Prep Monday—the Garden


Closing date is official: March 27! We’ll go down, we’ll sign, we’ll pay, we’ll walk the property. And the following weekend, we get busy!

It’s all about priorities, and that means the outside stuff gets done first. I have a master list, and many others, but at the very top is the garden, followed by the campsite.

If you’re homesteading, and aiming for self-sufficiency, food is pretty important. It’s not a matter of just throwing down some seeds and adding water and pulling a few weeds. That might make a nice picture, and you could be envisioning yourself walking through a lush garden, leisurely plucking tomatoes for your salad, but it’s a lot more work than that.

The first thing we’ll be doing is cutting down the overgrowth and grass in the garden area—a full acre in size. That’s what’s needed to feed a family of three for an entire year. Check with your local ag extension.

Next up, remove any junk uncovered by the trimming. I know it’s there—wooden planter boxes, old tires used for planting, etc. And that’s just what I’ve seen so far.

Then there’s plowing/tilling, depending on our acquisition of a tractor. Or not. It may not arrive until later . . . Fencing will go up, too. No point in feeding just the deer.

And finally, planting. One word of caution: plant what you’ll eat. If you don’t like it, why grow it? Go back to that ag extension site and take notes on how much of each vegetable you’ll need to plant—typically, they’ll tell you by length of row or number of plants. For example, for a family of three, we’ll need nine bell pepper plants and nine jalapeno plants; 225 feet of corn.

Naturally, once you’ve planted, you must water, and following that, weeding. This is not a once a month deal, but almost daily. Keep on top of it or it quickly becomes overwhelming. In our case, since we’re not moving for a year, we’ll only be able to go down there once a week or so; if this is the way you have to work, so be it. Make allowances for the other work to be done, because that garden is really, really important.

As for water, seeds must be kept moist and seedlings watered regularly. If you’re present, and you have water, no problem. If you’re not there every day, like us, it could be a problem. A big one. Fortunately, we have a well—and did I mention the spigots, about 4-5 of them, lined up along the drive? Yes! Very exciting—soaker hoses and a timer are much easier and quicker than setting up the irrigation system I’d planned.

The other side of the coin is that we also have a garden here at home. The higher-maintenance plants and the ones we harvest most often will be staying right here.

Next up, facilities. Yes, there are utilities, but the house needs cleaning out and cleaning up. And we have company coming in April. They’re coming to work, but still . . . we’ll be building an outhouse and a shower house, as well as a firepit, back in the woods. We’ll all camp out, and the main goal is to build the kitchen shelter.

If you’re not familiar with Girl Scout camp, that’s just the name for, well, a shelter that houses a kitchen. A roof, support pillars, a couple picnic tables, gravel flooring, and plywood cabinets and counter space along one side. Later, we’ll add two brick barbeque pits for cooking. The cabinets will store all the camping and outdoor cooking gear.

Then there’s the barn, and the pond, and the outside of the house. Don’t get me wrong, the house is fine, we could move in today with a bit of quick cleaning, but I’m not a fan of the wall paneling, and it could use a couple additional walls as well. I also want to add to the kitchen, a canning and baking station. Besides, much easier to renovate when you’re NOT living in it! By the time the cold weather comes back around, we should have all the outdoor stuff finished and be able to work on that.

I’m really anxious to get started . . .

 

8 comments on “Prep Monday—the Garden

  1. Wow. Sounds like a ton of hot, hard work, Robin. You are just the person to do this. It also sounds like a major expense. If you transplant your money tree, please send me a shoot, okay? 🙂

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  2. Work work work, you have a plan, sounds great! It might also be helpful to go over the area around the house and garden with a metal detector. Stashes, old spikes, coins, one never knows “:)

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  3. authormjlogan says:

    That is a pretty big garden. A little less than 220 x 200 feet just to give an idea of scale for anyone who doesn’t know how big an acre is. A tractor would be great. If you can’t get a tractor this year, you could rent a rear-tine tiller. You might want to consider a row planter as well. They are very affordable and your back will thank you.

    I absolutely love the idea of adding a canning / baking section to your kitchen.

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    • Thanks, Mike! My canner has been living on the stove during the summer and on the fridge over the winter… I’d sure like a place to keep everything in one spot, plus my bread machine is half stuck in a cabinet. Pain in the butt, even if it gets used just once a week or so.

      We’re hoping for a tractor – it’s an old Ford, my grandfather bought it when he and Grandma bought their place down near ours. Of course, that was in the late 50s, but it’s been in use ever since. And, if that falls through, we have a tiller. Back-breaking work, for sure!

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