Friday, April 5, 2013

Worms, Ice, and Food Stamps: the latest from the City 'Stead

I found a friend in the compost pile when I moved it.  Isn't it cute?
This past weekend, the weather finally started looking like spring!  This year has been quite a contrast from last year, with the spring equinox and surrounding dates sporting high temps in the 70s!  As such, I killed all the seedlings I started indoors.  Not intentionally, of course.  I'm just really, really bad at keeping houseplants of any sort alive and neither my husband nor I have set up any grow lights this year, which certainly hasn't helped.

So this past weekend, I started my garden from scratch again.  Not much really happened by looking at a list of what we did: I moved the compost pile I started in the fall (which had chunks of ice in parts of it!), we picked up all the trash that blew into the yard over the winter, and my son moved some rocks around to start forming a new garden bed.  (He doesn't know it yet, but I plan on letting the children use that area to grow their own pumpkins for Halloween and have them do all the work for it.  If you see pictures of my kids with their jack-o-lanterns and freakishly large grins this fall, you know why.)  Nonetheless, the effect, both psychologically and visually, was stunning.  We did stuff.  Steps were made to make this from just another urban yard into the City 'Stead.  My husband even commented how different things looked when he got home from work.

Yesterday, even though the weather wasn't good for playing outside, I took another step toward getting this place to be what I envision by spending nearly $50 of our food stamps for the month on plants and seeds.  Consider this your annual reminder that yes, you can buy food bearing plants and seeds with SNAP benefits.  I'm hoping that this will be the year we no longer will need help because we're doing too well financially or at least I can produce all our food so we no longer need to buy anything at the store!  Yes, that is possibly on 1/5 acre.  I just have to figure out the details on how to get it done, which I plan on calculating with numbers from sites like this one (Thanks, Homesteadin' in the 'Burbs, for bringing that to my attention!).  Anyhoo, I bought most of the seeds I still needed to get (why can I never find rutabaga seeds in the store?  Am I the only person out there that grows them?), along with 30 strawberry plants, 3 rhubarb plants, seed potatoes, onion sets, and two grapevines.  I still want to get some fruit trees, but those weren't available yet where I was shopping, so I'll probably get some in the next month or two as they become an option.

Today, it was nice enough to finally do some planting.  One of the local meteorologists said that it is still kind of early for putting in a garden, but what does he know?  That's the morning meteorologist and I watch the evening news, so I don't have to listen to that guy.  Besides, a lot of my stuff said to stick it into the ground as soon as it could be worked, which was clearly the case today!  I planted two kinds of peas, onions, spinach, strawberries,and rhubarb and hope to get more done over the next few days.  A lot of what I can do at this point is going to hedge on soil availability, since most of my yard is still, ya know, yard.   I need to acquire a lot more good soil to plop on top or I may have to resort to tilling up my yard.  That sounds like work though.  I just want to play in the dirt.


  1. Lol, every garden I've ever had was tilled by hand (or foot actually). Shovels, rakes, etc. Two shovels deep, turned and broken up. Thoroughly mixed with manure, topsoil, etc and any other additives shown necessary after soil testing. Last time was about 5 years ago and my dad said he'd have to rent a tiller the next time as he's getting too old for this. He would have been about 55, with COPD and lung cancer. Lol.
    We have to move by the end of May so I've yet to think about gardening seriously. I have no idea where I will be or if I will have a real garden or just planters again. I did buy a lavender plant last night though...has buds on it even. I couldn't resist the temptation of something smelling wonderful in the kitchen window and blooming sometime soon.

    1. I've always hand-tilled/dug my previous gardens as well. This yard looks too big though! I want it all done this year! My husband is 52 but healthy, so he doesn't get a pass if I need his help though. lol

  2. It is interesting that you can buy fruit and veggie plants and seeds with foodstamps. I wasn't aware of this. I'm not sure how many of the greenhouses around where I live are set up for them, but it would be great if someone could take advantage of it. I will spread the word to all of those I know who get benefits.
    As far as hand tilling your garden, Y'all are crazy! LOL We live on one acre and I have a large garden and horrible rocky ground. I have an herb garden as well. And many flower beds. And Worms, and Bees. You should think about getting bees! Its a great experience for kids. My daughter is 13 and has her own hive.

    1. As far as the hand-tilling goes, ya do what ya gotta do! I'm glad I could help spread the word about using foodstamps for getting a garden going. I'm not sure about greenhouses accepting them, but places like Walmart and Meijer as well as many farmers markets do for sure.

      Bees are definitely part of my long term plans, just not sure it's going to happen THIS year.