Before we started the Build it Up program, we had taken a few stabs at having our own gardens, with very little guidance, very little yield and a whole bunch of frustration. We could never figure out why our zucchinis rotted, our cucumbers died and we got very few tomatoes.
Starting our homestead, we felt insecure – the same lack of confidence in our ability to grow lingered. But EVERYTHING has now changed. We have had booming bumper crops and we are so pleased how the guidance of Build it Up has helped us surpass our wildest expectations. Before we joined the program, we read about a family who had grown 500 pounds of food the previous year. We thought, if we could EVER grow even close to 500 pounds of food, it would be a MIRACLE. As we write now (August 14th), we have harvested 551 pounds of produce, with more to come from our summer and fall garden.
Some days we’ve had so much produce that canning and freezing have taken up the majority of our day. We’re thrilled about this! That kind of work is real, and honest and rewarding! We’ve canned and put away pickles that will last us until our harvest next year. The same with pumpkin and tomatoes. Our freezer is so full of veggies that will last throughout the winter as well.
This is what we did…
We selected a flat area in our backyard, 30’x20′. It seemed like the soil there was a little softer, whereas in other areas it was hard as rock. We booked a time to have our garden tilled, but then didn’t feel right about tilling, so we did a no-till garden by putting down cardboard, then moo-poo compost, then mulch. Since we did this so late, we had NO IDEA how our garden would turn out, as people usually start the no-till method the previous fall. But, we managed by cutting the cardboard where it hadn’t fully disintegrated. Per advice from BIU, we had a soil test done and found that we had very acidic soil, so we amended the soil with lime and other alkalizing soil amendments. We also added other amendments like basalt and volcanic ash for their paramagnetic properties. A drip irrigation system was also essential in our garden – it saved us so much watering time when the heat of the summer was at its peak. But really, we probably didn’t even need it much although it does help increase yield.
We also implemented some alternative methods of gardening, including biodynamic preparations, electroculture and homeopathy for disease and pest control. All of these things have worked beautifully together. We were shocked at how effective they’ve been. For example, the ants were destroying many of our plants’ roots and the plants started to die. With one dose of a homeopathic remedy for ants, they vanished from the garden and the plants started to thrive again.
It has been a lot of trial and error – especially because we’ve been shocked at the plethora of plant diseases and pests in this area. We’ve encountered flea beetles, so many caterpillars, japanese beetles, and multiple freaky looking bugs that we never knew existed. We’ve also had to combat fungal infections in almost every plant in our garden and all the rain in the last few weeks hasn’t helped.
With the abundance of produce from our garden, comes an abundance of joy from every member of our family. Our children enjoy going into the garden and picking their next snack. They help us harvest, weigh, can, preserve and eat all of the food that we’ve grown. We have gotten immense joy from watching our children grow up this way. It’s also such a great feeling eating the food that you’ve grown yourself!
We couldn’t recommend this program more for people who want to start living a more self-sustainable lifestyle (and even for those who just want to learn how to garden). We have even bigger goals for next year with an added garden space and we feel so much more confident than we did before we started.
Thank you Build it Up!!!!!!!
The Block Family