Sunday, May 26, 2013

What's at Stake

This is a year of big changes for us -- a new house, new chickens and even a new way of gardening.

Ten years ago, at our country farmette, we grew asparagus, rhubarb, a huge vegetable garden and even grapes. My kids can't believe we had grapes just feet from the kitchen door, but that was part of the beauty of country living. That and a garage in our basement. And horse next door that scared our nervous dog.

From that house, we moved into the city. Like the city, across from a hospital and next to an apartment building.

We tried gardening. We wanted very much to make it work, but it never seemed to happen for us. Some years, we'd get a few tomatoes and herbs. Our mint and lemon balm plants produced more and more, while our vegetable plants produced less and less.

I think I knew we were in real trouble the year our neighbor got a Topsy Turvy and brought us his excess tomatoes. The gardening snob in my just couldn't handle his extra upside-down cast-offs.

And so, when we moved into this house, we began planning right away. Our kind friends even made us a garden bed to get us started, and we planted garlic and shallots last fall.

We've never beed raised bed people -- we instead would borrow a roto-tiller and wrestle with it until we had a trapezoid patch of mud chunks. From there, we'd plant and hope for the best.

But our fall garden bed looked great in the yard, and so this spring we built one and a half more. We've filled our beds with organic heirloom seeds and plants, and so far, our boxes are blooming.

I wish we had room for more, but as it is, our 2.5 beds are pretty packed -- so much so that the usual large tomato cages that we employed back when there was room for a grape arbor take up a lot of real estate in our smaller garden patch.

We decided to try staking them this year instead. I used some old long underwear pants from my kiddos to create strips of fabric. One of my favorite manuals for sustainable backyard living, Little House in the Suburbs, warned against using anything that could dig into our tender tomatoes. They suggested pantyhose. I think I had those one time -- they're like yoga pants for businesspeople, right?

I'm not sure this new approach will work. I may find myself still purchasing tomato cages instead of relying on recycled pants and stakes from the garage, but for us, this year is about embracing the change.

Everything we do may not work. But we will learn. And that learning will make every year to come just that much easier.

What are you growing this year? Have you made any changes to your garden?


  1. HI there! I just found your blog through the Simple Homeschool blog. I really like how you write. I think we could possibly be friends did we live anywhere near each other, which obviously we don't since I saw snow in your previous posts...of which we had none this year! But I have enjoyed spending way too much time on here this morning reading your past posts:-)So any way I just wanted to say hello!

    1. Hi Rachel! What a sweet note! Thank you so much for stopping by to say hello!