*Non-electric survival gardening*
By: CountryMouse
25 July 2003

Back on June 13, I decided that it was time my niece and nephews learned some…yes, that dreaded "R" word…Responsibility.

I was doing my brother a favor and watching the kids, so we (read I) decided to put in a garden for them to tend at my mom’s place. Mom and Dad had an area where they would put a few plants, but nothing major since they are up there in years.

Armed with a GardenClaw™, a few rakes and several packets of seeds, we headed out to plant our garden. Now most of ya are thinking "well, ain’t it a bit late to be just starting a garden?" Yes, it was a rather late start, but as LL4e has mentioned several times, the weather goes in cycles. It rained 25 of the 31 days in May and was colder than normal. Everything that had been planted by others rotted in the ground or washed away. They were calling for the same weather conditions in June for our AO as well, just a bit warmer than May.

The area we were planting in hadn’t been seeded in two years, so we first needed to clear out the weeds. These were picked and pulled and as I turned up the ground with the Claw™, the kids were able to get the weed roots and clumps better. It was around 98* that day, so we kept water nearby and took frequent breaks as the area has no shade.

With all three of them working at the weeds and the few stones we happened upon, it didn’t take very long till I could rake the area smooth and begin laying out the seeds. We did a short row of sweet corn in the back near the fence with wax beans and green beans in front of it. Farther down the fence, we planted snap peas. In front of the peas, we planted eggplant. All of these veggies were voted on by the kids. Our next move was to plant lettuce, collards and carrots in a tote that would sit on the deck.

So…our success…….well, all I can say is it’s very good we weren’t counting on those crops. Of the 40 seeds of corn, only 5 came up. We have 16 of the 30 wax bean plants, 5 of 30 green bean plants, no eggplant came up and we have 10 of the 20 peas. Of the plants that came up, all have flowers and are growing, just not very big. The lettuce and collards are both doing great and the carrots are growing as ok….just not as well as I had hoped. I have been using Scott’s™ fertilizer on the garden and it doesn’t seem to be performing as the Miracle Grow™ has in the past.

One thing to remember, this was not intended as a survival garden. It was planted to give the kids something to do over the summer and to teach them responsibility. Had this been a survival situation, the entire ½ acre back field would have been planted as well as the ¼ acre lower field and given the performance of some of the seeds, we would have starved, since we couldn’t plant earlier than we had.

A few other observations…

  1. Working the ground with the Claw™ is still very hard work….regardless of what they say about it on TV. You need to wear gloves (had the blisters to prove this) and one thing that got old quick was having to turn it in the same direction all the time.
  2. You need to really convince irresponsible kids from irresponsible adults to do this. If you make it fun, it holds their attention a bit longer.
  3. Plan ahead for your planting area. This was done spur-of-the-moment (typical me) and planned as we went along.
  4. Don’t wait till afternoon when it’s the hottest out to start gardening. It will kill you before you really start.
  5. Taking 2 five minute breaks every hour or so is not enough in the heat…especially with kids and not being used to it due to previous cooler temps. Retreat to the shade when possible and keep plenty of cool drinking water on hand.
  6. Get the notion that you are super-human and can do the job of a machine in the same time frame as a machine out of your head. What seems like it won’t take that long will take longer given certain conditions. Heat and humidity can and will work against you.
  7. Check your seeds. Everything had at least a few plants come up except the eggplant, which is a family favorite. We planted the entire package of seeds and got nothing from them. Make sure you store seeds you know will be at the very least partially successful in growing. *BTW…all of the seeds we planted were hybrids.
  8. Stick with what you know will work. Miracle Grow™ worked for me in the past and that’s what I store. Just figured I’d try something new this time around. The results sucked.

Now, there was a nice little bonus to doing all of the gardening by hand…it was great exercise! Got the blood pumping and I felt much better afterward. In fact, I actually slept that night!

Remember, if you’re not trying it or doing it, then it doesn’t work!


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