Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The poor, poor garden and my rant for the day

There is still so much to learn about gardening that I feel completely overwhelmed. I read everything I get my hands on about the subject, but it doesn't really help much in 'real time' circumstances. So many different soil types, so many different growing requirements, different growing requirements for plants....how do you fit that all together along with what grows good together and what doesn't? The garden did absolutely HORRIBLE here I purchased potting soil, hummus, top soil, and composted manure and mixed it in with the the dirt from the property. I even sifted all of it so it wasn't lumpy or rocky. I just don't understand why hardly anything produced?? The squash that I just threw in the ground in the side yard (with nothing added) did better than the one I had in the actual garden (even though it still didn't do the best in the world) Some say I watered too much due to certain symptoms I was describing about the tomatoes, but it's so hot everyday they wilt really bad if I didn't water....should I have just let them wilt?

It's just so frustrating. I'm trying desperately to to prepare and be self-sufficient and I feel like I'm just running in place....between the heat, the deer, the soil conditions and my immense lack of experience (and money) I'm just not getting anywhere. I never had these problems with my gardens in TN, except for the lack of experience part. Had a few gardens in various places (along with a hardworking husband to help pay for it all) and they usually did pretty good. Of course we usually weren't in one place long enough to truly learn how to 'live from our gardens'; it was more of a hobby I suppose; the start of wanting to be self-sufficient, but never really reaching it. I no longer have my canning jars, my pressure canner, my water bath canner, or my dehydrator. (heartbreaking story there) I've been buying a few jars here and there and hopefully can get another water bath canner soon, but the pressure canner (even the cheap version at walmart) is WAY beyond my financial means at the moment....sigh....

I know it takes time...nothing happens overnight...but I feel we're quickly running out of time and it's going to happen before I'm even halfway prepared. I did build a pantry, and it's the most food we've ever had at one time in my life, but honestly, if the economy were to collapse right now...the food I've worked so hard to stock (and I mean it's taken me MONTHS to save this amount) would maybe last 2 weeks if we were lucky.

I guess I wouldn't be as worried if I had more experience with gardening and raising livestock. Or if I knew more about wild edibles and how to save seeds. I learn better from a teacher, not a book...there's only so much my brain will process from reading. I probably have over 1,000 magazines between Mother Earth News, Countryside, Backhome, Backwoods Home, Hobby Farms, Urban Farms, and a few others.......yet I still can't figure out what's going wrong with my garden :(

I know my first mistake was not getting a professional soil test done. I barely scrounged up the money for one of the cheap one's from Lowe's but I couldn't make heads or tails of it. That's not a mistake I will repeat. I will get a proper soil test done this spring regardless of what else I need to pay. My daughters and I will be living from this garden (hopefully) so it needs to be a priority. I have a bag of sulfur and plenty of leaves so that I can PRE prepare a few blueberry beds...ugh...I REALLY want blueberries and that's one thing I always kill....even in TN. I'm not giving up though. I will try again and again until I get it right.

I have learned how to blanch and freeze a few things though and am now wishing I had bought a bigger freezer. I also have been having good luck with breeding my rabbits. The female I currently have is not a 'meat' rabbit so she's not big (about 5 or 6 lbs) but she's a great breeder and a great mom. The babies grow slow though, so I sold all the last litter as pets. Probably what I'll be doing with this litter as well since they are almost 2 months old and weigh only about a pound. Not really cost effective feeding 8 baby rabbits that aren't even big enough to butcher. My blue silver fox was just bred for the 1st time so as soon as I see what kind of mother she is I will be getting rid of the smaller female and the second smaller buck (he's a dutch) and keeping my New Zealand mix buck and my silver fox female. My Father in law (who is now living on his own) also has his full blooded New Zealand female, but she won't be old enough to breed till about February. I'm just praying that it will all come together for us eventually and hopefully before TSHTF

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