Photo by Asparagirl
I plant a garden every year. Some years I have planted one at the community garden too. This year, since we took our house off the market, we are making some big plans : raised beds and a small green or hoop house. The garage/shed will come down and be converted to something useable like a small storage shed and the cement flooring will be part of the base of the green house. When I couldn’t plant a garden in the ground, I used to plant the essentials to make me feel alive in large pots. Herbs and tomatoes generally. We just looked up the city ordinances and it looks like we might be able to have some chickens in the backyard too – how eggciting! ha ha 🙂
Changes ahead! With the raised beds we should be able to more intensively garden and I am insisting that my dear BF plant those veggies that he will eat. I do a pretty good job of canning and freezing the produce. We have two small freezers downstairs, one for our sustainably raised pork, chicken and beef and one for all the veggies, fruit and misc stuff that one tends to collect in the freezer. It probably seems a bit much to most of you, but eventually, we do plan to move and get our little farmette going, but for now we have decided to pretend like we have it here in the city. Our basement stays pretty cool and is usually stocked full of apples and potatoes from the farm. It keeps our wine cold too, not quite castle temperature, but close enough. I think I have this stock up and be prepared for a large scale disaster mentality. Well, I know I have it. However, by having it, I am more self sufficient and never need to purchase canned tomatoes. I have all the green beans I need in the freezer and roasted green chiles and tart cherries too. I did not get a very good broccoli crop this year as it got too hot too fast, so we have eaten all of it unfortunately.
Last year, in the back of the garden, we planted asparagus for the first time and I planted a couple of strawberry plants too. Then we put the house on the market and the whole summer I wasn’t sure if I would be able to reap my harvest and hoped that whoever bought the house would enjoy the asparagus next year. I will be so excited to see the first asparagus spears popping up. Maybe I will even find some more morel mushrooms in the yard again! I have been rinsing them (when I find them up North) and always throwing the wash water out into the borders of the yard and now for two years, they pop up in the strangest places.
The herb garden will spring back with life as soon as it is warm and the snow melts. I did bring several pots of herbs indoors for the winter and have enough rosemary for the neighborhood in our little “greenhouse” room. We installed some grow lights to keep them alive over the winter and overall, this first year, the cost was more expensive than buying fresh herbs all winter, but by next year, we will be saving fresh herb money! I need to figure out a way to keep the basil alive longer. The room is probably a bit too cold for it to thrive.
I recently heard about the Victory Garden Drive and wanted to share it with you. Having your own garden allows you to be self sufficient and “vote with your fork”. Your produce travels feet instead of miles and you have the satisfaction of seeing things grown and ripen. All of this increases food security too. I work in the agricultural and natural resources field, I know how quickly things could go bad for our food supply. We are really lucky to have the supply of food that we do have and yes, it is cheap, far to cheap. I will leave the Farm Bill, or the Food Bill as I like to call it, for another discussion another day. Never enough profit makes it’s way back to the farmer, unless they are directly marketing their produce at a farmer’s market. Quality foods taste better but do come at a price. You have the opportunity to know the person who raises your food when you shop at farmer’s markets or from the farm directly. We are striving to eliminate all meat, seafood and poultry that was not locally, sustainably and environmentally friendly raised, but this takes time and it definitely takes money. I have been on a lot of farms, some of them great and extremely well managed, some of them the exact opposite and I certainly would not have wanted to consume anything that was raised there. In the store, you don’t always know what you are getting, unless they take the time to market their specialty and package it as such. The innovative farmers have realized that the biggest part of their business is no longer growing the food, once they have that down, it is marketing to consumers like you and me, telling their story of how their food arrives on our plate.
I think the Victory Garden site above states the need to have our own gardens very clearly and very well. Please read it and let’s start a garden revival! If you need help planning your garden or wonder if it is possible to plant something in your soil contact your local Master Gardener through your local Cooperative Extension office. There is one in every county and they are connected to whatever university in your state is the agricultural university (Here that is Michigan State Univ). They have a wealth of information and not just on gardening, but on preserving your food that you grow too.
Photo by cwage
If you can’t plant a garden in your backyard, see if you can join a community garden. In our city they ask for a $5-$10 donation if you can afford it and then they give you seeds and plants, typically from area greenhouses that are overstocked. If you have space in your yard but can’t afford to buy plants, you can still sign up at the community garden, but not for a plot, just for plants. They will even come and get the ground ready for you. At ours you might have to sign up for a job to help out at the garden, like filling the water barrels or helping rototill in the spring, but not all require this. If you don’t have a community garden, go for pots on your porch or deck and fill them with the items you pay the most for, probably herbs. If you can’t do any of the above, well, keep shopping at your local Farmer’s Market and smile. When you are out in the countryside and see the land worked up, pull over and jump out of your car and take a deep breath and enjoy the smell of the freshly tilled earth.
i’m planning for food security and