The Big Fish and I have created 13 new raised beds, made out of local hemlock. Last year's cold, wet growing season affected the yields negatively, so we decided if we can't control the weather perhaps we can at least try to somewhat control the growing environment.
I am planting all my garlic in raised beds as a local homesteader wowed me with his crop and abundance of the biggest, healthiest cloves I have ever laid eyes on. Incidentally, he has provided me with 30 plus year old strain from Maine garlic bulbs. I hope I do him and the garlic proud. He is a younger grower with his partner, I had stumbled upon their place on one of my many meandering drives. One day I decided to invade his privacy by stopping by and picking his brain- mainly due to the interesting welded sculpture out front of his raised bed gardens. A farmer who creates art out of cast aways? I had to acknowledge my own history of rusty tree hanging Pterodactyls I had made out of auction finds, unable to believe there wasn't still some useful life in old farm tools! The BF and I pulled right in and were instantly welcomed.
Farmers, gardeners are like that; friendly, open and all about helping another learn something or two about their operations that might lend a hand to your own. I discovered this kindly cooperation a few years back when attending classes through U of I Farm Beginnings classes. Through an internship I found many experienced farmers who were more than happy to share their knowledge and experience if one would help out occasionally with onion planting and other muddy jobs that require physical labor. I learned along time ago from my Dad,
"if you want to gain something, you must give something in return."
Pretty simple logic, tried and true- and a way of life for many years in rural communities. I'm happy to see that many are returning to sustainability, golden rules and just plain common sense; you may not be able to see much of that in newspapers, financial institutions, Wall Street, television or what Hollywood puts out- but one can find it in Countryside, a magazine/journal written mostly by people living off the land life. I subscribe to this magazine as it hits close to home- living, working and sharing experience of one's own way. Also- talk to your food growers at the farmer's market you attend. You'll be amazed at the knowledge found there and much of it free for the asking- recipes, growing techniques, seed purity and story. If you can't ask your grower why, when, where and how, then you've missed an opportunity in learning something truly worth pondering. From seed, to field, to harvest, to plate- the food we eat has it's origins and your food provider can and should supply that knowledge. That's as about as honest and common sense as it gets, most difficult these days to find such opinions unless one looks to the earth and to those who coax life from it- giving back more than they take.