When they say "Rome was not built in a day,” I have to wonder if they too changed
As they built their kingdom, perhaps it was all planned out and they followed the exact specifications to a tee.
Today I want to share my thoughts on our little kingdom in South Texas and it Not being built in one day.
Our little backyard is steadily changing. It is morphing into something different, somewhat unknown, and yet a wonderful little space. As time passes, I am truly just following natures lead.
I would like to believe I am a tree hugging, eco friendly, save the earth, permaculture minded, conservationist wanna be!"
I can feel it in my heart, however...I have no training other than the videos I have watched and the past gardens I have planted, which were always a hit and miss.
When I started my little garden, in all honesty, I planted without any thought. I had no design in mind other than raised beds to save my knees and back. I was in complete darkness concerning the types of plants that would benefit my garden and the nutrients needed for the soil. All I knew for sure is I wanted to plant a garden.
When I graduated high school, I wanted to be a Conservationist. I also wanted to save the world, but that might have been a bit of a stretch. My parents took me on a weekend trip to Young Harris College in the North Carolina mountains to take a look. It would be there that I would learn to work the land, save the earth, and happily sing John Denver songs all the way to college graduation and beyond.
Sadly...none of that happened.
My parents found out that it was too costly and my dad was retiring. The future for them financially was unknown. Back then I didn't know about student loans, grants, and even paying my own way if I could. I was clueless. I did the next best thing...….I enlisted in the Army.
My tree hugging days had not even started before I was whisked away to join nature in ways I never dreamed.
The thoughts of being a Conservationist soon drifted away. I pressed on through the years where I became a wife, a mother, a nurse, and even a writer. I came very close at one time to fulfilling my dream when we bought an acre of land in the country. I did become a backyard farmer. I finally had my chickens, my garden, and my rain barrels. I was so close!
It soon faded by life's circumstances and my dream was soon fading away once more. We sold the house in the country and moved into the main part of town.
Years have passed now and we find ourselves retired in an over 55 community in South Texas.
Who would have ever thought? This continues to be a surprise to us, as this was not on our radar. Our journey had changed once more.
It was not until recently, that I could feel that small dream from the past begin to emerge. I wanted to plant a garden! Then the robber of dreams began to whisper in my ear.
You can't garden! There is no room!
It's way too hot, you'll have a stroke out there!
At your age, you'll break something.
Why now...its too much work!
You are too old!
You need land!
Can't have a back yard garden without chickens! They don't allow chickens!
Do you even remember how to garden?
Then I heard a small still voice..."Start where you are at!"
Thank you Father God! The author of our past, present, and future.
When I heard, "Start where you are at". This got me thinking about our little space, how a garden could be possible. Perhaps it is not such a crazy idea. Laughing to myself I thought, "I could break a hip just getting out of the truck"!
After stumbling on some permaculture ideas, I could not wait to get it all started. I was facinated by the permaculture ideology, which truly holds many concepts and systems that work with nature. Ideas such as using medicimal herbs, and planting vegetable plants that work well with each other. The bottom line is everything is about the soil and preservng it in such a way that will allow nature to flourish and grow more naturally.
I knew as well that I could only do so much in such a small space. I would be become it’s steward and caretaker for with all my heart, body, and soul.
"Start where you are at," my spirit gently whispered.
Perhaps my small space was only being limited by my own thinking. When I finally decided that I would plant a garden, I realized quickly that I had failed at the very first principal of permaculture. This is what I believe it to say in my own words....
We must look at our environment, think about it, meditate about it. Map out the environment and design it in such a way it will benefit us and nature.
This was Not me...I was like a runaway toddler with an ice cream cone. I bought seeds with out thinking. I did not check to see if they were GMO or not. I planted things without truly meditating on the design of the garden and our needs. I just planted plants ands seeds here and there without much thought.
I am happy to report as time passed, I did calm down. The garden began to change. I moved more slowly, meditatively, and began to redesigned my garden area. It soon was becoming the space that it was intended to be.
As I began to grow my vegetables, I incorporated some small ideas that many permaculture gardeners have done for centuries. It was no longer my small space, but a wonderland of great potential.
What can I say...I am a late bloomer!
The Water Source
My water source at the time was the good old trusty hose. As we age it is not easy to drag a hose from one end of the garden to the other so I decided to order two rain barrels and there I would collect the rain to water my lovely garden.
One barrel would be at the front of the garden and the other at the end. They would be attached to the two gutters that were in place already.
I felt this was as close as I could get concerning the permaculture and conservation way of thinking. The conservationist in me was emerging on a very small scale and I was delighted.
Letting go of my well manicured backyard lawn. Goodbye Grass....Hello Fertile Soil!
I began to contemplate about the plants and which ones would benefit us. I had started to grow herbs as well, but they were in containers. My husband had built me three wooden flower boxes and they hung on the fence. I soon realized they were not doing well there, but I truly did not know what to do with them. One day I came home to find the entire wood containers on the ground.
Out of distress, sometimes....things progress!
The accidental fall took care of them in the long run. Nature had spoken and they would now be replanted in the ground with room to breath The straw would now hug them ever so gently and they would live out their lives free to roam, no longer contained.
Worm Towers and Red Wigglers
Recently I read about worm towers. I had saved 8 tall Folgers coffee cans and I thought these would work verses the PVC pipe.
I made the worm towers by drilling the holes on the lower half of the can and removing the bottom. I then strategically placed them in my garden. I went to buy the Red Wigglers (worms) in a couple places, but sadly no one carried them. I am thinking it may be because we are near the ocean and these are not used for salt water. I had to order my Red Wigglers on the internet, which arrived promptly today.
Thank you Uncle Jim's Worm Farm. All Worms arrived healthy and ready to eat. They are now tucked safely in their new homes.
Composting Helps With Making Our Footprints Smaller on the Earth
Even where we live, our little retirement park recycles. We have a large bin that is picked up twice a week. With 300 residents it is full to the top most days. I can honestly say...many people here do their part in recycling. They also are not afraid to call someone out if they throw recyclable items in the trash instead of the recycling bin. You know we get bolder with age which is a good thing.
For our little family of two, composting is another way we can help the environment. We collect our scrapes of peelings, fruit, brown paper, and many other composting items and place in a large glass container which is housed under our Berkey water filter container.
The Berkey was another investment where we are not using plastic bottles. We then take the glass container and empty into our composter outside. Since I have added the worm towers, I can now place the scrapes in the towers as well.
Lastly, we are never too old to pick up from where we left off. Our dreams are never really lost, they are just tucked away. It may only take a little yearning to give them the right soil to be planted in. From there, with a little love and care, they can resurface and become something glorious.
Until we meet again...may your gardens flourish and may your hearts be the light!