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new life and the hope of spring

March 27, 2013

The blog post for this week was delayed due to sick kids. We have a little of everything around here: coughs and breathing problems, sinus stuff, colds, and the baby spent yesterday afternoon throwing up. Last night Warren and I officially tag teamed, and each took a kid for the late night hours. He slept on the floor next to our four-year old, and I manned the throwing up one-year old (who, thankfully, slept much of the night). We are both a little sleep deprived, but such is the life of a parent!

I could write about how we escaped the dreaded flu until now by pumping up our immune systems (and lots of grace!) , and how I agree that food is almost always the best medicine. But I will have to save that for another post. For now, the seedlings growing in my kitchen are medicine to my winter-weary soul. They serve as a reminder that spring must come, even though it is snowing again. All it takes is one long winter to really understand the devastation to C.S. Lewis’ Narnia when the White Witch casts her spell to make it always winter but never Christmas. Thankfully, Aslan rescues Narnia and the seasons will also change for us, just as promised.

Back to the seedlings. Here they are growing away in our already-so-small eat-in kitchen. It’s not pretty (although the shelving unit with lights that Warren built is genius!), but soon enough they will be out in the garden, or transferred to deeper wooden planters.

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From left to right,: Top- tomatoes, beets (not doing so well), peppers, broccoli, cabbage, Bottom- celery, leeks, green onions, lettuce mix, basil, marigolds, borage, nasturtium (all flowers for attracting or repelling bugs), cabbage, kale, chard… then there’s one more shelf below

We’ve been gardening, almost every season, for about 6 years. We had a few years with exceptionally small gardens, and only since we’ve lived on our current property have we grown a significant amount of food. As John Jeavons, of How to Grow More Vegetables and father of the bio-intensive gardening movement would say, “Ten years in the garden will produce a fully experienced food grower.” So that means I’m not yet in a position to offer a lot of advice. I am very much still in the learning stages.

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Our eldest, six years ago in our first garden

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Third-born, making good use of the dump truck

We’ve learned a lot from Eliot Coleman’s books, and use his method of soil blocking to start most of our plants. Last year, I read John Jeavon’s book several times, and learned a lot about spacing in the garden and providing a covering or shelter by planting things fairly close together. This retains moisture, and keeps weeds at bay. He introduced us to preparing our soil by using a broadfork, which helped us to dig down deep and loosen the soil to allow the roots to extend as far as possible. It was hard work, but we are glad to see the fruits of last year’s labor resulting in very loose soil, even this year. The book is a great basic gardening book, but I think we realized that some of the labor intensive methods were not sustainable, especially since this Mom is doing most of the work. For example, it is true that starting most of your seeds in trays or soil blocks will lead to the highest yield, but I grew onions and carrots from seed last year and transplanted them all! Can you say crazy?

We hope to improve upon those ideas by covering our garden in a deep layer of mulch this year and end the yearly tilling. If you haven’t already seen this film, it will inspire you to try out the no-till method of gardening. Regardless of your religious or doctrinal beliefs, you can’t help but find this guy motivating! Watch Back to Eden here.

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Last year we started everything outside in the hoop house, hoping it would be warm enough. We learned the hard way that it was too cold, and does indeed freeze even under that shelter! Of course the cabbages didn’t mind as much as the tomatoes, which I had to replant THREE times. Live and learn!

These tiny plants are a small reminder of the changes to come. We will be back in the warm dirt and grass soon enough, and we will probably be all the more thankful for the sun after this long winter. Do you start seeds in a warm place in your house? Do you have gardening tips to share? Bring it on…we can all learn from each other by sharing our experiences!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 27, 2013 5:19 pm

    I JUST planted some seeds in trays 3 hours ago. I’m doing some of them in trays and some in the soil. And I went and looked up the Jeavens book, and the Chatt Lib has it on ebook! So I can read it TONIGHT! 😀 And I’m going to see you NEXT WEEK! hooray!

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