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My Friends Call Me Farmer Ted

How could I resist that joke?

Anyway, here’s a loooonng overdue post about how we went from slaves-to-the-grocer-man to completely self-sufficient pioneers.

OK. I might be exaggerating. A bit. I mean, I guess if we were happy eating only corn, green beans and zucchini we could live off our land, but Dan gets all growly without protein.

Still, as I demonstrated in a quick post last month (here), it IS totally do-able to grow your own side dishes, even if you’re city folk.

Here’s how we did it:

1) Dug a small garden bed –

We chose a spot near the mostly-useless cinderblock shed in our backyard.

We didn’t want to grow a bunch of stuff, just enough to show Sonia where food comes from & have a nice, fresh nosh from time to time. Plus, we didn’t want to eat up (ha, ha) too much of our recreation space. So Dan dug a small 4 x 6-ish plot and I cut in the edges.

Told you I’d find a way to show that shot of my shapely-looking leg again… ;-> What? Any woman can tell you how rare those are.

2) Used the ole claw-cultivator to loosen the soil

3) Raked thoroughly to remove big chunks of whatnot & mix in a some fortified garden soil

4) Added a layer of weed-blocking fabric

5) Cut holes in it

6) Dropped some seeds in as per package instructions

7) Added a layer of topsoil

8) Watered

9) Somehow didn’t get a pic of the watering

And viola… the journey from garden to plate had (hadst? hadth?) begun!

And a mere three weeks later, we had proof that we weren’t entirely incapable of feeding ourselves!

From the Department of Brief Asides:

Those are marigolds — we noticed a bunny running around in our backyard & didn’t want a Mr. McGregor-style incident to develop. We also added some simple (I was gonna say “garden variety” but it sounded too on-the-nose) wire border fencing to further discourage naughty bunnies.

My first choice of fencing didn’t work out so well. Once I got it unpackaged, I realized that the holes in between the wires were big enough that our little Peter Rabbit could link arms with Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail and all four of them could stroll through side-by-side.

Ever the ingenious optimist, I grabbed a handful of twist-ties & a little chicken wire we had laying around and began to retrofit the edging to be a more effective bunny barrier.

Sure, it worked, but it was really “classing down” the whole look of the border. Plus, it was a really tedious chore. Plus, I was running out of old chicken wire (and I wasn’t about to go buy a whole roll just to finish this kinda lame fix), so… I quit.

And went and bought a really basic roll of wire garden edging instead. Meh. I’m sure I’ll find a use for the first stuff. And if not, I’ll pass it along to somebody else. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

I didn’t get a pic of the new wire edging, either. Bad blogger!

A little serendipitous bonus: All of this edging nonsense finally explains the weird pic of the front porch I’ve been using to demonstrate progress on our porch makeover:

*Notice the floorboards? Be prepared to be blown away by my upcoming Porch Stencil reveal!

Meanwhile, back in the garden…

A few weeks (including many, many rainy days) passed and suddenly we had this lushness goin’ on:

Wow.

We’ve got corn all along the back, green beans in the front left corner, and both green & yellow zucchini in the front right. (It’s admittedly a bit crowded.)

Still… look:

Beans!

Corn!

Squash!

Or at least the promise of them…

Since the beans were coming in very quickly, we decided it was time to stake them, so they’d climb up instead of spreading out all over the rest of the bed.

We still had a small section of picket fencing left from when we built our porch gate. I was going to pull the pickets off of the cross pieces to create traditional-ish stakes, but then Dan made the very good point of… why?

The beans are all planted in one small area, so rather than risk breaking the pickets by deconstructing the fence section, he just hammered the whole thing in the center of the bean patch “as is”…

Then anchored the beans loosely to the pickets with string.

No, they don’t look all “Better Homes & Gardens”… More like something out of The Wiz. But we like that. Suits us.

Dan, Dan the Picket Hammerin’ Man Says: Hammer in cheap wood pickets gently and evenly, using a flat-plane surface to avoid splits.

This from the guy whose hammer reads “Death Stick”… just sayin’… ;->

Anyway, once we got the beans tied up, there wasn’t much more tending to do. Aside from a lone, intrepid weed here & there, the blocking fabric has worked famously.

Fast forward to late July and…

KAPOW!!!

The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye, baby!!!!

We’ve got beans for years, and Oh! The! Zucchini!

How did I not get a picture of the zucchini?

Trust me. There were zucchini. And they were huge. And delicious.

And although it’s still a couple of weeks away, we’re really looking forward to the corn harvest as well.

So, I think if there’s anything to be taken away from our little gardening seminar today, it’s this: Some big shot over at the corn company got together with some big shot over at the zucchini company and decided to screw the American public!!! (Remember that from Father of the Bride? Best. Breakdown. Ever.)

Gardening is way easier, cheaper, and more fun than we’ve been led to believe. Neither Dan nor I has done a lick of food gardening since we were recruited by our moms & grandmas back in the ’70s. We just followed our instincts — and look how well it’s turned out.

And next time we garden, we’ll do a little better because of what we learn this time. And the next time, we’ll do even better. By the time we’re comfortably settled in our dream home, we’ll have learned how to grow everything from carrots to cumquats. And we really will be a lot more self-sufficient. And that’s just cool.

I absolutely expect problems & setbacks. In fact, we’re quite concerned about a few stink bugs that have decided that our corn is a nice place to congregate. And something has begun nibbling on our bean leaves, too 😦 So we’re headed to the hardware store today to talk to our friendly neighborhood gardening professional. We’re not rolling over that easy.

Yea, despite the scourge of pestilence laid upon us, we hold dear our faith, and so we find the resolve to continue our labors, hoping each day that the rich soil provide harvest enough to fortify us through the long winter months ahead. Pray for us, my dearest Abigail. Pray with all your heart.

NEXT POST: PORCH STENCIL REVEAL!!!!!!

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