If you’re wondering whether I caught Coronavirus and died, no, I am alive and well. Back in March, I finished a job that I was doing for the school and started a week off from working when I realized that if I was going to make my move to the country, it might as well be now or it might be never. I called my son Jeremy (whose place was just two doors down from where my house was going to be and asked if I could stay with them until I could get settled. He and his wife agreed and I packed up and was on my way.
The details about the house will be for a later blog, but let me show you around the homestead and show you what I have been doing for the past almost 3 months.
The Flowering Trees
The first thing I did was plant my flowering trees along the road. I had received Hawthorn, crabapple, crape myrtle, Dogwood, and Redbud from The Arbor Day Foundation back in December, but hadn’t been able to plant them until late March. Four survived. I am not sure which trees they are yet. I’ll let you know later.
This is my main garden. It doesn’t look like much right now, but it is currently ongoing. I’ve planted corn, beans, winter and summer squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, swiss chard, dill, spring lettuce mix, and eggplant.
This is my spring/perennial garden. The garlic I had planted back in December, and then I started planting potatoes, strawberries, asparagus (grown from seed), cabbages, and onions back in March. I also transplanted perennial herbs–oregano, lemon mint, and thyme–grown from seed and transplanted. Later I planted yellow wax beans and cantaloupe and this garden is doing exceptionally well. I am primarily using a no till method here. I dug holes just enough to get the seeds, plants, or potatoes in the ground. I started mulching by using old grass that I raked up from around the yard. Then I took leaves and piled them on and now I am piling grass clippings around the plants. As you can see, the plants are really thriving.
Here’s another view of the same garden.
Future Chicken Pen
This is the future home of my chickens. I ordered 50 chicks that will be arriving early in July. More about them later.
This is our pond on the far end of the property. I haven’t done anything with it yet.
These are the sweet potatoes I planted. I took a hole and filled it in with good topsoil and planted them. They are growing quite slowly, but should really start taking off now that the temperatures are finally going up!
Here is my mini meadow (with peonies in the foreground). Sometimes the best things to do is nothing. The grass there is growing amazingly well, but the ground is so rocky and rutted that I can’t safely get the lawnmower in that part of the yard. I am not sure what I will do with this grass yet. Eventually I hope to have a couple goats, but I’ll need good fencing first.
There you have it, the beginnings of what will be my permaculture learning center. Right now I mostly have annuals planted, a few perennials and have started on the house. I have so much more to show you!
Simply Vegetable Gardening
With threatened food shortages on the horizon, it’s time to get serious about growing our own gardens again. I wrote Simply Vegetable Gardenwith the novice in mind. Click the link below to get your copy today!
I think that I would grow vegetables even if there weren’t
good reasons for growing them. I love gardening.
The only thing that I like better than writing about vegetable
gardening is the act of gardening itself. I absolutely love gardening! I love the
faith that I have that when I put the seeds in the ground. I love the
excitement of seeing those green first leaves as they push through the soil. I
love watching that first flush of growth as the little plants sprint to see
which one will grow the fastest. I love watching blossoms appear and am even more
excited when the first fruits start to form. Those first fruits seem to take
the longest to ripen, but then every ounce of energy goes into the fruits and
what seemed to take weeks for the first fruit takes a matter of hours for fruit
that comes on later. Finally the day comes when I can pick what’s ripened. I love
it when I can use what I pick for that evening’s meal, or I can put it up in
freezer or with the canner.
However, not only do I love the process of gardening, but I love the fact that there are some very practical reasons for growing a garden. Here’s a few reasons you might consider.
By learning to do food gardening, you become less dependent
on the grocery store. The next economic downturn could mean a loss of your job.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know that your food system is more secure because you
have a garden that you can fresh vegetables? A long-term crisis could take 10
years or more to recover. You need to eat during this time. When you grow your
own food with your health in mind, use water catchment, recycle home and yard
wastes by composting, and save your own seed, you develop a sustainable food
source that can get you through that rough patch.
Aquaponics systems are interesting, but not always practical
and can be quite expensive and require special skills to set up. Starting a
traditional vegetable garden just requires a few hand tools. A shovel, a rake,
a hoe, a watering can and a place to start a compost pile is all you need to convert
a small spot in your yard into food production.
In addition, aquaponics systems need electricity in order to
function. In case of an EMP or even a short-term blackout caused from grid
overload or ice damage to the electrical system, all your plants and fish will
die. Unless you have a home electrical plant such as solar or a gas generator,
this system is not sustainable.
A food stockpile can
be expensive and hard to rotate and maintain as it grows. It isn’t a bad idea
to have some food storage stockpiled, but space is limited and once it is gone,
it’s gone. You never store as much as you think you have. What seems like a lot
of food during times of plenty ends up being far less when you need to use it.
By raising your own garden, you know more about where your
food came from and how it was handled. There have been numerous recalls on
fruits, vegetables, meats, and processed foods where salmonella and e-coli have
been blamed for illnesses and deaths from consuming those foods. Most of the
time, these illnesses are caused either by animal waste from CAFOs (a potential
subject for another future article) or from workers who didn’t properly keep
their hands washed. When you raise your own garden, you have control over the
sanitary conditions upon which they are raised.
In addition, many crops are grown using GMOs in which the
primary reason for creating the GMO is for allowing the use of the herbicide
glyphosate (brand name-Roundup) in the fields where the crops are grown.
Recently 2 billion dollars has been set aside for individuals who have
contracted Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma because there is a strong probability that
glyphosate causes this type of cancer. In addition, this chemical kills
earthworms, and other healthful flora and fauna in fields. These organisms help
create the symbiosis required for the plants to absorb the nutrients into the
plants that we eat.
The nutrient density of food has decreased anywhere from 15
to 65 percent in the past 65 years. The reasons for this have a lot to do with
the way that our food is grown. In many cases the same crop has been grown on
the same land for years. The farmers add nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus to
the soil and the plants will grow and produce a crop, but since the farmers are
not adding micronutrients, the plants lack the nutritional value. When you grow
your own food using homemade compost created from household and yard wastes and
adding other organic amendments, you’re not just feeding the plants, but you’re
feeding the soil as well.
Even plowing itself has been linked to the decrease in food
quality. When a field is plowed and it rains, nutrients are washed downstream. Exposed
soil is also subject to other aspects of weather. Exposed soil is subject to rapid
change in the weather. Plants planted in exposed soil are more likely to succumb
to frost and heat alike. When growing your own garden, you can avoid these
pitfalls when you mulch your garden or even use gardening methods like the Ruth
Stout method, Lasagna Gardening, and Back to Eden Gardening to name a few of
the most common.
Food for Thought
When you grow your own food organically, you can become part
of the ecosystem rather than an enemy of it. You start recycling yard wastes and
household food wastes back into your garden through composting. You learn that
it’s not about feeding plants, but about feeding the soil.
The more you learn about growing your own food in a
responsible way, the more you’ll learn about how what you do affects the world
around you. You’ll lower your carbon footprint because tankers and trucks won’t
need to haul food from where it’s grown to where you live. You’ll feel a
connection to nature. You’ll see yourself as doing something positive for the
You’ll learn that home grown food really does taste better. When
was the last time you ate a fresh ripe tomato right off the vine or sweet corn
picked at the peak of sweetness and cooked within minutes of picking? It is an experience
no human being should miss.
Where Do You Start?
Start where you are right now, doing what you know how to do and then research what you know you don’t know. I am writing this in the middle of the summer, but It doesn’t matter what time of year you are reading this. You can start your garden at any time and in any place. Matter of fact, right now I have the seeds that I will use for my fall garden that I am currently growing on my patio. I have had gardens all my life and I have learned that even if I don’t have a yard, I can start growing plants in an apartment or on a balcony.
Make a list of what you know about growing your own food and then start researching what you still need to know. One resource I suggest is my book Simply Vegetable Gardening. To learn more about this book, Click Here.
She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga
It may be the dog days of summer, but it seems that I have no time to sit back and relax. If you saw me today, I am sitting writing at the Oregon County Local Producers and Artisan Coop sipping on ice tea and on my computer, but don’t think that I am playing video games or social media. I am, in fact, working.
What should I do now?
Doing My Own PR
During the past several days I have been working on doing my own PR for my book A Coward’s Solace. I have been contacting radio stations and newspapers locally via email and so far I have gotten one response concerning anyone including my information as a news item. I am still waiting on my flyer from the printer. The young man who is doing the one flyer finished the design on Saturday and we went it off to the printer Saturday, so it should be done by Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest. Once that happens I will have to rush around getting the flyers up around the county.
I have been thinking about how I can continue physical (as opposed to online) marketing. Once the flyers are up and the media is contacted, I am going to call senior citizen centers locally then regionally, and then nationally and see how many I can visit. In addition, I am going to contact bookstores with my press release and see how many places I can visit for book signings (hopefully in conjunction with visiting the local senior citizen center). I think that it will be a good way to spend the upcoming fall months.
Where has the summer gone? Already, I took my daughter school shopping on Friday to buy the last of her school supplies. This morning, I am adding to that, where has all my money gone? Raising kids are so expensive. I am glad that she is my youngest and that she only has four years of school left. We had a good time, but it seems like every time I have to leave her at her Dad’s I feel depressed. I really wish I had my family back.
Today I started another job in addition to the one that I already had. A friend of mine asked me to help care for her mother and I agreed to do a few chores for her. It doesn’t pay a lot , but it will help me keep my cash flowing in the directions that it needs to flow.
Thinking About Working Around My Travel Trailer
As I am rushing around trying to get started on the marketing of my latest book: A Coward’s Solace, I have been thinking about starting to work more on my travel trailer and growing a small vegetable garden around it. . What is it about life that when we know that we have to do one thing, something else draws our attention? A friend of mine had volunteered to help me do some of the work that needs to be done, so I guess I have a legitimate reason for thinking this way, also, I have more time to do other things now that I have finished the second drafts of those two other books that I am writing this year. It is amazing how much time ti takes out of a day to write every day.
My trailer is cleaner than it has been since I moved into it at the end of May. Now that everything has a place, I am able to keep things caught up. This certainly gives me more time to look around and see all the things that I still need to do.
I have been thinking about starting a garden next spring. Along the front of my house I want to put in a multi-level garden. I was thinking about building a pergola type structure and hanging upside down tomato plants on it and underneath grow pole beans growing up a trellis in the back along the front of the trailer with a salad bed in the front, then next winter I can cover the whole area with a heavy duty plastic and use as a greenhouse to extend the whole garden season and maybe plant snow peas instead of pole beans. In the back yard I want to grow bins of potatoes and sweet potatoes and in the rest of my yard raise chickens and goats.
However, before I do all of that, this fall, I still need to get the underpinning on the trailer and get the porch built and figure out how to save my gray water and rainwater. (a composting toilet is also something that I would like to have.) Not that any of that is hard, it all just takes time and, of course, money.
Building Online PR
In addition to physical book marketing, I need to step up my PR and marketing presence online. I really want to update my website. I also need to get motivated to get started planning a blog tour as well as finding individuals to review my book. I haven’t yet been too motivated to do that yet. Perhaps I will once I get the flyers hung up and get more interest generated by the local media. Whatever it takes, you know?