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Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

A Modern Homesteader's Shame

 Unplanted Garden Bed 

Now you know my shame.

I haven't planted my garden yet.

How can someone who claims to be a 'modern homesteader' not have planted her garden by the end of June, you ask?  Let me tell you...

It started with the weather. Cold, rainy, muddy - not very conducive to working outside. Now I know this isn't really an excuse - if I actually depended on my garden for sustenance, I'd be in trouble. BIG trouble.  But this weather, which is becoming fairly 'normal' for this part of the world through the end of June, just doesn't inspire the gardener in me.

What it does do is make me think.

I think about my ancestors, who had to plant regardless of the weather, or they'd have likely starved. I think about our modern day organic farmers, who are out planting and caring for their crops in frost and downpours - so we can eat, and to feed their own families and secure their futures. I think of all those throughout the world who can't afford to go to the local organic grocer to pick up first class organic produce from Mexico, Chile and California in the dead of winter. They don't have the luxury of postponing planting because it's rainy and cold and it's more comfortable to stay inside with a nice hot cup of tea.

Of course, this should inspire me.  But the beds are still not planted.

Now all that said, the season isn't a complete loss. I just finished preparing a new audio interview:  Emergency Food Storage - Why Bother? and more than anything, it shocked me once again at how dependent most of us are on shipments of food coming from outside the country. In summer, not so much of a problem, but in winter, if we want fresh vegetables, we have to grow our own (and all that goes with that), rely solely on sprouts, or buy the imported variety.

There are many who say that the ecological footprint of imported vegetables in winter is actually less than what it would cost to grow these same plants in heated greenhouses, but no matter how you fancy it up, it's still not really sustainable. Not to mention impossible in the event of a major disaster that disrupts food shipping.  So what's a busy person who doesn't like being out in the rain and mud to do?

My answer (and the one that makes me feel better):  start where you're at, and do a little bit at a time.

I know this comes a bit late for me, but I'm pegging my reputation on it (ahem).  The bottom line is, it's never too late to start a garden.

I was so ready in February with local organic and heritage seeds, composted organic horse manure and my lovely raised beds.  I bought 9 more blueberry plants, a goji berry and others.  And I had the desire.  But it kept raining.  And raining.  And it was cold.  And every time there was a lull, I'd think "I really should get out there".  But another client project would be calling from my office, or there'd be a performance at my son's school - or the monsoon would start again just as I put on my muck boots and donned a shovel.

Bottom line?  I. Just. Never. Got. Around. To. It. 

And now it's the end of June.

So I've decided I'll just start fresh and plan for a fall and winter garden, which, in this part of the world, is entirely doable.

And there you have it.  None of us are perfect.  And I have no interest in holding myself up as the Martha Stewart of the modern homesteading movement, because I'd fail miserably (or make myself miserable trying). Sure I like my house tidy, full of stylish things to look at.  But a magazine-worthy example I am not (except on my Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine blogs, of course)!

But when it comes to actually getting out there and doing it, actually taking the plunge, leaving my full time job, moving to the country and making this work, late garden planting and all?

Now THAT I can do.  And that I am doing. 

But dang, it's raining again.  And that cup of tea and the gardening book I've been meaning to read is looking awfully tempting.  I think I'll just settle in for another afternoon.  At this point, what's another day?

Have any of your gardening or homesteading plans gone AWOL this spring?  Let us know in the comments below - I'd love to hear that I'm not alone!  

victoria gazeley
6/27/2011 10:58:40 AM

Don, trial and error is definitely the name of the game! Or so I'm finding... ;o) I've been lucky to have great mentors, so not too much error so far, but some for sure! And cdo, thanks so much for the advice. I have a tendency to 'go big or go home' (or do nothing!), hence why the garden isn't planted. It's just too darned easy to keep working at my business or other things. My weakest area in this realm is definitely implementation! That wasn't the case last year, but I also wasn't running my own business then - not really, anyway. Amazing how many hours I've allowed it to eat up! So your advice is well taken - thanks! And BJ, I'm with you.... Sending lots of motivation your way and mustering up some for myself... :)

don c. bower
6/27/2011 5:56:32 AM

I thought about what you wrote,I'm new to gardening and home ownership.I on the otherhand rushed everthing,and every mistake you can make I have.I've heard a couple people talking about we need to get use to the wheather change,I've asked alot of questions about growing.If gardening is tough to get done,do to wheather or time try planter gardening,less time and less space.I'm hopeing to do some next year.From what I'm finding out trail and erra is the norm for growing anything.I'm glad my son could save some of our plants.Hope you grow good.

6/26/2011 5:03:32 PM

As John Lennon said, "Life is what happens when you're making other plans." Planning needs to be enacted to be worthwhile. As someone who easily procrastinates in other areas (I love gardening - actually gardening), I would suggest making smaller plans and getting out there and getting them done, then come back and plan again if time allows. It's important to get something in the ground. There's plenty that you can still plant in June and harvest in the fall. Don't plan for fall now - work on your weakest area (implementation) and you'll be happier with the results. Plus you'll have something to show for all your effort! Good luck.

bj gingles
6/26/2011 3:16:19 PM

I must confess I too have let my garden go this year. I did plant a few tomato plants, squash, bell pepper and chard plants, and have begun to harvest a few things...but nothing like I should be doing or planned to do earlier. I am beginning to plan a fall and winter garden and hope I can find the motivation to actually do them.