Garden Beginnings

When people hear that I have a whole week off of both school AND work, they typically ask, “Are you going anywhere? Do you have plans to do anything fun and exciting?”

The reality, though, was that my spring break plans contained more homework than anything else. Not exactly fun and exciting. But I did have one fairly big, non-homework plan: start our garden.

Since we first came to look at our apartment last summer, I’ve had my eye on the empty plot next to the building. We asked the landlords if they would be open to us planting a garden there and they responded that as long as we gave them some vegetables, we could do whatever we wanted. So I stared out the window at the open space, envisioning raised beds made out of recycled materials, tended by enthusiastic neighbors.

As February slipped into March, though, and spring edged closer, I realized that if I was going to make the leap from dreaming about a garden to actually starting one, my plans needed to get quite a bit more concrete.

But the space is actually pretty large and the more I looked at it, the more daunting it felt. It looks like there used to be a building there at some point so the space is littered with small stones (I suspect that it may need some compost and TLC to grow things). And dog poop from the neighbor’s dog, who roams free most days (and no, that’s not the kind of compost I had in mind). I knew that I would need to either clean out the stones and till the ground or build raised beds. And either way I would need to figure out some sort of fencing to keep out the dog.

Finally I decided that I just needed to start somewhere and see what solutions I could figure out. And with school and work taking up most of my time, spring break seemed the most likely time to jump into it. So I made a list of goals for the garden, a list of things that I needed to do, a list of materials I needed, and a list plants I wanted to grow (I’m a list person, remember?).

On Thursday I researched fencing options. At first I was looking at fences made from all sorts of recycled materials: old pallets, bed frames, bicycle parts. I found some neat ideas that I would love to try someday, but eventually concluded that for this year, what I really needed was something simple, temporary, and easy to install (since we are just renting and my building skills are pretty limited indeed). Home depot offers some fairly inexpensive options, like chicken wire attached to simple metal posts. I think I can handle that…

 

On Friday I called the landlord to confirm that it was still okay for us to start a garden (she said absolutely, as long as we gave her some vegetables).

On Sunday I made a flyer inviting our neighbor’s to participate in the garden and posted it by the mailboxes and in the laundry room (I haven’t heard back from anyone, but I’m hopeful that once the garden is visibly started, some people will jump in).

On Tuesday Derek and I went to the Kansas City Community Gardens office and signed up for a membership. Because we qualified as low-income, they said they could come and till the garden for us for just $8. We filled out the appropriate forms and left with an official green membership card and renewed hope that this garden thing would actually happen. Now I’m just waiting for them to call to set up a time to come till.

On Wednesday I snagged a shovel, hoe, and trowel for a few dollars from a garage sale down the street. The metal parts are rusty, but they’re still sturdy. And they opened up conversation with the neighbors down the street about the garden (they warned me not to plant watermelons or any of that sweet stuff, because that’s what people like to take around here). That same day, Derek brought home a big ceramic pot from work that I plan to use for herbs.

Now it’s Friday and though the garden is not tilled yet, I feel like I’ve gotten a pretty good start this week. I’ve done enough to assure myself that the garden WILL happen this year at least and the task feels a little more manageable now. This weekend I hope to clear out the rocks from the plot in preparation for tilling and perhaps sketch out a plan of the garden.

Once I finish the homework I put off for most of the week that is….

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6 Comments

  1. Mama

     /  March 16, 2012

    This is great stuff! The tilling is always the biggest hurdle for me- I’m so glad you have access to such an economical way to get it done. You go, girl!

    Reply
    • I think that was one of the most intimidating things for me, too. I knew that they loaned tillers, but I thought I’d still have to do it myself. And that I might have to dig out all the grass first (they said the tiller should do that). Having someone come till for me is such a big help!

      Reply
  2. teresa

     /  March 16, 2012

    I’m so excited for you! I hope you’ll keep up a journal with pics so we can see the progress! We have had a garden almost every year since we’ve been married-30+ yrs. There is nothing like it. It’s great exercise and you get really healthy food to eat. Plus, if you can manage to have some extra to share…year two you are sure to get more participants. People will naturally be drawn to it!

    Reply
    • I’m excited, too! We always had a garden when we were growing up, but I haven’t been able to garden much since I moved out on my own, for lack of space and lack of time (though I did garden a couple years ago, for at least part of the season; you can see some pictures and reflections from that garden if you click the “garden” tab). I do plan to plant enough to share with the neighbors and I’m hoping it’ll be a way to build relationship with our neighbors (something that’s actually hard to do in an apartment setting).

      And I certainly plan to document and blog about the process :-). Do you still have a blog somewhere?

      Reply
  3. Debbie

     /  March 16, 2012

    Oh my dear, you remind me so much of your mother. That’s a compliment, you know. Even down to the flyer you posted. I’m smiling as I write this, Becca!

    Reply

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