I come by my gardening and preserving love honestly. My approach is organic as possible with some Miracle Gro or compost tea on the side. I have a background in chemistry and education which translates well to the fine details of gardening and canning.
I am the child of two hippies and the grandchild of hardworking average people. My mom’s family were steelworkers and military and her family owns a seven acre farm in western Pennsylvania. They grew everything from black walnuts to concord grapes and carrots. My dad’s family worked the railroad and did the military thing as well. They lived in a small town and although I don’t ever remember a garden, I know they had one as well as aunts in the country with a farm and ponies. I have a childhood full of memories of eating raspberries over ice cream and carrots rinsed off with the hose. Fresh eggs from the Amish, cheese and meat from the butcher and bread from the bakery…
…once we moved to Maine and rented a house and were able to make a garden we did. The first year the tomatoes grew seven feet high and didn’t ripen til I was already off at college. But I persevered and managed to grow tomatoes, corn, cucumbers and radishes with reasonable success. After I got married I was able to dedicate some serious effort to a garden and had a nice mostly sunny area to garden in. While clay soil isn’t great we worked in enough added organic matter to create reasonable soil and grew melons, corn, peas, beans, squash, broccoli, radishes, carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers. We moved from there to a winter rental and then into an apartment. We lived on the river, with a smallish yard and perennial garden put in the summer of 2010 with the blessing of our landlord. Almost all the gardening we did for edibles were in containers which has its own unique issues. It does help with issues like neighbor’s cats and dogs defecating and urinating on the flower beds and anywhere they please. Without a hose we did a lot of water hauling to keep up with the needs of our plants. We had a pump to get water from the river but it broke close to the end of the summer.
When the apartment building got foreclosed on (be wary of business partners and always checkup they are doing their job-aka paying your mortgage) we moved into another winter rental where we didn’t garden at all. When that was up we moved in with the husband’s mom and stepdad for a bit while we managed to track down a property and convince the bank to give us a mortgage to purchase it.
At just over an acre, with most of it on an incline, its not the prettiest piece of land. But its all ours. Finding enough light to grow stuff has been problematic and after two years trying a spot for the garden it is being relocated to the orchard (for now). Once we get the money or find a barter for tree removal we will be able to move it again to a good place. We have a small orchard and berry garden and some chickens. We have added a few more trees and berry bushes each year, with the help of my permaculture plant swaps I’ve added some fun berries you don’t usually buy at the store. And we are well on our way to making a mini-homestead.