It’s really happening

I am so excited. And nervous. I feel like I’m once again waiting for my due date to roll around. And in some respects my anticipation is due to birth: well, re-birth, renewal, new beginnings…  it’s all about Spring this time.

I had thought that after moving into this house I’d have to wait at least a year to be able to plant anything. I kept resolutely telling myself that was fine – that I needed to get a feel for the lay of the land anyway, and that one year without a veggie patch wouldn’t kill me. (I couldn’t just start a tiny one in the corner of a yard, you see, because after tracking the sunlight with videos and cameras we realized that there is not one place on our property that gets direct sun for more than an hour and a half a day.) The previous owners sure loved their trees. No, there was no way to get a veggie patch without first chopping down some trees. Well, all that extra land was what we bought this house for, after all. It’d just take a little extra time and effort.

It’s just that there were all sorts of reasons why we couldn’t do it this year. We didn’t have the money; I’m scared of chainsaws; our county goes crazy with the permits; we couldn’t possibly pay someone to pull all those stumps, and besides then we’d need more permits and architecturally engineered plans to show to drainage and sediment committees; we didn’t want to irritate the neighbors the first year.

Nonetheless, after several weepy incidents, contractor bids that came in at about 25% of what I had imagined it would cost, and a realization of just how addicted I am to this self-sufficiency thing, we’re going ahead with it anyway. That’s right – come Tuesday (or two-weeks-from-now-Tuesday, if this weekend’s predicted 3 feet of snow haven’t melted yet) – I will be the proud owner of 9/10 of an acre of woods, plus a treeless stumpy patch of about 4,500 square feet. Enough for a vegetable patch that – with luck and a lot more dedication than a parent with a toddler can possibly deliver – should feed two people all year. Not enough for livestock (except my bees and possibly some chickens), not enough to grow wheat for our flour (I’ve calculated that we’d need about 1/8 acre, 5400 feet, to grow all our wheat). And the goats will have to come later. (Oh yes, Josh, come they will.)

The price of the bids was helped by the fact that the drainage is so poor in there that I must build raised beds anyway… so why pull the stumps when I could just cut them flush to the ground and build beds right on top of them? The stumps will decompose (if I help them along) within two years anyway.

Plans are underway. Multiple fruit trees, vines, and bushes (the bare minimum for the first year, I told myself, consoling myself that every year I can get more, as if 4 wouldn’t be enough for most people) will be delivered in a couple months. I’ve used dozens of pages of grid paper to plan every foot of my garden down to the square inch. I have spent many evenings studiously researching average veggie consumption habits to determine how much of what to plant.

But now that the time is at hand and contracts are signed, I’m getting that what-if-I’m-terribly-wrong feeling. I’m suffering a crisis of conscience about beginning my garden only halfway as North as it could be: what if later I want to expand it all the way North (about 50 more feet) to the street, but then the orchard is already in the way and will shade all the other plants I try to grow back there? What if the drainage turns out to be more of an issue, or I can’t plant the orchard right because there are stumps in the way, and how do I make allowances now for where to put the chicken coop, shed, and apiary in the future, and ….  what if, what if, what if. I want to get it exactly right the first try.

The uncertainty, the anxiety, the irrepressible excitement of really beginning, really finally beginning the mini farm I’ve dreamed about for so many years… it really is like approaching a due date.

7 Responses to “It’s really happening”

  1. Rose Says:

    Hugely exciting! Congratulations!

  2. Amber Says:

    But…. but… …. Blisters. On your EYEBALLs. Maybe you can just pull up the carpet in the offending room and have a throw rug over the sub-floor?
    Raised beds over flush stumps = brilliant. How exciting!
    *loves and hugs*

  3. diana Says:

    Hmmmm… a rug over the subfloor might just work – but any rug 15′ x 20′ is bound to be even more expensive than carpet! 😀

  4. Marvin Says:

    Hey, Diana!
    Be careful not to take too big a bite!!!!! I would go easy on the buying of too many expensive plants until I knew how the whole setup will work. You are putting dirt on top, but… what about the slough underneath? Will plants like that? Also, remember that you can’t dig a hole for a tree if there is an old stump down there. I personally would take all the stumps out while it is easy to do.
    Well, just a quick word of caution, my dear enthusiastic daughter!!!!
    I am glad you are moving ahead, though, and I assume that you worked out the permit thing, and chose a contractor, or else you are going rogue with Sarah Pain, ha, ha!!!

  5. diana Says:

    Hey Papi – it turns out that I can cut down trees in less than 5,000 sf without a permit AS LONG AS I don’t do any of what they term “disturbing the existing soil”… which means, you guessed it, pulling up stumps, trucking in earth to raise the grade of an area, etc. And to get a permit you need to submit multiple architectural engineered plans to show changes in water drainage, soil gradation, etc. to multiple committees. I’m not prepared to spend that kind of money or time, so… the way to get around it is with raised beds. Which will also help deal with the drainage issues. And the stumps will decompose in about two years if I fill them with holes and fill those holes with high-nitrogen fertilizer and then bury them. Don’t forget the soil around here is WET!

  6. Erin Says:

    OK this is scary you are my long lost, sister, cousin, something twice removed. I thought I was the only one who just can’t wait, must do, can’t sit still, lol. I will not be a nay sayer, you rock (and have more time then me;) Be careful with taking seeds from plants, I have tried in recent years. Try sprouting them on wet paper towels 1st. Keep in mind that some strains, through hybridization or GM have infertile seeds. Trees take a long time to grow from seed in some cases to get a fruit producing plant it could take 20 years. I will definitely order 2 apple trees but I think I’m going to work with seeds I have now, unless you feel like trading some seeds;)

  7. diana Says:

    Oh I know, I thought maybe about mentioning hybridization in the post but didn’t want to get too detailed. I figure I’ll test some: if they don’t sprout then I’ve lost $1.00, too bad. :) Part of my interest is just in the experimentation, really. I think fruit trees will usually produce fruit within 5 years; but one of the reasons you don’t want to start them from seed is that usually you’re better off having a tree grafted onto some really hardy rootstock to withstand pests and weather. Luckily, these two trees I plan on growing partly indoors in containers, so that should help. If they sprout at all, who knows!

    I just found a neat nursery. Their stock is really small (have heard it described as “whips”) but they have a wide variety, shrubs and such for $8. Rolling River Nursery.

    Would love to swap seeds but I don’t have any yet! Unless you want to scoop my butternut with me. :)

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