Gardening as an Adult: Part 3 – The Beginning

I have so many things to write about and catch up on that I don’t know where to start. But for now, I want to close out the gardening as an adult thread. Not because I’m going to be any less adult or because I’m going to stop gardening, but because that’s it. I’m caught up. I’ve given you the extent of my solitary gardening experiences, unless you want to count the beans I planted in high school and placed in dark cabinets.

I didn’t think so.

In the three years that we’ve lived in this tiny little hillside house, this is how it’s been:

  • Year 1: We had just moved in and our garden was 50 miles away in another county. Even if we wanted to garden, the place was so overrun with pine trees that any plants would have died for lack of nutrients and sun. You could barely see the house, let alone the ground.

View from above. The legacy is a 5.2 pH level

  • Year 2: We were finally tearing down the trees. You could start to see the yard and that there was space to work with. We were pulling down the honeysuckle bushes going across the back fence and tore out some invasive bushes in the backyard by hooking them to the tow hitch on Mike’s truck. The worst part, though, was the water problems in the basement. This meant the careful landscaping was torn apart and the loosely tended azaleas in the front yard were dug out. But we needed a dry basement.
  • Year 3: We wanted a garden. We wanted to grow our own produce but started too late, so we bought 6 large pots and 6 small ones. We filled them with potting soil, blueberries, tomatoes, strawberries and peppers. We watered them and tended to them. We yelled at Huck when he plucked strawberries off the vines and blueberries off the bushes. And then, all of a sudden, they died. Our garden was over and our lone apple tree provided us with 5 apples–the European hornets hollowed out the rest.

Late last year, or perhaps it was early this year, Mike and I were talking about where to put the garden. We could build a 10 x 10 area in the backyard and fence it off, he said. “But I can’t grow anything,” I said. “All those plants last year, they died. I can’t keep a plant alive.”

That’s when I learned that he got eager, wanted so very much to be sure they were healthy that he fertilized them. And he either fertilized them too soon or too often, but either way, they were burned. And as sad as it is to say, I was happy, because it wasn’t my fault. There was still a chance.

Early this year I learned more about heirloom tomatoes and about purchasing non-GMO foods where I could. And I learned of Baker Creek seeds, and once I saw their pictures it was all over. I went crazy, and bought seeds on a hope that perhaps I could grow and nurture plants.

Turns out I can, and I have 60 extra plants in my car port to prove it.

This year will be the true test of our gardening abilities. We’ve gone from 0 to 60, but that’s the type of people we are. We have 13 blueberry bushes, 4 apple trees, 12 raspberry and blackberry vines (I call them sticks), a three sisters plot, the nightshade garden, two raised beds, a front bed for tomatoes and a long 40 x 2 bed for lettuce but which will be its pumpkin patch. We plan on putting 2 peach trees in this weekend.

So there you have it. The big adventure. The big gardening adventure that makes my fingers itch to plant because there’s nothing more satisfying than trying something and seeing it flourish from seed to maturity, and I can’t wait to see everything bear fruit.

Bees Can’t Read

Did you know that even though we went to classes every week, attended field day and, admittedly, only skimmed the coursebook, bees don’t attend the same things? No, the bees just show up, move right into their own home and proceed to do one thing to get off the ground: build.

After we installed our hives, we let the bees be for a week. We wanted them to get used to the queens, accept them, and build up some beautiful comb for them to lay in.

Well, they seemed happy enough with the queens and they did build, but rather than build on the foundation and frames, they built comb stretching off the inner cover like this:

Continue reading

How it Started

Our house in 2010 when we bought it

There’s a few beginnings I could start at. I could start with our childhoods. I could start with this past winter preparing. I could start with when we met, our farm experiences, our first dog together, our respective experiences with farms.

In time.

But this time I’ll start with the simplest place:

Our house. Or should I say our homestead? Our microfarm?–I almost want to laugh at myself typing it, but that’s because I have trouble taking myself seriously until I do something serious.

By May 2010, we realized something had to change. Continue reading