A winter garden

Our new little garden-in-progress is starting to reward us with its first seedlings just poking out of the earth:

DSC_0938

Tomatoes.

DSC_0941

Beans.

DSC_0940

Squash.

DSC_0939

Mustard greens – the latter actually sprouted from seeds I pulled off the spice shelf and stuck in as an experiment!

So far we’ve had pleasant mild weather with rain from time to time, and there are usually no frosts around these parts, so hopefully we’ll be able to grow some food this winter.

Progress!

Remember this?

DSC_0879

Last week, we rented a tractor, carried away a ton of debris such as old moldy mattresses, concrete rubble and rusty poles, plowed under the weed jungle, handpicked another mound of smaller scale litter (old plastic bottles, beer cans, ancient shoes), and started preparing the space for our future garden.

DSC_0922

The place now looks like this. There is still a slab of concrete in the middle that was too difficult to remove, but we figure we can use it as a foundation for a chicken coop or a greenhouse.

I’ve already marked some beds and planted beans, squash, and peppers. I know it’s unorthodox to plant at the end of October, but I figure there are plenty of places where the summer is about as warm as our winter, and people still report being able to grow tomatoes and peppers there, so what have we got to lose? One thing is certain – outdoor work is a lot pleasanter in winter around these parts.

Stay tuned for more news about us and our work to make the most of this little urban homestead-in-progress.

Puttering around

Once in a while, my phone puts together these little videos for me, and the one above is a pretty good representation of what we’ve been up to in the previous week: puttering around the yard, doing paper art, and hair art.

There is still a lot to do, but now that the big unpacking frenzy is more or less behind us, I have more time to devote to something I’ve been itching to do: working on the small abandoned plot of land next to our yard. This week, I’ve moved whatever junk I could lift, raked huge mounds of fallen leaves, and did some digging to break up solid clods of dirt and let the ground breathe.

We were promised some major rainfall today and tomorrow, so hopefully after that the ground will be nice and soft. I’m then going to get to some planting. This will be rather an experiment, because it’s our first winter here – it’s supposed to be very mild around here, without even any frosts, so hopefully many things can be grown year round.

I will let you know how we progress.

The tomato tree

 

Because of the house move, we didn’t plant anything this spring and summer, but we did have a nice surprise: a volunteer tomato plant that sprang up in the garden and wrapped itself around a bush, turning into a mighty tomato tree. On our last visit, we discovered it to be full of red, ripe, beautiful (and delicious!) tomatoes.

We were surprised that the people who are currently renting our house didn’t pick them. Apparently, they thought tomatoes that don’t come from the store aren’t safe to consume.

We collected literally a bucketful of produce from this one plant, which just goes to show you don’t necessarily need a large garden to grow a lot of food. And there wasn’t a single worm or a sign of blight or rot! I have never seen such lovely tomatoes.

Also wanted to take this opportunity to wish a Shana Tova (happy new year) to all the Jewish people out there. In our family, Rosh haShana is always a double celebration, as it’s also our sweet Tehilla’s birthday. It’s unbelievable that 8 years have gone by already!

Book Review: Vertical Gardening by Olivia Abby

Vertical Gardening:The Beginner's Guide To Organic & Sustainable Produce Production Without A Backyard (vertical gardening, urban gardening, urban homestead, Container Gardening Book 1) by [Abby, Olivia]

Update: for those who have been wondering what we are up to, the big unpacking fest hasn’t started yet. In fact, I’m yet to see the new house. I’m staying with the kids at my mom’s, while my husband is busy fixing things up and painting. The break has been enjoyable, but all too soon, it will be time for the hullabaloo of cardboard boxes.

I can’t wait. No, seriously. Packing and unpacking a house is one big overhaul, but it feels so good when it’s done .

Still, I’m looking forward to the moment when we get through the chaos, the dust settles down, and we can really turn the page and start a new chapter in our new home.

In the meantime, I’m trying to make up for the lack of action by reading about micro-farming, urban homesteading and container gardening. My latest find was Vertical Gardening by Olivia Abby, a neat little book for those who love to get their fingers into earth but don’t have any backyard space.

It’s an enjoyable read, though it didn’t bring me any very great novelties on container gardening. It is, however, a well mapped-out, thorough, basic guide with all the signposts in place.

So… I’m waiting for that moment when I can finally stop reading and get to doing all that good stuff. Stay tuned .

More on growing herbs

I love growing herbs – they are so easy to grow and hardy, and have so many uses and health benefits. Check out my latest Mother Earth News post about growing, harvesting, and using basil:

“Basil is very easy to grow from seed. You can sow the seeds either directly in the soil or in a large pot – placed out of doors or even near a sunny window. In either case, make sure not to buy them too deep. Basil likes warmth and partial sunshine – mine thrives in a spot where it gets sunshine in the morning and shade in the afternoon. Full sun is unnecessary and may even be excessive in hot, dry climates.”

 

More on Herb Gardening

Luckily for me, I live in an area where the earth never freezes, and thus, every season is a good season for digging! Now contemplating options of enlarging my herb patch (in ways that won’t encourage the chickens to dust bathe and upturn every single one of my young plants).

Read more on herb gardening in my latest Mother Earth News post:

“My herb garden is my favorite, most useful, most versatile and easiest to maintain green patch. Once herbs get going, they’re extremely easy to grow and only require minimal care. They don’t need a lot of space or water, and can be tucked into nooks where you can’t grow much else. Many herbs boast of wonderful medicinal properties and a whole array of culinary uses. In fact, for someone just establishing a garden, I’d recommend to get started with herbs.”