Southern Agrarianism and the culture of the Old South

From Yard To Garden

New garden area with cow manure added, and part of the peat moss added. Note the barren soil in the foreground – even weeds have a hard time growing here.

As much as I expanded my garden over the past several months, I still ran out of room. The solution? Turn an unused part of the backyard into garden. The problem is that this unused part of the yard is so infertile that even weeds have a hard time growing there. That makes this more of an experiment than just a routine garden project. Here’s what I’ve done:

  1. Used the BCS Two-wheel Tractor with tiller attachment to rototill the area. I went over it twice in both directions. I raked and picked up the assorted roots and weeds (and a beautiful piece of heavy green glass from some long-ago bottle).
  2. Watered it very heavily. In addition to adding much-needed moisture, this greatly improves the ability to work the soil.
  3. The next day, I added cow manure and peat moss. It was mixed in using a Mantis tiller with the tines reversed so that it just mixes things up without digging deeply.
  4. More watering, with the ducks “helping”.
  5. Marked out the rows and planted Seminole Pumpkin seeds.


Ducks just can’t pass up the opportunity to play in the water.

I had planted some Seminole Pumpkin seeds in the main garden area, but decided I’d rather put more okra in. Seminole Pumpkin can take up a huge amount of space as it spreads out. It won’t hurt if it spreads out in this new garden area, but it would have shaded out other plants in the main garden area.

As I said, this is really an experiment to see what it takes to turn a small (11′ x 19′) patch of barren ground into a fertile garden. We’ll take another look at it later in the year. In the mean time, the main garden is starting to have green where there was once only dirt.

A lesson to be learned here is that if I can turn this piece of barren sand into a productive garden, then anyone can find a place to start one.



  1. Douglas Helms

    So glad to see you are blogging once again!
    I can sympathize with your infertile garden spot, I live in the Florida panhandle so most of my place is infertile, but afer years of hard work and tons of compost I have a decent garden. Let me know how your spot does.
    Your brother in Christ, friend and fellow Southern gentleman,
    Douglas Helms

  2. John

    I’m interested to see how this turns out. It would seem to me that after the ground has been barren for so long that maybe Pete moss and manure will have to be added regularly until the nutrients can be established and maintain itself. I wish you well in your endeavors, sir!

  3. Stephen Clay McGehee

    This is really a true experiment. In all the years that I’ve been here, nothing has ever grown there. It gets fertilizer when the rest of the yard gets it (admittedly, not very often), but it’s mostly sand, and it never gets any irrigation. My hope is that by growing crops there – even if they are basically hydroponic where the soil is just serving as a place for the roots – the organic content will quickly increase. When the crop is finished producing, I’ll use the flail mower attachment to shred all the vegetation on top, then use the tiller to bury it. I’ve become a real fan of the BCS tractor. It makes it easy to do that which just wasn’t practical to do without it. I will be doing a post or two or three on the various tools that I’ve found useful – and the ones that I wasted my money on.

    One of the problems that I ran into regarding blog posts is that I tried to separate content into several different blogs, and it just became too much to handle. I had this one for the hands-on gardening and food production, focusing on the cultural aspects of Southern Agrarianism, and focusing on more specific aspects of the culture. It just got to be too much, especially since this isn’t a business for me – I don’t make a penny off of it, but it’s important to me so I keep doing it.

    I decided to just combine all three into one, knowing that some folks aren’t going to be interested in some posts. Some may even disagree, feel offended, etc., but that’s OK. It’s a really big internet, and there are other place they will find more to their liking. Southern Agrarianism is, above all else, a cultural movement. Culture, by definition, is very specific to a very specific group of people. My people. That was the intended focus all along, but I allowed it to stray too far off course. Time to get that fixed.

    Gentlemen, thank you so much for commenting. It is VERY important to me to know that what I write is actually being read and that I’m not wasting my time. May God continue to bless you and your families!

  4. John

    You’re certainly not waisting your time. As we’ve discussed before, all of this is a continuation of the history and heritage our Southland and Confederacy.

    In many ways, it’s a lot like the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, if but only a few will learn and receive it, it has not been a lost cause nor any such failure. I have learned a great deal from each blog.

    The Southern Gentleman blog serves as a personal moral and character role and this serves as both an instructional and historical guide to our past. Both work in unison to those who seek to remain close to their roots and heritage. I really appreciate your service to our history and heritage, sir. It doesn’t go unnoticed.

  5. Stephen Clay McGehee

    Thank you, John. Sorry for the delay in getting your reply posted. For some reason, it ended up in the spam folder. I usually just dump everything that ends up there without looking at it, but this time was different. I’m glad I checked.

    There’s something about following a Lost Cause – and then winning – that serves as a touchstone of chivalry. It’s what we do, sir. Again, thank you for the kind reply.

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