Feeding yourself – Learning to garden

Not that many generations ago every family in the United States kept some type of garden. Sometimes it was the 50 acres out in the Midwest or sometimes a 5 foot by 5 foot mini garden in the backyard of a suburban house. People grew a wide variety of different vegetables, fruits, and herbs. They used this to supplement their grocery purchases, share with family or friends, sell, or trade for other goods. Their dependency on these garden products ranged from absolute necessity to a quaint hobby. Today things have changed for many people. Due to access to store bought produce year round, lack of space in many areas, and distance from a heritage of farming many people do not even know how to begin gardening.

No matter the level of disaster you are planning for, knowing how to grow food is not a bad skill to learn .  No one knows when a financial disaster might happen to your household.  The rest of the world may go on, but you may find that feeding yourself and loved ones by ordinary means is impossible. In this case, if you have access to dirt, be it ground or in pots, you can produce food for a tiny percentage of the retail cost.

As with most things, knowing how to do something and having done it before are quite different. The “green thumb” attributed to some people is usually a culmination of many trials and errors.  Through these they learn the nuances of what certain plants like and don’t like. Maybe despite their rampant desire to grow carrots, they find that the ground they have access to is just not a good fit for them. That is not saying that they could not improve the ground to match what carrots like, but they know that that effort is better spent growing other items. Sometimes you pick your battles with mother nature.  In light of this, practicing gardening now is better than later when it might be a dire situation.

Your garden can be as simple or as elaborate as you desire. Pots, buckets, straw bales, and hydroponics can replace traditional tilled earth gardening if you desire. If you are new, start small. Five tomato plants can provide a bounty, thirty can produce a lot waste. That is if you do not have anyone to share with, sell it to, or have a way to preserve it.  Instead of just one type of plant, you might plant a few different ones. That way if some types fail you still have others to fall back on. If you do a bit of research you may also find some that are ready at different times to allow you to have produce from spring until fall. The options are endless. Just remember that it takes time to perfect this skill like any other.

Don’t be frustrated if you have difficulty. The best gardeners have bad seasons.  Sometimes it could be a bad batch of seed, lack of rain, too much rain, excessive heat, not enough heat, etc. If one particular plant give you trouble try another. For instance, you have no luck with vine type plants, try potatoes, cabbage, beans, or corn. Considerate it a chance to try new varieties of vegetables.  Tomatoes alone have over 3000 varieties that are currently actively cultivated. Who knows, you may find that you love some of the varieties one thousand percent more than store bought.

There are many wonderful books out there about gardening. One I can recommend is

Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times


Here is also a list of free Kindle ebooks that I have compiled that can also help you get started. You simply need the free Kindle app to read them. Click here to get it: Free Kindle App

A to Z Gardening for Beginners

Vertical Gardening:The Beginner’s Guide To Organic & Sustainable Produce Production Without A Backyard

Easy Container Gardening: 5 Steps to Grow Fresh Organic Vegetables in Small Urban Spaces: Beginners guide to patio gardening (Easy gardening essentials Book 1)

Gardening 101: Friendship Gardens

2 Replies to “Feeding yourself – Learning to garden”

  1. On the subject of gardening, I might add that raised beds are great in a time of need scenario. You do not need a tiller. You can make the beds out of most any material except treated lumber. Make them as long as you want, but not more than 4 foot wide, you will be able to reach from each side. I currently have 15 beds most are 4×8 and we grow a lot each year. We have lettuce, carrots, radishes, parsnips, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, onions, green beans, kale, turnips, broccoli. Take cardboard place on top of your grass and fill with good topsoil and composted horse manure.

    1. I agree raised beds are a great option. In the place of cardboard even plastic trash bags work to stifle the weeds. I have used landscaping fabric in a few cases. I have seen them built with logs cut from 4 to 5 inch thick cedar tree trunks. The cedar lasts a long time and would be easier to get in the long term disaster than standard untreated lumber. The only issue I see people have is not making them deep enough. Too shallow and it is hard to hold moisture and have room for root growth. Thanks for the comment. I hope you enjoyed the post.

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