May 5, 2010
Let me be clear; I’m not an expert on gardening. I just wanted you to know that, in case you were looking for one. I am, however, a persistent gardener, something I think every doomer should be – even a conflicted doomer like me.
Actually, I have several “gardens” going at various times of the year. My number one garden is out in the backyard. It’s shaped like a double H – three long strips, each about three by ten feet, connected across the middle of the strips by my asparagus bed – and has about 130 square feet of actual growing space. I set it up this way for two reasons. First, I have an old, closed head injury that leave me off balance most days, so I can get in between each of the beds to pick the vegetable without having to reach so far that I tip over and crush something. Second, I’m getting on toward seventy, as I mentioned in my last post, and I think a garden should accommodate the gardener as much as the other way around.
My number two garden is a plastic covered frame, four by four feet, three feet tall, with a lid that I can open and hook to the porch frame for ventilation when it’s hot. It sits on my small south porch and, since the porch is covered, is shaded during the hottest part of the summer days. Mostly, I use it to grow lettuce, onions and carrots in the spring and fall and through the winter if it doesn’t dip into the single digits at night – which is most winter nights around here. I have three growing boxes inside the frame. Right now, in addition to the lettuce, I have my tomato and pepper starts in there. They’re ready to transplant to the backyard garden in a week or so.
My frame garden last year
Then, there is what I affectionately call “my weed garden” – actually, most of my front and back yards before they’re mowed. I’m serious about this. I live in an old neighborhood in a 110-year-old house. The two things I noticed, when I went out to plant my first backyard garden were the abundance of weeds and, when I turned the soil over, the abundance of earthworms. I took both as signs of soil fertility and as a lack of chemical usage by previous owners and dug in. I haven’t used a weed killer since. Every spring, the yard has rewarded me with an abundance of edible weeds (yes, I carefully checked them out on the internet and a couple of books I bought) to augment my lettuce salads until the backyard garden starts producing.
To add to this abundance, there’s the potted herb garden I keep in front of a sunny south window, the sprouts I grow on the kitchen cabinet all winter, the old, black walnut tree at the back of the yard, the blueberry bush and the three grape vines I planted along the neighbor’s fence – with the promise that, if they’d let the grape vines grow up the fence, they could have whatever grew on their side – the rhubarb plant and the strawberries, a dwarf orange tree that should start producing this year and the “dwarf” banana tree that has grown so large, I can walk under it’s top leaves and so cumbersome it’s now consigned to what I call “the banana tree room” until it (or I) dies. Although it has never produced any bananas, it’s only three years old, so I’m still hopeful. This fall, before the first frost, I’ll clip a leaflet from one of the tomato plants, root it in some water and pot it. I’ll set it in that room with the sunny south window – somewhere between the herb garden and the banana tree – and if I’m lucky, will have some nice, tart cherry tomatoes to go with the lettuce and sprouts this winter.
Even if you’re not a doomer like me, food gardens are good things. You can tuck a surprising amount of edibles into a city yard, a sunny room or even a kitchen counter. Start small, if the idea of a big garden scares you. That’s what I did. Use heritage seeds (I like www.rareseeds.com) and you can cut the cost of buying seeds each year by saving some from your garden (http://www.seedsave.org/issi/issi_904.html).
Well, it’s a warm, sunny day here in the Ozarks; the asparagus is coming up like crazy and I’m off to pick a couple of batches – one to eat; one to blanch and freeze for this winter. You never know, doom might sneak in before first snowfall.