Jordan and I recently put in a garden and I wanted to share some great information that not only helped us get started, but is challenging me on new possibilities with our relationship to food and the environment.
The first is a book called Lasagna Gardening which allowed us to start beds without machinery. The book gives instructions on no till gardening methods that are easy and cheap. Here is an article on it.
Read more at Amazon.com: Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding!
Square foot gardening is a great method to maximize your space and make gardening enjoyable as well as easy. We used this in a previous garden many years ago, in the new update of the book, the author has switched to a no till method. He also has great information on when to plant and getting your growing season organized (if not overly so, he is an engineer). Here is the Square Foot Gardening website. All New Square Foot Gardening
2000 tomatoes from a single plant! This video is a hoot. Presented by master gardener, LA Rotheraine, it is an inspirational look at what can be done with intensive gardening.
We have been vermicomposting (worm composting for years) but recently started a regular bin also. Here is a great introductory article on starting to compost.
Finally, the ideas behind Permaculture have continued to challenge me in our relationship to the environment. One of my earliest blogs was on permaculture entitled A little bit of hope – Greening the Desert. One of the main ideas of permaculture is that of permanent agriculture, focusing on the use of perennials for food rather than annuals. Many of these plants are easier to cultivate, and are more nutritious than annuals. Permaculture uses the idea of a forest garden. A garden that includes trees, shrubs, flowers, vines, vegetation, and ground cover. Each species is introduced to either produce food or play a part in the health of the plants that do produce food.
While we haven’t gone all out with permaculture, we have added the perennials sorrel, strawberries, rhubarb, and sunchokes.
great resources for Permaculture, and perennials:
Permaculture Activist: resource for North America.
Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden And Your Neighborhood into a Community
Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener’s Guide to Over 100 Delicious and Easy to Grow Edibles
Edible Forest Gardens (2 volume set) This is a massive book, try to get it from your libary.
Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden
Interestingly, Indians in both North and South America were masters in permanent agriculture. I learned about the scope of their mastery of the world around them in 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. This was one of the most profound books that I read in 2007. Highly recommended.