The Not So Secret Garden

It started several years ago. I noticed that several of the neighbors in my building had planted some flowers around the building. Upon further investigation, I discovered that some of them were actually growing vegetables and the property managers did not seem to mind.

So I thought that if they can do it, so can I. So I staked out my claim a few springs ago, tilled, fertilized and planted. I had moderate success that year. At the end of the summer a squirrel somehow managed to die behind my peppers against the wall of the building. I left the carcass there until insects, animals and decay picked it clean. The bleached skull I set on the window ledge for reasons I really can’t explain other than it kinda looked cool. And I took to calling my garden “Dead Squirrel Farm”. Pardon my sick humor.

The next season, I tilled and fertilized, weeded and planted and boy did I have a bumper crop of stuff. I made jokes about the power of the squirrel’s spirit giving life to the plants and such. I had a ton of cherry tomatoes, buckets of green beans, and enough jalapeno peppers to supply a Mexican restaurant. even planted some herbs that did fairly well. The remaining rose bush that I planted the first year had grown simply huge. I had planted some decorative annuals, but decided they just weren’t worth it in the end.

So this year I decided to go for broke. I have done fairly well growing stuff. Having a degree in horticulture does help. So I kept track of everything I spent, and I planted and tilled and by early May I had it all in. It was dicey a few nights and I had some die back on my cucumbers and cantaloupe, but we are in full swing now.

It cost me $58 for the seeds, plants, manure, peat moss, fertilizer and topsoil. My goal is to make that back in vegetables. I am basing the costs I am recouping on harvested vegetables based on what it would cost me if I purchased them. I will ignore the fact that everything I grow is completely organic, because organic vegetables cost more. Historically, even for organic produce, I can manage to pull some big-ass vegetables out of there. So if I keep that up, I only have to worry about quantity.

Allow me to digress for a moment before I wrap things up. When Thoreau was living in the woods, prior to writing Walden, he attempted to grow most of his own food and be self sufficient. He did fairly well, using less than a half-acre and producing a great quantity of food. My goal is not to be self-sufficient. I don’t have near enough land, time or resources to start that endeavor. However, I will prove that with a minimal amount of knowledge, space and time with just some motivation and will that anyone can grow organic, fresh produce for themselves. My goal is to more than break even, it is to profit from it. Not by selling the excess. I will most likely give some of it away. I just want to grow more than I could buy with $58 at Wegmans.

Right now, I have cherry tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, green beans, cucumbers, cantaloupe, romaine lettuce, Boston lettuce, basil, oregano, spearmint, rosemary and something called a lemon cucumber (not sure but it is supposed to be a round, yellow, cucumber like thing). My tomato plants are doing great, same for the peppers, cucumbers, and cantaloupe. The beans are coming along and I have staggered the planting, throwing a few more in each week. My hope is to have a steady supply of beans rolling in.  Things are good so far. I will track and post my progress in short periodic updates.

Now I am off to weed.

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