I’ll admit it: winter is starting to get on my nerves. On the plus side, it’s 5:30 as I type this and it is just starting to get dark, so that’s progress. I miss our walks, and my picture taking, and not having to wear umpteen layers of clothes just to leave the house. I’m ready for spring, in a big way.
I’m particularly excited that one of our big projects this spring/summer is going to be a garden. It’s a little hard to plan, since we’re not quite sure where we will be living when it’s time to actually plant the thing, but I’m in full-fledged research mode. We each have different motivations for doing this. The VEB simply wants to know where his food comes from. I, on the other hand, like the challenge: I want to see if we can do it, actually grow some of our own food. Also, the conspiracy theorist in me worries that one day we might HAVE to grow our own food, whether it’s because of a power grid failure or the zombie apocalypse, and I want to be ready.
While some of my earliest memories are of following my grandfather around in his garden, I’m not banking on having retained much from that experience. Because I’m the sort of person who believes there is a book that will tell you how to do pretty much anything, I marched off to Barnes & Noble the other day and bought The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible by Edward C. Smith. I also bought a Moleskine Garden Journal, just so that when the VEB said “we should keep a notebook on this stuff” I could whip the journal out of my bag and say, “Already done.” (True story.) The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding, but at least at the outset I’m finding the book quite helpful in thinking about how we might proceed. I’m convinced one or two small raised beds are probably our best bet, and since the VEB has enough carpentry skills to build a cat tree I’m banking on him being able to screw together a couple of boards. We each made a list of what we wanted in the garden, and I made us pick our top 5 choices. We came up with:
- snap peas
- lettuce (regular, spinach & arugula)
- winter squash
It remains to be seen whether or not this is a realistic list for first-time gardeners; one of the repeated admonitions is to not start too big, and to start with a few items to see what works. Plus, on top of the vegetables, we also want some semblance of an herb garden and raspberry bushes. I want a nice flower patch as well, partly to encourage helpful bugs and, of course, birds. However, I am confused about the advice to have a birdhouse and birdbath nearby the garden – I understand they eat bugs, but I would think they would also eat the stuff growing in the garden…I mean, isn’t that the point of scare crows? I also worry about being able to tell good bugs from bad bugs, and then the critter control stuff – deer, skunks and raccoons in particular. I’m thinking about composting too, and how one might go about that in a smallish amount of space.
I can also see that this is not going to be an inexpensive project. Since we own nothing in the way of gardening tools or supplies, plus the construction of the raised beds, even BEFORE we buy seedlings this will not be cheap. (Happily we both have spring birthdays!) Our motivations are not to save money, but I do plan to keep track of what we spend. It may turn out that doing a CSA every summer is a better investment for us – we’ll see. And, since we will be renting, much of what we do will boil down to how much our landlord will let us get away with, and how long we think we will stay. Still, I’m looking forward to it, however it shakes out!
(Sort of oddly, this is the only garden-ish photo I have, and it was taken on the grounds of Blarney Castle in Ireland. Go figure.)