Thursday, July 17, 2008

Following my gardening passion

I have begun reading more green living blogs including Little Homestead in the City as I seek more ways to live a greener life. The idea of converting the ubiquitous (and bland) suburban lawn to a productive garden really appeals to me. Of course, the Dervaes family has the advantage of farming year round in Pasadena, California, not an option in the Midwest. However, the idea of urban homesteading, converting lawns to gardens has really attracted my attention for many reasons.

Being satisfied where you life is one way to combat the keeping-up-with-the-Jones mentality. While I crave a country retreat, I can begin to move toward a more sustainable, independent life by converting more of my suburban lawn for growing fruits and vegetables. While I have not worked out all the details and am not sure how rain gardens and veggie gardens will coexist on my small plot of land, the best way I can determine if raising crops for myself and possible sale is viable is by doing, not waiting and trying when it is my livelihood.

I am pretty excited about expanding the area I can grow food. Part of the difficulty is the size of my property. I have one large tree and planted four additional trees that will grow and cast shade on only 0.165 acres (including the driveway and house). Planning for the present and the future is not easy so I may take the short-term benefit over the long-term changes in the light that falls on my property. Certainly growing my own food in the age of rising gasoline and food prices benefits me.

However, I need to refine the plan. I have put in several requests at my local library for various books on gardening, terrace gardening, converting my suburban lawn to a garden, raising chickens and other topics that affect my future pursuits, both immediate and long term. While I have scavenged some wood to build more raised garden beds, I am waiting until I have read some books and consulted with others before constructing the 8' by 4' frames, the size I think I want. My brain is filled with ideas for a black raspberry bed, an asparagus bed, what vegetables to plant in the new raised garden bed and if I can fit a few fruit trees on the property. The only idea I can implement within the next month is stealing more rhubarb divisions from my mom (with her permission) and planting them on the slope in the front yard. It will not take up the entire front yard slope, but it will give me a start on edible landscaping with the benefit the plants grow large enough I can remove a good swath of lawn to cut. Bonus for me!

I have lots of planning and much sod removal ahead of me. Plus, I will need topsoil to add to my raised beds and lots of composted horse manure amend the soil I have and will import from the family farm. Truthfully, many things have drawn my interest and then my motivation to see the idea through has waned. So far, I am really excited about the garden I have and wished I had more space to plant more things. I may change my mind over winter, not implement the idea in 2009 or other factors will change my mind. This new idea, adding to my growing capacity and becoming more self-sufficient has great promise and I am not one to back down from a challenge when my intellect, interest and passion are engaged, as they seem to be right now. I will continue to report on this idea as it develops in my life and throw in some ideas gleaned from the various books I plan to read.

Do you have plans to put in a garden or expand what you have? What are your reasons for doing so?

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