Thursday, June 21, 2007

Farewell, Stone Angel, plus planning to become a "real" gardener.

I made my last run through The Stone Angel, which is closing it's doors on Sunday. Picked up some old keys for Von, a small wool braided rug that goes well in our living room in front of the door, and a beautiful simple very solid oak bookcase for a mournful song, as the sellers' explained to me with set jaws and sad eyes that they were selling what was left of their stock for next to nothing because they're getting out of the business. There was so much else I would have like to have gotten, but nothing else I could justify buying.

Other than that, I did my requisite hour of floor scraping, watered the garden, and ran some errands which included buying myself a copy of Square Food Gardening.

Oh geezus. "Square FOOD Gardening." Well, actually, let me run with that for a moment instead of correcting it to square FOOT gardening. I've done a lot of research and really feel that the whole square foot gardening thing would work well for me, so one of my projects for this fall is going to be to transfer the flowers out of the temporary garden area into more permanent locations, then build four 4x4 raised beds there as a starting point.

The biggest challenge I'm facing is how to plan what, when and how much to plant. I don't want to plant just for planting's sake and end up with stuff that goes to waste. I'm realizing how tough it can be to plan out a garden for just two people, especially since I'll freeze but I'm definitely not going to can. And so far my only knowledge of "when to plant" is based on noticing when the school's Ag department has their annual plant sale: Stuff's on sale? Time to plant. And what do I plant? Whatever they're selling, which means tomatoes, peppers and herbs.

What I need is a serious gardening mentor. I'm thinking about trying to find someone out here who I could hire to come out for an hour or two twice a month just to go over what I need to do in the next couple of weeks. I need structure and a plan that I can follow - that's why the grid setup of the SFG method seems as if it will work well for me.

There are a number of reasons why I'm feeling so motivated to do this gardening. One is just that it's in my blood: I grew up with my Granny's garden being a fact of existence, a huge area tilled by hand in her back and side yard, enough vegetables to feed her family all year once the canning and freezing was done. Another is that as odd as it sounds, I have less easy access where I'm living now, in a small town in the middle of a mostly rural county, to locally grown fresh veggies and fruit than I did when I lived in the city and was a member of the local food coop - most of the produce at the bigger produce stands isn't local, and the dept of transportation shut down all the little farmer-run ones claiming that they were traffic hazards. I'll still search out local melons and corn (at least for now), but other things I'm going to start trying to grow myself. An other big reason sounds trendy and trite, but it really is important to me to lower the fuel cost of my food, and focus as much as possible on eating what's in season and grown nearby. And my final big reason is that there are things I love that no one sells around here, at least not fresh and local: Russian kale and sugar snap peas are two that come to mind.

I just need to learn what the hell I'm doing. My days of being a "stick it in the ground and see what happens" are over, or at least I want them to be.

Oh, and last night I gave up on sniffing that pretty little tomato and finally ate it - this time with a spritz of extra-virgin olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Heaven, sheer heaven.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Square Food Gardening is actually a very good typo! :)

Actually, that's a great thing to want to get started with. I'd be happy to answer questions, and if I don't know the answers, I can ask my mom, who should. I post all my gardening stuff on my blog DisOrganization

Essentially, what I would do to begin (before you buy anything or jump in feet first) is keep track of what you eat for a while. Then, make a new list of what you can grow that you eat. Toss in a couple of experiments (this year, mine is quinoa), and you'll be well on your way to gardening nirvana. :)

This year, I'm growing eggplant, tomatoes (of course--I have 58 plants!), peppers, pole beans, green beans, shell beans, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, spaghetti squash, delicata squash, sweet dumpling squash, quinoa, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes (eight varieties), swiss chard, beets, Jenny Lind melons, broccoli, and I already dug up my garlic and onions. I also have carrots and lettuce and peas.

I am all for reducing fuel costs for food. I'm actually participating in One Local Summer this year
and so far it's been really interesting and challenging!

This comment is way too long. If you want to email me, my email is jenstclair at