Sunday, March 30, 2008

Smallest Farm Report

Smallest Farm Report

After that liveblog yesterday, I spent the rest of the weekend in actual physical labor on the vastly expanded Smallest Farm in Iowa. This included a visit today to the puny 2005-2007 site of the Smallest Farm, to dig up some perennials that were grown over late last July when we made the move out of Bohemian Paradise.

Most of the weekend's effort was expended on a wabbit fence. My five year old thinks it would be way cooler if it was electrified, but I tell him we just want to keep the bunnies out, not cook them. Nevertheless, the subject keeps coming up. Of course, if I really wanted to Kill The Wabbit I'd let Dylan, the cat who likes mouse killin', outside.

Since 1994 there's only been one year (2003) when I had absolutely nothing in the ground. I went through a stretch of seven years (1998-2004) when I was never in the same space two years in a row, and in 2001 I had a garden that was 20 feet long and nine inches wide; a pole bean fence along a narrow strip at the edge of a parking lot. The last three years were pretty minimal, just a defiant insistence that I put a few seeds in a tiny inappropriate space.

But this year is the Big Expansion. Here's the basic plan. The south garden is about 30 by 50 feet and will be the site of the pole bean fence, the corn field, the giant pumpkins and assorted squashes. The peas are there too but will be long gone by the time the squash vines get there.

The middle garden is long and skinny, about 15 by 40. Mostly tomatoes and peppers, and I'm going to try eggplant again, but the north row will be a wall of sunflowers. Both these gardens will have salad-sized odds and ends tucked in.

The north garden was tilled but after a winter-long discussion with my dear wife, over the conflict between location of trees and sunny spots vs. where the kids like to play, it has been determined that the north garden will grow boys instead of veggies. There's a small remnant to the west that will have a pole bean teepee, as a compromise between play and crops. We've also got a fully enclosed rain barrel with the drain spout piping straight in.

This is the old orchard part of Iowa City, just at the bottom of the Benton Street hill, and we indeed have an orchard consisting of one apple tree. Mid-summer we'll figure out what kind of apples we have and act accordingly.

I'm trying to make the case that this is going to save money in the long run, as I shell out the bucks to replace all the garden tools and equipment I lost after five years of apartment life. But I suspect it'll turn out like dad's fishing boat: a lot of time and money for a few bucks worth of fish -- and my kids like their veggies about as much as I liked fish.

But dad had lots of fun fishing.

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