Sunday, August 19, 2012

Gardening in Raised Beds

This year we're gardening using raised beds and it's been a learning experience. Due to the extreme dry and hot weather it didn't produce much through the main part of the summer but the past two weeks we've really begun to see the fruits of our labors. So far we've harvested peas, lima beans, tomatoes, spaghetti squash (all our acorn squash died as did all of our cucumbers), green beans, onions, okra (that we've been harvesting every day) and green peppers.

I garden for several reasons: 1. I don't know any different - that was part of summers all my growing up years. 2. There's something about paying $1.00 for a package of frozen vegetables that will last one meal knowing that the same $1.00 would buy a package of seeds that could feed my family for a whole year. 3. It's an excuse to be outside instead of having to clean house. 4. Even if my children are being raised in the city I want them to know where food comes from (Not the grocery store) and develop the work ethic needed to be self sufficient and know the satisfaction of watching God's handiwork. There's something deeply rewarding to me to sweat and work and plan, then harvest and preserve and listen for those lids sealing (even my boys' eyes shine when they hear them).
It's probably deeply seated in my psychological makeup since some of my happiest memories are gardening days on the farm when my mom and Grandma Slagenweit would slave for hours over the stove canning and blanching in a hot kitchen that had no air conditioning. We'd sit on the front porch shelling peas (if there were a bushel we'd take them to the Mennonites who had a pea sheller but if it was under a was up to us), or kidney beans, cutting green or yellow beans, or be out in the yard with the old ash tubs scrubbing red beets. Grandma and Grandpa would tell us stories or occasionally we'd listen to music. Sometimes we'd be in the kitchen taking the skins off tomatoes or peaches. I remember Grandma sitting with her feet propped up and as fast as she could slice peaches I'd eat them until my stomach ached. The smells, the work, the rewarding feeling of seeing all those jars lined up on tea towels just created a sense of deep satisfaction that I've never gotten away from. It's one of those things that has made living in the city seem more "normal" to me.

This is while we were laying out the six raised beds we purchased for this year. 
It took some time until we got it all laid out. But once it was done it gave plenty of space between the beds for a wheelbarrow and ample growing room also.

 That was back in April.....through the summer it looked more like this:

It's been fun to watch the progress and also see the boys' enjoyment. Stephen helped me pick green beans the other day and Allan and Daniel help Philip with the okra.These pictures were taken a little over a week ago - the okra is much taller now.So this is what has kept me busy the last month (and getting ready for school).

Green Beans

carrots, peppers, tomatoes, squash and lima beans

The lima beans have done so well!

Only squash cucumbers.



Charity said...

Love it all! Nathan told me recently that gardening was in my past, and that's where it needed to stay - ;o) So glad yours gives you such enjoyment. There's such an invention as a pea sheller? Who knew? My grandparents never told us that ;o) Wish we could enjoy a meal of your goodies!

sarahmfry said...

I am once again amazed and inspired. My parents have always gardened - all my life - (right next door to you, in fact!) and my kids love helping them now.

Those are some pretty awesome memories of working with your mom and grandma! Sounds like the beginnings of a good book! I wanted to read more.