I’ve been a little lazy doing 5 Minute Prep posts, so you’re going to get a twofer today. Here are two videos on a subject near and dear to the heart of everyone I know–eating. We all have to do it, and if you’re like my family, you’d like to see your food bill come down and the quality of what you eat go up.
That’s possible, but you’ll trade time and effort for the convenience of going to a grocery store, because you’ll need to start gardening.
I remember my grandma’s garden. She lived on the banks of a river in West Virginia, and the soil was black because it had so much organic material in it. I was little, but I remember picking potato bugs off the potatoes and feeding them to the chickens. She raised a lot of her own food, canning it to preserve it for the winter.
She could grow anything, and she did, in big long rows that seemed to go on forever to a kid my age. She had plenty of land to do it with, and the bigger her garden, the less grass she had to mow, so for her, it was a win-win situation. She had out-lived three husbands and I guess she wasn’t going to try her luck on #4, so she took care of everything herself.
Today, we’ve discovered, or perhaps rediscovered would be more accurate, intensive agriculture. It goes by a lot of names, such as “square foot gardening”, but at the end of the day every method is simply a play on the same basic concept. Revolving around raised beds, the basic idea is to control the soil, providing the plants a much better growing environment than you would have otherwise. The raised beds allow for better drainage, so over-watering isn’t so much an issue. Coupled with season extenders such as portable hoop houses and planting strategies such as succession planting, an experienced gardener can grow an amazing amount of food in an amazing small space.
The first video serves as a quick introduction to raised beds, while the second video takes you a little further into the subject. There are a ton of books on the subject, with the first one you should read probably being Mel Bartholomew’s “All New Square Foot Gardening II: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space”. Mel popularized the subject, but as you’ll see if you watch either video, the world has taken off with it. There are hours of YouTube videos, several Facebook groups, email reflectors and so on devoted to the subject.
Even if you are stuck with a tiny yard, you can still raise a lot of your own food. If you live on an acre, you can probably be nearly self-sufficient in terms of veggies if you want to. I would hazard a guess that with perhaps as few as 3 and almost surely on 5 acres, you could raise all the food, including meat, that you would need. Beef would be a bit difficult, but I think with 5 acres it could be done. (Think Dexter cattle.)
Without further ado, here are the videos.