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Last week I made another concession to gravity.

Before we go any further, I want to make it clear that if I'm sitting on the ground, I have no problem standing back up again. And, I can get up and down just as often as I want.

I just don't want to.

Another thing you need to understand for this story to make sense is that I like raising food. I have the DNA of a thousand years of peasants in my body, along with being an actual farmer for thirty years. I like the feeling of both independence and quality. I enjoy snickering at people who don't know how a real tomato tastes. I like that we came to the end of last year's garden potatoes on May 15. We still have a few wrinkly, but non-rotten apples in the fridge and there's an ample supply of spaghetti sauce, salsa, and canned tomatoes on a shelf. The freezer is still about one third full of truly excellent fresh pork and beef purchased from neighbors. I have a connection for some really good bacon, and while I only get about two slices a week, those two slices are enough to make life worth living.

Other than bacon, we don't eat much processed food.

It's a good life. My only problem is gravity.

My preference would be to do all my food production from inside a tractor cab, with a thermos of coffee and cheese curls in my lunch bucket. That’s fine for corn, wheat, and soybeans, but not so viable for potatoes and peppers. I know many people, decent people, who love the hours they spend scooting along rows of vegetables pulling weeds, pruning, and so on. I am not one of those people. Even though I'm shrinking a little with time, the earth does not appear to be coming any closer to me on its own. Fresh vegetables may be good for me, but taking four ibuprofen every night so I can get to sleep probably isn't. I decided it was time to stop going down to the earth and instead raise it to my level.

Raised beds. Like, really raised. Thirty-five inches raised. We decided on that height because it is roughly how high my wife's navel is above the ground. Gardening with no bending at all.

When I tore down one of my old pig houses, I saved the roof steel. I used some of it to fireproof my welding shop and put the rest in a pile, which I've moved three times in the past ten years. Coincidentally, that steel is 32 inches wide. Keep it an inch off the ground so it won't rust, trim at the top, bada-bing bada-boom...raised beds. We stacked about a foot and a half of rotten firewood in the bottom, pitched in six inches of hay and topped it off with a foot of dirt.

We discussed several options for about three years, I thought about the project for about six months, spent about a day building three beds, and another day installing them. I only made three because even though I can see no reason why they shouldn't work, that's a phrase I've used many times in my life, sometimes to my profound regret. I've learned that I'm capable of screwing things up in particularly unique ways. I'm going to ease into it, get some evidence of viability before I fully commit. Yesterday my wife planted an assortment of vegetables. If peppers and tomatoes appear on the shelves this fall, next spring I'll build the rest of the garden.

Take that, gravity.

Copyright 2023 Brent Olson


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