Monday, March 09, 2009

Food on my table

Last summer I read a post on Kelly McCaleb's blog about a little thing called "Square Foot Gardening." I thought it sounded interesting so I followed the links to the website and the books. Mike and I both grew up gardening and both of our parents are big gardeners still. But they live in the country with plenty of land and we live on a very small lot in a subdivision. So, any way that we can garden has to be done on a small scale. I looked up Mel Bartholomew's book at our local library and was pleasantly surprised to see that they had it. I checked it out and was impressed, if slightly skeptical, of the methods used. I showed both the website and book to Mike, but at the time he was work overloaded and stressed with no time to think about gardening. I bookmarked one and returned the other, putting gardening notions on the back-burner.
So spring turned into summer, summer into fall, and I saw Kelly's posts with pictures on the abundance of their own square foot garden, and fall started to lead into winter.

After almost 7 years of looking, Mike and I have finally found several like-minded, dear friends that we hang out with, do Bible studies with, and go to church with. During these fall/winter months we have all been talking about our desire to grow our own food. With the rising costs of groceries, organic or not, we have found it difficult to purchase food that meets our desires and standards at a price we can justify. The concerns of genetically modified foods and pesticides and chemicals keep us discussing for hours. So we kept talking, and talking, and talking. Finally deciding that the only realistic thing to do is grow it ourselves. My husband and I, and one of our couple friend's, jumped in with both feet and Mike found a way to make some raised bed gardens for a minimal cost outlay (my ever resourceful husband!) We all began researching ideas and strategies, seed companies, and plans. We checked out multiple books on container gardening from the library and one of those books just happened to be Mel's book, The All New Square Foot Garden." Imagine that! Mike was immediately impressed and decided that this was the one and only way to go!
So full speed ahead! We gathered our boxes, compost, peat moss, and vermiculite and mixed it all together. Cut the boxes to size and filled them. And they have sat, for several weeks now, waiting. Our last project before we planted was to lay down a grid across the boxes, and with the lovely weather we had this past weekend, that's exactly what we did. Miss Rose had so much fun playing in the water and muddy dirt after we were finished. I think it was the delight of her day.

Mike and I have spend hours and hours and hours pouring over seed catalogs. My friend and I became a little impatient and, without waiting for all of the seed catalogs to come in, went ahead and ordered the bulk of our seeds from the old Burpee's.
May I strongly strongly urge you not to use them if you are gardening. We've been very disappointed with their service and products. Shipping is a whole other story that I won't go into here. I wish that I had waited 2 more days before placing our order, because a catalog came to our home that Mike and I have completely fallen in-love with. It is called, "Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds." It is a "pure seed" company that was started 11 years ago by a 17 year old young man named Jere Gettle, who had a passion for gardening and saving heirloom seeds. His passion has grown and so has his collection. He now has heirloom seeds from all over the world. Mexico, Taiwan, Iraq, France, and Australia to name a few. He is now married and he and his wife have built a living-history village and farm in the Ozark hills of Missouri (Oh! be still my heart!) as well as growing and running one of the most successful heirloom seed companies in the US. They even have a brand new blog! (I'm very excited about that!) What the Gettle's are working at is very near and dear to Mike and I's heart. We love seeing the passion for this kind of work and the success of following your dream. We would dearly love to met Jere and Emilee some day in the very near future.

After Mike's total disillusion with Burpee's, he was determined to fit in a few more seeds to our list and we quickly sent off an order to Baker Creek. Our heirloom, non-GM seeds arrived early last week. We jumped in right away and planted all 7 varieties of tomatoes in our seed starting tray Thursday night. Monday, at noon, half of our tomatoes had sprouted and by dinner time, all 7 varieties had popped their little seedling heads up! Talk about exciting!
Last night Mike did all his research and now has plans to get our Dwarf Pak Choy, Ping Tung eggplant, Carentan leeks, and Siamese Dragon Stir-fry mix planted right away. We are happy to already be seeing results of doing something we enjoy and find almost a necessity. So, even though we are far from our heart's "home" in the country we are still going to make a way to do a little of what we love.

As the sun was setting on our gorgeous Sunday, Mike and Olivia planted some onions, while I took the pictures, and Sadie~Rose got dirty. Soon we will have more, and I can't wait to show off the fruits of our garden, the food on my table.


Aminta said...

How wonderful! I too can give testiment to his seeds, we used them in our gardens all growing up. I have often wondered about him and where his life went. It is very cool to see where it has gone to and where it looks like it is going. :)
I am SO very excited for you! I loved gardening last year, and plan to have an even better garden this year.
I must encourage you to have ALOT of sugar snap peas! Our kids (Pete too!) would go out and snatch them up constantly. Little Beau was one and a half and he was out there alllllll the time snatching anything he thought looked tasty, cucumber, carrots, cilantro, and sugar snaps.
Soooo looking forward to your pictures!
Loves to you!
P.S. The pictures in this post were pretty darn cute too!
Oh and Costco has a Photo Shop coupon for 30 dollars off! YAY!

Cottage Mommy said...

Wow, I am seriously impressed! We have been considering a garden for a couple of years now and thought maybe this was the year but now we have a baby coming at the start of May! You are inspiring...maybe a container garden would be more you recommend any books on getting started when you know practically nothing?

Lisa said...

I have always wanted a garden and finally it has made out to-do list for this spring! I can't wait....

btw - we tried your brownies this weekend, DEVINE!!! thanks for another wonderful recipe, sweet girl!

Leslie said...

ohhhh fairlight this is soooo beyond inspiring.. how I hope to have a little yard of our own next spring. would be so amazing... !! You never cease to amaze me in all that you do.. :)

Secondstreetdesigns said...

funny, we bought that book recently and are planning to try
the square foot technique this spring. i can't wait to hear how it goes for you. your growing season will probably be almost over by the time we can start planting in MN.

Noah and Ryders Mommy said...

Oh I am so so so excited for you guys in this project that your heart is in!!! We love growing our own food, it is so much more worth it and tastes SO MUCH BETTER! I can't wait to see more pictures of your lovely garden!! I'll have to look up that book, I have never heard of it before :O!!!


Chelle said...

You and Mike never cease to amaze me. I am so excited that you guys are going for it and making the best use of the space you do have. So, so inspiring! Love this post so much and the pictures are just too, too sweet! Can't wait to get to see more of how your little grows.

P.S. Must talk soon. Really missing you.

Connie said...

Fairlight, Just happened over here today from Michelle's blog and was so excited to read your post! The rewards of even a small garden are so amazing. Gardening has been such a big part of my life for over 30 years now....I can't imagine not doing it.
Don't forget to squeeze in a few flowers to encourage pollination, pest protection and many other benefits for your veggies. A good read is "Great Garden Companions" by Sally Jean Cunningham.

Anonymous said...

We need to talk vermiculite. And peat moss and compost. Where oh where did you find these things locally? We have 3 empty garden frames waiting for me to figure out how much of "Mel's Mix" to procure--and where to find it! :)

OH, and we have a "vintage" 1975 camper, too. I should take some glam-king photos of us--a study in irony. :)

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