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The Garden of Eatin’ Part 1

posted 5/25/2012 10:19:48 PM |
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I am enjoying my retirement as best that I can in a completely different environment than I am accustomed to. There is considerable contrast between the hustle and bustle of a major metropolitan area I am accustomed to and one that is much more reminiscent of Hooterville or Mayberry.

Virtually anything and everything is the better part of a five dollar bill in gas away round trip to get to, and my car gets up to 30 MPG. Even then, the place you get to is not a place that you prefer to get to but it is either that place or Wally World. To have any degree of selection and good prices driven by competition is over 40 miles away in the largest city within over 150 miles, a booming metropolis of 60,000 people.

If a tree fell in a forest and there was nobody around to hear it, would there be any sound? I would possibly hear it.

It has been a most unusual year in mid-Missouri. From May 1 of last year until April 30 was the warmest twelve months in recorded history. Spring came early this year after virtually no winter. Mother Nature was frequently running four to six weeks ahead the norm. The vibrant green color of the foliage is fading to that of summer.

On one of the many nights in early March that got down to no lower than fifty degrees, I opted to sleep with the window open and enjoy the gentle breeze. I couldn’t sleep due to all of these dogs barking and howling all night. I was mystified at so many feral dogs until I discovered it was owls that were making the racket.

I had some extensive and very successful home gardens a quarter of a century ago. The yields included (and I have pictures) spinach leafs a foot long excluding the stems and succulent zucchini squash that long and over three inches in diameter. I decided to wile away the days in the coming months building beds and planting a garden as I was going stir crazy being marooned in the middle of nowhere.

In previous years, my daughter and son in law had attempted gardens with minimal success at best. Deer and rabbits had wiped out many crops, everything one year. Moles had totaled out carrots and beets. Eight-inch timbers around the house bordered the garden area. It had good soil brought in and was tilled. But it was never developed properly and turned into what was almost concrete plus suffered horribly from erosion as it was put in on a slope. The saving grace is that considerable mulch had been brought in last year.

A complete overhaul and new approach was essential to address these issues. Additionally, with only slight exception, the earth is sheets of grey clay once you get down to four or five inches. There used to be two brick plants in the area that mined it.

I had mentioned in a previous blog that my son in law’s hobby was tearing down old barns and houses then building structures with the lumber that is usually oak. In the background of my primary photo is one of these buildings, the wood shop. I was not given access to the top quality lumber as he is building a house, but I was given access to enough to meet my needs.

The structures that he razed go back to right after the Civil War. Many were built with dowels or using spikes made by blacksmiths before the industrial age and the advent of the common nails we are all familiar with. As homage to the hearty men that built those original buildings, every one of my garden boxes would have one of these spikes. I am no finishing carpenter and on a low budget as well as being far more concerned with funtionality than form.

What I decided to do is to dig out the good soil that they had brought in and put it into raised beds I would make out of lumber or cinder blocks I had collected. I made what we call bunny boxes. They control the erosion problem in a rough terrace fashion. There are seven of them and they have 18 inch fences of chicken wire (aka poultry netting) around them to keep the rabbits out and lining the bottom to keep the moles from burrowing in from underneath. None are wider than three feet so someone can get to all of the plants. Most are five to seven feet long. These are for lettuce, beets, carrots, spinach, Swiss chard and will be used later for beans once the others are all harvested. Before the plants got big enough to be seen from the road my daughter said it looked like a bunny concentration camp.

No bunny boxes were made for the potatoes. I was told that there were not any critters that would mess with them. This proved to be false. A couple of days after planting them I caught our white lab munching on a potato he had dug out of the garden.

Speaking of dogs, Deirdre got into a duel to the death with a critter and has a nice scar on her chin to show for it. She got bit up pretty good but prevailed. I didn’t see the combat but found the carcass of the vanquished. I had to tip my hat to the deceased as that must have been one tough rabbit.

I have pictures of some of the vegis. If anyone is interested send me your email addy and I’ll send them to you.

To be continued

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May 25 @ 10:40PM  
Good to see you making the best of your situation and enjoying it as much as you can. Hope it only gets better for you

May 25 @ 10:48PM  
Good writing. Thanks for the good read!

May 26 @ 12:13AM  
I admire your perseverence with your gardening.

I'm glad your dog is OK.

May 26 @ 9:19AM  
With prices being as they are, I've often thought how nice it would be to have my own little veggie patch in the backyard. But, with the 5 monsters I've got, I can't. I know, "get a fence around it". Easier said than done. And these clowns, if they are that determined, they will find a way.

As for the small critters, ie: squirrels and rabbits...if I let the dogs out without first checking my backyard, any squirrel or rabbit better hope they are fast than the dogs. Tazz and Princess both have caught and killed squirrels and rabbits. The other 3 don't pay much attention to them, just Tazz and Princess.

Glad to see you're finding a way to keep yourself occupied out there in the sticks.

May 26 @ 9:29AM  
Nice blog Bruce..
At least you're trying to be productive

May 26 @ 10:08AM  
Unfortunately I can't plant a garden where I'm at right now but I'm look'n for another place and hope to be in one by next Spring and then grow must of my own veggies!

BTW, have you considered trying those upside down garden kit boxes that supposedly will grow a small selection of veggies? I'm thinking of trying a couple myself!

Hanging gardens


May 26 @ 10:27AM  
Good to see you post....Interesting read!

May 26 @ 10:52AM  
Congrats on the garden! Only one i sit here listening to direct tv music channel and T. Graham Brown singing "Memphis Women and Fried Chicken" you have access to music? Helps make watching the garden grow more tolerable.

good luck!

May 26 @ 12:24PM  
Thanks, everyone. I appreciate the comments and compliments. I guess there is some life on AMD after all The generous responses encourage me to write and contribute more often.

I had not written a blog because I was convinced that it would be very boring as there would be next to nothing funny and even less that would be of interest to anyone. The only reason that I did it was because people had asked me to. In one case; "Please write something, anything!" Enjoy your holiday weekend.

BTW, have you considered trying those upside down garden kit boxes that supposedly will grow a small selection of veggies? I'm thinking of trying a couple myself!

I had a roommate in Dallas try that a few years ago with tomatoes and it didn't work out. They rapidly dried up and died.

do you have access to music?

I have my CDs and several channels on TV. Actually, IMO, I have a far better selection of radio stations here than in the Dallas area. We have several classic rock stations in the Jeff City/Columbia market plus to varying extents I can get KC, St. Louis and Chicago. They play a wider array of classic rock but like DFW, it is SOL for blues.


May 26 @ 3:11PM  
They rapidly dried up and died.

I'm assuming directions were followed closely! Ya know, some people just don't have green thumbs and can barely water and feed themselves let alone caring for plants- just say'n!!


May 26 @ 4:56PM  
I want to have a raised garden...but that will project will have to wait till next year. I do have a tomato plant growing with my medicinal plants its doing great in just a planter and indoors under the grow light. I already have 4 little green tomatoes on it.
Haven't tried tomatoes upside down but we did try peppers an it didnt work to well. But I do have a strawberry one that I forget about all the time an the darn thing keeps growing. Paid no attention to it an it came back from last year an produced a few berries so far.

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The Garden of Eatin’ Part 1