For me, it’s hard to reach the last week of February and not start dreaming of the next season. There it is, right around the corner—bright sunshine greeting you with a nonchalant smooch on the forehead, warm breezes enveloping you in a gentle hug, lingering snow and ice being banished from all the land. Sounds delightful!
With the approach of these bright, warm, ice-free days comes reminders of growing up on the farm. In the spring, morning chores were a touch more enjoyable. It was a season perfect for roaming and creating our own adventures amidst green, growing things as far as the eye could see. I think that might be what I miss the most, being in the presence of growing things.
Since moving away from the farm, I’ve attempted to grow things on my own, without much success—so I’ve been blowing it off for the past couple of years. But as the growing season approaches this year, I want it bad. I want to feel the excitement of watching green tomatoes turning red and not knowing what to do with my overabundance of cucumbers. Time to start looking into a different approach and, perhaps, a personal cheerleader.
Growing up, my dad was always my cheerleader when it came to growing things (and most everything else that went on in my life). He was right there to teach me and reassure me that it didn’t take anything magical or impossible to make things grow. He simply worked the land the way a farmer does. These days, he’s a bit too far away to work by my side and cheer me on, so I went looking for an alternate…and I’m pretty sure I found it!
Little House in the Suburbs by Deanna Caswell and Daisy Siskin is right up my alley. It’s been on my bookshelf for some time now, yet I’ve only referenced it for the powdered laundry soap recipe and the homemade vegetable and fruit wash—but this book has so much more to offer.
Given the subtitle, Backyard Farming and Home Skills for Self-Sufficient Living, this book has been calling out for more recognition this whole time. So that’s just what I intend to do. The thing I love about Caswell and Siskin’s writing is that it’s peppered with humor. I like humor. A lot. Somehow humor makes things seem more doable and less intimidating.
Since we don’t have a big patch of open earth to plant a garden, in the past we’ve relied on containers. I think that will be a good re-start for my gardening practices this year. I have a tendency to oversimplify things, which may have led to the demise of my garden in years past. In my mind, you buy any old container, add some soil, and plant a plant. It grows and gives you what you want. Tada! Oversimplification at its worst.
In the chapter titled, “I Grew It Myself! Or, But You Don’t Understand, I Kill Everything” (there’s that humor I was talking about), Caswell and Siskin break down the basics beautifully. They cover composting and three different levels of gardening—container, garden in a box, and row gardening—all the while cheering you on as they explain what types of plants are best to grow in containers, where to place your garden box, and how to plot out your rows. They lovingly talk about their own shortcomings too. See? Far less intimidating.
Now my motto for the upcoming growing season is “Let’s Grow Some Stuff!” I’m spending the last of these cold days gathering up some of the suggested containers, polling our family to see which veggies we should plant, and considering what our soil options are. Here’s to a plentiful growing season with the help of my new personal cheerleaders, Deanna Caswell and Daisy Siskin.
For another excellent gardening resource available at Selene River Press, check out Maximizing Your MiniFarm: Self-Sufficiency on ¼ Acre by Brett L. Markham. In this in-depth, expanded follow up to the bestselling MiniFarming: Self-Sufficiency on ¼ Acre, you’ll learn all about trellises, weed control, cooking for self-sufficiency, and so much more.