The plot of land is a tiny 1/10 acre. Two giant walnut trees next door shade out the sun from above and sabotage undergrowth with toxins released from their massive roots. The heavy, tired soil around the 92-year-old house is likely contaminated with lead. Various critters such as wily squirrels, prolific snails, horrifyingly huge leopard slugs and two spolied schnoodles consipre to uproot, devour and trail slime across everything green.

These pages logs one amateur’s bumbling attempts to create an aesthetically pleasing edible landscape despite the odds. For those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to have an expansive, sunny estate with mild winters and rich, sandy loam – there is hope. In my patch of land in Merion Village, a mile outside of downtown Columbus, Ohio, I don’t expect everything I attempt to grow will flourish. I don’t expect everything that flourishes will be delicious. I just want to do my best to make my yard as delicious and beautiful as possible and encourage other aspiring gardeners lacking ideal conditions to create their own microfarm.

I should say, I have a head start. After buying our house in June of 2008, I started work on the backyard microfarm in the spring of 2009. After building three raised beds and gleaning tomatoes, eggplant, arugula and more (and suffering many crop failures and disappointments), I caught garden fever. While I’m committed to local food, organic principles and sustainibility, I’m not a fundamentalist about these things. So join me as I dig around the backyard.