On Saturday morning I was playing in the yard with our elder urchin and looked at the largely fallow vegetable garden I had started a couple years ago. We have a few pepper plants, one eggplant, a baby grapevine (the only one of seven cuttings to survive since I took them this past winter) and a rather depressed cherry tomato plant, all in pots. None of the garden beds are in use because of our otherwise lovely mesquite trees. Gardening tip: never plant anything with any water requirements whatever under or near a mesquite tree unless you use containers. The mesquite will aggressively take all the water.

Anyhoo, I decided to try gardening again. Partly to experience the struggle of working the earth after the fall. Partly because I realize that the only way to really fail as a gardener is to stop trying, to be unimpacted by all I have learned from my past failures. Like, ‘Don’t plant a garden near a mesquite.’

By noon I had piled the clan into the truck, made it to a local big box store, loaded the truck with 28 cinder blocks, four bags of concrete, a bag of sand, and a 10′ length of rebar. By five o’clock I had constructed a16-square-foot raised bed, made from two courses of block resting on a remarkably level rubble trench foundation. I have yet to fill the cores of the concrete block, which I intend to do in a couple weeks. I plan to fill the cores with homemade adobe: basically yard dirt with high clay content mixed with mesquite litter (pods, leaves, and stems) to act as a binder. I’ll pound short lengths of rebar into the clay-mud. I want to see if this holds up over time. Other than the block and rebar, I am using materials local to my yard—dirt, gravel, and tree litter.

We intend to plant food we want to eat, and this time we know a little more about how to water and how to protect fruit from birds. For now it will be radishes, leaf lettuce, and other cool-weather crops. Come spring we’re definitely planting squash, all kinds of squash… any variety that we can get to climb a fence, wall, or trellis since we don’t have that much yard space for veggies.

Pictures to come shortly…

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