So Much Produce I Couldn't Possibly Pick It All And I Didn't Know What To Do!
This is the future garden for one couple I visited this week about their roof. They live in the country on about 5 acres. Their neighbor across the street has hundreds of acres of cattle property. The Missus is the gardener in the house, but the Mr. gets to do the tilling as seen here. He expressed his satisfaction with this plot, because as he puts it, the horses poo in the corner of the yard, and it gets it to just the right place for him to spread it into the garden.
Now as you can imagine, I am a content whore when it comes to the Living off the Grid page. I'm always looking for good stuff to share with you all. So when I get up on a roof and look into the back yard and see such a garden in the works as this.... I get that glimmer in my eye. So as it works out, the homeowner gets a roof for only the cost of deductible. I had seen the hail damage from the road on this one, and considering their roof goes on this week, they are pleasantly surprised with the process. That always puts a homeowner in a good mood when their old beat up roof is going to be replaced by insurance.
Amidst the celebration of a roof on the way, we chit chat about life and jobs and other fine things. Conversation somehow worked its way to the back yard, and we ended up on a walk out to see their handiwork.
The Missus told me a story that was to me unique. She had a piece of land a couple of years ago. She had hired a young lad to bring his tiller over and till the soil, but he came while they were away. When they got home, as she puts it, he had tilled up a whole football field. All she wanted was a little plat like you see here above.
Well, they didn't want all that tilled up land to go to waste. So they planted lots and lots of corn and tomatoes and squash.... and every other seed they could find. And when they ran out of seed, they bought more... and kept going until they had planted the whole field. As it so happens, it all began to grow as seeds do.
Now mind you this couple is comprised of two hard working folks. Both of them put in at least a 40 hour week, so the garden was to be an evening event and nothing more. But first there's one sprout, and soon there are two, and the excitement with the bloom to come brings nothing but pure optimism. But along with the joy comes a weed here a weed there, and wonderment with what a weed is doing in your crop. Well it is those little weeds that begin to vex and perplex your simple grow, and the Missus found herself knee deep in weed work.... a whole football field worth of weed work by hand to pull. She tells me there were not enough hours in the day, and though weed they tried, they just let 'er be for the rest of the time.
And then the corn began to grow, row after row it goes and grows, and then the tomatoes and squash and everywhere you looked and everywhere you trod were veggies to pick or step on ... how odd. "What are we to do with all of this food" she wondered as it was always time to go back to work, and leave the garden un-cared for, un-picked... as there was far more than she could manage to pick.
Her friend asked if she could go get some tomatoes, and she said to "have at it, go get 'em... all you can!" It was warm that day and they picked three wheelbarrows full of tomatoes, and dumped them in a pile on the ground. There were so many so ripe, they must be taken down! So they kept going back for more and more.... and the heat was disturbing, so they came in to rest. Well one thing to note that when learning to farm, you don't get to choose the time or the day... when the food says its falling there's no time for delay. And with the business of life, those tomatoes sat there on the ground, and by week end they trod out to see what they found. The sun had gotten to them rotted them there, and that good food that fresh food was suddenly dispair.
They had more than they could eat, and more than they could share, the busy couple let the garden go to the birds, the deer, and the bears. I tell you all this with a twinge of rhyme. It's okay to grow more than you can find time.... but one thing different that I would suggest, that you find some friends, some buddies on your Facebook list. Tell em your food is about to go waste, so you can enlist their help, their hands, their haste. There's plenty to go round when your soil is brown and your seed is seed and the rains start to come down. You can feed an army, you can even feed a town! A simple sign of "pick what you want, the food is all there", I just can't keep up, or next year a thought, a plan number two is to find a friend with land just like you.
Plant the garden in their pretty space, and tell them it's easy, and try not to waste. You'll put the seeds in and get the land ready if they'll pull the weeds and pick all the plenty. Then you can feel that you've done what you could, and given a garden to someone who should. You got it quite easy by ditching the trouble, and in comes the produce by buckets and truckloads. If you cant eat it you don't want to waste... share with the croppers at the produce marketplace.
So from this I've learned that some cannot tend a garden that's a hundred by one hundred and ten, but if you just manage a quaint little space, you'll get exercise, you'll get food, and a smile on your face. I hope from this story you've had fun like I've had, it's real, it's true, and I hope you're glad to hear what happens when you grow too much green, it's time to go tilling and start your own dreams!
~ David Webster 2/7/15