Mine is coming together. Slowly.
Spring is popping up colors all around. Since this is the first spring we have spent in this house, it’s like a little surprise party every day seeing what bulbs and plants are poking their way through the ground now that the weather has warmed up.
The previous owners left us a little 6’x2′ plot which I am expanding another 6 feet in length (this required the removal of two slightly dead bushes – thanks, Alex!). Ideally, turning over the soil should have happened in the fall (and this means I will have to do some more digging this fall) but I wanted to make sure the soil was good enough for this spring’s plantings. In so doing, I have discovered a number of roots from the large tree just to the left of where the above picture cuts off that extend right underneath this garden plot.
And what am I planting? So far: lettuce, tomatoes, green beans, and cucumbers, which I have (or will) start from seed indoors.
Once the farmer’s market starts back up in a couple weeks, I plan to obtain some more seedlings to transplant into my garden (there’s only but so much a novice gardener like myself can handle solo).
The ideals of thrift and self-sufficiency make sense to me, and that is why I am going to use the “square-foot gardening” method, championed by Mel Bartholomew in his book, Square Foot Gardening. The business has expanded primarily to sell ready-made raised bed gardens, but the concept can still be applied to in-ground gardens. Basically, to better control pests while maintaining economical levels of watering, fertilizer, and other supplies, Bartholomew explains how to make the most of the space that you have by planting in ways that will yield an appropriate amount of food for your household without wasting seeds or space. Gardening in a smaller space makes it easier to catch and stop problem insects before they take over your crops. Once I get some seedlings in the ground, I will detail how I am applying his method.
Lest you think my food blog is morphing into a gardening blog, let me assure you that while self-sufficiency is an idea that truly appeals to me, I am updating you on my kitchen garden progress merely for the promises it offers of the freshest vegetables the amateur chef part of me can access. Plus, I will know how the food is grown (because I did it myself) and it is the essence of local–seriously, how great is it that I can walk 15 feet out into my backyard to (hopefully) grab something delicious to eat? In addition, my garden experiments are also serving as an invitation to me to try my hand at canning and preserving–an art which I have long yearned to master–which, will in turn give me more foodie things to report to you.
But I won’t deny that there’s this idyllic, pastoral part of me who dreams of living on a somewhat isolated piece of farmland spending time outdoors and growing all the food for my family. Waking up in the morning to pilfer fresh eggs from a few chickens and rewarding them slugs from my morning walk-through of the garden; feeling sweat trickle down the side of my face and the small of my back as I prepare a new piece of ground to nurture tender seedlings; escaping the heat of the day inside the house to bake or can or cook; and returning for a final walk through or even an evening meal in the garden–these are all images in my head that appeal to me, even, make me giddy. Sure, I know it’s not easy. Weeds happen. I can’t control the weather. But still there’s something magical about watching a seed sprout and grow and eventually produce something edible. And that nurturing sense of power motivates me to continue learning in the kitchen, too. Sure, there’s a bit of a learning curve for me seeing as I didn’t grow up on a farm or anything. And sure, I’m a little bit scared starting out. But also tremendously excited.
So I’ll plan to limit my garden updates to you to once a week or less–we’ll say, Sundays will be a garden update day. How does that sound? Oh, and hey, are you growing anything edible this year in the ground? Or in a container perhaps? Or on a sunny windowsill inside? I’d love to know what you’re up to and what your thoughts are on growing your own food. Leave a comment with your green- (or other colored)thumbed thoughts.