Friday, June 13, 2014

6 years of Urban Homestead South Africa

I thought I had miscalculated this…6 years! Surely not. But yes, June 2008 we started growing vegetables on a decent scale. While the blog started in April of that year with this simple entry it was not that we even had open ground to plant in. We just used pots and containers to get some salad going.

What a 6 years it has been. We have watched the garden change and produce so much over the years that I almost wish I was more of a record keeper and could report the tons of food we have grown over the years, but that’s not my style. If Superman were running the garden then it would be a totally different story – each pea pod would have been accounted for!

The past 6 years have seen a rollercoaster of activity, types of vegetables, and quantities from gluts to complete failures, but all through this we have been learning and growing and finding what works for us.

Expanding too fast was a detrimental thing for us all. It killed my children’s joy for the garden. We gave up all fun and free time to maintain it and while we got daily meals from the garden we were unhappy. Reducing the garden by 1/3 was a good move in 2013. We were left with two main growing areas that are now manageable and with the addition of Sam, my Friday helper, we get to do all the fun things. Perhaps some pure-ists will think that it’s cheating to just do the planning and planting but not the digging, composting and weeding, but we are happy and settled this way.

Our growing repertoire has also developed where I felt I wanted to do all the interesting heirlooms. To be honest, I don’t like purple carrots and black corn. I like orange carrots and yellow corn and luckily I can still get these in heirlooms. I grow a lot of what we like, and nothing that we don’t like. It makes the garden-planting list a bit samey, but that’s ok.

Summer we have our tall corn, blushing tomatoes, hidden potatoes, sprawling squashed and climbing beans. Autumn sees the shorter rounder vegetables of cauliflower and broccoli. I still battle to get cabbages to full size. As winter hits our peas appear and the lofty broad beans. And then spring comes around with the almost empty beds and the mad rush to get seedlings started again.

It’s a lovely simple cycle knowing now all these years later to clear out, add compost, dig, sow, plant out, harvest and begin again.

On the food front our eating remains as whole as possible. We eat from all food groups, we don’t carry the labels around that many do “gluten free, dairy free…”. I love an interesting varied diet and when we eat our vegetables and breads and meats we try to keep it from the most natural source I can find. Of course we live by the 80/20 rule because the kids enjoy treats now and then and I will not say no to a night out for a special dinner with my man on account of the food having some wrong additions. I think some can get so fixated on every little thing that passes their lips that they walk around looking like they are sucking lemons.

On the “greening” front we still recycle. In fact when we redid our kitchen last year I made sure we accounted for two pull out bins one for wet waste that cannot be composted or fed to the chickens and the other for our recycling items. This means no cluttered counters or unseemly piles outside the back door.

I also realized back in 2010 that I do not serve Mother Earth. I serve a Living God who will appoint the end of all days. He will bring the earth to an end and then create a new heaven and new earth for those who are His children. Serving Mother Earth is a big burden and a heavy yoke as it comes down to what I can do to save the planet. What freedom knowing that it’s not up to me to do this, as the earth is undergoing atrophy continually.

Our goal as Bible believing Christians is to wisely steward our portion of earth. To care for it as we would any other thing placed under our authority. So I cannot change the plastic island in the Pacific, the chopping down of trees in the rainforests, nor the poor cows being raised in feedlots, but I can make a difference right here in my own family, on our 900sqm of earth.

For those readers who have been following our journey since the beginning, I do hope to read more comments from you all and would love you to write a similar post about your gardening adventures and feel free to leave a link in the comment box which I will add to the end of this post as you do.

Here’s to the next growing, gardening, eating year!


Cath said...

And you were my inspiration way back then when life was simple....

Urban Homestead South Africa said...

Well, call it pay back, as you are my inspiration dear friend!

Joyce said...

It is not Mother Earth, but FATHER GOD.....amen to that! We worship the Creator of all things, not the things.