Embarrassing confession time: I’m a little obsessed with the “Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Maybe a lot obsessed. Obsessed enough to know that for the most part they aren’t her writing at all; they were essentially ghostwritten by her daughter Rose, who was a far better and more prolific author, though largely unknown today, and a much more interesting character – an early feminist and globe-trotting journalist who died in her 70’s the night before departing for Vietnam on assignment. Vietnam! On assignment! IN HER 70s!! But I digress.
From a young age, I loved reading stories about “the olden days” and wishing that I too could pick fresh pieplant, whatever that is*, bake vinegar pie for my family, and hand-sew a perfect shirtwaist.
A theme running through the stories is that of self-sufficiency and independence – living off the work of your two hands and taking nothing from anyone that you didn’t earn with the sweat of your brow (Again digressing slightly – the books, while semi-autobiographical, are classified as historical fiction – both Laura and Rose heavily edited many of the stories to emphasize that theme in keeping with the family’s political leanings).
For the (semi-fictional) Ingalls family, this worldview was a necessity of their chosen lifestyle – “pioneers” on the frontier of had to be self-sufficient or they might as well pack up and head “back East.” As for me, I’m quite happy to have the luxury of living with all the modern conveniences and picking and choosing my DIY jobs, and this year I decided of channel my inner pioneer woman and grow a vegetable garden.
This was a pretty major decision, considering I only started (successfully) gardening last year. I’ve had good luck with most herbs (last year’s basil was a dismal failure, but everything else thrived), and middling success with tomatoes and hot peppers (hit and miss, depending on the weather, since I rarely remembered to water them).
I decided to go whole hog though and we built 2 full-on raised vegetable beds, using the 2×10 boards that had a couple of years before contained our ill-fated backyard skating rink. (Props to my hubby, who suffers my grandiose schemes with a sigh and a “Yes, dear,” as he pulls out his circular saw.)
The process was pretty simple – Ian cut the boards down and screwed them together at right angles to make two 4’x 12’ rectangles. We laid weedproof(ish) landscaping fabric under and around them, calculated the volume, and ordered 4 yards of triple-mix soil, which was delivered and dumped on our driveway (and the neighbour’s path) the next day (turned out it was more like 5 yards, so one of our neighbours peddled the excess door to door for us while we were away at BlogU.
With the help of another neighbour, we spent 3 days loading and unloading wheelbarrows and raking the soil flat (the kids *sort of* helped with that part).
Then we planted seeds (carrot, radish, zucchini, lettuce, kale, pumpkin, marigold, and nasturtium) and plants (tomato, tomatillo, sweet and hot peppers, watermelon, bean, and pea) and let ‘er rip…
So far, so…AWESOME!!
*Spoiler: It’s rhubarb. Who knew?