My hundred square metres Before

Found at: zaibatsu.circumlunar.space:70/~solderpunk/phlog/my-hundred-square-metres.txt

My hundred square metres

Before anything else, a big congratulations to sloum and his wife on
the birth of their daughter Orion[1]!!!

Regular readers might recall that about a year ago I wrote[2] about my
interest in trying to grow a non-trivial quantity of vegetables for
personal consumption, as a kind of "dipping the toe in the water"
experiment with a "downshifted" lifestyle with a strong
self-sufficiency component.

I'm not sure if I ever followed up on that year's experiment[3] with my
city's garden allotment system.  I can't say that it was a total
failure, because *some* edible produce was obtained at the end (mostly
potatoes), but it was also far away from being a glowing success.
Almost immediately after our planned summer holiday, we then had to
travel away for a very unplanned month following a death in the
family[4].  This meant that we weren't actually *at* our garden for a
very substantial chunk of the best part of the growing season.  We did
try to get friends or neighbours to water the thing occasionally, but
certainly it didn't receive close attention or tender, loving care.
As it transpired, we also planted a few things which it seemed weren't
well-suited to the clay-type soil that the allotments have - most of
our carrots turned out very small.  We resolved to try again next
year, supposing that we couldn't possibly do worse.

So far, I would say we are well on track for that being true.  I'll
admit I was reluctant to start the gardening this year.  I remembered
very well how horribly difficult to work with the soil was at the
start of last year, and it's been quite a hot summer so far, so it
seemed much easier to stay cool inside.  We eventually made a start,
though, and I'm so glad we did.  For whatever reason, the plot we were
assigned this year is much easier to work with than last year.  I
don't know if the whole patch of land the plots are on is highly
heterogeneous and we were just luckier this year, or if all the plots
are better off because of differences in the weather leading up to the
growing season.  But it felt like easy work, and while it was a very
sunny day there was a lovely breeze the entire time so we stayed cool
even while digging.

The plots are 10x10 metre squares, which is quite generously sized for
a single household, especially for what they cost (which is so little
that I don't even bother remembering the amount, something like 10 or
20 Euro for the whole 3 or 4 months that we are allowed access).  We
used a very small fraction of that last year.  This year I would say
we have probably used just shy of half of it - it really is a lot of
room.  We have peas, potatoes, onions, spinach, zucchinis (aka
courgettes, to the likes of the recently-returned jandal[5]!) and
squash in the ground.  It's early days, but so far everything is
looking promising, except for the spinach (which our neighbours, who
have a plot of their own, have told us they've never had luck growing
here).  They are planted in furrows, arranged so that crops in
neighbouring furrows are good "companion crops", i.e. they won't fight
one another the same kinds of nutrients, or attract the wrong kind of
insects etc.

I have come to really enjoy visiting our plot in the evenings to water
everything and check on progress.  It stays light here now until very
late in the evenings, so there is no rush to squeeze this visit in
before dark.  The weather has been glorious.  The garden plots are
located in a beautiful area, alongside a river, surrounded by two or
three foot high grass.  There are lots of wild hares and pheasants
which hang around the area - and they are pests to gardeners, to be
sure, but the pheasants, at least, are majestic pests.  We fill up
watering buckets by hand from the river, which involves wandering down
the banks through narrow paths in high grass and reeds, flattened down
by the foot traffic of other gardeners.  We get to and from the
allotments via a short bicycle trip.  The whole thing is an entirely
low-tech, manual affair (although I try to avoid kidding myself too
much about this, e.g. we use store-bought fertiliser which no doubt
contains plenty of compounds synthesised using energy intensive
industrial processes) and feels very good for the soul - whatever that
means.  Even if, somehow, nothing edible comes of it, I feel the
undertaking has given us enough happiness and sense of purpose and
achievement to be worth it.

[1] gopher://circumlunar.space:70/0/~sloum/phlog/20190609-16.txt
[2] gopher://zaibatsu.circumlunar.space:70/0/~solderpunk/phlog/hobby-farming.txt
[3] gopher://zaibatsu.circumlunar.space:70/0/~solderpunk/phlog/offline-life.txt
[4] gopher://zaibatsu.circumlunar.space:70/0/~solderpunk/phlog/ups-and-downs.txt
[5] gopher://grex.org:70/1/~jandal/phlog