Well, Mama isn’t just about making things. She also grows things. I became interested in gardening after reading the book that honestly changed my life (Beat the System, by Gary Paulsen). In the book, which is about living with very little money, he discusses the importance of growing your own food if you are serious about saving money on edibles.
But I had my first taste of gardening when I was living with a family as a nanny a year later. She had a garden, just a small raised bed with some tomatoes and cucumbers, but I was hooked. I loved watering it, weeding it, harvesting from it, and most of all eating those little cherry tomato gems, and even the cucumbers, a vegetable that I had previously disliked.
After I moved back home the next year I made 2 small beds myself at my parent’s house. When I moved out and travelled in my van, I worked at an organic farm in Florida for a month or so, which introduced me to the wonders and deliciousness of kale.
But it wasn’t until i had my own house that I could really go to town, and now in my fourth year of gardening here, now that I finally have most of the growing area fenced off from invading groundhogs and deer, I am finally starting to really feed myself from the garden.
So without further ado, here’s the garden:
This (above) is the first area I dug up. The dirt was soft and rich, and my plants have always done well here. It’s the front yard, right in front of my porch. From right to left I have: peppers (hot and sweet), 2 pumpkin plants (one going back against the house and one going into the sidewalk), the strawberry bed, celery, and broccoli. I harvested lettuce from the celery bed earlier in the year, and I picked a pumpkin and cooked it up last week.
I’m now on the porch looking down to the left of previous picture, on the other side of the walkway to the house. This has been my prime gardening spot for years. The soil is nice, though not as nice as the other side of walkway, but this part isn’t shaded by my neighbor’s tree, so it is more productive.
I’ve harvested loads of cherry tomatoes and about 20 lbs of early girl tomatoes that I made into sauce, which is the first time I’ve been able to make a batch of sauce with 100% of my own tomatoes! That’s a volunteer pumpkin in the corner with the big yellow flower.
This is to the right of the last picture, uphill from the tomatoes. I started this area last year, but it wasn’t fenced, and there was a big bush shading things. I sawed down the ugly bush, expanded the area, and put boards and fence around it.
These beds have green beans, black beans for drying, corn, butternut squash, cantaloupe, cucumbers, and zucchini. There’s a struggling pot of basil too. I have harvested as many green beans as i need for fresh eating, but not enough for freezing. The dried beans are drying on the plants, the cantaloupes are green and growing, the corn is small, but tasty. The cucumber that I got was tasy, but the plants have been struck down, so I’m not likely to get any more. I’ve had a steady stream of zucchini, and the butternut squashes are almost ripe for picking.
These five beds are to the right of the beans, in front of my car. These beds have been there since the first year as well, but just this year I fenced them, which enabled me to actually get the food I was growing in them. I had lettuce in them this year and garlic and the kale that is still there. I just planted fall lettuce, spinach, broccoli, and carrots. There is also a line of basil in there that I planted a month ago, which I hope grows up before the first frost.
This is the future site of my garden expansion, looking uphill from the last picture (to the left of my car). I started clearing the area last fall, and spent about 5 hours more clearing what you see here. The hill is choked with weeds, wild grapevines, and poison ivy. I plan on terracing the hillside with cinderblocks, and planting a few dwarf fruit trees along the road side of it.