Problem is, we’ve sorta lost our foundation in the last half of the 20th century and grown far removed from time-honored traditions of working the soil.
Now, as I sit here typing on a computer you can imagine that I don’t think we need to slave in the fields like our ancestors. In fact I’m glad for many modern conveniences like electricity, cars, and grocery stores. What I’m striving for, though, is balance. I don’t want to totally loose the do-for-yourself, independent-mindedness of those in our past. There are a lot of things to be learned from the them and their experiences.
Like getting our hands (and knees…) dirty in the soil. Grow whatever you’d like, I just encourage you to get that connection with living things, the seasons, and providing for ourselves that you can get through gardening. Personally, I get the most satisfaction from growing food that I can then feed my family with, but I wouldn’t be without some flowers, either.
Don’t think you can, or don’t know where to start? If you remember these points this, too, can be simple, frugal, and fun:
- Start small. Really, truly. Don’t till the back 40, plant enough for the whole neighborhood and then wonder why anyone does this when you’re looking at a sea of weeds come July and feeling like all you do is water come August.
- Build a raised bed to get the best soil and least amount of weeds.
- Use the no-till method (or lasagna method) to make it easier and lessen the amount of weeds.
- Use a soaker hose and a timer to water.
- Invest in good soil from a landscape center and you will not have to fight all the weeds inadvertently transported from the back 40. Trust me, the few dollars savings is. not. worth. it.
- Don’t be discouraged by setbacks (and there will be some) caused by animals, insects, weather, or human mistakes. It happens, so just accept it from the beginning.
- Grow only what you like or you family will eat. Don’t be seduced by what you think you should be growing- that’s just a waste.
- Decide how much time and money you can spend and then plan accordingly. There are lots of gadgets you can spend money on, but you don’t need them to grow things, really.
- Start small. Oh, I said that already. But I really mean it. I’ve had so many people give up and tell me “It’s so much work” when they’ve bitten off more than they wanted to chew.
So, maybe you’re interested, but you think it’s too late in the season? Not off the hook that easily! There are lots of flowers that you can plant that bloom in the fall and plenty of vegetables that you can grow for fall harvest.
You can plant carrots, beets, turnips, and parsnips in July for harvesting the end of September and October. Try a fall crop of peas, lettuce, spinach, chard and kale. Start them in August, keeping them shaded and watered. Broccoli and cabbage can be grown now for fall as well. Check your local nursery for fall vegetable starts that work for your area.
Here are some practical ideas from my garden, plus our weekly Tuesday Garden Party link ups where you can visit gardens to get more ideas and inspiration:
Want a quick raised bed without having to build one? Try cinder blocks. Here we used the blocks for a quick bed for some strawberries, and I’ve seen Garden Party links that have also used the holes to grow lettuce and other quick crops (be aware, though, that the holes tend to dry out fast in the hottest weather).
And at $1.28 each, it’s an inexpensive and permanent bed…though maybe not the most attractive.
Want proof that starting small can still produce rewards? This 3×4 bed has provided our family’s lettuce for almost two months and I’ve planted bush beans as I harvested the lettuce which will start producing in a few weeks.
How about this? In this 3×4 bed are all our storage onions for the winter. Our summer onions will see us through until about October, then these will take over and provide onions until February or March.
And hopefully you won’t be visited by deer in the middle of the night like I was. If you look closely, all the lettuce has been eaten off, and most of the carrots tops. Ugh. Here’s hoping they grow back (gee, maybe I should’ve put the wire over it earlier?).
OK, now lets see how your gardens are growing!