Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Gardening for the Self-Sufficient

If you have been reading this blog lately, you will know that I have been growing tomatoes and strawberries in this EarthBox. I am proud to say that I now have a number of delicious tomatoes that I have been sharing with family members and have also been eating daily myself. I have gained a terrific sense of accomplishment from growing my own vegetables and fruit on a small scale. However, I decided to go beyond the basics and am reading a helpful book by Steve Solomon entitled, Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times.

Solomon is a gardening guru who has written eight books and is the founder of a seed company. His current book teaches those with access to 3-5000 square feet of garden land how to halve their food costs in most climates using just a bucket of household waste water, a few hand tools, and a few hundred dollars per year spent on supplies and seeds. One needs a bit of time to do this during the peak growing season--around two hours per day--but if one is around the house anyway, it would be time well spent.

Solomon is not a big fan of garden centers--frankly, I'm not either, some seem overpriced and the one near me has little help and the staff hides in the back or seems annoyed if you ask questions. Solomon explains to readers to beware of vegetable transplants and explains how to find healthy ones. He also describes how to grow your own seedlings and goes on to tell how to find quality seeds to plant. While I am not so dedicated to gardening and don't know if I will ever be, Solomon decribes his passion as follows:

...for me, gardening has never been a minor affair. It is life itself. It is independence. It is health for my family. And for people going through hard times, a thriving veggie garden can be the difference between painful poverty and a much more pleasant existence.

The book talks about the decline of cheap oil and the threat of hard times to come which may play a factor in prompting people to grow more food themselves. I don't know if I will get to the point that I will need to grow food to live (I sure hope not!) but I think it is important to be well-rounded and be able to grow a few things myself without relying solely on the grocery store or other means for food 100% of the time. If you feel the same way, you might enjoy Solomon's book.

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Blogger Unknown said...

I grew up in North Dakota where we always had a garden, about 4000 sq. feet. we always planted seeds in a little "greenhouse" out back in March and set out plants in May. We always had enough potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, squash, beans, carrots, etc. to mostly feed our family over the winter. It's a good idea, and it doesn't take 2 hours a day. Muc less, and it's a pleasure to eat what you produce.

9:17 AM, July 09, 2008  
Blogger Danny said...

I grew up in India, where we lived outside the city, on a huge lot. So my mom had a veggie and fruit garden organised in the huge backyard. In the front yard, she had all kinds of flower beds. I dont recall our family buying much in the way of veggies, fruits and herbs from the market. Most of the stuff was home grown. And I grew to love gardening,and eating home grown produce. Now that I live in a rented home, with a postage stamp sized backyard, I have only some herbs and tomatoes growing in a few pots. But, when I get my own place, I plan of growing a lot more veggies and herbs. As much as the Michigan's short growing season will allow. Unless, I manage to sign a big book contract and move to Knoxville or Nashville, and grow stuff year around!! :)

10:02 AM, July 09, 2008  
Blogger jay c said...

I'm in the middle of another book with a similar bent: The Long Emergency by James Kunstler. I don't agree with everything he says, but it's worth the read I think.

10:22 AM, July 09, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watch those strawberries. If you see a little green tendril creeping over the edge of the box looking for new worlds to conquer, send in a strike team.

11:53 AM, July 09, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

My mother always had a vegetable garden when I was growing up. Up till last year I lived on a large lot and had big plans that I never made good on (deer, moles, rabbits and two young kids seemed insurmountable obstacles). I think I'll check out that book, though, and see if I can get some inspiration. We have enough of a yard here for at least a small garden, and a dead tree that just came down opened up a little more "full sun" area.

5:45 PM, July 09, 2008  
Blogger David Damore said...

Dear Dr. Helen,
Timely post. Just the other day I was behind the garage checking on the status of our EarthBox tomatoes. It got me to thinking about your post from earlier in spring about the EarthBox experiment. Thanks for the update.

As we are near Detroit, MI the tomatoes are still small [Size: Large gumball] and still green.

Expect out harvest to be near the end of July. Might have to send you a few pics at harvest time.

9:44 PM, July 09, 2008  
Blogger Danny said...

David Damore- Good on you. I am in Ann Arbor,and my friends with gardens here have been complaining about the tomatoes not growing well due to the not so warm summer we seem to be having. The herbs I planted in pots on the deck, however, are doing very well.

8:13 AM, July 10, 2008  
Blogger Chuck Bartok said...

Always fun to meet kindred spirits.
We raised our family truck farming and I have re-entered the arena of gardening.
Join us on our Video voyage regarding gardening
The Green garden behind the Barn
Growing Tomatoes for Health and Wealth
We actually are supplementing income and of course enjoying the benefits of exercise and the produce
Thank you

9:48 AM, July 10, 2008  
Blogger TMink said...

My grandfather was a truck farmer in Louisiana. He was the one farmer in the area who would take his truck into the black communities and not raise the prices.

It makes me proud.


10:11 AM, July 10, 2008  
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