Urban homesteading in the middle of the city.
Do you have a fond memory of childhood that brings you back to a state of mind to before we had to worry about bills and responsibility? Any time that happens to me, a mental video plays in my mind like an old film projector. Faces of friends and the sound of innocent laughter immediately bring a grin across these cheeks. Gardening is a memory like that for me.
Throughout my childhood, my Mom and Dad (mostly Dad) had a spring garden every year. Mom was the planner and Dad was the muscle and brains behind the project. It was always so exciting watching Dad bring out his ancient red tiller that we called “Old Red” and build up these wonderful raised beds that eventually would support the life of various plants we wanted to grow. Of course I always wanted to help and loved every opportunity to get filthy! We would buy plants from the store and some packets of seed, and we would go to town plugging things in place. Watching it grow felt very rewarding! It was exciting!
I remember the first taste of home grown tomatoes. I wasn’t such a fan of the taste of tomato on it’s own when I was a child, but it was sure good on a burger and I could tell the difference from the start! I earned that tomato! I pulled weeds, fertilized, brought the dirt mound back up if it had washed out, and it was work. Dad and I spend quality time in the garden. We spoke of dreams and schemes! Would sweat and cut up all at the same time just laughing and holding our bellies. Gardening is a happy memory for me indeed. He would tell me stories of his childhood, and working on a dairy farm when he was a young man. It was nice bonding time for him and I.
Now that I am grown, married, and have a child of my own, I am brought back to the idea of gardening for our own consumption. I dove into study on gardening and urban homesteading when I kept hearing of the stores having recalls for bad produce or meat. The last straw was about a year and a half ago when lettuce got recalled because 20 people had gotten sick and a few of them were hospitalized. I thought, “How ridiculous! People eat salads for their health, and look what happened! you can’t trust the food sold in the stores.” It made me wonder just how much I could get out of our little yard nestled in the city if we grew it ourselves. How much of our own food can we really grow here if we learned how to carefully use the space? ?
I dove in! It felt so good starting those little seeds. I bought packs of tomatoes, and peppers, and melons galore! I had okra, cabbage, corn, kale, cucumbers, and beans. I had about 5 large trays filled with seeds that I could not wait to harvest from.
Gardening also became a mindless hobby for me as well. I was up early and heading out the door most days just after light. I would work all day at a stressful job, come straight home and run to the porch to look at my “babies”. I’ll admit I lost it when I saw the first set of baby leaves break the surface. I felt like an old lady at heart (inside joke because I am 29 and love lots of ‘old lady’ things) as I water and nurture these little guys to grow big and strong so that they can give us yummy stuff to eat. It went well for the spring, but I suppose I was a tad too confident in my abilities because i went overboard on plants and now it is all nothing but a graveyard of veggies that once were beautiful. Grass has grown over. Vines shriveled up and died. It needs help in the form of a true overhaul and it is getting it soon!
Join me on this wonderful adventure of urban homesteading, gardening and learning to grow as much of our own food as we can! We are learning the land, the season, and the fundamentals that come with gardening.