Survival Guide for the New Millennium FLASH -- City Boy Plants Garden
June/July 1996
Byron Kirkwood 
B&A Products 
700 East Shawntel Smith Blvd.
P.O. Box 1376
Muldrow, OK. 74948-1376
Phone 918-427-3600
Fax 918-427-3214
email: byron@baproducts.com 

 

If you've read my Survival Guide, you may remember that one of the things that I need to learn is how to "grow things," meaning food to become more knowledgeable and generally self-sufficient.

I was born in Dallas and lived there most of my life. My family and I lived on the south side of Dallas where there are lots of trees and vegetation, and I remember my grandmother going out in the backyard and finding some wild poke-salad (similar to spinach) and fixing it for meals. That was about as close as I've come to eating something grown in my backyard. My experience growing things has been a disaster in the past. I could buy a perfectly good house plant and before long my "brown thumb" would cause it to wither up and die. And growing up, I hated "yard work" of any kind.

When Annie and I were looking for our new home in Northeastern Oklahoma, one of our requirements was to find a place that had an existing garden, or an area where we could put one in. Spirit was obviously helping us and our real estate lady, because we got most of our requirements in our new location -- and the garden and a compost pile were there and functional.

The garden is fenced, has two trellises in place, and the rows already laid out. It is 15' by 39' with the compost pile next to it. So I didn't really start from scratch.

However, by the time we moved in late August, the garden hadn't been watered in two weeks and the summer heat had just about ruined everything in the garden. Then Fall added a layer of leaves to the garden. With all our travel, cold weather and rains, it was late April before I could do anything with the garden. By then it was really a mess.

Then the problem -- where do I start, what do I plant, when should it be planted, how many, how far apart, etc? Remember, I know virtually nothing about gardening. I knew that there was some things growing in the garden that I was supposed to leave to continue to grow and produce. And there was a real mess to be cleaned out.

A neighbor came by one day and I asked him about the garden. He showed me what to leave, and what needed to be cleaned out -- the leaves and weeds. That was all I needed to get started. That same day I was out hoeing and raking. By the next day I had it cleaned out and was ready to plant.

Annie and I got together and decided what we wanted to plant. We started with eight tomato plants, and then planted lima and pole beans, a couple of kinds of squash and lettuce, watermelon, cantaloupe, corn, carrots and okra. Winter onions, strawberries, dill, and asparagus were already in place. We finished up by planting some basil and mint.

Now much to my amazement, it's beginning to grow. I water it in the mornings and evenings, I've added some fertilizer and spread some of the compost that was ready to use.

A friend visiting us asked me if I was going to grow it organically and I said, "No -- I need all the help I can get for this first batch. Maybe later!" Now time will see if my efforts will be successful -- although I'm sure I have a lot more to learn. We already know we'll do some things different next year, as an example, we will grow some seedlings in an egg carton early next spring to get a head start on our garden. This year it was to late to plant potatoes, but next year we will give potatoes a try.

What I have yet to learn is how to distinguish what are weeds and what is supposed to be growing. I need to learn when to harvest the different plants, I assume that the ones growing above ground will be easier to see they need cultivating. And what to do when there are problems, such as insects or the local critters (squirrels, or the deer we consider pets). So I still have a lot to learn. I have a stack of books yet to read, but as with anything I have to find the time to read and absorb them. Experience will probably be my best teacher.

If my brother Vic could see me now, working in my garden! He remembers how much I hated "yard work." Much to my surprise, I found that it felt good to work in the garden -- sort of therapeutic and soothing to my soul to connect with the land, to get my hands dirty.

Now this may be boring to some people and contain no new information for many experienced gardeners, but my hope is that it will touch a few like myself that are anxious to learn how to "grow things."

Sincerely -- Byron


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Original date: August 13, 1997
Last updated: August 13, 1997
Copyright 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000