I'll do it the way I want to.
Just a Chingona. Dwelling. Digging. Dining. Daring.
Just a Chingona. Dwelling. Digging. Dining. Daring.
This post first appeared on The Chingona Homesteader,©2017 TheChingonaHomesteader.com
I feel like it's necessary for me to clarify something here. It's not that I'm completely out of touch with plants and what they can do. Both my grandmothers, in addition to being farmworkers for much of their lives, kept beautiful gardens filled with plants that fed and healed their families.
All my life, I've used plants like aloe, roses, mint and bougainvillea to help myself and my family stay healthy. I love plants and have devoted many, many hours to the study of herbalism-I even have some certification in the area. Really!
I believe in the power of plants. I've just never been able to actually grow any.
As we've been preparing to move into the new-to-us, 100-year-old house, I've wondered if I might finally be able to do any successful planting. Much of the house sits perched on a lush canyon, which in itself is like having a maintenance-free garden. Other than that, there's only an eensy dirt-patch to play around with.
Could I actually grow anything here? If so, what?
I have no idea. But I do know someone who does.
We've all got to start somewhere.
The name of this blog suggests that I have some type of Homestead Cred, yes?
Yes, I have some mad skills when it comes to homemaking, downsizing, decorating (I've been a professional interior designer for nearly 20 years now) and I'm a decent cook. This helps create the illusion among my friends that I'm some kind of Chicana Martha Stewart. Which is pretty sweet, so I don't make waves.
Here's what I don't tell them:
1. I can't sew a stitch, so slipcovers are not going to be happening.
In fact, anything not involving Stitch Witchery is not going to be happening.
2. I can't bake worth a damn.
My husband claims I have "oven amnesia", meaning: something about closing an oven door seems to erase my memory of ever having put anything in there. The moment that door's closed, I want to leave the house, go clean out the car or re-organize my closets. Consequently, in the new house? There will be no oven.
That's right, it's called The Chingona Homesteader for a reason, folks.
3. It seems I possess some kind of Electromagnetic Touch of Death for Plants.
I have never touched a plant I haven't killed. "What about spider plants?" I hear you ask, "What about ferns? Geraniums? Cacti?" Not one has escaped my deadly grasp.
What's so maddening/embarrassing is that generations of women and men in my family have mastered
every one of the elusive arts listed above. My grandfather made and canned his own salsa from vegetables he grew in his backyard. My mother made her own wedding dress. GAH! Until now, my failing in these areas is a fact I've carefully hidden from my kids.
Lately, it's slowly dawned on me that, in protecting my pride, I've neglected to include my children in their own history. So there's that. Also, despite my best efforts, my kids firmly believe that pancakes are supposed to have black edges and that every plant they see is living on borrowed time.
This blog will be my best attempt to conquer those final domestic frontiers (except sewing, I can't and won't make any promises about sewing). And yes, I accept that, in the process, there's a bunch of other emotional stuff that will be unearthed (see what I did there?). My hope is that my kids will learn about their family while also learning to be at least a little self-sufficient.
How will they learn this? The same way I will: from my mistakes.
SO WHERE DO I START?
With a single radish. The one shown in the photo above, to be precise. My son brought it home at the beginning of summer in the tiniest plastic cup I have ever seen (I think it might have been one of those rinse & spit cups you get at the dentist?). It was the little science unit his 2nd grade class had done for the year: sprout a radish plant from a seed. We put it on my mom's kitchen window sill (we're staying here til we finish renovating our 100-year-old bungalow, a process I'll also be sharing here) and it has spent all summer in my care.
IT DIDN'T DIE.
I have no idea why. I cared for it the same way I've cared for every other plant I've ever encountered. Just last week, I HAD TO PUT IT IN A BIGGER POT. And it still didn't die. WTF?
Because I'm Mexican, of course I decided it was a sign to start a new blog.
So here we go. Because I've been blogging professionally for over a decade, I'm aware that there are people who, though they don't know me personally, will offer me their unsolicited advice. If you're one of those people, be warned: I probably won't take your advice or even appreciate it. If there's one thing I've learned about myself over 40 years on this planet, it's that anything I've ever done with success has been a matter of trial and error.
I am The Chingona Homesteader. I'll do it the way I want to.
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