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#1 Darren H

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 06:56 PM

About a year and a half ago Joanna and I left the suburbs and moved to a small farm. We pastured off about half of the land for our two horses, which left us more than enough room to put in a garden. My goal last year was simply to eat something -- anything -- that I'd grown myself, and by the fall I think we'd eaten about a dozen different fruits, vegetables, and herbs. I learned quite a few lessons the hard way, especially about the importance of staying on top of weeding, but all in all I considered it a success.

We had a beautiful weekend here, so I spent all day Sunday mowing and getting my garden plot ready -- weeding, tilling, shoveling manure from the compost pile, and then tilling again. We're getting a nice steady rain right now, so everything should be ready for planting this week.

We moved to the farm as a deliberate effort to spend more time outside and to give our daughter some room to explore. We're not exactly recreating Walden here, but I do find the work required of this place to be a spiritually-restorative answer to the mostly sedentary drudgery of my day job behind a computer. I'll never again write as often as I used to, but I think I'm okay with that.

Any other green thumbs around here?

#2 Anders

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 07:02 PM

About a year and a half ago Joanna and I left the suburbs and moved to a small farm. We pastured off about half of the land for our two horses, which left us more than enough room to put in a garden. My goal last year was simply to eat something -- anything -- that I'd grown myself, and by the fall I think we'd eaten about a dozen different fruits, vegetables, and herbs. I learned quite a few lessons the hard way, especially about the importance of staying on top of weeding, but all in all I considered it a success.

We had a beautiful weekend here, so I spent all day Sunday mowing and getting my garden plot ready -- weeding, tilling, shoveling manure from the compost pile, and then tilling again. We're getting a nice steady rain right now, so everything should be ready for planting this week.

We moved to the farm as a deliberate effort to spend more time outside and to give our daughter some room to explore. We're not exactly recreating Walden here, but I do find the work required of this place to be a spiritually-restorative answer to the mostly sedentary drudgery of my day job behind a computer. I'll never again write as often as I used to, but I think I'm okay with that.

Any other green thumbs around here?


We live in an apartment, which is really the upper floor of a 100-odd-year-old house. We don't have the ability to dig up the backyard and plant a garden (nor, as a PhD candidate, do I have the tim), but I'm determined, as you said, to plant something, grow it, and eat it. I plan on making some boxes to put herbs, tomatoes, and hot peppers and put them out on our back porch. Any advice?

#3 Darren H

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 07:14 PM

This isn't advice, really, but more of an observation: It's not that hard. My grandfather always had a garden (another reason I wanted to put one in), but aside from watching him, I didn't have a clue what I was doing. Some vegetables are certainly easier than others. (If you can't grow a cucumber you should find a different hobby.) And some are more difficult. (This year I'm leaving more than the recommended space for my tomatoes and plan to pay much closer attention to them).

For tomatoes, you're usually better off to buy a small plant. But peppers and herbs can usually be grown from seed. I had good success with cilantro, basil, rosemary, and jalapenos and plan to plant them all again. One warning: be patient with peppers. They took about three months.

#4 MattPage

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 02:35 AM

We've dabbled, but our main source of home grown food is our selection of wonderful fruit trees. We have cooking apples, cherries, plums and pears, and a gooseberry bush was planted last year in hope for the longer term. We struggle to stay on top of harvesting and pruning, let alone the rest, but my wife loves plants etc, and so is trying a few other things.

Matt

#5 Nick Alexander

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 04:37 AM

For the last two years I've employed the approach of container gardening, and in particular the design of the EarthTainer. I can vouch for its bountiful results, for minimal time, flexibility, and water conservationalist approach. We had too many tomatoes, and this is from one unit. On top of that, the guy doesn't sell these units, but instead gives the directions away, and asks you donate to Feed The Children instead. I highly, highly recommend this approach.

#6 M. Leary

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 09:34 AM

I do enjoy gardening and tend toward the container approach for space and time needs. However, a constant issue in my life is a tension between gardening and work. This is not to say that I don't consider gardening as work, but that I distinguish between gardening as work and work as work. If I were to choose to work less I would be able to garden more. But that would require a pretty big act of faith in the idea that gardening is the real family sustaining work to which God has called us, and this extra paycheck stuff isn't as important.

Edited by M. Leary, 05 April 2011 - 09:34 AM.


#7 Darren H

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 09:43 AM

Between my day job and freelance gigs, I'm putting in about 60 hours a week of work. I consider gardening a hobby, like I used to consider writing about films a hobby. It's an avocation rather than a vocation.

#8 M. Leary

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 10:52 AM

"Gardening at Night" seems to be an appropriate anthem for this thread.

#9 Thom

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 04:40 AM

I absolutely love to read about all of this intentional living. I am not just talking about gardening and film watching. I also mean the writing, occupational choices, lifestyles, reading, survival shelters, educational pursuits, and the act of participating in the forum here. It is such an encouragement to read about the focused direction and the rewards of such living.

As for gardening, we planted our first garden last year and we started small. This is the first garden I have had since I was an early teen. Back then we had 30'x30' garden plots in our backyard but I wasn't ready to tend to such a plot. To love a garden, and eventually enjoy the spoils, takes a lot of time and energy. I had to relearn a lot of lessons from my youth as well as recall fond memories of the work involved because, once planted, it is difficult to call the garden a hobby. Unlike painting or reading, a garden requires constant and consistent tending - it cannot just sit on a shelf or in a drawer if you don't have time for it that weekend.

Last year we learned some hard lessons. We had issues with water drainage and erosion and our pumpkins and squash ended up flowering about 18 feet away from our garden in the middle of our neighbor's flower beds. This weekend we will begin building retaining walls and memories. Lastly, the kids will be in charge of weeding this gardening season.

Now with all the "radiation of the sea" scare it may be a good idea to try fish farming.

#10 Buckeye Jones

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 07:11 AM

For years, we've had a small garden (8 tomatoes, 10 peppers, 2 eggplants, carrots, etc) in the abandoned lot next to us. Perfect sun, although the fencing got more complex as we attracted every urban critter within ten miles (who knew that groundhogs could climb!). But now, a new owner has bought the property, and even though it sits much closer to our house than his, it may be our last year for the garden. He's a little unsure about us using his land. I'm hoping he runs out of renovation funds, and needs a quick infusion of cash, which I'd be happy to supply for a sliver of his acre.

#11 Darren H

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 07:27 AM

Back then we had 30'x30' garden plots


That makes me tired just to think about. I'm keeping things simple for now--three 3'x15' rows--with the hope of adding another row next year as I get more experienced. And then maybe another row a couple years after that. And another. And so on. The spot I'm using can hold eight or nine 15' rows, but I'm nowhere near being up to that challenge yet.

#12 Christian

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 09:26 AM

Sarah is buying wood today to construct two new vegetable gardens. I'm supposed to help. I can't hold a hammer without hurting myself, much less assemble anything.

Pray for me. :(

#13 Goodnight Tuesday

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 05:45 PM

We've moved to a nice village with a big garden. I've built a wig wam for beans to grow up and children to go in. I've dragged tree trunks into the garden to build raised beds. First time I've grown veg and I'm probably overly optimistic about the results... we'll see. I've been out this evening gathering slugs and throwing them to the ducks on the lake that backs onto our garden. So whatever the results I'm definately having fun!

#14 Jim Janknegt

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 04:04 PM

We live about 25 miles east of Austin in the country and like to garden. Right now we are growing potatoes, onions, greenbeans, asparagus, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, squash and hot peppers. We also raise chickens and goats. My wife is learning to make cheese. We try and preserve as much as we can.

Last fall I began an experiment with aquaponics, like hydroponics, except instead of all the chemicals you cycle water from a large (300 gallon in my case) fish tank through grow beds. There is bacteria in the grow beds that converts the fish poop to fertilizer for the plants while it purifies the water for the fish. It is a closed system except for the fish food. You grow veggies and fish to eat using about 10% of the water used in a dirt garden. So far my experiment seems to be working, already eating tomatoes I started last fall as well as kale, broccoli, carrots and chard. So far my catfish aren't big enough to eat but some day...