Ever since we moved onto our farm, I’ve been eager to really engage in agriculture. There’s been a lot to keep us busy here—house setup, land maintenance and nature exploring—but the one thing that excites me most about having our own piece of land is that we finally have the space to grow our own food.
My love for soil and all the magical things that grow out of it began to bloom several years ago when I planted a Meyer lemon tree. I was living in an apartment and only had a balcony space to call my own, but it was the perfect setting to begin cultivating an appreciation for the earth and all that it can produce. That lemon tree, growing in a pot, produced three lemons in its first year, and not long after its planting, I started growing tomatoes and peppers and basil, too—all from a third-floor apartment in suburban Lexington, Kentucky.
From there, I graduated to raised garden beds in Mr. B’s backyard. (When he let me set up my little garden plot, I knew it was true love.) Together we grew all sorts of fun things: broccoli, strawberries, butternut squash and rosemary. Soon one raised bed became two, and then I began digging up the entire yard. That’s when we knew we had to find more space.
Last summer was our first growing season on the farm, but the reality of moving in the middle of June is that we were too far behind to till up a garden bed and get plants in the ground. Instead of spending the summer tending baby plants, we mowed paths for exploring our land, foraged for blackberries and went on wildflower hunts. It was a great summer, but my green thumb is now really itching to grow stuff!
So this week, I took the first step into real, bona fide farmdom. I planted seeds.
I’ve never had a great setup for seed-starting, so it’s nothing I’ve tried too hard to do or been very successful at. Fortunately, our new house has a small solar room attached, meant for helping to heat the house, which we’ll be using until we can build a greenhouse specifically for plant-germinating purposes.
This year is all about experimentation. I’m planting a little bit of everything to see what I like growing and what will grow well in our clay soil and valley climate. The seeds are a hodgepodge from different sources. Some are from P. Allen Smith’s Home Grown Collection and have been tested to grow well in the heat and humidity of the South, some I acquired from an heirloom seed sale that benefits a local nonprofit I support, and others were saved from friends’ gardens.
I must admit, I’m a little nervous that the seeds won’t germinate. I planted 10 of everything to increase my odds of success, if nothing else. If a few plants survive in each variety, we’ll have food for us to nibble on this summer If all the plants survive, then we’ll have food for putting up and sharing with friends … and maybe strangers. Fortunately, we’re not lacking in growing space should the latter occur.
With the seeds in their trays, there’s still a lot more we need to do before we transplant seedlings in the ground—till the garden, incorporate amendments into the soil, secure fencing to keep out deer and other critters—but I can feel it: We’re on our way to a good season. Let the real farming begin!