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Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series) Paperback – April 1, 2006
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The decline of cheap oil is inspiring increasing numbers of North Americans to achieve some measure of backyard food self-sufficiency. In hard times, the family can be greatly helped by growing a highly productive food garden, requiring little cash outlay or watering.
Currently popular intensive vegetable gardening methods are largely inappropriate to this new circumstance. Crowded raised beds require high inputs of water, fertility and organic matter, and demand large amounts of human time and effort. But, except for labor, these inputs depend on the price of oil. Prior to the 1970s, North American home food growing used more land with less labor, with wider plant spacing, with less or no irrigation, and all done with sharp hand tools. But these sustainable systems have been largely forgotten. Gardening When It Counts helps readers rediscover traditional low-input gardening methods to produce healthy food.
Designed for readers with no experience and applicable to most areas in the English-speaking world except the tropics and hot deserts, this book shows that any family with access to 3-5,000 sq. ft. of garden land can halve their food costs using a growing system requiring just the odd bucketful of household waste water, perhaps two hundred dollars worth of hand tools, and about the same amount spent on supplies-working an average of two hours a day during the growing season.
Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series(2005-11-16)
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I had to really chuckle when I read his rudimentary back to basics tool list consisting of a shovel, a bow rake, a hoe and a file to keep them sharp and useful. A simple wheelbarrow, buckets, knife and stone fill out his recomendations. He's so very right when he suggests that it doesn't take an armada of gadgets and do-hickies and specialty tools to make a very sucessful garden. And his comments on using some commonly sold garden gadgets make for humorous images for those who have suffered too short handles, stooped backs and the associated aches and pains. Many folks pondering the latest garden knick-knack catalog could do well to remember Solomon's basic tools will get the job done advice. Admittedly, he does sound like what MY grandfather would've said in the tool chapter. ("Put down that dreambook, pick up that hoe, and get to doing something useful." ... <still chuckling>)
What I particularly thought useful was the idea of returning to planting based on choosing plant spacing not for intensity of harvest if thoroughly irrigated, but rather choosing less dense spacing based on potential for drought. In the drought chapter, Solomon makes the case that earlier gardeners more concerned with crop survival than sheer bulk of harvest knew to choose spacing that allows for stronger, more durable plants that better survive droughts. There's a lot more to it than that. I'm oversimplifying his points to make a point, and that is that there is something useful in this book for everyone; from those who've never dug their hands in dirt to those who think that they have a "better way".
I'm currently recommending this book as a good solid intro to veggie gardening that will produce the produce for those interested in delving beyond the picture books. Frankly, I've got lots of gardening and permaculture books and yet this was the first that I've seen fit to review, as I think it bears some recommendation to a wider audience.
The only thing that came up for me was Dolomite. This sounded like a good idea. I do not use any fertilizers because I have a goat herd that supplies all my compost.
I do not recommend this book to anyone who is trying to make it without buying seed every year.
Also has a lot of good information about how to save seeds from his experience running a seed company.
Highly recommended if you need to grow food for your survival, not just as a hobby.