Yesterday I began to ask myself how far removed I was from my ancestors who lived with the Earth and not necessarily off of it. I suspect that, in Sicily, my father's grandparents had a relationship with the land, with their chickens, with where their food came from, but I am not sure. On my mother's side I think we would have to travel back to her great-grandparents who lived in Pennsylvania based on pictures I saw that looked like they may have been living on a farm. I thought once our family moved to the city, it was natural that this relationship with food was severed. I was about to become complacent in these thoughts, feeling free from blame for my reliance on purchased foods rather than home-grown foods. Then I suddenly had one glaringly clear thought penetrate my brain, "It wasn't them. I am the first generation in this family that has not had at least some of her food from her own yard."
The Gardens of My Past
My grandparents always had tomatoes, herbs and a huge grapevine in their very small Brooklyn backyard. When I was a child, we had a nice sized vegetable garden in our backyard (I can't believe I forgot about this!). We grew tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, zucchini, an herb garden, a strawberry patch, a grapevine, a fig tree and a peach tree. Our garden shrunk over the years - tomatoes, cucumbers and the strawberries were the last go and then our house got termites. We were told by the exterminators that we should not eat anything that grew out of ground for nine years. That was the end of the garden.
The Pests That Won't Leave Me Alone
It is far beyond nine years. I don't even remember when we had the termites, but I know I was in school then and I know I have been teaching for twelve years, so I know we are safe. I have been itching to start my own garden, but the legend of the termites haunt me...
My husband knows of the termites and the warning that was given to us (I probably told him long before we inherited the house when I never dreamed this would someday be our house!). He does not buy into this finite time period of nine years. He often asks, "How do they know nine years are ok? Maybe in another twenty years they will come out with a new study saying - Oops! We mean 25 years, we suddenly found this new side effect that only comes out after 25 years!!" ...and he goes on like this until he finally ends with, "You want to plant food back there? Go ahead, but I'm not going to eat it." I know he could be right about all of this and this all may be true, but I can't help but continue to wrack my brain for a solution.
The Garden Plan for My Future
I think I may have found a solution this morning - raised bed vegetable gardens. This is not, by any means, going to be an easy task, but I figure I have the winter months to research, plan and save up some money to make this happen. Oh, and one more thing: I have to convince my husband that these foods are edible and that this is a FABULOUS IDEA!! Our backyard will be pretty and functional.
If you are unfamiliar with the term raised bed gardens, simply put it is a technique where you create a garden on TOP of your land confined either in wood, stone, or even hay. This technique is helpful in places where the soil is difficult to grow in. You can use the raised bed as a place to put rich soil, compost and not have to worry about it being compacted by foot traffic. Evidently the beds are also very good for drainage. I look forward to furthering my knowledge about this technique while designing a suitable layout for my backyard.
I simply can not wait for the time when I can reconnect with my own local Earth beyond my little basil plant growing in my kitchen!
Please let me know of any advice you may have about beginning a vegetable garden, raised bed gardens or things I can do during the winter months to get ready for this big project.