Yep. I did. I took down 5 of my 11 full-sun, raised garden beds and put up a 15’ trampoline and I feel so good about my decision. Crazy? Yep. I never thought I would ever do it but I couldn’t handle it any longer. I couldn’t handle the upkeep. The constant weeding. The never-ending gardening work. By the time harvest came, I was so sick of gardening, I didn’t care if my chickens, children, dog, cat or frost ate my veggies. I was done with gardening by the end of the season.
It wasn’t just the actual work of maintaining the garden, it was also about where my family is at right now. My first born is getting older and more adventurous. It has become impossible to have 15 minutes to weed without him hanging off my garden shorts. He loves adventure. In his opinion, the more dangerous, the better. So, we put up a trampoline where those 5 garden beds once stood. A big, bouncy one. When it first went up, I couldn’t stand the site of it. It looked like a UFO had landed in our backyard. The method to my madness is that if he has something daring to keep him entertained, then I could hopefully have 15 uninterrupted minutes to keep up with the remaining garden beds.
And those remaining beds still needed attention. The weeds were still out of control. In a plea of desperation, I called my friends Beth and Seb and Zocalo Organic Farm and asked them for any advice on how to control the weeds. They gave me sound advice:
Step One: Weed the garden
Step Two: Fully cover the beds in black plastic tarps for two weeks. There should be absolutely no light allowed onto the beds.
Step Three: After two weeks, take the plastic off the beds, stir the soil, and put the plastic back on the bed for another two weeks
Step Four: The more I could repeat this process before the frost hit, the greater chance of killing the seed bank built up in the soil.
Step Five: Keep the plastic on over the winter and repeat the process once or twice in the early spring
Here’s the other liberating part about choosing a trampoline. I don’t have to do it all.
When I first started out on this urban homesteading adventure, I felt like I had to do it all: grow the veggies that will last all year; store them properly for the winter and then preserve the others; hatch the chickens from eggs; raise them and then butcher those whose lives have come to the end; take all the courses and do it all. I felt like I needed to be the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. That became exhausting and I was starting the resent all the work.
What I now think is more important than doing everything myself, is to develop meaningful relationships with others in my community that can complement the skills that I’m lacking. I’m clear that I don’t need to do all the work to look after my family. For me having people in my life that I can depend upon to help provide for our family’s needs is more important than being the winner of the homesteading Olympics. Plus, it builds a stronger community resiliency when we need to depend upon one another to look after ourselves.
I’m committed to paying more money to support my local economy. It’s a value that I’m not willing to compromise on and it’s a priority for our family. So instead of growing all the organic vegetables in our backyard, we depend on Zocalo Organic Farm who are expert veggies growers to supplement the food we grow ourselves. It costs us more, but I feel that our life is more in balance and more joyful and happy as a result. I feel like it’s the best of both worlds. It takes a community to raise a family. I love Wednesday afternoons when I can walk down to our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to pick-up our veggies and catch up with my community friends while the kids get up to all kinds of trouble. For that, I think taking down 5 gardens beds has been worth it.