I wanted to prove to everyone that I could live "almost" self sufficient right in the middle of downtown Louisville. I would tell others about my plan and all they would do is smile and shake their heads. No one (that I knew) believed it possible. But..... I knew it was possible and I planned to prove it!
The basis of my self sufficient in the city life would start with a garden. Saving money on food is the easiest place to start a plan like this. The money saved on food would be invested in other things to make life more self sufficient. Now days the way I wanted to live is called "living green". Back then it was called "frugal" or "penny pinching" or "crazy".
Over the years my plan sort of fell to the wayside as my quilting career took over my life. The more demand for my quilting service, the less time I had for working on my plan. Now that I'm semi-retired from quilting I asked my brother to help me get started with my plan once again. I want to see at least a part of my plan working before I get too old. He's not going to do much other than talk things out with me or take me to purchase things for the plan. He's the one with a car.
This is a book I bought way back when I bought this house. It was supposed to be the start of my plan for self-sufficient living in the city. The guy who wrote this book had a show on PBS each week. It was all about "easy" gardening in a very small space. I was hooked from the very first show.
Not long ago, out of curiosity, I did an internet search to see if this guy was still around. To my amazement he is.... and has a new book out to boot. Well, you guessed it, I bought the new version. I bought the videos too. Here is the Square Foot Gardening site if you want to take a look.
Let me explain, I get no benefit from promoting this book or his system. I simply believe it's the best thing to happen to gardening..... EVER. If you think gardening is too much work or takes up too much space..... then you need to read the book. I bought the whole set of DVDs too. I really didn't need those but I bought them for memory sake. The only one that's really useful for anyone today is the newest DVD. It's the one explaining the system. The others are copies of the old PBS shows. I bought those so I could remember the old days again. Yes, I know, a foolish way to spend money but it's nice sometimes.
So let me explain a little about Mel's way of gardening. It's done in square feet instead of in long rows. You don't need any gardening tools at all except a small pair of kids scissors, and a large spoon or a small trowel. No you don't need shovels and rakes and tools of that sort. You don't dig the ground. You build up instead of digging down.
You use very little water. Watering is done with a cup rather than dragging out a hose.
Weeds are almost non existent. The weeds that do pop up now and then can be simply pulled with two fingers. There's no hoeing or looking at a nightmare batch of weeds in late July or early August. The dirt is so loose that the weeds can't resist you pulling them.
You don't put a lot of time into this system either. A few minutes a week is all it takes to maintain it. Think about it. How hard can it be to tend to one square foot at a time? 5 minutes? Even planting one square foot shouldn't take any more time than that. If you have 8 square feet.... that's only 40 minutes a week.
You plant only what you need.... not a long, long row of things. As Mel says, why would anyone want 30 or 40 heads of lettuce or 100 radishes ripe all at once? Can you eat that many at one time? Even the person who plans to garden, so they can preserve it, doesn't need everything to ripen all at one time. When several bushels of tomatoes and cucumbers and beans and peppers get ripe all at the same time it makes the canning or freezing a "chore" rather than a pleasure. It's better to have things ripen in manageable batches so you don't feel like a kitchen slave. It's better to have enough tomatoes for one batch (a canner full) to ripen together and the next batch a few days later don't you think?
Mel does sell products on his site but he also tells you what to buy for do-it-yourself too. All you really need to buy is the book. If you are a visual person then buy the one new dvd too. Hmm... I forgot to say that Mel explains the square foot gardening for anyone interested in selling produce as a business too. Can't remember the name of that book though.
Over the next few weeks I'm finally going to have the garden I've always wanted. Even if you don't plan to garden now.... come back now and then to see how mine is doing. It may give you some ideas for the future.