Preparing for Spring, and Winter

By Sheldon

bed_beamNow that we are entering our second year of home ownership in Oregon, we hope that this time we will be able to get a garden in. Last year I covered the skeleton of a carport with plastic, added a door, and thought that it would serve as a nice greenhouse. Well, winter weather had other plans that destroyed the plastic (which, to be fair, was not well-configured to begin with), but I did put in two nice raised beds, 2 x 14′ each. I have also added a third bed, this one 7 x 2, which goes against the house on the east side. Two of these beds are also fitted with vertical posts drilled as grid beam, which will let me configure them as trellises, use them to make bed-specific greenhouses, add irrigation stuff, or whatever. I’ve written about grid beam elsewhere, but here’s their main site if you’re interested. The short version is that it is an open-source system for building and prototyping stuff. Very cool; like an Erector Set for grownups.

For a long time I’ve wanted to do a proper garden–the kind that will feed you. Flowers are nice and all that, but the practical side of me says that if you can’t eat it, drink it, or smoke it, there isn’t a whole lot of point to making the¬†effort. More seriously, I’m curious to see just how much of our food needs could be satisfied through a serious vegetable garden. Once, a long, long time ago we had a garden in a tiny patch that was our “back yard” when we lived with our friend Kim McCall back in the late 80s. The garden patch was maybe 20 square feet tops, but we installed a couple of raised beds, built the soil lavishly, and reaped abundantly.

Detail of the grid beam vertical support posts.

Detail of the grid beam vertical support posts.

Besides, we both love fresh veggies and like most Americans, we probably don’t get enough of them. Even the produce that gets sold at the supermarkets tends to have fewer nutrients than they did twenty years ago. This is apparently because we tend to use up our soils, so if we can build more nutrient-rich soil ourselves, this ought to result in food that is higher-quality. Time will tell.

Then there is the question of sustainability and, at the risk of sounding alarmist, we are due or even overdue for another recession. My gut tells me that the next one will be a bad one, especially since so many people still haven’t recovered from the last one. More on that in other posts. If that’s the case, then it would be a good idea to have a food source, especially one that lends itself to sharing with others. I’m deliberately planning for a larger garden than we would need for a basic kitchen garden for that very reason (and the very real possibility that we might screw this up and things won’t grow).

There is a growing sense, especially since the election, that we are going to have to start solving some of our own problems, or that we need to stop ruminating and get to work. I rather like this idea. Part of it is sustainability, which is reason enough, but there is also a growing feeling that the Rest of Us are more powerful than we ever imagined, and that we can come up with some wonderful solutions that will make our communities stronger and more vibrant.

It’s as old as the story of creation: mark the start of a new world by planting a garden.

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