Friday, April 8, 2011

What I am doing and why.

I have no business trying to grow a garden. My indian name would be "woman who kills plants." Giving me a houseplant is tantamount to putting it on death row. I once had plants in my cube at work that a friend took care of and they died even though I never touched them. I've even killed fake plants. In fact, one of my friends used to say that under "herbicide" in her dictionary it showed a picture of me.

Why, then, am I embarking on this project that is highly likely to fail? Because, if it works, this it the best way I can think of to bond with my grankids and help provide my grandchildren with plenty of vegetables this summer. I live with my youngest son, his wife, and their 5 kids and extra food is always welcome. To top it off, all of the kids love fresh vegetables.

Not only am I attempting a garden, I'm hoping to start all the plants from seeds. I learned how to start seeds properly last year as a little project I did with some of my other grandkids, so now I want to try it again. Of course, part of the reason I'm planning to grow the plants from seeds is to save money. I love to do things as frugally as possible. As an ex-boyfriend of mine used to say of me, "When she walks down the street in the springtime, birds call her name.... CHEAP! CHEAP! CHEAP!"

While I don't have any money to speak of to spend on this project, what I do have available is space -- a LOT of space. We live at the edge of town and have a huge yard which is actually a large lot with the fenced in field next to it included in the rental.

So we've worked out the "where." Now on to the "how." I have physical limitations that make it impossible for me to do all the work myself. What I do have available is 5 grandkids who live here, ages 13, 10, 6, 5, and 3, plus a couple of others who wander through on occasion. They are all enthusiastic about the whole garden project and talk about it all the time. Hopefully I can harness some of their energy and enthusiasm.

Since I'm doing this as cheaply as possible, I've asked on several sites for materials and assistance. We have no rototiller so I offered computer work and/or sewing for someone to till the ground and/or loan us a tiller to do it with. I put in the requests online last night, so we'll see how it goes.

I'll post more as things develop... or don't develop.


  1. Cleta, knowing your limitations, I suggest you build raised beds. Home Depot - if you have them in your town - has a nifty raised bed package for $18. Otherwise maybe you guys can drive around the industrial area and find some abandoned pallets - pretty common around train tracks near businesses. After that all you basically need to do is take the pallets apart (I know your son - or even ex - will help you with this), place the lumber in the configuration you want and nail or even just prop them together. Try to bring the level up a foot or two - anything will help when it comes to you being able to move. After that, line the beds with heavy black plastic - those contractor garbage bags from WallyWorld would work well. THIS WILL NEGATE THE NEED FOR A ROTOTILLER! Fill the beds will amended soil - I will help you with this - and go from there.

    If this is too much for you right now, you might consider making smaller, more intensive garden areas created inside old tires. This might be perfect for you and the kids in that it brings your garden up off the ground AND provides a smaller space to manage. It also makes it easy for each child to create and maintain their own space so they will be responsible for weed pulling if needed and watering, so no one takes the blame for garden failure except the child who "owns" that tire!

    Well, here I am babbling when there's no way I could fit everything I want to say into this itty bitty text field! Call me, email or text me with ANY gardening questions you have, or go to the experts on urban and homestead gardening at: - an absolutely amazing group of which I've been a member for many years!

  2. You gave me some good ideas. I'm trying to do this without it costing much more than the price of the seeds to get started, since my only income at present is food stamps. Most of my labor will come from 5 very energetic kids who are looking forward to fresh veggies this summer. It'll keep them from sitting inside all summer, playing video games, shrieking, and fighting. I'll look into the ideas and urls you gave me.

    Oh, and I lost your phone number. Send it to me in a private message on FB and I'll call.

  3. Last I checked, food stamps cover not only seeds, but seedlings as well - things that promote the feeding of families that would normally do without. For tools and other resources, either go to the dollar store or improvise. Personally, I used a very strong, sturdy tablespoon for my front-yard-of-condo-with-HOA project. Make-do, yes, but it worked as well as a trowel and cleaned up even more easily. Compost can be merely dirt mixed with kitchen scraps and torn-up newspaper, etc. Hey, just make sure it's fun! For the rest, I'll steer you to some cool resources!

  4. My Nana told me that when you boil eggs, to save the shells and use the shell water to fertilize with. You can refrigerate it to keep it from stinking to high heaven but from what I understood from her, when it smells the worst, it works the best. I'm going to be trying my first real garden this summer so I'll be following your adventures closely.