John Mosby of the Mountain Guerrilla blog has some thoughts up on getting your garden started – Guerrilla Gardener: Some Thoughts and Observations on Vegetable Food Production (Or, Gardening for Knuckle-Draggers).
One of the truisms of gardening is that “Your first year of gardening will result in abject failure.” There’s so much to learn, about the plants, about starting seeds, about your local soil conditions and what amendments are needed, about weather and climactic conditions, etc.
We had gardens when I was a kid. We successfully raised rocks, tomatoes, rocks, okra, rocks, and peas, as I recall. Of course, as any gardener will tell you, those are some of the simplest crops to raise in a kitchen garden. In fact, they’re so easy to grow, you could almost grow them without even planting them (especially the case with rocks…).
After leaving home for the Army, I had never had a garden. Hell, I’d never had a potted plant.
My wife had never, as far as I know, had a garden in her life.
So, when we decided to start raising most of our own food, to increase our sustainability, my first instinct was to raise small livestock: chickens, rabbits, etc. Of course, I’m a meat-eater, both literally and figuratively, so that makes sense. My wife on the other hand, likes her veggies, and we want the kids to eat well-balanced meals, so a garden, it was decided, was a necessity (And, to be clear, by “it was decided,” I mean, HH6 said, “We’re going to plant a garden this year!” and I responded with, “Roger that, boss!”)
So, as is my norm, when confronted with a new, unfamiliar—foreign—mission, I started doing my “Area Study” research. I dug out a couple dozen books on subsistence gardening, organic gardening, no-till gardening, and etc.
Let me set your mind at ease: there’s a metric …ton of material available out there on gardening, and it’s fair to say that any given reference book on the subject will contradict what every other available reference book will say.
In the end, between our research, and my wife and I bickering about differing visions for the farm’s production, here’s what we ended up trying…