Thursday, June 26, 2008

One More Week to Unemployment

I resigned my job last Saturday. One can only take so much abuse. I was expecting them to call and try to get me to come back, but no one did, so I'm making other plans. Now I'll really have time to pursue my dream of an urban homestead and making money growing plants and teaching others to help green the planet.

I have no concrete plans yet, except that I'd like to teach some free gardening classes at the Library, and do some landscape consulting. Maybe I'll change that to helping people set up veggie gardens in their own yards, or even do container veggie gardening.

Whatever I do, I have to remember that I need to make some money somehow, so I may have to take a part time job in the meantime, but not 10 miles away like my present job. I'd love to be within walking distance of my house. There are possibilities, but probably not until August or September, because that's our busy season here.

In the meantime, I'm going to become as self-sufficient as I can get, and get that backyard nursery set up so I can sell some plants.

Oh well, at least this will make me get rid of some of my junk. I'll need to do that to make some money as well.

The possibilities and opportunities are endless!

An Urban Co-op - Sort Of

I was talking to my neighbor and friend yesterday about making some extra money. She knows my plans about the urban homestead, and I asked her why she couldn't grow and sell some plants. She has a green thumb, and loves to grow things, so I suggested that since her yard is mostly sun, and mine is mostly shade, she grow the herbs and sun loving plants, and I grow the tropicals. That way, we could work together, which would make it easier on both of us, since we both have some limitations.

I think that if we really get it going, it will be a great cooperative effort. I was looking at my lot, and realizing that I will have to grow most of my veggies on the side and front yard, since there is very little sun in the back due to two large oaks. I'll have to get the oaks cut back, and I was thinking of even taking one out, but I started looking, and I have plenty of space for veggies on the side, and could mix veggies with ornamentals (a true cottage garden) in the front.

This whole project is becoming a whirlwind, since I will be needing to support myself sooner than later. I'm happy, though, because I'll be doing something that I love, and contributing to the greening of the planet as well.

If it works out between the two of us, I might try to get a little neighborhood coop going, to see how much we can produce. There are so many people around here who do nothing with their yards, even though they have plenty of space. If we could just get a few families growing their own veggies, it would be great.

Tiny baby steps to saving the planet, but if we got a million people just growing their own tomatoes and cucumbers, think of what that would save. Plus, the more green things we plant, the more carbon dioxide we reduce.

It's hard to go so slowly, because I want to do it all now! I just have to tell myself "no", and plod ahead at a snail's pace, to be sure I do this right.

Free Horse Manure

I love free stuff, so I regularly cruise freecycle sites or craigslist for freebies in my area. Lucky thing, because the other day, I found a person in my town who was offering free horse manure. I called, set up a time, and went and got several bags full. She said I could come and get more whenever I wanted, to just call and let her know I was coming. Great! Now I have free fertilizer and soil amendment for my garden and my potting soil.

I only got about 100 lbs. today, and that won't last me any time at all, so I'm going to go back as soon as I can and get more. I had a friend with me today, and we went unprepared somewhat. What I needed to do was bring a bucket to put the bags in to hold them upright, but I didn't, and trying to shovel manure into a bag and keep it standing at the same time is not easy!

So next time I go, I'll be better prepared, and will definitely get more.

I'll be mixing most of it in with the soil in the garden spot, or maybe just lay it on top, and layer it like a lasagna garden. Haven't really figured that one out yet.

This is so exciting, knowing I have a constant source of free fertilizer right down the road! I feel like this is a real beginning to something good.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What I Have Already Done

Edibles Already Planted

Oranges: Valencia, Navel, Hamlin, Dancy Tangerine, Key Lime, Nagami Kumquat, Meyer Lemon
Tropical Fruits: Surinam Cherry, Longan, Loquat, Carambola, Jaboticaba, Bananas (Praying Hands and Dwarf Unknown), Peanut Butter Fruit, Papaya, Pineapple
Tropical Vegetables: Chaya, Malanga, Cranberry Hibiscus
Traditional Vegetables: Sweet 100 Cherry Tomato (in pot)
Traditional Fruits: Wild Plum, Cantaloupe
Herbs: Lemon grass, Rosemary, Catnip (in hanging basket), Peppermint (in hanging basket)
Edible weeds: Wild Portulaca (used mostly for birds)

In Pots, but Not Yet Planted:
Unknown Avocado
Barbados Cherry
Two Unknown banana pups
Wild Purple Scuppernong Grape Vines

The Vegetable Garden Spot

I had a vegetable garden for a couple of years when I first moved here, but that became the compost pile, and was taken over by a huge Mexican Sunflower Tree, which I need to remove. Anyone who has one of these will realize that is not such a small task. I also had a small backyard hibiscus nursery, which went away after the hurricane season of 2004 (Charley, Francis, Jeanne, Ivan...need I say more?) That spot has been covered with black plastic for four years now, which I think is sufficient time to kill most everything underneath it, except the fire ants. I plan to build a raised bed there, 4' x 8' to start, then slowly extend it down the entire length of the back yard. I also plan to try lasagna gardening in the first bed, just to see how it will work, as I have access to a lot of organic matter I could use.

The sunniest spot in my yard is not in my backyard, however. It is in my front yard and western side yard. I have yet to figure out how to plant vegetables there that won't be eaten by passing children or unscrupulous neighbors, but I'm sure I will figure something out. I've already planted a banana tree there, and am looking toward planting chaya, which is something not many people recognize as an edible, and is truly a beautiful ornamental. I may also put my Barbados Cherry there, or move my Dancy Tangerine to the front, as it usually has all its blooms blown off by the winds coming out of the northwest in the spring. Putting it in the front yard would protect it from those winds.

One Small Plot of Ground Can Make a Difference

I'm a great fan of the Dervaes family of The Path To Freedom website. I was a fan way back before they got national attention, before the website was so slick and professional, and before they became a brand. I don't imagine I'll ever accomplish any of those things, but I do hope to accomplish at least 80% self-sufficiency within the next five years.

Right now, I'm working full time to survive, and survival it is. I make only $10 an hour in a time when gas is costing me more than food. It's becoming increasingly difficult to provide myself with a healthy diet, having instead to rely on two-for-one packaged, pre-processed foods to stay alive. My health has been deteriorating for some time now, and I know it's because of my diet, but what can I do, when the cost of fruits and veggies is so high now?

What I can try to do is grow some of my own. I didn't think of it as "homesteading" at the time, but I've already planted over a dozen fruit trees in my yard. I used to have a garden every year, but that stopped when some health problems put me out of commission for awhile. Living alone, it's very hard to manage everyday living with bad health, much less try to tackle a self-sufficiency project!

Most of the problems that prevented me from growing that garden are behind me now, and I'm determined to turn my passion for simple living into a lifestyle. I hope that as I go along, I can inspire some to follow at least a portion of my path in their own lives. I know everyone cannot be the Dervaes, and I don't plan to be either, actually. I don't plan to raise livestock, because it's forbidden where I live, but I do plan to grow my fruits and veggies, and make a partial living off of the land I have.

It will be very hard work, and I'll have to make some tough choices sometimes, but I will use my reader's suggestions and support to sustain me.

Thank you for visiting, and feel free to comment.