It’s time for me to make some serious decisions about the new vegetable garden I want to plant this spring – which really is closer than you would think. Do I want to till? Do I want to plant raised “lasagna” beds? What do I want to plant? Which spot in the newly cleared back yard is the best plact to start? When do I order seeds? Now – I think. Help!
First to the tilling question. I really don’t WANT to till because of the physical labor involved and especially because of the fact that our dirt here really isn’t dirt at all, but hardpacked and gummy clay. Not the greatest soil for growing veges – in fact, some of the worst. I read one book that said clay soil requires lot of loam topsoil to be worked in for it to be useable. Well, that still requires tilling, doesn’t it?
The other option is raised beds. The downside is it can be expensive. I have a nice compost pile going – which I’ve discovered probably needs to be sifted to be used correctly. I would need to buy peat moss, topsoil and maybe more compost, depending on how big a bed I plant.
Then comes the question of close-planting or traditional spaced beds. Biointensive, close-planting is the newest thing, but one source of reading tells me it requires more water and results in small yield because plants can’t spread out.
I’m going to a meeting in a couple of weeks of long-time gardeners who have welcomed newbies like me in the past. I’ll pick their brains and see if I can learn from their experience. There is also a local chef who has a two acre garden in her back yard. She is very down to earth and friendly and has offered to answer any questions I have about getting a garden started. I may contact her.
What to grow? Well, I already know I want okra, strawberries, purple hull peas, gerkins for pickles, the traditional squash and tomatos for the DH. As for fruit, I might try grapes and figs. I know I want to use only heirloom seeds for two reasons: they have not been genetically engineered and because of that fact, I can harvest the seeds and use them the following year. There are quite a few seed sites online, but I think I will give my first glance to the Dervaes family in California. www.urbanhomestead.com. Take a glance at their website. They live on a regular city lot in a regular bungalow type house and grow thousands of pounds of produce every year. Of course, they have a year round growing season, too, but their website has been a real inspiration for me, so I want to give them my business first if they have the seeds I want. The seeds are not available quite yet. They are still working on the website for Freedom Seeds, but I’m really looking forward to seeing what they have to offer. Other sources for heirloom seeds: www.heirloomseeds.com www.seedsavers.org (I think you have to become a member there). I need to revisit some of my other favorite urban gardening/homesteading websites to get mentally geared up and a little more educated on how to go about all this.
I guess there is an old hippie in me screaming to get out. Right now, she’s tied to a computer doing data entry for the State of Oklahoma – BORING! But inside, she lives off-grid, grows her own vegetables and uses captured rainwater to water them, raises chickens, has a wind-generator and solar panels, makes hew own soap, makes quilts and teaches other people how to do all this, too. So, what is the reality? I’ll still have to work (can’t be without the health insurance), but I want to grow as much of our food as I can manage, chickens will only happen if city ordinances no longer exist and the cats can be kept at bay (especially my own!), home wind generators are not financially feasible nor are solar panels; soapmaking is definitely something I can do and I already quilt. Rain barrels are on the wish list, but they are a little pricey right now, too. I could explore the DYI kind from barrels, etc., but that would require some cooperation from the DH who is not enthusiastic at all about making these kind of lifestyle changes. Of course, if the economy worsens to the point that some are predicting, we may have no choice but to do more of the homesteading kind of thing. The only thing that would be really hard for me to give up would be central heating and air conditioning. Oklahoma gets really hot and really cold. That adjustment would be a tough one. We have explored the possibility of getting a wood stove insert for our fireplace, but again – finances. You’re talking $3000 minimum for a new one. A generator is also a possible alternative, but you have to have fuel to run it. The idea would be to keep our furnace running and minimal appliances, but if there is no natural gas we couldn’t run the furnace anyway. So, a wood stove insert would be a better choice. You can also cook on a wood stove. Something else I want to learn – hearth cooking.
Also, I finally bought all the ingredients to make homemade laundry soap. Castile bar soap, borax and washing soda. I will put it all together when I run out of my current liquid. I’ll keep you posted on how well it cleans.
Oh, well. Guess I should get to work. The database awaits.
Keep it simple