In Our Garden
This time of year the daily maintenance of the garden has slowed and the temperature becomes mild. The grass requires its final mowing of the year and the horses’ coats are starting to thicken. My friends in less temperate climates have already had a freeze but we are still picking green beans and on our second planting of cucumbers. It is an easy time to be in the deep south.
This year we finally got enough wood chip to give a good coating to the 10 50’ raised beds that make up half of our garden. More on this later but the right mulching is key to water regulation and weed suppression. It is a great relief. Our brassicas are well along and have done a great job establishing themselves after transplant.
Now is the time to start planning next year’s garden so I’m glad you have requested your seed catalogs. It is so exciting to plan. I’ve heard it said that gardeners are eternal optimists and there is truth in the sentiment. I’m not sure what came first, the optimism or the gardening, because there is something encouraging in working with soil and plants. There is much in the act that restores the soul.
Location, location, location. Now is the time to find your plot. Where will you be growing? You are looking for a space with at least 6 hours of sunlight and relatively close to your water source but in a place that drains well. If there is green slime on top of the soil, it is too wet.
You also need to decide how much space you need. If you want to feed a family of 4 you should aim for ¼ acre but I do not recommend starting that big. In fact, if you are not in a huge hurry or do not intend to provide most of your diet from your garden, I recommend starting small, around 100 sq feet per person. The logic is that you will get as much from a small, well tended space as a large, poorly tended space. And you will stress less.
With this in mind, find your space and then spend a day noticing just how much light it receives.
Mistakes We’ve made
As I have already mentioned, our first garden together was an epic disaster. One not so insignificant reason for our failure was the lack of a water hydrant in the vicinity. With our next garden we set up irrigation but I had to mow over the trunk line that lay across our yard every week and detach it from the faucet for a myriad of reasons. These days we have a hydrant we ran to the garden and our irrigation is as unobtrusive to the rest of our space as possible. Learn from our mistakes and plan how you are going to irrigate ahead of time. If you need to rethink your location, do so.
If you do not currently cook with fresh herbs, make a point of doing so. It is addictive. Just start with one recipe. Google your favorite herb and see what comes up or specifically look to Indian and Middle Eastern dishes for liberal use of beautiful, verdant green herbs. We love Tabouli with piles of fresh parsley and a touch of mint. Herbs are pretty easy to grow, even in containers and year round. They can transform your cooking with minimal effort.
Chew on This
This is a good start in about a minute for those who are not already conscientious eaters.
If you haven’t seen Food Inc yet, now would be a good time. It will motivate you to know the source of your food and help you understand the current system. There have been strides made in the meat industry since the film was made but the basics have remained the same.
Food Inc is available through Netflix and Amazon Prime.