Since everybody hates a braggart, I think I’ll do a little more of it again this week.  Am I just a jolly green goddess, or what?  I look across the vast organic greenness of my gorgeous garden and I think:  What’s organic mean again?  No wait, wrong wavelength.   I think:  How on earth did I get so skilled, so quickly?  Or, WOW, this is just plain easy.  No, wait again, I like the sound of the oh so skilled one much better.

Yes, I know I know, don’t weigh your produce before the harvest.  But I just had another nice little supper of off-the-land goodies, and that combined with the stupendous state of my garden at the moment, I am thinking, I must really be a natural.  Or, more likely, maybe gardening is a wee more forgiving than I first experienced.  After two hopeless past pea failures, there are precious darling pods and loads of little blossoms of promise.  There are winter and summer squashes maturing in the same garden space.  I didn’t even know that could be done–it’s like I’m a wizard or something!  Midas of the great green touch.

I’ve just been experimenting more or less, but things are starting to actually take shape for real.  There’s only so much a novice can learn, imitate, educate, and propagate in a year.  Like most places around the country and world, this climate can also be quite extreme .  This spring has already had some of the hottest days recorded in 100 years.   And after a wet early spring we went five weeks with hardly a drop of rain.  Of course, it’s not as extreme as some, but we do deal with regular droughts, recurrent late frosts, occasional flooding, perpetual winds and pests, not to mention a sandy and acid soil.  Like just about every place, it has its unique set of challenges, the kind that require patience, persistence, and very local knowledge to overcome.  Not really the state of mind or existence most of us are living in at present.

This kind of knowledge has been lost and is only recently, thanks to technology, begun to resurface bit by bit on any mass scale.  I have read and heard, repeatedly, by locals and in varying books and periodicals, that a completely organic program is simply not possibly in Texas, even in the more lush East Texas where we live.  But now after only a year, I can begin to differ from the engrained belief and system.   I have not used a single pesticide or herbicide, or non-organic fertilizer at all in the entire garden space.   In just one year we have managed to almost naturally alter this soil and environment enough that from this year to last it looks like the difference between an impossibility and a miracle.  I have to be honest, I know I’ve complained and been frustrated from time to time, but in retrospect, it really hasn’t been that tough at all.

This is also the kind of place where even considering the more agrarian lifestyle of the pre-industrial farm,  or before monoculture farming practices, it did not have much value as potential farm land.  Not to mention it’s a large rural state with many climate variations, and so there has been little local knowledge to begin with.  They grew peanuts and watermelons here, that’s about it.  And back in the day, I suppose cotton, too.  After that, it became pretty much just vast acres beyond acres of tree farms and beef.

Times really are changing for the better.  Just a few simple but significant pieces of technology and application and basic knowledge have made me realize the true extent of the potential of this place as a real self-sufficient homestead.  In the future we will be able to use solar and wind power exclusively, I feel confident about that.   We will be able to feed ourselves from this land almost exclusively with relatively minimal effort.  If you could feed your family simply, easily, nutritiously, humanely, conscientiously, maybe that might be enough for one life?  For some yes.  But because it’s my nature, I am already wondering, where to now?  What comes next?

Maybe an income?  No, not yet.  I believe, and fortunately have the luxury to continue to believe at least at present, that the big picture must come before the money picture.  Otherwise the money clouds the mission.  Does there always have to be a mission?  Of course!  If there’s no mission, if there’s no big picture, it’s too easy to get bogged down in the little things.  We all need our own version of religion.

Looks like it’s time for some soul searching again.  If the point initially was to prove a certain self-sufficiency could be relatively easy to achieve, and it becomes clear that such a goal will at some point in the foreseeable future be realized, then it’s time to set a new goal to take the mission further.    Look your biggest challenge squarely in the face and don’t let it be masked by all the other little challenges.  Yes, we have the bugs, and the harsh summer temperatures, and haphazard temperature variations, but our real challenge here, the one that is ever-present but not immediately recognized, like the white elephant in the room, is the wind.  It’s insidious and unpredictable and sometimes crippling.  Never underestimate the wind.

Now becomes apparent our real challenge, this type of gardening information is hyper-local, but we have had generations of disconnect in our decades-old exodus from rural life and the knowledge and skills required to live in it or from it.  Ask a local here today what to do about any pest or disease and their immediate blind faith reaction is, “Spray It.”  There is not only something wrong with this picture, there is something very dangerous with it.

And there-in lays the next phase of this mission.

(To be continued  . . . )

Fresh from the garden that became a delicious 3 type potato salad with turnips and fennel

Fresh from the garden that became a delicious 3 type potato salad with turnips and fennel

Peas plus so much!

Peas plus so much!

Wildflowers from the new garden that was last year a mass tangle of vines, stumps, trees mired in a sea of poison ivy

Wildflowers from the new garden that was last year a mass tangle of vines, stumps, trees mired in a sea of poison ivy