It’s almost been a year since Sweet Man started turning our back garden into an organic farm. I’ve been busy, but so has he!
The whole thing started because we had wanted to become a little self-sustaining by growing our own vegetables and fruits. Organic produce is costly and it didn’t make sense to let our garden space go to waste. It was also a high priority to us that our children grow up as closely as possible to nature and avoid the trappings of living in a concrete jungle. We wanted them to learn first-hand about where real food comes from, appreciate the work involved in growing food, and discover how to plant their own.
In early March 2012, Sweet Man began digging after coming home from work, removing all the rocks and rubbish that the house builders had thrown into the ground when they’d constructed the house.
It was back breaking work, going inch by inch almost every day over a few weeks …
… until he finally reached the end of the fence. We had to celebrate!
End March: No time to go out back, I’d peek out every now and then at the monstrous job that awaited Sweet Man every evening after work. It was a pretty grueling job for a city boy and anyone who isn’t used to it.
April. Still tough going, and the kids chipped in.
Look at all those bricks! Puppy and Lamb put them all into sacks as Sweet Man picked them out. They enjoyed every minute of it.
Finally in July after all the grass, bricks and rubbish had been taken out, our farmer friend Yahqappu kindly visited us to give us a quick farming tutorial and showed us how to get our raised beds going.
In August, Sweet Man began preparations to nutrify the soil. He put in each bed a good supply of vermicompost and made a fish amino acid concoction out of raw fish entrails and brown sugar, left to sit for a few weeks and then strained. I was afraid it might stink up the house but surprisingly it didn’t. It took a whole lot of bravery and guts to do the job! (no pun intended)
Look at all that beautiful organic gunk.
My contribution, on the other hand, was relatively benign – simply collecting vegetable and fruit peels for composting. We had so much of it everyday that Sweet Man always had ample to throw on the heap.
By 13 October, Sweet Man and the kids started planting.
And having more fun.
18 October: Little green things began shooting.
By 25 October, they’d grown fast.
Everyone got real busy again.
Love ’em muddy feet!
More plantings end October.
Finally, come November it was harvest time! Lovely fat water spinach (kangkung).
Early December: A bountiful crop!! It felt pretty amazing that we didn’t have to buy leafy green vegetables for weeks on end. Lots of kangkung, spinach, I had to figure out more than 3 ways to cook them ….
When Sweet Man went to Australia for 10 days on a work trip, I barely had enough time to put in his share of work on the farm and appreciated all the more his role in building it. God knows I said “Thank you Lord for Sweet Man” every single day. The farm survived simply by watering and there was more than enough kangkung and spinach that outlasted his absence.
After the Man returned in December, he put in okra seeds, planted long beans and built a structure for them to climb on.
11 January 2013: Our first long beans. Almost as fat as my finger!
I forgot to mention that at some point Sweet Man left plantings to grow into a tree for seeds. In a matter of a few months we had a tree right in the middle of the garden. One evening last week, Sweet Man got the kids to help him build borders for the raised beds which had been eroding gradually during the rainy season.
Altogether it was rough and tough work, mostly for Sweet Man, but everyone put in their part.
Everyone but me.
The only role I ever played was collecting veggie and fruit peels, handing out jugs of water to all the farmers (big and small), and taking photos! Hey, I was busy being the teacher, maid, butt-cleaner and cook …
Love ya, Sweet Man. As I always say, no woman can do it all. This one’s for you.
Related farm posts and Sweet Man’s theory of work: Breaking ground.