In college I read The Good Life by Scott and Helen Nearing. This began a love affair with books on farming and subsistence living. My shelves are full of them. The great irony is that I’ve never even had my own garden. When I was a kid we had a half acre we planted every summer. We grew raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins. I even planted my own rows of popping corn one year, but ever since high school it’s been a nonstarter.
This summer I am determined to change that. Armed with only a blade of understanding of the square-foot method of gardening, we’re going to try a four-by-four-foot raised garden. And by “we” I mean, me and the kids. Of course, Tater’s too small to be much help, but this afternoon Grace and I set out to plan our garden.
Planning at this level is really basic. First Grace listed all the vegetables she could think of, and then drew pictures of them. We followed that with faulty attempts at explaining why a fruit is different from a vegetable (no thanks to my know-it-all asides that a tomato is a fruit), why we can’t grow bananas in our backyard, and why it would take a couple years for an apple tree to actually produce an apple.
Once we had our highly edited, though still questionable, list of things we want to grow, we drew our four-by-four-foot divvied plot and decided what we wanted to plant where. The wall against the back is perfect for a small lattice for the string beans, tomatoes go in the back so they don’t block the sun for the carrots and herbs (aka “spices”), and peppers can go in front of the beans cause we don’t know where else to put them.
Now all you gardeners out there, be kind. I will be getting a book from the library before we begin in earnest to sort out what plants should share soil. Right now I am just trying to get the kids excited about a garden—a task that turned out to be much easier than I thought. In fact, Grace wants to plant carrots today so we can have some in time to feed the Easter bunny (which she “knows isn’t real, except in Easter world, which is the whole world every Easter”).
Now I just need to buy some wood, dirt, and seeds, and start thinking about whether I should plant starter beds… I will keep you posted as we go. Should be a fun summer!