It’s springtime in the Rockies and I’ve got food security on my mind. With the availability of quality food becoming more out of reach due to price, supply chain issues, and planned demolition, what can each of us do?
We can get back to basics. If you have the space, a garden is the simplest way to feed your family. Even if you live in an apartment in the city, you can grow on your balcony or windowsill. Microgreens need no more than a tray and a window, and produce an abundance of nutrition.
Personally, I have space for a garden (albeit a short growing season) but I haven’t had a garden in years. That’s about to change. After much research and planning, I’ve devised a system that should yield a better harvest than the toils of the past. Yes, I’ve made some mistakes.
Back in the 1900’s, I dug up my lawn by hand with a shovel. THAT was a ridiculous amount of work, but I didn’t know any better. A decade later I had a productive garden that was heartbreakingly destroyed overnight by deer. Those are lessons I won’t be repeating; I’ve found a better way.
This time, I have a fenced yard in town, so deer aren’t an issue. (If ever faced with that again, I’ll be sure to erect a deer fence.) And best of all, instead of digging or tilling, I’m psyched to implement the ‘no dig method’ which promises great production that can be planted right on top of the lawn.
I’m following Charles Dowding’s time tested process. In the chosen spot, you lay down cardboard, then a few inches of aged/cooled compost. I’m having mine delivered locally from Dirt Rich Compost. Then, plants or seeds are sown directly into the compost. As the cardboard breaks down, plant roots reach through to the soil below. Mulch such as straw or wood grindings can be added to the top, but Charles doesn’t even do that much! He simply adds an inch or so of compost to replenish at the end of the season. This creates a healthier soil that’s beneficial to growing and also less weeding and work.
So the soil prep will be a breeze. But I also want a high yield, staggered over the entire season. Enter the iconic book, Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. The author gives everything you need to know about planning and plotting your space for the most efficient harvest, based on how many people you’re feeding and whether you want just enough, or extra for canning and freezing. You can grow enough for one person in as little as a 4×4 foot space.
In combining these two methods, I look forward to converting what was once an overgrown, useless flower bed into a fully functioning Victory Garden. Eventually I may even expand to other patches of lawn, because I hate mowing, and why not? Food isn’t getting any cheaper or easier to come by.
If you don’t have space for an outdoor garden, think outside the box. Do you have a friend who would share theirs with you in exchange for labor? Is there a community garden in your area? Do you have space for a vertical container like this one on your patio? Do you have a sunny window for salad and microgreens? There are indoor grow systems as well that many people are having success with. Where there’s a will there’s always a way.
Meanwhile, I’ll be starting my own compost so I don’t have to buy it. Last fall I started a worm composting bin in my basement and look forward to harvesting the castings. It was touch and go there for a while, but I can confidently call myself a worm farmer now. I may even have to add some ducks to round out the backyard experience…wouldn’t they be cute in a cast iron bathtub? Stay tuned 😉