Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Life on the Farm: the Greenhouse Compound

After a tortured few months of greenhouse construction, my nephew helped me finish the parts that were too high for me, and I happily moved into my greenhouse. I had visions of filling it with marvelous plants, sprouting all kinda of seeds on shelves, and hanging plants with luxuriant vines dangling. It was going to be a mini-jungle!  I started moving plants inside. 

Unfortunately, I forgot about Mississippi summers. Late one Friday afternoon, I moved a big container garden filled with spinach and Romaine lettuce into the greenhouse, along with quite a few other plant-filled pots. By Saturday afternoon, the greens were ready for life support. Moving them back outside and seriously dousing them with water managed to resuscitate them, so I hauled all the others back outside, as well. 

Not to be deterred, I started filling old pots with seedlings, sets, and cuttings and lining them up along the outside of the greenhouse.  The lawn chairs from the barn came next, and Maggie found a new favorite spot. Bill the Magnificent built a fence around my space to keep the cows and horses out, built a gate, and moved the compost tumbler (now so jam-packed that it barely turns). Before I knew it, the Greenhouse Compound was a reality!

After two decades of growing almost all my food, I had taken a break from vegetable gardening for several years. This was going to be my comeback year, but the thought of tilling, hoeing, and weeding was enough to send me to the produce stand instead. The idea of a raised bed garden was appealing, and I had prayed about it quite a bit, but nothing seemed right. 

Finally, my friend Debbie Hayden posted pictures on Facebook of her raised bed, along with photos of the process of preparation. It was exactly what I had wanted, and looked like an answered prayer.  On Saturday, I headed to the feed store (where farmers get everything) for the concrete blocks. In just a few hours, my raised bed was done. The next day, I stopped by a "box store" for garden soil, found that it was on sale, and headed home with all I needed. Before I knew it, the bed was full of soil, plants were in, and seeds were planted. 

The wonderful thing about the raised bed is the limitation of the block walls. The tendency to extravagant planting and excessive rows is completely squelched by those marvelous concrete blocks. Someone saw my raised bed after it was finished and commented, "That's a mighty small garden.  You gonna do some more of those?"  I had wondered that myself, but as soon as the question was asked, I realized that this little garden is enough. 

I may not be able to raise enough to eat all winter, but the idea is to provide my daily bread (well, really my daily vegetables), not take the place of the grocery store altogether. This year, I want to grow enough, without waste. This goal is born out of a revelation that my tendency toward extravagance, even in good things like vegetable gardens, leads to waste of the time and resources God has entrusted to me. This little raised garden is a step in a different direction, and I'm very excited about it. 

So far, I've had just enough lettuce, just enough spinach, just enough kale. Before long, as God continues to answer my prayers for daily bread (ahem, daily vegetables), I should have just enough squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and watermelon. Yum yum! I can't wait! 

More pictures to follow as the garden grows.