Mar 29, 2012

The 1,000 Pound Challenge

We have been living here in Georgia for five years now. In that time, I have had to transform from a hard-core northern gardener into a southern one- not as easy as you might think. Instead of not being able to grow from January to March, there's little that will grow here in July and August (except peppers, watermelon, and an alarming amount of okra). What I haven't had here yet is a full-on garden. I've dabbled in container gardening and food forest concepts but it's time to put in a "real" garden.

My opportunity arrived suddenly last week when my neighbor generously offered me the use of his rented tiller for a couple of hours. How can one say no? So, I spent the next 90 minutes trying to control a mack daddy tiller (yes, you need Southern terms for a southern garden) and sod-busted a 20 foot by 25 foot garden bed. Right now, it's nothing more than broken grass clods, sand, and a bit of topsoil. It looks rather sad. As I build the soil in future years, it will look better but we all start somewhere.

So, as is typical with me, I'm not going into this project lightly. I have decided to try to get the absolute most amount of food out of this tiny plot. I want to encourage other prospective gardeners to just get out and turn the soil. Just plant something. I want to see exactly how much I can feed my family out of this small spot of land. I come from a long line of gardeners and I'm hoping to channel some of my genetic material. To keep me on track and accountable and to share my experience with everyone, I have committed to the goal of producing 1,000 pounds of food from this plot from April 1 to Mar 31. Hubs thinks I'm insane, and I very well may be. But I think it's possible and I'm going to try.

As a southern gardener, I have, of course, the benefit of being able to grow at least something for the entire year. We have a few light frosts during January and February but that shouldn't deter many greens or brussel sprouts or carrots. I will be growing all the usual suspects, including tomatoes (enough for canning), peppers, eggplant, zucchini, winter squash (my personal obsession), lettuces, cabbages, fennel, onions, garlic, peas, beans, cucumbers, celery, okra, beets, radishes, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, watermelon, spinach, swiss chard, and anything else that tickles my fancy throughout the year. I will use many of the biointensive practices of John Jeavons and as much passive watering as possible, including rain barrels and Spanish ollas.

I will blog about the progress of the garden and will weigh and document everything that comes out of it. I may even do a few videos. 1,000 pounds. 500 square feet. Let's see what's possible.


Marie Anne said...

What a lofty goal! I can see you pulling it off, though.

I haven't decided where I'll put a garden this year or what I'll put in it. I need to get it in gear.

Cherri said...

Great goal - good luck!

Living with the Land said...

Challenge accepted. Let's see if a garden in New Hampshire can keep up and put 1000 pounds of food on the table!

Kyla Matton said...

You've never been one to do anything halfway! Best of luck with your garden. I believe you can do it :)

Like Marie Anne, I'm still not sure where everything is going to go. But I do have a good portion of my seed already, and a list of seed I want to purchase in the coming weeks. We even have an extra pair of hands to help out this weekend. Hopefully I'll be seeing progress very soon!