirety, would love an overview. Kim

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  10. Rebecca Gerendasy

    I love the variety you’ve worked into your space and love what you’ve done here, Kevin! We are also slowly taking away lawn and replacing with food – every year something new. Thanks for making the video, too.

  11. A Canadian Foodie

    Kevin! This is exactly, exactly, exactly what I wanted to do with our yard! Vanja has put his food down and will absolutely not dig up one more bit of lawn for gardening. I really cannot do it myself as I have serious asthma now – but believe me – I have done a ton of heavy heavy yard work int he past. By myself when I was a single mom with my gals. It was incredibly gratifying. However, it is not that I cannot do it myself. It is that he likes the lawn. So, I am stuck. Do you have a root cellar? How many deep freezers do you have? I know you hunt, and I have preserved for years, too, and have much less produce on my property that you do – and my freezers are always really full. With all of the root veggies you are growing, I would imagine you have a root cellar. How did you make that?
    And, when can I come by for a tour? This is not a rhetorical question. I would love to see the plants you have and your garden. I have documented ours here (7th season of garden) every year. I plot and diagram and work to make things make sense and grow well…. and am usually very successful after we conquer this jungle issue we return to every year. I didn’t do a garden last year as mom and dad couldn’t handle it, and neither daughter was available to tend it while we were away (but tending, I have learned that means keeping it alive). But how can I complain. We both know how much work is involved here.

  12. Kevin

    Kim – the broad overview will come. Good to hear from you.
    Rebecca – glad to hear from you, and absolutely love Cooking Up A Story – thanks for being a part of that project.
    Valerie – It’s hard work. I’m trying to get it out of the way while I’m young and designed so that it’s low-maintenance or zero maintenance when I’m older. :)
    Yes, I am just finishing building my root cellar, hence the recent posts about bin construction. I have 1 deep freeze. So far. I’m going to try to manage our food supply to not need more. How I made the root cellar is a long story – but some details are in the ‘From the Cellar’ button at the top of my blog – it also talks about the adjacent wine cellar.

    Next month may be a good time to come by. Remind me, as September is going to be crazy busy and exciting.

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  14. Todd

    Hi Kevin.. I’ve been following your blog for a little while and love it.

    I too, converted my front yard ( well, half of it ) to a garden, with 4 raised beds (4×8)… and I’ve loved it ever since.

    My first year, I pulled about $1,400 in produce out of the garden and I’ve been canning and pickling up a storm, as well as supplying my neighbors,friends, and office mates with fresh produce.

    Keep up the great writing.


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