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We are, afterall, Sodbusters. People who toil the soil. Get our hands dirty. Work the earth that is dry. Prep it with lots of mulch for the upcoming extreme heat temperatures (110+ weather). Much like tending out children isn’t it? We nurture them, get them prepared for the rest of their life and for the hardships that may come. Give them a good start so they have the tools to go forth into the world. The thing is, kids are more fun, they can say the funniest thing that plants can’t among other things.

Ok so sodbusting! Well. This weekend we will work in our main bed. It’s a 10×12 “plot”. We used railroad ties to mark it off. We covered it with wood chips for at least 2 years. Pulling them aside for a simple row planting but then moving it back when the plants were gone. The chips have decomposed into the soil and have really given a richness than our dry desert earth needs. My husband will take empty trash cans to a local feed barn and rake all the fallen alfalfa and other straw/hay type stuff and place them in the trash cans. So we get those for free. WE layer them on the beds and wet them down for at least 2-3 days if not a week or 2. Then we get the kids involved. We dig a foot down into the soil and turn it. It would be lovely to have a rototiller to do this kind of work cause its hard and exhausting but it’s a better workout then you’ll ever pay for. Whoooooie! (No charge for that frugal tip!) So once that is done my husband (you’ll here me speak a lot of him in this post and I’ll tell you why later on) takes a pvc pipe, lays it on top of the soil with slight pressure to create a straight line. Now we are ready to pull the seeds out. It’s works like a assembly line. One person goes ahead and creates holes (boys) and other person meticulously drops the seeds one by one into teh holes (girls) and another covers up the holes and lightly pats the soil down (parents). We use a rake (not a leaf rake though) width for each row. How this is set up is… 1 rake is our path, 2nd rake measurement is a planting row. Another rake measurement is another path (to get between the rows) and another rake measurement is another row and so on and so forth. So we do this with each row of seeds we plant and then we scoot the mulch up close but not covering the seeds we just planted, maybe leave them about 3-4″ of breathing room. And then we water. What do we typically plant in this bed?

  • lettuce
  • swiss chard
  • kale
  • green beans
  • peas
  • beets
  • carrots
  • onion
  • broccoli (first year and what a success!)
  • garlic
  • radish
  • whatever else we decide to throw in.

In the other beds (not previous discussed but implied) would go things like

  • tomatoes
  • squash
  • cantelope
  • zucchini

things that need more room to grow.

So, I told you I would explain why my hubby is mentioned as the main gardener… well, I have a black thumb.  I touch the garden and I kill it.  I even had my own plot last year and ended up with nematodes on my tomatoes! This fall, I told my husband I was NOT touching it at all. I felt sure that something would happen, some catastrophe that would prove my innocence among the plants. But, as it so happened, we had cats use our plot for liter box, we had kids running through it, we had a horrible wind storm, we had a gopher…. and we also had our best crop ever.  I’m doomed!  No worries. I’m donning my gloves, hat, overalls and big girl boots this spring and I’m gonna get back in the saddler errr soil and pitch right on in and conquer!

Our best gardens have always been in the fall.  It’s mid-February here and we have already experienced some 70f weather. We will plant a spring garden because good vegetables are hard to come by affordable and we love for teh children to have that hands on experience of knowing good work ethics.  You don’t work, we won’t eat. Plants die. Good cycle lesson there.   I think it is important to grow your own food as well as teach your children.  It’s a lesson that is dying in our culture of ready-packaged foods.  I hope one day my kids will learn how to butcher meat to feed themselves…. and I hope I have stomach enough to be right there beside them learning and realizing that I will be eating that.

It’s good to enjoy life…. and we’re enjoying it one sodbusting day after another.


Books I recommend for the sodbuster at heart; (Frugal tip! Check out the titles at your local library!)

Square Foot Gardening

Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre

Extreme gardening- How to grow organic in the hostile deserts (by The Garden Guy)

One Acre Homestead: Planning for Self-sufficiency and financial independence.
(I would use this more as an inspiration rather than a book I, personally, would reference for gardening. I really enjoyed it and once in a while pick it up to read it, smile, and go back to reality. ;))