The Garden Experiment

Reader Contribution by Alethea Wilcox
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One of the first skills that came to mind involving homesteading and being self-sufficient is the concept of gardening. When starting a homestead I came to the realization that only certain things would get done. That is just a fact. My husband and I have a long running To-Do List and only so many hours in a day! I knew this spring/summer was not going to look like the plans I had in my head. Honestly that was OK once I adjusted. We don’t have a well yet, but we do have the permit and a “date.” I put that in quotes because all things when building a house are NOT exact. The well is coming … or so that is the rumor. My husband I haul water for now. So rather than seeing this as a problem … I had to figure out how to have a smaller garden in spite of the lack of running water.

We chose to first focus on building the garden fencing and got it done. The watering issue was a little more interesting. I knew every bucket of water hauled had to count. Meaning no wasting water … it had to be efficient. Colorado is famous for its heat in summer and drastic swings in weather. I did a little research and came up with simple solution. Five-gallon buckets … buried in the ground. Yep, a bucket. My husband I drilled holes around the sides of the buckets. One row of holes 2 inches from the bottom, one about 3 inches from the top and about three holes in the very bottom of the bucket. We buried buckets in the dirt with only about 2 inches not covered. We planted summer squash around one bucket, tomatoes around another bucket and winter squash around another. The idea was based on a method called the Japanese Tomato Ring.

The Japanese Tomato Ring  is a circle of tomatoes planted around a compost pile. The compost pile feeds the tomatoes as you water it. I used the same basic method but put buckets in the middle filled a quarter of the way with compost. This allows me to haul a 5-gallon bucket of water twice a week for the plants. It waters deep enough they seem happy. I need to mulch around the plants. I think this might help with some of the evaporation in the heat. Overall it seems to be working! We have already enjoyed some of the tomatoes and have some zucchini ready to pick.

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