Springtime in Urbania

Reader Contribution by Jane Gripper
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I have a love/hate relationship with Lowes. I am often drawn into its vortex, especially at this time of year, when the warming Spring weather beckons us outside. Truly, all I needed was some 8 foot garden stakes with which to make bean trellises, some small garden stakes to repair the broken veggie garden edges (the children seem to think it great fun to use the edges as balance beams. They jump from edge to edge like little frogs, eventually breaking the edges). In addition, I needed red onion bulbs, and potato “seeds”.  Why is it then, that I left that store requiring a large wagon to alleviate the burden of all the extraneous purchases I had made!! 

Okay, while I am making  some confessions of an “urban  turf tosser”, I should admit to the other store that I can’t seem to get out of with out a purchase….Tractor Supply! Sometimes I go in there just to smell the clover hay, or even the goat pellets (is that a bit sick?) I find myself handling the electric fencing – working out how many feet I might need, even though I live on 1/8th of an acre, and have the homeowners association to contend with. They would not allow me to have chickens (if they knew about them) let alone the sow or the goats for which I am imagining the fencing!  I look at  horse tack, muck boots and heated animal troughs. What I end up with is a hummingbird plant stand, some chick feed, and, just for the fun of it, a chap stick that’s called  ‘100 percent free-range chook poop’. 


Here’s the thing with being an urban homesteader, we have the convenience (or rather, the temptation) of the stores.  

When we lived on a  more remote property, in Australia, we had to “make do” with what was lying about in the shed or on the property rather than jump into the car and head on over to the nearest farm supply store . Garden stakes were fashioned from broken tree branches, garden edging was river rocks, fertilizer came in the form of cow, horse or chook manure scraped up, virtually still steaming, from the horses, cows and chooks in the area, then piled up to mature (there’s nothing quite like “mature manure”). In the summer, the children would bag up this ‘delightful dung’ and sell it by the roadside. Garden mulch was what was slashed in the bottom paddock over the summer before the grasses went to seed.   

As an urbanite, mulch comes in a large plastic bag, likewise manure. Edging is plastic, and garden stakes are hewn from some rainforest in a far flung country, and shipped here for our convenience. These are just some of the dilemmas for us urban greenies.   

The latest addition to our little urban arboretum, have been new chicks. They, being replacements for the late, great Shaz and Artie (A cuckoo maran and a Rhode Island red), who were taken (or rather half taken ), by a hungry, late winter fox. 

Aussie, Callie and Jassie  were purchased from, you guessed it, Tractor Supply. I really only went in to buy a new garden fork!  Addie, our border collie is once again in happy puppy land as she constantly watches over her new charges. 


Despite the fact that today’s late mid May weather is a paltry 46 degrees,  the spring veggies seem to be growing (all be it slowly). They were planted several weeks ago into last years compost. The beans are emerging and making their way nicely up (those) garden stakes, the garlic, planted late last fall, is dominating one of the beds, arugula is already flowering, ready to cast its seeds for the next crop, and those red onions and potatoes are breaking the earth, and, I hope, making ‘big below the ground bulbs’! The chicks are growing, and will soon be past that ugly chicken phase before they get their adult feathers. I am salivating in anticipation of the roasted vegetable frittata that will be made with the farm fresh eggs and veggies. Bring on summer!!!