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5.26.2009

Won't I ever learn??? (and the coolest books ever!)

It's happening again. I'm getting the itch. Okay, don't be dirty, not THAT itch. This particular desire hits me hard every spring- hard enough to make me forget that I can barely keep my minimal maintenance african violet alive. The desire to plant things. Particularly things of the vegetable variety (although in past summers I've also had the desire to plant flowers. I was far less pragmatic in those days... not that there's anything wrong with flowers). Last year I had big plans involving a large container garden. My plan was to grown tomatoes, peppers, carrots, cucumbers (I don't even like cucumbers!) and I can't even remember what else on the sunny side of my yard and lettuce and herbs in a cooler and more shaded (but still sunny in the morning) spot.

Reality hit first when I went to the nursery. Plants are expensive. Pots are expensive. Potting soil is expensive. I know there are ways to do this cheaper, but they involve levels of ingenuity that I do not posses (or materials I have no idea how to obtain). So I scaled back to just tomatoes, because I LOVE tomatoes. I also bought a few herbs. I think I still spent over $100. I ended up with four tomato plants in large round plastic pots. I watered these tomatoes vigilantly. When they got tomato worms I sprayed the bugs off each day and bought environmentally friendly bug powder online. I even found someone to water them while we went on vacation. But I was very pregnant and it got VERY hot. One day I didn't go outside and kind of forgot that my poor tomatoes were out there frying in the sun. One day was all it took- they were totally fried. I did get a few tomatoes off of them before that, but definately not enough to compensate me for the amount I spent.

So I swore I was done. No more gardening for me, at least not until I can have an actual garden, preferably in a climate that isn't as hot as the surface of the sun. I thought I had avoided that urge this year. I've been so busy I hadn't even though about it. Then two things happened. First I got these books at a used book sale.

First of all and completel unrelated to gardening and this post in general (but still have to talk about it!), the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing. This was one of those finds where you're completely unsuspecting, then the clouds open up, a ray of light shines down, and angels start to sing. Literally the day before I had been browsing one of my favorite blogs, the Angry Chicken, and through links in one of her newer posts (the Summer Skirt post, which features the Sew U book), I found her post on this book. And I was like "wow, I should get that book." Yeah. I know. That never happens to me. And it was used, so it was cheap. BUT I haven't even cracked it yet, because of this even more AMAZING find...

This is the coolest book EVER. Also a Reader's Digest book (pure coincidence- while these books were both in the same section, they weren't even near each other). Everything you need to know to homestead is in this book. And I don't know if I've talked about it much in my blog, but I've developed a recent desire to homestead. Really you'd think it would be the LAST thing I would want to do. I grew up on a farm- far from a homestead, it was a very modern farm, but it still gave me an idea as to how much work and heartache is involved in farming. Yet I can't suppress this desire to have a small farm. I want a milk cow, chickens, a large garden, and probably a small crop of hay and some pasture so I can raise most of my animals' feed and not rely on suppliers (and possibly some corn and/or wheat for the same reason, and I also want to grind my own grain for food). Oh, and a horse, but there's no practical reason for me to want a horse, I just love horses. Now, thanks to this book, I also want fruit trees, grape vines, and sheep (so I can shear and spin my own wool, of course!). It also spells out how to build a log cabin or adobe house (and which you should build depending on where you live) natural ways of heating/cooling your home, how to "put up" your garden so you have enough fruits and veggies for the winter (canning, drying, salting, etc), how to raise and butcher various animals... I mean EVERYTHING. I have been pouring over this book since I picked it up Saturday morning, and I've pretty much skimmed the entire thing (okay, so I've probably read most of it because I'm a nerd like that). Now I just need to find a spinning wheel:)

And, of course, it has a large section on planting and caring for the kitchen garden. Companion planting. Where a garden should be located. All that good stuff. And then I go and read this post. Have I mentioned that I love tomatoes? Ugh! Now I just need to fight the urge. Planting a garden makes all kind of sense, unless you're me. I kill plants. I have tried now for years, and the poor African Violet in my kitchen is the only thing I've managed to keep alive. And it took me four years to get it to flower. And now it's not looking so hot (pretty sure I need to repot it). But even then, if I had the spot for an in-ground garden I would still give it a whirl. I do have a nice little yard, but it's not my yard so I can't dig part of it up for a garden. So, even though I still have my containers from last year, I would still have to buy potting soil, and buying dirt doesn't set well with me (kind of like buying water). So I'm going to restrain myself. I'll consider it a test. Can I restrain myself from buying something I know is a bad idea? I am, however, going to plant a small potted herb garden that I'm going to grow in my kitchen window. I'm going to use some of my compost and some topsoil. We'll see how that goes.

Oh, and it also links back to these OTHER BOOKS, also on the whole homesteading/back to basics thing... both of which I want.

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