Thursday, September 22, 2011

The day of small beginnings

I am currently going through old photos of my 3rd precious child as I prepare her first 13 years of life album, which she will get on her 13th birthday in Feb. I came across a photo of our first vegetable garden in this home in Feb 2007.

When people read this blog, and perhaps other blogs, where we have been busy working towards growing our own food for many years, it can seem very overwhelming. It is a photo like this that can be a good reminder that everything begins small.

What we have now has taken 3.5yrs to achieve. It's not like some good garden fairy godmother came and waived a magic wand and created all of what you see was hard hard back breaking, but thoroughly satisfying, work to get it to this.

So if you are just starting out and making plans for your vegetable garden - however big or small - take heart and see all that you do as a learning curve towards a greater achievement.

After that first little patch, which was either eaten by snails or dug up by dogs, we tried another section outside our kitchen door. This too was attached by snails and dogs and never lasted long.

It was about6 months later that we decided to do it properly and we took the small area (although at the time it didn't seem small) just outside our kitchen door. This area was not used by the children who were still small and spent a lot of time in the garden.

This is what it looks like today. The end of our winter crops are there, although the spinach will run on until summer really hits. We have just planted beans in the last bed and the first bed awaits tomatoes. The chicken coop is in this area too.

We soon realised that this patch would never feed us, and 6 months later we cleared another area where shrubs were growing.

In 2009 we cleared another section but this had grass and paving stones with a walkway. It made this awkward V shaped bed which has never really done well. This year we have dug in lots of manure and compost and will be growing tomatoes, cucumber and companion herbs in this space.
While this was all going on we started thinking of vertical growing spaces and every wall or pergola became a place to grow strawberries. Paved areas were covered with containers with more berries, tomatoes and asparagus.

We are now experimenting with potato towers in this area too.

Lastly, in Dec of 2010 we cleared the last area of our garden. Our children being older now and spending less time in the garden gave us the freedom to pull up the last lawn and convert it to vegetable beds too. This is where our wildlife pond is and every night, or when it rains, we delight in the sound of our little frogs singing away merrily.

This was taken moments ago...our broad beans are our staple winter crop. We are getting very creative with recipes for broad beans. We also have our kale here and brassicas.

I never realised when I planted all this kale that it is a "cut and come again" we will find some good homes for it and transplant it against the wall where the avo tree is.

So, never despise the day of small beginnings...just do the best with what you have, when you can.


Anonymous said...

You have beautiful gardens and you must be very proud of what you've accomplished. I love your potato towers, I'll have to check that out. My newest "small beginning" is vermicomposting, lets see how that goes.

Tuinmeisie said...

Thank you for this post, Wendy. I had a miserable winter harvest and am feeling a bit despondent when starting my summer plantings.

The new blog layout and colors look lovely.

Anonymous said...

What an inspiring peep back through your garden-growing journey! I like your new blog background ;)

Lilian said...

O goodness me - thank you for keeping it real. I always thought my futile attempts at vegetable growing meant that I was just not destined to grow my own food! It's heartening to see (and learn from your honesty) that you had small beginnings and failures as well. I will keep plugging on and take each failure in my stride.

African Babies Don't Cry said...

Thanks for posting this... so inspiring. I get so despondent on starting a veggie patch, but you have shown how quickly it grows and becomes fruitful!

Christine @ African Babies Don't Cry