In the past, I have done vegetable gardens, somewhat unsuccessfully. I have failed miserably over and over, never quite getting what I thought I should. For years I labeled myself as a black thumb with even simple potted plants. As a result I refuse to put any real plants in my home. I was doing something wrong and I am determined to figure this out and let nature teach me, along with the advice of experienced gardeners and hands-on.
As for my attempts at gardening, I did the “till the ground, add manure, make rows, plant seeds, water and hope for the best” methods. About half of all I planted grew. Sometimes I got more than one thing off of the plants. Furthermore, I was disappointed to learn I can get only 3 growing seasons instead of 4. I eat year-round and canning isn’t my thing.
I watch John Kohler’s Growing Your Greens videos to amend my soil and Ruth Stouts no-till method, and my all-time favorite for simple, DIY creative ideas is Eliot Coleman. Singing Frogs Farm in Sebastopol, CA uses the No-Till non-mechanized method, which yields them $100,000/acre. The evidence of their efforts is abundance, beauty, and profit. In the face of this evidence, I find it shocking that there are people who think they know so much as to arrogantly say it’s not possible. Yet, there it is. I’ll go with those who experienced its success.
There are people starting year-round gardens/small farms for sustainability in areas that are deemed 2 season crop areas or northern zones of the U.S. To boot their produce is beautiful and abundant in less space. What if I can have a year round garden, produce more with less toil on my soil? I’ll take it!
Until my lifestyle began to change, I have successfully made a large compost pile. I scattered the dirt (compost) into areas of my yard to amend the yard soil. It worked so well, I have free growing plants from time to time. The compost was mostly vegetable leftovers, quickly crunched egg shells, and some grass clippings. I made a 3-sided 4’x6′ bin over the existing ground with an open front using cinderblocks. The front does have one line of cinderblocks to contain it. I found a few sheets of corrugated plastic and bolted them at the seams (to make it large enough) to cover the “bin” as a rain topper. It’s held down with bricks (I’m lazy. It works for me).
I don’t turn my compost (again, I’m lazy). I add a few days of vegetables into a shoveled out area; About 4″-6″ deep by 1′ area long, dump in the scraps, then cover it with dirt. I find after a week that it’s mostly broken down. I just rotate to a new spot with the next dig. I thought about getting worms until they started showing up on their own making the soil a crumbly, semi-moist, rich chocolate brown.
Since using my compost, I have the occasional bees pollinating my plants (a good sign that my plants are healthy and the bees are NOT disappearing), ladybugs and less rollie-pollies and pests in my (slow-growing) organic garden area. I think my garden needs more nutrients to speed it up. Whatever I’m doing is working despite how many people use all these brown/green calculations. I shouldn’t have to think for nature. It knows what to do. If it so happens that what I’m doing isn’t working then I should re-educate myself and analyze what I’m doing wrong.
For now, this project is on a hold status. I’m sad, but sometimes life takes different directions. I enjoyed watching what nature has taught me and how resilient it is. For now, I realize doing a garden and compost is much simpler when you learn what nature does naturally, assist it, and observe how mostly takes care of itself.