I have thus far not been very active in the Sustainable Eats Urban Farm Handbook Challenge, though I love reading about it. I already compost and just found out I have built my soil up pretty well (February), and I've just been too busy to make any dairy products (March). One past attempt at making creme fraiche notwithstanding, dairy is something I may dabble with for fun, but I can get fantastic products at my farmers' market--and a family of two just does not eat that much! However, with April we are getting into the gardening challenges--my cup of tea! The first challenge, from Erica's Northwest Edible Life, is to grow something, from seed, and it must be something you have not grown before. To expand my herb repertoire, I am growing fenugreek, cumin, caraway, and chamomile. In the vegetable garden, I am growing spinach and pak choy from seed for the first time, plus new varieties of peas, lettuce, and onions. (Once it warms up, I have new varieties of okra, beans, and squash to plant).
second challenge, from the Seattle Urban Farm Company, is to practice pest prevention. This is something that I get a lot of gratification from. Not only are you attracting and nourishing beneficial insects, you have pretty flowers to look at. Some beneficial insect favorites in the garden include yarrow and cilantro/fennel/parsley (I let them all bolt). I also grow mint and other herbs, plus anise hyssop (more for the hummingbirds, but glad to hear it fits the bill), lavender, Echinacea, and Monarda.
Related to challenge #1, I'll be planting a new seed, of Alyssum--another
tiny flower for tiny insects. I've noticed many predatory wasps and
flies hovering around the garden, and they are interesting to watch in
addition to helping a gal out. I don't want to jinx myself, but I
believe having these flowers surround my garden, as well as attracting
birds, makes a big difference.