Liz emailed me awhile back and suggested Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Sucker that I am for book recommendations, I got a copy, and I am reading it as I breastfeed (and then breastfeed some more. How big is she trying to get?) And I am reminded that one of my goals upon moving to Southern California was to start growing a bit of our own food.
There are a few obstacles. Our yard is not all that big. A few spots get a lot of sunlight, but most of it is only sunny for a small portion of the afternoon. And, most importantly, I don’t know squat about farming.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I once grew basil, but I think anyone with an IQ of over 7 is capable of making basil thrive. And I do know how to tie up and sucker tomatoes.
That’s all I know about horticulture.
I guess the first step is starting to compost, right? See, we don’t like smells or rodents, and our yard is not big enough to put the pile somewhere far from the house. So, I need to get some sort of composting contraption that will allow the compost to do all the breathing and such that it is supposed to do (but that I don’t understand) and will keep it contained. We’re willing to shell out for it, if anyone can recommend one for us to buy.
In addition to knowing nothing about composting, I don’t know when to plant or what to plant or where in the yard to plant. Is there some sort of book called Composting and gardening in Southern California for Complete and Total Morons? If so, I would like a copy. If not, I need some advice. I think I’ll put in some basil in the spring, but when do I start the seeds? Then, I want to grow either tomatoes or grapes because we consume them in giant quantities. What kind of sunlight do they need? When do I start the seeds? When do I move them outside (after the last frost?)? We have a lemon tree in the back – is there anything it is not a good idea to plant next to lemons?
And, what about keeping away bugs? All I know is marigolds scare away some bugs. Any other plants or organic tricks you can suggest? Books to read? Websites to visit? Places that explain it all simply, as though I were a two-year-old.
See, what Kingsolver did not take into account in her little book is that not all of us grew up on a farm. I need step-by-step instructions here, people. Some of us grew up in the suburbs, you know, and we don’t know what the hell we are doing.