Monday, June 13, 2011

Growing Vegetables in the Dirt

Every year I make some sort of attempt at growing my own vegetables. Every year my husband rolls his eyes and pretty much keeps his mouth shut. I have to plant a few vegetables; after all I am my mother’s daughter. My mom had an outstanding green thumb. We lived off the canned and frozen results of her labor year round. In the summer at our house, if you sat down you found a pan of green beans in front of you to snap. On the weekends the kitchen was canning central. Jellies, jams, butters, pie filling, and sliced fruit from the fruit trees, grape vines, and currant and quince bushes. Pickles, relishes, hot peppers, green beans, and whatever else she was growing that year, from the garden. It was all delicious, and wonderfully healthy.

I am not my mother. My attempts are not quite as successful. I can blame it partially on my small, mostly shady yard. My mom had at least a quarter acre just for her garden. Then of course there was the myriad of fruit trees; apple, pear, peach, cherry, apricot, plum and even black walnut. I have one measly grape vine that is rapidly losing out to the magnolia tree, and at most, a 7x7 area I could actually make into a garden and still have grass for the dogs. This has led to some interestingly creative solutions at times. Last year’s took the cake!

In the past I had tried gardening using pails. It seemed easier than tilling up the soil for such a small garden. I crammed these pails into my little area and tried to keep the more aggressive plants from overshadowing the smaller peppers and such. It was OK, but surely there was something better. I was considering a raised bed for last year, but then I came upon this interesting idea. Gardening using straw bales! 

The pictures were gorgeous! This perfect little garden at a nice working level…..and no soil needed! My husband rolled his eyes again and off we went into the country to find our straw bales. I can’t even imagine what our suburban neighbors thought as we unloaded 10 straw bales from the back of our little truck! Honestly, they worked pretty well, but talk about ugly! They most certainly did not resemble the internet sites I had perused for this project. And messy! I had straw all over the place! By this spring they had decomposed quite a bit and made a lovely mulch.

 This spring I went back to my good old standby….pails. I tried something slightly different. I worked them into my flower gardens. So far I am happy with this. After the straw bale fiasco of 2010, my husband didn’t even roll his eyes! I am not sure why I even do this…I really don’t get enough produce to make it worth my time and effort. I could go to a farmers market and get good quality, fresh produce. But I think the following lines from Steel Magnolias sums it up pretty well.

Ouiser - Tomatoes.
Clairee - Don't give these all to me!
Ouiser - Somebody's gotta take em. I hate em. I try not to eat healthy food if I can possibly help it. The sooner my body gives out the better off I'll be... I can't get enough grease into my diet.
Anelle - Then why do you grow them?
Ouiser - Because I'm an old Southern woman and we're supposed to wear funny looking hats and ugly clothes and grow vegetables in the dirt. Don't ask me those questions. I don't know why, I don't make the rules! 

Have a wonderful day! ~Marla

1 comment:

  1. I keep wanting to do a garden and I am nervous abut messing it up. I guess I just need a shovel and to get started!