Getting beyond the planning

March 8, 2011 at 6:31 pm (Uncategorized) ()

It’s probably both my greatest strength and my biggest weakness – I’m a complete and utter bibliophile. I love books, and I love to read, particularly about whatever topic has my interest at the moment. This past fall/winter (and to a lesser extent, the last couple of years) have been a crash course in gardening, taking food preservation past making jams/jellies/conserves (something I was quite capable of doing before my teens, thanks) and basic dehydrating, and homesteading ideals as they can be realized to some extent regardless of where you are.
This is great. I’ve learned a lot, and found some books that will probably be in my library for ever and ever, whether due to usefulness, charm, or both.

The weakness part comes in where I forget to, you know, do anything with the knowledge. The planning? Dreaming? That’s easy. I’m _good_ at that. But the other takes me a while. It’s more comfortable in here with my books, thanks.

Last year, when I found myself for the first time as an adult living in a house with a yard, and not traveling hundreds of miles a week and/or being gone 3-4 days per week, I realized I had a shot at putting some of this stuff in action. Yay! Oh wait. That means, you know, work. And money. I’m not even sure which was the biggest obstacle, sometimes.
As will come up occasionally, I have some physical challenges that make heavy-duty gardening and other food production chores difficult and occasionally impossible. My back is better than it’s been in a year or two, and I know full well that one rough week of overdoing it could put me on bedrest for a week and back to using a cane for ages, to say nothing of killing my ability to make a living. I’d like to avoid that, while still stretching what I can do, and doing what I can. Same with my damaged wrist – I need it to make my living, and it’s unpredictable as hell as far as when it will decide to hurt, or simply stop working. I can’t afford to risk it, but I also cannot spend the rest of my life in a brace and pretend that I’m happy babying the dratted thing.

I digress. So last summer, we moved to a place with this thing called space. and tolerant neighbors. and landlord. In a town that is having a rapidly growing urban ag movement, to boot. Be still my heart. I dove in. Sort of. Despite the abundance of containers on the deck, there was almost no actual food production – started too late in the season. Wanted to put in a fall garden, but waited too long there, too. The help I needed to coordinate materialized in September. The garden plot that the former owner had used was played out and badly compacted, clearly having not been given the organic material it needed for a long time. I kept trying, to the point of purchasing a truckload of compost from the city, turning and raking beds, and planting, but it wasn’t to be. Every plant was dead in under two weeks barring one, and that one never actually grew. Our assumption was that the compost was somehow toxic: it’s very hard to control what goes into city compost, and it wouldn’t be at all strange for something dangerous to plants to make it’s way in.
(For the record, I have spoken to someone from the local center for urban ag – they’ve never had a problem with the local city compost. What happened, if it wasn’t the compost? We don’t know. I may have gotten a bad batch. There may be something else in the soil in that place. I may, just possibly, be _that_ bad with plants, but I rather doubt it. Regardless, the plants are dead. I haven’t decided whether to try the city compost again, with that knowledge. Stay tuned.)

Okay, so that failed. New plan. Raised beds, accessible to both of us, which means a good height for a sitting or kneeling person, using the best materials I can afford at the moment, and while I’m at it, I might as well learn to start my own seeds, beyond just scattering a few into a container for some lettuce or herb plantings. That means I’ll need a grow light. Arg. This is getting pricey.

A lot of sketching, price-checking, re-checking, planning, re-planning, and budget-scrambling later, we’re on the way. A grow light frame was assembled on Sunday. (I’ll put up a full plan and budget for that soon, as a separate post.) Today, I started my first tray of seeds, hopefully soon to be seedlings. We’ve got the prices for making the beds themselves lined out, and will be assembling the frames within a week, then scrambling to fill them appropriately in time to put in some early spring crops before it’s no longer early spring. The cool-weather seeds I eagerly bought last year are lined up and ready to go, along with a bunch more I couldn’t resist this year, and some summer seeds as well.

Not that I’m done with planning, of course. Or reading – I’m halfway through another gardening book now, with a couple more waiting. But I finally am getting to start moving off paper into the world. If nothing else, the practice will be good for me, right?

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