I love the idea of being self-sustaining – growing and raising our own food, living off the land so we’re eating the freshest, healthiest foods and not answering to someone else’s standard of living. We’re still contemplating raising chickens, maybe even goats for milk one day, but we’re not ready for that yet. Baby steps.
Last year we had three raised beds, and while we thoroughly enjoyed the resulting crops, we didn’t get enough to put any produce away. We pretty much ate it as it ripened, although we did give some of it away here and there.
This year Phil built five more raised beds making two rows of four; though I believe he really just wanted to borrow his friend’s backhoe as an excuse to play around and tear up the yard. The kiddos drove around with him in that thing for over an hour!
Our side yard looks completely different now. A big tree was cut down, a side garden uprooted and transplanted (we haven’t really committed to flower gardens yet since we know we’re not done with the yard), and the beds added. The kiddos were a big help raking the dirt.
There are always folks around here with manure for the taking so we scored a load and got to work mixing it in with the soil. As you can see, Josiah is Daddy’s Big Helper. I had to laugh when I saw the two of them; apparently, Phil had taken off his shirt while he was working and Josiah promptly followed suit.
Another trip to get some free (I love free!) mulch and we filled in the ground between the beds.
One day last month Phil told me we should be able to start planting soon. Not two days later he said we’d better hurry up, his mother already had her garden planted! I didn’t realize it was a competition. :) So he got his butt in gear, printed out a planting schedule, and we got to work with a first planting of spinach, lettuce and peas.
On the left you can see the beginnings of what is now our new compost pile and on the right is our camper, next to which we have a nice section of rhubarb, complements of my grandmother’s old garden. The kids were very excited to help plant the seeds and bulbs and it provides such a great learning experience for them.
Whenever I tell them we’re eating fresh food from our garden, it’s one of the best feelings in the world. And when we ate the first of the asparagus – ohmigoodness, the stuff in the stores just doesn’t compare! I swear all vegetables are sweet when freshly picked. I can’t wait to try bacon-wrapped asparagus…
Poking their heads up we’ve got the asparagus, two types of lettuce, spinach and peas. This year we also hope to have tomatoes (a couple different kinds – I think plum and some sort of hot for salsa), squash (summer, butternut and zucchini), peppers, potatoes, onions and garlic. After last year’s carrots I’m not too keen on growing them again, but Phil said we might as well try. I feel the same way about broccoli.
My sister-in-law gave me Canning for a New Generation for my birthday last year and I’m excited to try some of the recipes. I’m already looking forward to filling in the fruit gaps picking peaches and blueberries this summer, too.