Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Realistic gardening (and some links on storing and preserving what you grow)

Energy Bulletin has a short article by Zachary Nowak touching upon what he calls the ''illusion'' that those concerned about Peak Oil have about being able to adequately feed themselves with their own gardens. He presents some hard and realistic questions that prospective gardeners should ask themselves and he makes a handful of suggestions. The gist of it is that there's a difference between being a backyard hobby gardener and on literally needing to be able to fill your cupboards with what you grow. It takes a lot of time and energy and a lot of knowledge to grow food. At least to grow enough to feed yourself adequately. Nowak has recently written a book called Crash Course: Preparing for Peak Oil which looks at his 7-year-long attempt to become self-sufficient and addresses the challenges of post-Peak life. You can download the intro and first chapter for free, as well as order the entire book itself on his website.

Oh yeah... I added a new links section called ''Food Storage'' earlier today, and I posted a link to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)'s information on storing horticultural crops. Further along in their document, they have a section on processing horticultural crops, including info on solar drying, canning, etc. Most of the information is designed to be used by a non-technically oriented audience. If you nose around their site, you'll find tons of useful information there, including Ecocrop, a searchable database of over 2300 plant species that provides environmental crop information.


J said...

Good links! Thank you for providing them. I know how I am going to preserve most of my 'harvest', but definitely need some tips and hints.

I too read a pretty scary article about the food system the other day on Common Dreams. It basically asserted that small scale urban gardening is insufficient to provide all of our food needs. The reason has nothing to do with fruits and veggies - those we could easily supply, the problem is that the bulk of our caloric intake comes from grains, beans/legumes, and oilseeds. None of which are often grown in home gardens due to the amount of space one needs to grow a sufficient amount.

There are many things to think about! But I think part of the problem is the idea that we have to do it all on our own. We don't, can't and never have. It is nearly impossible for one person to be completely self sufficient. So perhaps if we invest in local farming that provides those things we can't grow ourselves, and increase our efforts of relocaliztion, things will not be so bad. I don't know anymore....

M said...

I added a bunch more links off to the left, as well. There's a really good one on companion planting that was forwarded to me this morning.

About not being able to do it all, you're right that this is where relocalization and investing in / networking with local growers / farmers is essential. This issue was a concern for the people starting the community land trust I checked out a few weeks ago, actually. They'd been getting their organic grains and flour from an organic farm / mill a little over an hour away from them and felt that in setting up a small community, they needed something closer to home. They opted to order a whole lot of wheat and to invest in a tractor (but may now have someone with horses getting involved in their project). They have the land and now have the tools and seed; unfortunately, they don't have the labour and can only do so much themselves.

Legumes actually aren't all that hard to grow and are great for the soil. With the right set up (stakes, planting every few weeks, etc.) you can actually get a lot of beans out of a fairly reasonable amount of space. Oilseeds, on the other hand...? I wouldn't know where to begin with that any more than I would with grains.