Saturday, March 19, 2011

Project Vegetable, Part 1

Otto decided he could be most useful by grazing on the grass around the rose bushes.

I have wanted, considered, talked about, talked myself out of, tested with tomato plants, growing vegetables for many years. I have grown flowers since I have owned houses, but never vegetables (except for the failed tomato attempts I have documented in this blog on previous occasions). Vegetables are scary. I don't know why they are scary compared to flowers, but they make me nervous. The probability for failure seems much higher!

Last year, I hatched a vegetable garden plan. First I thought I'd plant veggies in the back yard, but the backyard gets no sun, so that seemed a bad idea. Then I thought, hmmm, the best place for sun is the parking strip in front of the house. As anyone who has been to my house knows, that parking strip has been full of rose bushes since I bought my house. But, the more I thought about it, the more that seemed the only acceptable, sunny place to plant vegetables. Now, the roses in front of the house are the wandering beach kind, they send out little runners and pop up everywhere. So removing them seemed a daunting task, but none the less, I began to talk about my new vegetable garden and the raised vegetables bed I was going to build.

Okay, so let's stop here and mention that while I was thinking/talking about all this, I couldn't really imagine it actually happening. Last fall I tried to remove one of the rose bushes and it was a ton of work and ultimately unsuccessful (partly because my shovel had vanished so I was attempting it without). And building raised beds? I know it's probably easy, but really, me ever actually doing it? And making it look nice? Probably not. So I had this idea, but really didn't think it would actually happen. I thought it would just fade away.......

Then, I was walking Otto on our regular daily walk by my nice vegetable planting chicken owning neighbor's house. Outside my neighbor's house was a truck with a logo of a company called seattlefeed. When I got home and googled, it turns out my neighbor recently started a business that builds chicken coops and raised flower beds. It's a small (perhaps micro) business they used reclaimed materials when possible and they're all about producing your own food in a sustainable manner. In no time at all, I decided I just needed to jump right in, support the business and pay to get beds made. If I pay a. they will actually get made and b. I will feel obligated to actually attempt to grow food.

So I made an appointment and my new beds are being installed next week! The Seattle Feed folks are oh so nice. They (okay, she) will, of course, remove the rose bushes as well. But that was at an hourly rate and seemed unnecessary. I can certainly handle some manual labor. So today I went to Lowes, rebought a shovel, and went to work. Three hours later I'm exhausted and thinking of the many many hours of work, plus months and months of time before I taste even one vegetable (currently existing as seeds in packets on my counter). BUT, I'm very excited. I am going to try to have no expectations. I'm going to do a little research, throw a bunch of stuff in and see what takes. And you all, my lucky, loyal readers, get to be there with me every step of the way! Whoop, whoop!

My beautiful new shovel, mid shove.

Almost done! Well, almost done with the pre phase. Many more to go.


Anonymous said...

Growing vegetables is only scary if you don’t have an open mind! Start with some tried and true veggies: lettuce, spinach, carrots and radishes (if everything else dries up and dies, radishes will always be there to restore your gardening confidence!). Peas and beans are always fairly reliable around here (and can be grown in a very small space). All of these veggies can easily be grown by seed. If you’re going to grow tomatoes, buy plants. The growing season is so short here, plants grown from seed don’t always produce. This year I’m trying an organic grafted variety from Territorial Seed. It’s supposedly more hardy and disease resistant (yes, I suffer from bottom rot- look it up). Remember, growing veggies is fun! For me, there is no better feeling than eating the food I have grown (and giving it to neighbors and co-workers). As an added bonus, the numerous seed catalogs that arrive throughout the winter really do help to alleviate the crush of the constant gray weather around here. I look forward to your future gardening updates! Grow veggies! Grow veggies!

Anonymous said...

Whoop whoop indeed! I'm already planning expansion of my container gardening and it's 40 degrees out. After a few years of experimentation, though in different climate, I can recommend herbs, mustard greens, and the best of all -- chard. It keeps growing, it grows early, it grows late, and it's good! Can't go wrong with chard. You might have unwanted visitors from the ravine, though; I only have the occasional errant squirrel (who puts somebody's toast in my planters) and little bugs that eat everything. Gardening is fun.