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Living in the city and not having acreage to grow a lot of food means having to determine what are the best edibles to grow. My winter squash was at the top of my list to eliminate from my growing scheme this year. I have been saving seed from my honey nut squashes and growing them vertically for about eight years. I made the decision to put in more berry plants throughout the garden in the areas I would have usually placed my winter squash. I have enjoyed growing winter squash, but it is not a good use of my small city lot. I don’t have the option to move, so it was not an easy decision. I enjoyed growing them, but something had to go.

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I can pick up an”organically” grown squash at our local farmer markets, and we have about 6 farmer markets in the Quad Cities to choose from as well as year-round market. Winter squash needs room to roam which is why I grew it vertically for the past decade. We live in an area of the USA where there is an abundance of organic winter squash which makes it not one of the crops, I need to grow each year. Even our organic section in the grocery store sells them very cheaply in the fall from local farmers, and our new organic health food store will be selling locally grown foods within a 50-mile radius. Squash is just not a vegetable that is too pricey or difficult to find locally.

I eat steel-cut oats every morning due to the health benefits, low-cost and just easy to make ahead if you store them cooked up in the fridge. I have found it is a quick breakfast since I don’t usually make a large breakfast anymore since my kids no longer live with us. We are empty nesters, and we can eat what we want; No one complaining they don’t like this or that anymore in the morning or tired of the same old same old!

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I made a conscious decision the past few years to add more berry bushes to our small city lot due to the HIGH cost to purchase organic berries at the grocery store. We have some berry farms locally that you can go and pick a variety of berries, but they are not organically grown. I have found them even a bit expensive at the local farmer markets; I needed to figure out how to produce more berries on our property.

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I love black currants and put in a few more bushes!

Every morning with my steel-cut oats, I add a cup full of organic berries. This winter, I used up my frozen berries a bit quickly which meant I had to purchase fresh or frozen berries at the grocery store. The organic berries at the local store were in small containers about 5 dollars which we would have eaten in a day or two! The only other option was to purchase frozen organic berries which were not as bad but still a bit pricey when you eat them every morning as we do for breakfast.

Since 2015, we have added more berry-producing plants, for example, native cranberry, aronia, varieties of blueberries, blackberries, currant, strawberries and honeyberries to our Urban Potager.They make great landscape plants, and some like the cranberry and blueberry have beautiful fall color for the landscape, spring blossoms and yummy berries, so worth the effort.

Tis the time of year to purchase new berry plants and get them in the garden, what are you waiting for this spring? They have new varieties that can be grown in containers. Yep, I have a few of those and will write more about them later after I trial them a bit in our Urban Potager this growing season.

Written by Robbie

M.S. Education, , Organic Gardener, soil + nature lover, former modern dancer