Saturday, October 05, 2013

On the Same Page - Gardening

With all the talk about taking responsibility for our food supplies the average homeowner may be wondering what one person can do.  Most of us are somewhat challenged when it comes to owning enough acreage to be able to plant food to sustain ourselves let alone the whole family.
Quarter Acre Farm by Spring Warren may be just the inspiration for you, if like me, you are lacking in acreage at your homestead.  The full title is Quarter Acre Farm: How I Kept the Patio, Lost the Lawn and Fed My Family for a Year, which should give you the hint already that it is possible to feed your family on a small plot of ground.  It is a humorous account of the author’s venture to strike a balance with her husband and the compromises she makes to be able to fulfill the family’s food needs.  While this book is a memoir, it really has fantastic information tucked into every page.  The author shares her wisdom which comes in a “don’t let this happen to you” fashion, suggesting there is a learning curve to everything.  Despite their best efforts, most self-help books for gardeners don’t capture everything you should know about raising food and animals, even if the title suggests just that.   I know I got many a “aha” moment myself when reading Quarter Acre Farm.

Little House in the Suburbs by Deanna Caswell and Daisy Siskin is also a DIY book with tons of information on farming your suburban plot.  It is packed with backyard farming information on everything from beekeeping, raising farm animals (see your city ordinances for those), gardening food for your family and keeping both your home and yourself clean.  Chapter two is specifically helpful for those of us that are inexperienced in the food gardening department and can help if you suspect you might be suffering from a case of the black thumb syndrome.  I must admit, I was also intrigued by the hint of a peanut butter cookie recipe included within from the picture on the book cover.   But I digress.

Ok, now you know you are steeling for the challenge of becoming more sustainable and you find yourself donning a pair of wellies and overalls, you might want to try consulting Any Size, Anywhere Edible Gardening.  William Moss promises The No Yard, No Time, No Problem Way to Grow Your Own Food in his subtitle.  Like Little House in the Suburbs, it contains many wonderful color photos and will certainly inspire anyone to take to the trowel. 
I also ran across Straw Bale Gardens by Joel Karsten and thought what a clever way to introduce plants into one of nature’s containers, a bale of straw.  I did say straw and not hay, which the book explains is vastly important.  It has instructions for laying out your garden bales as well as prepping them for planting and I am totaling intrigued to give it a try.

The last book is a tiny little treasure by Raleigh Briggs called Make Your Place.  This book is a handwritten offering with all kinds of sustainable information, accompanied by hand drawn illustrations.   Skip to chapter three to find good sound gardening advice that begins where it all begins, by talking about the condition of your soil.  It will then lead you to when and where to plant and making beds you don’t have to lie in.  Please, please, please read this one from cover to cover though because there is so much great stuff to learn within its pages and ponder the possibilities. Besides, it was a hoot!

I hope these books offer you some valuable gardening help.  I recommend each one heartily.  After reading them, there will be nothing more to do but kick back with those seed catalogs and dream of next year’s harvest.

Happy Planting!

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