Pleased to Meet You

Reader Contribution by Amy W. Hill
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This is my inaugural blog post for Grit, and it seems appropriate to introduce you to my piece of earth.

My plot is about half an acre in a suburbanish neighborhood in a midsize city in central North Carolina. The lot is covered in mature post oaks. I began gardening here ten years ago, recovering the lot from an overgrown state (the elderly lady who lived here before me liked the “natural look.”). I have ambitions to turn it into an urban farm, at least as far as is permitted by local statutes. The rest of my family are decent, patient people who suffer my ambitions with generous humor. We have a good operation here.

In my mind, my garden hums with the sounds of my honeybees and the clucking of my backyard chickens. I hear the thump of ripe apples dropping to the ground in my tiny personal orchard. I snap fresh beans on my porch while the okra and tomatoes simmer on the stove.

In reality, there are no chickens yet because the kids’ play fort stands where the coop needs to go; it is the only space large enough and far away enough from property lines as dictated by local ordinances, that is not covered with large trees. Those large trees are also preventing successful culture of those heirloom apples. I have a Brown Turkey fig tree in a pot. I get about four figs a year. Everyone starts somewhere.

I have coaxed three blueberry bushes into the landscaping near the house, and my acid clay soil supports them well. I have grown these plants successfully and they give me the confidence to carry on with the vision. I am determined to get honeybee hives, but that plan was waylaid for a year or two as we needed to add on to our house, and the best site for the hives is near where the builders will be. While my theory remains untested, I believe that bees and foundation-digging equipment probably don’t mix. But the bees will happen; it helps that my husband loves both blueberries and honey.

I have limited full-sun exposure in the garden so I experiment with mixing vegetables and ornamentals. I’ve had good success with herbs. I grow in containers when I can. And I manage a small community garden for my church, the proceeds of which support our local food bank, so what I can’t grow at home I can usually grow at the church.

It’s a lot to juggle. I remind myself that the struggle is a good one. It keeps me rooted in gratitude. My problems are first-world problems.

It’s nice to meet you. You can also visit my garden and me at my other blog,

This is my suburban “farm” (we all must start somewhere). The blueberries are in the background, covered in netting. The fig has 33 figlets on it! A bumper crop; let’s hope they all mature and I can keep the squirrels away. And soon it will be time to start the fall container-veg garden.

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