Life in General Progress Report South 36 (Community Garden)

I Grow Food!

When I was pregnant, I walked around announcing: “I grow humans!”  Now, I can affirm that “I grow food,” which is not quite on the same level, but still rather amazing. Whether you want to attribute reproduction (human or plant varieties) to the miracles of intelligent design or evolution…its pretty wild to experience it.

Lots has happened since I last posted. (Its been a minute, hasn’t it?) Nothing majorly impressive as far as output, but just in my own learning curve. And I still have far to go in acquiring these most basic of skills that really everyone should know at least a bit about. It’s distressing how much basic skills we let go by the wayside and just trust a huge industrial complex to take care of our basic needs.

I put way too many wild flower seeds in the magic flower pot. But I kind of like it out of control like this. That’s what wild flowers are supposed to do, right?

I have joined Melissa Norris’s Pioneering Today Academy and am working my way through her different classes. She is ultra organized and very helpful. But sometimes I think I still learn more from Jess at Roots and Refuge, who is not so organized or purposeful, but if you can wade through her stuff, she explains the exact things I was wondering about really well. So, between the two of them and some others, I feel like I am very slowly but surely gaining a LOT of new knowledge.

I also hired [name redacted] to help me out. I will have to ask him if he wants me to link to him or put his whole name here. But for now, we will stick with first names. He is a local permaculture guy who is helping me see what I can get out of my small plot of land and where things should go and that sort of thing. I am discovering that Julian is probably a little what I tend to think its neurodiverse, which makes me have to keep pretty organized and push out info to him in a way that makes sense. I can work with neurodiverse people just fine, as I often enjoy their way of looking at things differently and can be super creative. But I think we miss each other at times, as I am not fluent in the language of permaculture and gardening yet, so it is hard to be really concrete about what I want when I don’t know what it is or the terminology. But I am trying to be more clear while still giving him the freedom to do his thing.

The backyard raised bed has remained unchanged for weeks. Nothing has died, but nothing grows past its seedling stage. There are lettuces, spinach, radish, carrots and onions planted here. All shade tolerant plants, but still not enough sun. The onions were planted as sets, but the others were planted as seeds. Nothing has grown or died.

One reason I need his help is that my garden box in my backyard has failed. I suspected it might due to the lack of light coming in through the shade of the giant plum tree that owns my backyard. The decision becomes whether to take it down, if vigilant pruning will help. or what else can be done. Julian told me that landscapers install and prune things in such a way to make you have to keep calling them back for more business. He said my plum tree has not been pruned the right way and that is one of the reasons it grows prolifically and uncontrollably. If it had been pruned from the bottom up, it would have been a lot less of a Goliath that it is now. This does not surprise me.

My herb garden pots are doing ok. Because we had so much rain, they have grown slower than normal, but they have grown a lot since the rain stopped, so I think they will be ok.
A close up of a pot of sweet basil.

It is probably good that I am not going to get a huge harvest this year. I am a little overwhelmed by the prospects of all the different ways to can and preserve the food. I am moving a bit at both ends. My garden is really at this point an experimental sampling. Whereas on the other end I am learning about preserving and preparing whole foods and trying to eat better. For a while, (probably always, actually) I am going to have to supplement with farmers markets and that type of thing. Nik has been getting a few things at farmers markets. And so we are getting better at doing that. One advantage of the quarantine has been that farmer’s markets have gone digital and want you to pre-order off an app. This is a huge help when you are blind and can’t just walk around and see what there is to buy. So, now we can buy online and then we just have to find the place for pick up when we get there. Much easier and more accessible.

These walla walla onion sets were purchased at the farmers market the same time as the ones in the backyard. The ones at the community garden have grown significantly.

I do notice a huge difference when I eat better sourced whole food and less processed food in my health. I have joined a Chronic Kidney Disease online support group, and am learning a lot about kidney diets that improve health that I was never told by a renal dietitian. Sure, there is limiting your protein and phosphates, but when you can eliminate much of the toxins found in processed foods, your kidneys have that much less to deal with. Kidney disease makes you feel sick because your body is carrying around such a toxic load all the time. (And often due to anemia, which is because kidneys also regulate red blood cell creation. ) There is not a simple solution to anemia, but it just makes sense that the less toxins you put in your body, the less your kidneys have to deal with and that hang around in your body.

Squash is doing very nicely. I am not a big squash eater, but I will have to find some ways to incorporate these into our diet. There are three plants with multiple squash that are doing quite well.

An aside, also learned that regularly sweating (yes, sweating, sorry) helps eliminate toxins from your body, and especially helps with the skin itch that is so common with kidney patients. I don’t really regularly sweat all that much, but I can if I really exercise hard. So, I am trying to start doing more hard cardio so I can sweat some crap away.

A grassy decorative plant and my metal water jug. Having plants to take care of gets me out more and walking quite often in the quarantine. Maybe a bit of summer sweat as well.

I am not anywhere near perfect about not eating processed foods, but I do notice a definite improvement when I cut way down. Its the difference between facing a day in pain and fatigue so bad you are struggling to stay awake and get through the day to feeling pretty damned functional. Its huge, and it takes work, but is not that hard to do.

Green beans are happening on this bush bean plant. I’m not sure there will be enough to do anything with, but the experience of figuring out how they grow is important, too.
Pea plants are crazy! I had no idea! But again, they are growing and I am learning about what they look and feel like, how big they get, how to trellis them, etc.

Nik’s and my garden goal this year as far as actual food is to make and can some pico de gallo. No, it isn’t the most important food in the world, but its a place to start. We have tomatoes, peppers, onions, and cilantro doing pretty well. If I get the hang of canning (I don’t have a pressure cooker at this time, so its just water bath canning for me at this point) I may also can some bulk buys from the farmer’s market as well.

Nik is very excited about these jalapeño peppers. He wants them to go red so they are plenty hot.

I am 50 today. (WUT???) So sometimes it is hard to feel like it is too late to make changes or improve things or have enough energy to grow food, etc. I was a bit depressed by my lackluster backyard raised bed. But I suppose you just have to work with what you have and who you are and where you are and most especially keep going. So many disabled people are shut out of ways to take control of their own health and gardening and other outdoor pursuits. So I know it will take time to figure out everything, but it is worth trying. I also like that gardening is one of those things where it connects you with others in a way where it circumvents disability, (like figure skating has done for me in the past) because people are so enthusiastic about it that they just want to share it with you and they don’t much care who or where you are, as long as you’re there for it. Its an interesting community.

I was having trouble taking pictures of the tomatoes, but there are some little green tomatoes in there somewhere.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s