Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Being producers not just consumers

So I'm really excited about me and Daniel's new project. I have blogged about in the past about how we're trying to live a frugal and healthy lifestyle (not frugal- eat value meals from McDonald's everyday!) One of the things we try to do is be producers rather than only consumers. We all know we live in a very consumeristic society. In my grandparents days they had their own cows, pigs, chickens, gardens, made their own soap, clothes... I'm interested in this, but not ready to forgo all modern conveniences. Using a clothes line part time has made me grateful for my washer and dryer. People had in rough, they really worked hard back in the day.

Anyway, my neighbor cut a tree down in the side yard beside our garage so we decided we had enough light for a little garden. My brother sent me a link to a site with detailed instructions for building a raised bed. My friends at the market who have very successful gardens swear by raised bed vegetable gardens for many reasons: good drainage, less insect problems, you can easily create a little area of great dirt among a clay yard (ours:), and there are probably other reasons too.

So Daniel got some wonderfully beautiful cedar boards for me; I love cedar- the smell, the knots, mmmm. You could use pine like my more frugal brother did, both will probably hold up well. But the wood needs to be untreated. So Daniel didn't exactly follow the lady's instructions, but he is very handy so we have a lovely bed. I can't exactly give you instructions, so follow the pioneer woman's. Me and Barley tried to help, but we were definitely the dumb labor:) After the bed was assembled we put some cardboard down to kill any weeds (or grass if you have a lawn, not a weed bed). We dumped some leaves in to facilitate drainage and compost down. Daniel then dumped out all the potting soil we had in unused pots, and it was a lot. We then disagreed about what to fill the rest of the bed up with. My farmer friend told me to put compost, we don't have much compost yet. So Daniel wanted to go get a truckload of cheap clay dirt, trying to be frugal. I on the other hand, know from my years of working at the yard and garden center that if you use crummy dirt, you will get crummy plants. So we were in a gridlock, not wanting to spend a fortune on good dirt but wanting to have good dirt for our seeds. I went to my friends at Callaway's Yard and Garden center where I worked for half of my life. We asked for broken bags and they cut us a good deal. Frugal tip: ask for broken bags at smaller yard and garden centers, they're messy but will save you some bucks.

So after our dirt dilemma was peacefully resolved we started some seeds. I bought some heirloom seeds from the health food coop, any seeds would do. I want to save my seeds from year to year (assuming I actually produce any fruit), and heirloom vegetables usually taste better and are more disease resistant. We used cardboard egg cartons, punched little holes in the bottom, used seed starter (special little bag of dirt), and kept moist. Our seeds have been going for about 3 weeks, other than the few honeydew melon sprouts Barley decided to snack on they are doing great. We are in the midst of a cold snap, 40˚ this morning! But hopefully we'll plant the seedlings soon. My farmer friend says as soon as they have their second set of leaves and it is warm enough. I stocked up on organic fertilizer and bug treatments from the coop, so we'll see how my organic garden is going to progress. Hopefully the future posts won't be as late coming as this one. I hope my garden produces well, I feel like I have much to learn!

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