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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Growing Your Own Food

"Can this really be done?" they said.  Anything can be done if we put our minds to it!  Based on my experience helping to build wigwams in Maryland with a native-hearted friend and based on my additional experiences helping to build a much larger greenhouse for a friend who runs a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm, I created a smaller version to grow our seedlings in until we could get a garden plot dug and prepared.
I went into the woods and found some (4 to 5) finger-width switches/saplings about 4-5 feet long.  The frame that sits on the ground/table was the broken 1/2 inch thick wooden ribs from the yurt frame.  They already had drilled holes every foot or so but if you have wood that doesn't have these drilled holes, it's very easy to use a drill and drill holes in the wood.  I used nails to make a rectangular frame that sits on the ground.  I bent the switches over and stuck each end into the drilled holes.  Then I took more switches to go horizontal along the mini-greenhouse and tied it to each bent-over switch to give the whole thing more structure.  My friend Alex had some clear plastic - actually it was clear plastic for covering women's dresses.  She let me use the rest of it to cover the greenhouse.  I used clear packing tape and ducktape to keep the plastic together.  Over time and being exposed to the elements, the tape comes apart.  I reasoned that we would have the garden plot well on it's way before the tape started coming apart.
The seedlings stay a bit more moist when under the plastic.  You've got to be pretty on task when starting them this way - if they are left out in the sun, the temperature can reach over 110 degrees inside the mini-greenhouse!!!!  You don't want that to happen.  In the morning, open the ends and make sure they stay open.  Water them if needed during the day.  I water every dusk and then close them up for the night.
The changes I would make if I have a chance to do this again next year is to put the frames on rolling platforms so if there is no one there to help move them (in case of whatever!) I can do it myself.

We drove up to a local guy that cuts wood and purchased a load of 1 x 8 x 10's and 1 x 10 x 10's to build the planters.  Each one had to be cut specific to the garden bed (three 5 x 20's) because the stakes would go into the ground a little skewed!  There was SO much rock underneath the thin layer of soil that we were lucky the stakes went in at all!!  So measuring, cutting, measuring, cutting, measuring, cutting - that went on for a few days.  I definitely got some real-world experience and training in carpentry.  I really had fun figuring this out and building these garden beds!  I only pounded my thumb with the hammer once!

My next project (in the next week) is to lay a nice rock patio where those white lawn chairs are now.  The rocks have been hauled over there and laid down already.  My back and arms are QUITE sore from moving all the rock piles into an area on the edge of the woods so... and ya know, it's just nice sometimes to take a break.  I'm into so many things that I keep myself busy no matter what.
Now the experiences I seek are to actually transplant all the seedlings into the beds using a system I devised after being exposed to BIOINTENSIVE Gardening.  I made a plan to plant companion plants together and closer using a system of staggered planting instead of planting in rows.
I really want to be able to share the love by offering some of the food this garden will grow to friends in need and others.  I want to use it for the RAWKIN' RAW meetups that I hold too!  RAWSOME!
Because I am outside so much, I have seen a lot of critters.  We have Red-Tailed hawks, the majestic Pileated Woodpecker, various kinds of spiders, garden snakes (and their shed skin), song birds, and lots of different kinds of wild edibles and flowers, including the secretive and rare Pink Lady's Slipper orchid.
Life is SO SO SO beautiful and wonderful, eh? 

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