Ever since I moved to Iowa, I’ve been practicing at gardening. It is one of the skills that came naturally to my grandparents who grew up and raised kids in the hardest of times. I have learned that pretty much anything temperate will grow well in Iowa whose growing season can be stretched with an early planting (risking frost), and a second one in July. The box garden above came about because the ground though once used as a corn field, was in fact fairly hard and difficult to manage, and the critters (deer and rabbits) were also very difficult to manage. It is basically pressure treated lumber, three 16x12x1.5 inch pieces, two cut in half, and one cut in fourths to create two adjoining boxes. The lengths were such that we could drive the pieces home from Home Depot in our Honda CRV. This creates 64 cubic feet of volume. The area was chosen because it was in the summer sun path between the homes -it gets full sun from daybreak to sunset. We’ll be getting unbelievable tomatoes this year (knock on wood), but also specialty Korean vegetables that are very difficult to get from the grocery. My goal is to eventually make kimchi from dirt.
The idea that we need to live locally is one that is gaining favor. I just had a plate of blackberries shipped in from Chile and bought from Costco. Though convenient and delicious, it is also a bit unnatural. Out of season, people would eat canned fruit or preserves, not unripe fruit shipped from the antipodes and ripened in a box.
The boxes took about a total of a half hour to build with an electric drill and wood screws. Each 55quart back of gardening soil is 2.1 cubic feet, so we’ll need to get another 15 bags to fill the other box -we filled one with about 14 bags. This is costly, I know, but who has time to get dirt, lawn clippings, and shit in a bucket for a year to make your own topsoil -it isn’t that bad yet. The skills are not lost -just ask anybody over 70, and they all know how to garden and can to stow food for the winter.