Parenting Seminars

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sometimes It Just Doesn't Work

We are in serious garden mode around here.  I'm dreaming about the garden.  I am staring at the yard all the time.  I've been waiting and waiting for the weather to turn.  To finally warm a little. I got a late start on my seeds indoors as my usual spot is now the craft table for the girls.  But I decided we needed to share it for a while.  There is no other place in our house where it can work.  I do have a cold frame outside where some seeds will be started as well.

But today we have had spectacular spring weather.  It is warm enough to open the doors and windows and air out the house.  It feels so good!  We have a drafty enough house, I'm pretty sure we have fresh air passing through regularly.  But there is something about having a breeze blow through.  Where you can see through the house from the front to the back and sunlight is blessing all those dark corners.  It makes me feel like I've been shook out like a dusty rug.
This year was going to be the first year where I actually committed real space to a full garden.  A garden that will not just produce enough for our summer meals but will produce enough for canning and storing.  I had a plan for expanding into new vegetables I've never tried.  I finally got honest about which veggies we actually eat as well so that I don't have wasted food.  But then the cost started creeping up.  A garden gives a feeling of self sufficiency, financial independence and frugality but when you start looking at how to create good soil, what types of materials won't add extra chemicals and buying the seeds or starts, suddenly a garden is quite an investment.  This doesn't even include the time and labor!!

I have to admit, a big part of this process is financial.  I want organic food that I don't have to pay crazy prices for.  I also want to connect with my food from its origin and have my children know how to grow their own food.  I also LOVE the feeling of this creative activity.  Nurturing a plant to fruit is quite remarkable and fulfilling to me.  But in the end, we don't have a bunch of money to toss out on cedar planked raised beds, yards of compost, super fancy organic starts or even organic seeds.  I can't buy soaker hoses or other irrigation systems.  I need inexpensive, found and reclaimed materials!

I discovered straw bales could be a fun easy alternative.  Just lay them out still baled.  Soak them for a couple weeks with some organic fertilizer.  Put compost on top like icing a cake.  Plant into the compost.  Voila!  This met so many of my requirements.  Cheap cost, easy assembly, raised beds.  And the bonus, trying something new gets me excited.  BUT...then I found out that most straw is sprayed with a chemical now that is killing the plants that are planted with it.  Yeah...bummer.  Organic straw is not only hard to find but much more expensive.  Ok...that's out now.

Then we thought we'd use pallets.  I had some in the yard from last year.  Originally I had built compost bins with them but the cranky neighbor decided to take it apart because there is a Seattle code that says you can't build compost bins in the alley.  You would never know this code existed if you walked down our alley or any other in the city but we happened to be situated near a neighbor that follows these rules tightly.  So the pallets hadn't been rebuilt somewhere else.  Even though these were free, after a few design attempts, the labor was quickly becoming an issue.  Lots of time and lots of work.
At this point, I now have a huge pile of fill dirt in my parking strip waiting for placement.  Its next to the rest of the woodchip pile I had dumped a month ago.  So the new plan is to mound the beds.  The beauty of this is that we will have a more organically designed space which suits us better anyway.  We're going to cover most of the grass on one half of our yard and we'll use the wood chips between the mounds as a walkway.  I feel good about this.
But I have to say, there was a moment this week when I was tired of all the adjustments.  I fell apart in a bit of a tantrum mad at everyone and everything that had been causing all the changes.  Why can't we just buy what I want?  Why can't the neighbor just leave us alone?  Why can't my husband be totally on board with every thought that runs through my head?  (yeah, I know, pretty self-indulgent)  I get it now.  Sometimes plans just don't go the way we intend but that doesn't mean they aren't still perfect in the end.  And I got the clear message that flexibility and staying true to our family vision was a lesson I needed to learn.

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