Welcome to Them That’s Doin’, a department featuring farmers, gardeners, and other sustainably minded folks discussing what they’ve been up to. For the past year, in honor of Mother’s 50th anniversary, we’ve heard from editors and readers about what’s caught their eye, and how they’ve been spending their time. Read a roundup of their experiences, techniques, and tools on our Them That's Doin' collection page.
Photo by Carla Tilghman
There I was, facing hip surgery, right at the beginning of the growing season. I knew the surgery wouldn’t take place until summer, but my motion was already somewhat limited, and I realized that bending over raised beds wasn’t going to happen for me this season. The solution? An excellent moment to try some ideas and plants I’d had in mind for a container garden!
As usual, I started various seeds indoors in March, but this time, I chose several plants specifically designed for containers: dwarf okra, a dwarf cantaloupe, two different types of tomatoes, and dwarf peppers, in addition to lettuces, carrots, and herbs. My partner in crime, otherwise known as my spouse, was a champ who drilled holes in 28 buckets; filled them with soil, compost, and worm castings; and then built tables so I wouldn’t have to bend down to tend the plants. While we didn’t have as big of a garden as usual, the containers meant we could still enjoy fresh produce throughout summer and into fall with second plantings. —Carla Tilghman, editor
Photo by Ruth Slear
Accessible Chicken House
We built a new chicken house years ago and still use it. We wanted an easy-access house, so we built a walk-in with a roost and nesting boxes. The house is 8 feet wide and high by 12 feet long, and the south clerestory is an additional 2 feet high. It has plenty of room for storage. We wanted an easy-to-clean roost, so my husband built a box that opens in the front, allowing me to scoop up the mess with a flat shovel and be done in a minute. The nesting boxes are stored below the roost, enabling me to retrieve eggs easily. —Ruth Slear, reader
With the end of the year approaching, I’ve been dreaming about cold-weather gardening. This season, I’ll try growing garlic in containers, and, inspired by the “Keen as Mustard” article in Grit (November/December 2020), I also want to see how many spicy, flavorful mustard greens I can sprout. So far, I’ve set up an indoor area to start the mustard seeds, and I have deep containers for both mustard and garlic seedlings on my patio. But I’ll have to pay close attention to them, because the neighborhood squirrels love digging in the soil.
Hopefully, this growing experiment will result in some delicious garlic and greens for homemade meals! —Jessica Mitchell, editor