Adventures in Self-Sufficiency Part 1: Getting Started
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This past spring I got a hair-brained idea. What if I were to grow my own food? Shocking right. I have never actually successfully grown something. I routinely kill any and all house plants I’ve been given.
Through the winter and “spring” (a loose term referring to a date past the Spring Equinox but the ground is still deeply covered in snow), I had been reading several books about living a simpler life and becoming a better person. The first of these books really hit home as the author also shared her lack of gardening finesse. However she did go on to say that through learning, careful tending and a little work she was able to grow a garden. Now she has some beautiful gardens. The book title itself spoke to me. I mean how can you not be inspired by something called Make it Happen!? (Find it here). The more I read the more I became convinced that this was something I could do.
Ah the lofty springtime dreams of a girl living in the land of snow.
As the snow began to melt I realized I didn’t have anywhere to garden. My previous attempts had fallen completely flat. So flat that the small shrubs I had planned the previous spring had shrivelled up and died. They were suppose to be fool proof. They lied!
So with lofty homesteading dreams but living on a town plot I was just left to have my imagination garden. That’s when I picked up a new book.
I have never ever read books on gardening before, I tend to avoid them due to my not so great track record. This one made passing reference to container gardening and raised beds. I love the look of raised beds, building raised beds was not in our budget though. That when I realized raised beds don’t have to be built out of wood or even be pretty. In fact, if you have an amazing bakery at the end of the street most of the supplies might even be free!
Enter the Bucket Garden
I approached the lady who owns the bakery down our street and asked her for any food grade pails they were getting rid of. They just head to the recycling but if they were good enough to hold baking supplies then I figured I could grow some food in them.
I put some drainage holes in the bottom and filled them with dirt. I planted my seeds and waited. It was just so simple. Oh my naivety! It wasn’t just so simple.
As I looked out at my comical garden and waited nothing happened. And nothing happened. So I carefully made notes on fertilizing and watering and adjusted and still nothing happened.
Then early one morning I was sitting out on my back deck and my lack of growth all became very clear as I watched squirrels dig through the buckets and eat all of my seeds. They ate every last one of them. I have never felt so defeated in my entire life. These cute little animals with their fluffy tails had eaten my hard work!
The next several days my google searches were filled with various things like “how to prevent squirrels digging in garden”, “how to make squirrel stew”, “how to make gardens unattractive to squirrels”, etc. I leapt in and tried a number of different natural options I read about on the internets.
All Natural (And Cheap) Squirrel Solution
Each one of them failed. I really hope the squirrels enjoyed their spicy bean seeds! Finally, after much trial and error I hit
on a solution that worked brilliantly. I got some cheesecloth (because that’s what I had in the house, I use this one), and some BBQ skewers and I placed the skewers around the edge of the pot and covered it with cheese cloth. This was enough to discourage the squirrels from digging for seeds. Once the plants were up I took the cheese cloth off and left the skewers for a few more days just to allow the plants to get established.
This solution not only worked but it was kind to the fluffy little rodents. It wouldn’t hurt them and if they pushed hard enough (read: really gently) the skewers would give. But it was enough of a visual deterrent that I finally have some growing plants. I was very proud of my $2 solution for this problem. I’m sure I may take up more googling about squirrels as I watched momma weave a nest in the tree right about my plants but that is an endeavour for another day!
As I watch my garden grow and thrive I now understand the joy of it. I understand the hard work that goes into planning, planting and maintaining a garden. We did put in two other gardens (another spur of the moment decision), and there will be more on those coming. But my little bucket garden is my baby, its planning got me through the last few weeks of the exceedingly long winter. It gave me hope and it has taught me perseverance. Oh has it ever! As it grows it gives me hope that I will be able to preserve several things for the winter and thus making us slightly more self-sufficient.