Saturday, February 23, 2008

Lazy Weekend Gardening

We started the spending freeze about a month ago, and it has been quite a change. I have less interest in sales. We eat at home every night. Aside from the grocery store and library, we don't have any list of errands. It has also freed up our Saturdays because we don't go shopping or out to eat. We have been spending all that time hanging out together, playing and "gardening". I use that term loosely because even though I plant things and move the dirt around, I don't actually get them to stay alive very long. Sure, back in Florida, I could stick marigolds in the ground and get them to grow for awhile, but it doesn't take a lot of talent to have marigolds and banana trees in Florida. Since the price of food is getting to be more than the price of clothing and toys, I decided we should try growing fruits and vegetables. Given the current state of our world, we have nicknamed it our ArmaGarden. In other words, if all hell broke loose, we would be surviving on my growing skills for our sustenance. Haha. Maybe it's an ArmaGarden because there will be nothing left of my plants but death and despair by the time I'm done with them.

It is important for you to understand that I don't really know anything about gardening, especially as it pertains to growing things that are supposed to be edible. I started reading about planting vegetables and fruits about the same time I started planting them, and frankly, none of the stuff I've read makes sense. So if you wonder why in the world I planted broccoli next to berry bushes, it's because I am making this up as I go along. Now that you know that, let me tell you about the garden. The priciest items we planted are blueberry, raspberry, blackberry and grape stems (or whatever they're called) at $5 a plant. We planted those first with a nine pack of broccoli plants: $3 and two tomato plants: $2.50 each. Our first casuality came quickly with one tomato plant turning to nothing within two days. It really just disappeared, like it had never existed. I know what you're thinking... rapture, but I swear it just died really fast. We put a cute little fence around all of the plants. The next weekend, we planted a nine pack of cauliflower and forty onions: both $3. We didn't have a lot of time for dilly dallying because it was late in the day. Then it rained for four days, then it was cold. Anyway, we finally had some time to check our garden again this week. Our broccoli was flourishing (Yeah! I am having some success),
but it was apparent that the cauliflower was very unhappy.

My dogs came over to check it out too, and they stepped on three cauliflower and then sat down on two more. Then child #1 came over and had to have close look as well. I think I know why my cauliflower are struggling. More fence! The kids really love to help. I till the dirt and mix in potting soil, then child #1 comes over to dig the hole. In the process, he walks into the garden bed and steps on half of my tilled dirt. Child #2 sits on the sidelines of the garden bed, thankfully. He spends lots of time digging with his little shovel, but he has a bad habit of carrying away precious shovel fulls of potting soil and dumping them in the fire pit (dead leaves pile). So between the two of them, I have to cultivate and till (is that what it's called?) twice as much dirt, one fourth of which disappears. Can you see the advanced math lessons here? Me neither. Today, we replaced the missing tomato with a new one. I also bought a very cheap six pack of marigolds because I read somewhere that they keep the pests away, and also, I'm pretty good with marigolds.

Considering all the money going out for the plants, soil, fence, etc, I'm not really sure if it will pay off, but it is still cheaper than eating out or going shopping. Besides, the kids are learning a lot about how a seed becomes a plant and where food comes from. Way more educational than the mall, so that has to be worth something. And man, it really wears them out! Our newest plants will be coming from seeds on our windowsill. It is much cheaper than buying plants, and it is so much fun to watch a seedling. We just transferred cabbage seedlings to the garden, so now we have watermelon and pepper seeds in the greenhouses. The one draw back is that I did not label many of our plants, so we have already forgotten which is the blackberry and which is the raspberry plant. Oh well, I think we should be able to figure it out if we're fortunate enough to see fruit.


taylee said...

Hey Ali,
I too have thought about trying my hand at gardening, but considering the yards down here are about the size of a shoebox, I may have to wait =(...however we went strawberry picking today and also got romaine and zucchini right off the plant (they were growing them hydroponically, it that a word??)...Logan had lots of fun and I loved seeing him get to see how you can pick it and then go home, wash it up, and eat it! I thought maybe I could try the hydroponic thing b/c it doesn't take up much room...we'll see =)....Let me know how your garden grows =) hahaha...Love, Christy

Anonymous said...

Arma-garden! Thats a great title. During WWII, they were called Victory Gardens, not sure why. I guess it was an optimistic way of thinking about outcome of the war, or the garden. My only experience was a vegetable garden in Ohio when my first two kids were young. As in before number three and four.
The soil in Ohio was good and we had lots of lettuce, but the radishes didn't do well. They need lots of water. Who needs lots of radishes? That was during my organic food, bread-baking, raw milk from the Amish phase. What fun!
As usual, your kids crack me up! Cherish these days, before lose interest.
Hen Pen

Laura said...

This is what we do..

The boxes are tall enough so the dogs don't get in them.

It is very easy to maintain! Jonathan does all the work after he gets home from work in the evenings!