So now I need to approach the big book of knowledge as not just a repository of knowledge, but as a tool within the plan. The plan is to feed us with as much homegrown, natural food as possible. Realistically, there will still be things we'll need to acquire from town, but it's my hope that the list of those things shrink as the land and I grow together.
Soil is the first priority, I think. Without good soil, nothing will grow to it's full potential.
“Be it deep or shallow, red or black, sand or clay, the soil is the link between the rock core of the earth and the living things on its surface. It is the foothold for the plants we grow. Therein lies the main reason for our interest in soils.” --- Roy W. Simonson, USDA Yearbook of Agriculture, 1957
I will need to decide where the raised beds are going, replace edge boards to the old raised beds that are sagging, and compost to those as well. I'll also need to decide where new raised beds are going, lay the boards for those, dig a little to improve drainage and plant clover as a green manure. These will be the pea patches. It's my hope that with rotational green manure crops, I can improve the soil enough that I can get a reasonably good crop next spring.
Despite our limited number of days we will have remaining to us once we move, we'll still be growing a variety of things, most of which will be started and planted by then. Many are, indeed, started even as I type. No, not by me. By the Mom-Gardener. We'll already have under way pumpkins, squash, lettuce, tomatoes, beets, carrots and dill. Not much at a cursory glance, that's true. But we'll be growing what we can between the end of July and that dreaded first frost. But no matter how much it turns out to be, it will be more than she could have last year, and more than I have been able to grow in 12 years. We will be thankful for each and every morsel.
I have to give a shout out to an unlikely gardeners-left-hand, my Dad. I was unexpectedly thrilled to learn he got approximately five gallons of compost the other day. Way to go, Dad! (insert high five here) I was so encouraged by the news, I grinned like a dork for an hour.
There will need to be the right place found for a patch of oats that I'd like to grow next year. We're a big oatmeal family, all of us, and I'd like to be able to augment our store bought oats as much as I can. The only way I see the quality of our food improving is by eating more of our own, and realistically it's going to be a slow conversion. (For the picky eater in the family, that might be a good thing) The same goes for potatoes and corn. The "feeding" requirements for each will be a little different, but I'm already planning a three year crop rotation.
Next time, I'll talk more about crop rotation and why monoculture farming may have contributed to the big dust bowl of history.