I’ve always liked the idea of gardening. Thinking about the actual practice has left me a little less enthusiastic, though. I loved what Joshua did with gardening last year, and I definitely enjoyed the bounty, but doing it myself has always intimidated me.
Some kinds of information sit well in my brain. When I decided I wanted to get pigs, I soaked up all the available information about pigs. I read books and websites and joined a discussion forum and gobbled up every detail. I know a lot about pig raising now, because most of the information stuck.
Gardening is a different story, though. When I try to learn about gardening, I just get frustrated. There’s too much information that I can’t remember. The details don’t fit together in a way that I understand. It just seems like a great big mess.
On the other hand, I like the idea of producing my own food. On some level, I want to garden. So I keep coming back to the idea.
Sometimes my hippie self gets mad at all the precision involved in gardening advice. There’s soil amendments and shade/sun considerations and fertilizers and seed starting and grow lights and companion plants and rotating crops and trellises and on and on. My hippie brain shouts, “Can’t I just stick seeds in the dirt?!”
A while back, I ran across the book Square Foot Gardening. This seemed to be right up my alley. The information is pretty straightforward, and the goal is to make gardening as simple, easy, and enjoyable as possible. Plus, the raised beds and square foot sections are pretty, which appeals to me almost more than the food.
Square Foot Gardening still included some ideas that offended my lazy-hippie brain. You’re supposed to make your dirt out of compost, peat moss, and vermiculite. What is peat moss? Where does it come from? I don’t know. What about vermiculite? I don’t know. I just want to use dirt, dammit!
I do have a lot of compost, though, because that is near and dear to me. I absolutely love composting everything I can, smelling the composting goodness, watching as it all changes form, and running my hands through the resulting compost gold. Over the last month or so, I’ve been slowly screening my oldest bin of compost to get out the sticks, rocks, and occasional still-identifiable food part to leave only the finished stuff behind.
Joshua made me a garden box out of left over wood from the pig fence. I tried to paint it yellow, but the spray paint looked like crap on the rough cut wood, so I painted it with the leftover purple from when I painted our kitchen.
I absolutely refused to buy expensive dirt. I filled my garden box with top soil (the cheapest dirt you can buy) plus layers of my very own compost, watering a bit between the layers. I planted lettuce, spinach, broccoli, gourds, radishes, peas, kohlrabi, bak choi, tomatoes, and cucumbers. I didn’t pay much attention to how deep you’re supposed to put the seeds. I didn’t read up on whether these plants need full sun or shade. I don’t know how long they’ll take to grow or whether I was “supposed” to start them indoors three months ago.
I just stuck the seeds in my squares and then watered them.
It felt really satisfying to play in the dirt. It was fun to choose seeds. I was excited to put seeds in the ground. And now I’m delightfully curious to see what happens. Sometimes I have the idea that you have to know things in order to do things. I’m sure a lot of other people have this idea, too, and that gets in the way of actually doing things. How many years have gone by when I didn’t garden because I was intimidated by my lack of knowledge?
If nothing happens in my garden box, I’ll be out about $40. I used spare wood, leftover paint, cheap dirt, and some seeds, so my initial cost was pretty light. If something happens that’s not quite right, then I’ll learn as I go. I’ll make mistakes and make adjustments, and that knowledge will stick with me, because it will matter to my actual garden.
Whatever happens, I’ve already enjoyed my gardening experience, and it will probably only be more fun as time goes on. I’m so glad I abandoned the idea that I had to learn how to garden before just going for it!
How about you? Anything you’re not doing because you think you need to know more things first? What if you just went for it?
Or tell me about your gardening journey. There are so many approaches to gardening! I’m glad to have discovered my way of getting things started. What’s your way like?