Smemerson Sustainable Farming

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

– Albert Einstein

I have tried (unsuccessfully) to grow a vegetable garden twice since Geoffrey and I have been together. The first time, we made the mistake of believing that Memphis soil would be perfect for growing veggies all by itself. We went to Home Depot, bought some plants and tools, rented a plow, and spent a day working what looked like fertile soil. Sore and sweaty we planted our baby plants and stood back in admiration of our hard work as our brand new sprinkler and hose watered them. By the end of the day, we imagined we looked like this:

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Satisfied that we had done a solid day’s work, we went inside to eat dinner, watch a movie, and feel superior about our self-sustainability. Over dinner, we scoffed at all the people who say “gardening is hard,” “you have to research, plan your garden, or start preparations in advance to successfully grow vegetables,” and “it takes years to develop quality, rich soil.” We had shown them all! Our garden was going to be perfect and we were going to eat like kings with all the fresh tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, and squash we would grow.  I got up the following morning to water the garden again, only to find that fertile, delta soil had baked like clay in the sun. Our plants were dead or dying and we could bounce a basketball off the plot we had spent hours tilling, plowing, and digging up the day before. CRAP

The following year, we got started planning our garden in February. We bought an above ground gardening kit, started a compost pile, and paid what seemed like a ridiculous amount of money for quality, vegetable garden soil. I researched square foot gardening, planned the placement and quantity of each plant, planted marigolds near my squash to keep away the squash bugs, fertilized my baby plants with coffee grounds and dried egg shells; this was going to be the year! My plants grew quickly at first, and I thought I had made it. They were alive, strong, blooming! Then it happened, one day I walked outside to find that one of my squash plants wasn’t looking so hot. It seemed weak, wilted, and there was this weird saw dust stuff at the base of the stem. I went inside, googled the problem and found out that my plant had been invaded by vine borers. The gardening sites gave descriptions for numerous ways to salvage what was left of my garden, but they all warned that it was likely a lost cause. A few weeks later, everything was dead but my potted herbs. SHIT

This year is going to be different! I’ve learned a lot of lessons over the past few years. 1. Gardening IS hard! 2. A decent vegetable garden DOES take lots of planning, preparation, and research.  3. NEVER trust the soil you have at home, no matter how much your home resembles the “fertile crescent.”  Despite all the lessons I have learned over the past few years’ failed attempts at self-sustainability, I plan to go into this years’ growing season with the self-assured arrogance of a master gardener (or perhaps a madwoman). My garden will THRIVE! EVERYBODY is getting homemade canned salsa and pickles from the extra produce I will grow this year. We will grow ALL the vegetables and set up our own Smemerson Farmer’s Market. This garden will solve world hunger and bring about world peace!  And in the words of Scarlet O’Hara, “As God as my witness, I will never go hungry again!”

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