Monday, January 8, 2007

Backyard Farm, and Why Organic?

First a little (true) story.

Back in the early nineties when the Soviet Union collapsed, there were far reaching consequences to Cuba who relied (because of blockades and sanctions) on the USSR for alot of stuff including 90 percent of their oil supplies. When that pipeline (ship line) was cut off, Cuba quickly found itself in a great state of hurtin'. Not only was driving everywhere no longer an option, but the entire infrastructure which relied on trucking was screwed. In response, people began growing their food on their rooftops and backyards because it was no longer available in the markets. Without access to cement, buildings in disrepair were torn down to make room for small city gardens. Squatters were no longer trying to find places to stay, but places to grow food on abandoned land. Taxi's upped their carrying numbers to 6 or 7 people per ride, and instead of buses, the government utilized semi trucks to carry upwards of 300 people at a time, standing room only. Power supplies began to fluctuate, and blackouts lasting 16 hours were not uncommon, so the government installed solar panels on important buildings such as schools so that power supply would be more constant.

This kind of thing WILL eventually happen in the United States. Peak oil has passed, and we are now on the slow decline in supply. It probably wont be sudden like in Cuba, but we will eventually run out of oil. Biofuels are a good idea, but in order for them to support us, we must drastically cut our usage. But, I am not here to lay a fear trip on you, I am here to teach.

So, it is up to you. Your mission should you choose to accept it is to not rely on the supply of vital resources by other people, but to produce these resources for yourself, saving yourself money in the process. Today, we will be discussing the most vital resource (behind water): Food.

Because food prices have dropped in recent history, food is something we take for granted. A hundred years ago, a person may have spent 50% of their income on food. Now that number hovers around 12%. This is why there are far fewer people who raise their own food than there used to be.

A small backyard garden will benefit you an innumerable ways. First, you can provide yourself with virtually free ORGANIC food. Everyone knows organic food is better for you, it's a natural fact, but it costs a lot of money. In a speech, I recently theorized that if organic food were cheaper, many more people would buy it. Now I say, why buy it when you can make it. Secondly, that food is healthier, and you will be empowered by knowing that you produced it yourself.

First rule: Don't till your soil. There's this thing called a food web that consists of all kinds of organisms that live in the soil. Till these up, and they wont be able to provide proper support to your food plants until the food web builds back up again. But what about all that grass and weeds in the space where I want my garden to be? you say. Lets kill several problems with one solution. If you have deciduous trees, you have to get rid of leaves. This fall, pile those leaves where you want your garden to be. Next year, rake it all back and make it into a compost pile, and presto, no weeds, no grass, and if you have a sufficient worm population, it will appear as if the soil had been tilled. No leaves you say? Use old nasty hay, shredded paper, manure, I do. Anything organic in nature will do.

Second rule: Go organic, use your worms. Worm castings from food scraps and other wastes is supremely nutritious for plants. Worm castings naturally contain plant growth hormones, and using castings as your fertilizers will yield you results rivaling those of Miracle Grow. Use leaves, mulch, and compost to keep weeds down. These things will also degrade into the soil providing nutrients for your fruits and vegetables.

Later on, I'll discuss some options for growing your own meat, but that is something not to be taken lightly.

But, we don't have to start this big. How about we start with just a pot or two with some tomatoes this year? You'll find they will probably taste much better than the ones you get in the store, and then you'll wonder what else could taste better.

Don't walk the beaten path, it's not good for the grass.

No comments: