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The Story Of A Large Garden

Before we moved

1. I am going to have a NATURAL garden! I am going to grow everything IN THE GROUND – no more raised beds for me! I’ve read Ruth Stout, and if mulching with hay worked for her, it will work for me. No more weed or irrigation problems!

I’ll just kill my back trying to rake in this azomite (rock minerals) and dolomitic limestone (to raise the pH levels of this very acidic soil). I can do it. I will do it, all by myself…Damn, I’ve never seen so many rocks…

2. Oh, sweetheart, would you PLEASE finish raking in the amendments for me??!

3. There! Now the hay is all down. The entire 1600 square feet is covered in at least six inches of hay. It only cost $40 per bale, and thank God J was here to help me break the bales apart.

The first year

4. Look at that – it’s raining, AGAIN! In the middle of July! And our neighbor up the mountain told us that last year, it rained almost every afternoon all summer. That must be normal for this area, then. Hallelujah! Who cares if we don’t have running water? I can totally handle watering the entire garden by hand if it’s only four times a year.

5. What’s that? Oh, grass. Figures. I knew I’d get plenty of grass seed with the hay. Well, it’s easy enough to pull out.

6. More grass. Every day, grass. I know Ruth Stout said that I should just heap more hay on top of it so that it can’t continue to grow, but then we’d have to buy more hay. I don’t want to spend any more money on this garden then I have to…

7. (Late in the season) What? Why can’t I pull up this mature grass that’s going to seed? Doggone it, there’s a tangled web of hay grass root underneath all this hay that should have been keeping it from growing. I’ll have to get the shovel to get it out.

The second year

8. There are weeds and grass all over this property. Why can’t I just use that for mulch? It should work as well as hay, right?

9. A drought. A drought? Crap. I’ll bet the past two summers were just flukes. Every other day, I’m having to drag gallons of water to the garden. The weed mulch isn’t working – and I’ll bet the hay mulch didn’t do all that much to keep the soil moist, either. It was all the rain we had last summer.

10. It’s 100 degrees and humid and this sucks and I just want to let everything die but I’ll feel guilty and like a failure if I do.

11. A self-watering system? Yes, that’s exactly what I want! Forget natural gardening. Forget trying to amend this awful sand that won’t hold water for more than a day. I’m going back to container gardening. I’m going to set up this system that “Larry Hall up in Brainerd, Minnesota” talks about.

12. Forget that. I am NOT going to spend that much money just to grow food!

13. Besides, as convenient as this system is, it actually uses more water than I am now, watering by hand.

14. Back To Eden! My savior! Yes! Mulch with wood chips! Look, it’s worked for this lady up in northeast Oklahoma, and they must have the same soil as we do, right?

15. What a pain, having to collect all these wood chips from the side of the road.

The third year

16. What will I do when there are no more wood chips on the side of the road at a convenient distance, and I need more in a few years?

17. Hotter than last year, and a longer drought. The wood chips are helping some, but I’m still having to water something almost every day. I know, I know, I have to wait for the wood chips to compost some…

18. They have composted. I can tell by the lower levels. But I am watering as much as ever.

19. I never want to so much as grow a single cucumber vine or broccoli plant again.

20. But still. We live 2.5 hours away from Whole Foods, and we go grocery shopping once a month.

21. Last year I found out about sub-irrigation planters (SIP), or wicking beds. New idea: only grow as many plants as we absolutely need, and grow them in such beds.

22. (Late in the season) I am looking at my greens bed, realizing that even in the winter, I have to water it because the sand doesn’t hold the moisture very long.

23. Father speaks to me to mix peat moss into the soil.

24. I argue that peat moss is horrible if you let it dry up.

25. Yes, I argue with my Creator. Pray for me.

26. I think He tells me this so that I will do some more digging. Figuratively, I mean. On the Internet.

27. So I dig. And rediscover CocoPeat, or coir, which I have in my goji berry pots. It is the COIR that has kept the potting mix in those pots so moist all summer, despite me not watering them every day.

28. I do an I-could-have-had-a-V8 forehead smack. I’ve never been able to NOT water a container every day during the summer.

29. Unlike peat moss, coir absorbs moisture from the air.

30. The average annual humidity here is 74%!!!! Do you think we have a little moisture in the air?

31. I DON’T NEED TO BUST MY BACK BUILDING SIP BEDS. All I have to do is mix coir into the soil wherever I want to grow things. I hope to be able to keep my watering down to once a week, perhaps even less?

The fourth year

To be announced…

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