Guest Post: Why You Need To Garden Now

by J.Burk

It’s easy to find excuses not to garden: I’m too busy, I don’t want to ruin the lawn, I don’t have enough space, I’ll start when I move to the country. There might even be a few who bought a container of heirloom seeds, tossed it into the freezer and checked gardening off their to-do list.

 

The main fallacy in all these excuses is that you need all the experience you can get in growing your own food now, before your life depends on it. Of course, there are also many benefits to gardening: saving money as food costs continue to increase, learning to preserve your harvests, learning to cook fresh produce in appetizing ways, eating healthier foods, adjusting you (and your family) to a different diet before you have no choice.

 

Time: everyone is busy. We also make time for what is important to us. Starting a new garden is labor intensive; if your schedule includes exercise then gardening can replace it at this stage.

 

Lawn care: gardens don’t have to be an enormous rectangle in the center of the yard. A large border garden along the fence can be very productive and attractive. Raised beds can be built with stone or pavers. If you absolutely can not dig up any of your lawn because of a militant HOA or an impending sale, container gardening is the answer.

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Space: be inventive. Look into community gardens, allotment space, friends or acquaintances with room to plant. Elderly neighbors who might not be up to the physical exertion of maintaining a large garden could be willing to share their space for a portion of the produce. They will often be an excellent source of information regarding gardening for your climate and soil.

 

What if you don’t want to invest the time and energy into a garden where you live now when you will be moving to the country or a bug-out place? The answer is: you had better be putting in the work somewhere! If you own land but can’t live on it now, make time to get out there and begin the process. A long weekend, or even better, a week vacation spent camping on your land can see a lot of clearing work done. If nothing else, a spade, bag of compost, stack of cardboard for mulching and seed potatoes will be the starter garden that sets you up for future efforts.

 

Soil quality has to be your number one concern. Many suburbs and housing divisions are begun by grading the land flat and seeding grass onto what is left. When the grass is dug up what the home owner isn’t going to find is topsoil. The first step is going to be amending the growing medium; a.k.a. making really good dirt for healthy plants. There are choices available for this step. If money isn’t an issue landscape companies will truck in topsoil for you or you can make your own with compost.

 

Be aware of your gardens needs when placing it. Alan Titchmarsh, prominent British gardening expert, recommends spending a day in a lawn chair observing the space. Watch where the sun hits, what is shaded by trees or fences and where the wind blows unchecked. Know the needs of your chosen crops: is there full sun for corn? Is a place sheltered from the midday and afternoon sun best for the lettuce?

 

Did you observe any pests? Rabbits can be a serious problem in town where many won’t kill them because they are considered ‘cute’. Do you have family pets which will dig or trample your tender seedlings? Even a knee-high fence made of chicken wire may be enough to keep these out while still allowing you easy access. Another option is to use a greenhouse, polytunnel or coldframe to both keep pests out and extend your growing season by protecting from frost and wind.

 

Remember that other plants can interact with your garden. My yard is filled with black walnut trees which produce a chemical to retard the growth of other plants. I can’t even use the leaves for compost. Two years ago I opened up a second garden area and I’m still struggling to get decent crops to grow there. These also allow for earlier planting by providing protection from frosts. Eventually, it will be as rich and productive as my first garden. The time and work is an investment that will be rewarded.

 

Whatever method you choose, start now. This may literally save your life someday.

 

 

 

 

 


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4 Comments

  1. Is that a photo of your yard? Now I am really jealous (lolol). All kidding aside, great article. I fund myself making some of those same excuses untill I JUST DID IT! Got my seedling now in pots and will soon have transplant them in the ground. So I had questions and you touched on several of them. I found myself mentally reassessing (while reading) my gardening situation. Perhaps I’m lucky…

    My new place has a HUGE unusal shaped yard, mostly trees on ones side — my serenity shady patch. The opposite side is clear with fewer trees. Then I have this HUGE some what unleveled pit (middle yard) that I could park my Sonata in if it were concrete. Right now all my leaves are (compost stuff hopefully) used to somewhat level this odd shape pit. I thought it was a sink hole but it’s not. Had folks come and look at it. Was trees that up rooted. I get great sun that hits it just right. I am thinking about having a truck load dump topsoil there. Am wondering how easy it would be to do an above ground garden with leaves as the foundation, we talking months of leaves? Either that or fence it off, cause we got critters: Squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks…

    Any suggestions for this city gurl turned country?

  2. You couldn’t be more right! I actually considered writing an article that would have sounded very similar to this one. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks expanding my existing garden and starting a second garden and it is HARD work. People are completely delusional if they think that they’ll just turn over the sod and “throw in a garden” when they need too. I have had the benefit of a tiller, but it was still a lot of work. Like the author said, get out there now and do it while tools and soil amendments and seeds are readily available.

  3. Those of us who live on the west coast have an added hazard, due to the nuclear fallout from Japan’s reactors. Radio-activity has been found in the milk here in Washington, so, I’m sure our gardens are also contaminated, as well. What to do!

  4. I LOVE that picture – I wish it was mine. We have lived in NW MT for over 16 years now and it is just so hard to grow a decent garden here so hopefully by next summer we will be able to relocate to where it is easier and we don’t have to fight the deer so much – right now we have to fence everything so high just so they don’t gobble all our hard work!

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