Not every adventure needs to involve mountains, rivers, axes, extreme weather, or even walking through the woods. It’s long been a dream of mine to be self-sufficient in the sustenance department. This, at a minimum, involves hunting to harvest my own meat, gardening to harvest my own fruits and vegetables, and canning to preserve surplus fruits and vegetables for out-of-season consumption.
Well, during the past three years, I’ve successfully incorporated bow hunting into my wheelhouse. While I’ve only taken down one young buck, the experience was exhilarating and the meat was beyond delicious. Unfortunately, bow hunting requires a lot of time spent in the woods, which is tough on the schedule sometimes. The next step is to incorporate gun hunting into my routine to allow me to more efficiently fill my freezer a little more and provide sustainable harvested, tasty meat for the entire year. Bear hunting and turkey hunting are also on the table to obtain a little variety.
Gardening has been a different story. Having lived in an apartment the past 4 years, limited space and access to sunlight has made it very difficult to delve into this new hobby. I had a few weak fire escape attempts, but, as expected, they failed pretty quickly. The future looked bleak as well until I heard a coworker mention a public plot of land in his housing development. Needless to say, he had my attention. A couple questions and about 12 hours later, I was the new owner of a 25’x25′ plot of fertile land for a whopping $30 a year! My gardening adventure had begun…
My first problem: I know absolutely nothing about gardening. Thankfully, my Mom was eager to help (as always) and Google apparently knows a few things. Seeing as it was already May 18, I also needed to learn and take action fairly quickly. After a few hasty internet searches and calls back home, I ran to Wal-Mart and picked up some necessities: shovels (one large and one small), a “cultivator” (this is apparently just a hoe), a fork (I don’t know what else to call it), two buckets, some poultry fencing, a few bamboo stakes, hoses (my plot in the back of the field required over 100 feet of hose to reach the water supply), and bin to store my tools.
On lunch the day after I purchased my plot, I quickly “turned the soil” by digging 12 inches down for a 10’x10′ area, mixing in compost and then raking it out into a smooth surface. My Mom and I went back to Wal-Mart and picked up 18 plants and, just like that, less than 48 hours after my land purchase, my plants were in the ground. I officially had my garden.
I took a walk around and peered at some of the other gardens in the plot – it was intimidating to say the least. A few gardeners had multiple plots while others had used so much wood to build raised beds that they could’ve recycled it to build a shed if they wanted to. People must walk past my plot and think, “It’s always great to see those young children start gardening early”. All kidding aside, I definitely have the simplest patch in the entire field.
I planted a nice variety of vegetables: sugar snap peas, broccoli, tomatoes, red lettuce, eggplant, watermelon, sweet peppers, jalapenos, cucumbers, and onions. Now, my expectations are very low, but I figure, at the very least, I’ll learn some things to help increase my chances of success next season. In the meantime, my vast wealth of experience tells me I just have to continue watering the plants a few times a week, removing weeds as they sprout and reading. It doesn’t seem hard, but I’m sure I’ll come across adversity and obstacles I’m not even aware of at this point. Hopefully, in about 3 months, I’ll be up to knees in scrumptious, organic, homegrown veggies. Then, I can start canning…