Failing At Quitting

The difference between failure and quitting is in the commitment. Failing is hard, takes a lot of work, yields a lot of experience and insight and while not fun, leaves you a better person. Quitting on the other hand just means that you don’t have what it takes to follow anything through. ~ January 22, 2012 by

#RaisedBed in the #NorthFacingFrontYard

#RaisedBed in the #NorthFacingFrontYard

This growing season has been quite a disappointment. Aside from good yields on the apricot and plum trees, nothing much has been produced.

The tomatoes were large and tasty, but very few. I quit eating night shades doing an elimination strategy trying to identify the culprit in migraine headaches; so the tomatoes went to my neighbor and a friend. I did eat a few and we all agreed that they were delicious and that store-bought varieties taste like cardboard and are therefore pretty much a waste of money comparatively speaking.

Over the several years that have been devoted to being very serious about growing my own food, I have used many techniques to try to improve soil and water retention and have been planting things that are perennial and offer layers toward what I hope will someday be a ‘food forest’ of sorts; as much as a desert can become a food forest.



The goal, of course is to produce the things I want to eat. Popcorn is a favorite snack. It was looking so hopeful, compared to the sweet corn that succumbed to worms early on. Alas, it failed as well. It didn’t quit, mind you, it failed. It did it’s best and I applaud it. It didn’t have all the support it needed and I take full responsibility for that. This little ear may have made it, but the one next to it was infected so highly unlikely. I felt badly for pulling it after opening it, it looked so clean and nice.

Brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach, broccoli were all planted in Fall last year and over-wintered. They all bolted at the first sign of heat.

Asparagus went along nicely, taking up so much space for such little yields. The one that I did harvest, I waited just a smidgen too long and it was tough. This growing food is a VERY tricky thing.

So many other things, chives, cilantro, carrots, onions, garlic…nothing viable. Watermelon and cantaloupe are still struggling on; not sure what will amount to anything.

I did get a few beets that were good, not as good as last year’s.

Sweet potatoes are still vining away and may produce a yield. #WaitAndSee.

The difference seems to be the straw. Straw was put everywhere as a ground cover over newspaper and cardboard. I’m afraid that the straw may have had herbicide residue and that may be what had caused so much trouble. It’s just hard to know. I asked the local feed if he could get that information before I used it, but he says that he uses a broker and it comes from many sources. Seems the only possible way is to secure a local organic farmer. I haven’t been able to do that yet.

The other thing might be to get a chipper/shredder so that all of the arbor debris generated on site here could be worked down to wood chips/arbor mulch. That will take at least $700. and it’s not in the budget at present.

So, we march on.

#3Hugelbed in the #SouthFortyTriangleLot

#3Hugelbed in the #SouthFortyTriangleLot

The #3Hugelbed seemed a good place to start Fall clean-up now as it had nothing left producing aside from the cantaloupe along the East foot of it, which got left in place.

When it was built, it had a thick layer of straw put over the wood before adding back the hole soil over top. There were lots of vacant spots in the stick layer so when I went to walk over it, it sunk in a lot. There was just one tomato vine still green but with no flowers, so it got taken over to the new #TriangleRaisedBed to decompose along with some purslane that was dried out on it too. It will get chopped down and spread around.



Baby Tarantula

Baby Tarantula

When my foot sunk down into the debris, I yanked it back as quickly as possible because I imagined all kinds of teaming life under there. Sure enough, out came a baby tarantula from a den it had dug. It got put back into an opening in the debris while I went about raking all of the dirt and such up from the side and onto the top to consolidate and pack it all in better. I sure hope it finds it’s way out again; they’re good bugs that eat bad bugs.

#3Hugelbed reconfigured

#3Hugelbed reconfigured

Watered in and some sticks over top

Watered in and some sticks over top

The soil on it now has much more organic matter in it that has gone through Summer. Raking it around helped it all to mingle. Then it was watered in. The sticks were some from my neighbor’s trimmings that are just there to act as a little mulch, keeping the Sun from scorching any life there now, which is abundant.

L - R: Kale, Cabbage, Brussels sprouts.

L – R: Kale, Cabbage, Brussels sprouts.

While waiting for spaces to direct sow some cool weather crops to try the over-winter strategy again, some have been sown in trays. The #3Hugelbed may get planted.

Gardening morale booster

Gardening morale booster

As hard as it is now for Little Red-Haired Girl to walk, she insists on being near me. Often I carry her out, but this time she came through the doggy door on her own. Bless her little heart; she stayed the whole time.



MickeyMouser, lollygagging around inside as usual. Oh, he’d be out if he could.

So the moral of this story is: Quitting isn’t an option if one wants A Simple Life of Abundance and Peace but failing is inevitable.


One Straw



This #RaisedBed is where things first got serious toward growing food. Early on there had been random tomato attempts here and there, but nothing amounted to much. Fruit trees were being planted simultaneously. It’s amazing how much one needs to learn, even to grow tomatoes.

Left to right, facing south.

It’s all about building soil. Reading “One-Straw Revolution” ~ Masanobu Fukuoka, about the renowned revolutionary farmer in Japan last night, I was reminded of just how important it is to “First Do No Harm” and let nature be the guide. His second of four major rules is “NO CHEMICAL FERTILIZER OR PREPARED COMPOST”.  Asterisked, below it clarifies that “For fertilizer Mr. Fukuoka grows a leguminous ground cover of white clover, returns the threshed straw to the fields, and adds a little poultry manure.”

Later in the book he says it is sometimes necessary early on to do things, but that gradually, refraining from other than what would happen in nature is recommended. So I have added bagged compost and brought in straw to cover the ground. I am using clover, but it takes a lot of water, so I need to try other cover crops. I have Buckwheat seeds to try. “Buckwheat grows in soils with poor fertility and requires little water after germination.” Of course, Mr. Fukuoka  had acreage and was growing fields of rice and winter grains along with orchards of citrus.

The main thing is to learn what nature does and try to mimic it.

I try things in different locations and conditions to see what works best here in the Southeastern desert of Arizona. This is the east most corner and has shade off and on. It makes a great sitting area and doggy traffic-watching spot. I left some fence slats off so they had a place to sit and stare.

Anyone who will come and see these fields and accept their testimony, will feel deep misgivings over the question of whether or not humans know nature, and of whether or not nature can be known within the confines of human understanding. ~ Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Relolution, pg. 29

Methods of insect control which ignore the relationships among the insects themselves are truly useless. ~ pg. 27

Monday I was in the #SouthFortyTriangleLot watering when a snake slithered  along the edge of the fence footer. I was almost upon it. I jumped back and skedaddled, but tried to remain calm and get some kind of view of it. It didn’t appear to have a rattler. It went quickly, but seemed docile.

Non-venomous, King/"good snake"

Non-venomous, King/”good snake”

To the best of my recollection, this web image represents what I saw.

It went missing. I think it has a home under the patio slab. I have been tip-toeing around, trying to believe it’s a good thing to have around.

It’s not always easy to allow nature to have Her way. We want control.

Nature is the teacher. I try so hard to listen.



I have caught cottontail bunnies making escape several times lately and they always head for the gate gaps, so I have installed chicken-wire foils to encourage them to stay out. Ceramic bunnies are all I want to see. This one got crowded out of the strawberry pot, so got brought up here where there is a sweet potato slip to watch and a garlic I forgot I pushed in there.

The chaste tree is coming in to bloom. It won’t be long before I see hummingbird moths. They look so much like hummingbirds.

Gertie has been my walk-around companion as of late, since Little Red-Haired Girl wants to find a spot and spectate now.



Four artichoke have been harvested, but not cooked yet. Others are being left to flower. I understand they make great dried specimens. The chard and beet pods have been removed to save for seed and now this needs new plantings. This is the #1HugelkulturBed and is being allowed to meld into the surrounds.



This seems to be a good time to take pictures. Both sides, East and West turned out good today. The morning was balmy, quiet because “Schools Out For Summer”, with just birdsong for music and a hint of a cool breeze. A slight cloud covering. It’s A Wonderful Life.


Chaste Tree