2011 – A Good Year to Have a Garden

Seems there’s a lot of problems in the world these days.  Inflation.  Poor crop yields due to bad weather.  High gas prices, which lead to higher food prices.  A war in Libya shaping up.  Economic unrest.  Disaster in Japan.

We live in uncertain times and if ever there was a good year to grow a garden, 2011 would be that year.  Ranger Man sums up being prepared nicely here.

I don’t know about you, but every time I visit the grocery store the price seems to have gone up from the week before.  I was shopping with my wife this weekend and I put three pounds of grapes in the cart without looking at the price.  On the way home she was going over the list and said, “Did you know those grapes cost almost $12?”  I almost swerved off the road.  Whaaaaaat?  C’mon!  Are you kidding me?  And this was a major shopping chain and not just a little convenience store.

Here in the northeast it’s expensive enough getting fresh fruit in the winter, but from what I’ve seen of various crop yields being way down this year it should get really interesting by next winter.  I hope that we get a good crop this year, but since leaving that kind of thing to chance isn’t such a great idea I’m putting in a garden.

If you’ve been reading here for awhile you’ll know I’ve been talking about growing a Square Foot Garden.  Well,the beautiful thing about this kind of garden is that you can have it just about anywhere you’ve got some free space.  The more I read the more I understand that as long as you have proper sunlight, good soil, and a small piece of land you can have a garden.  And if the price of a tomato goes up to $5 it’ll be well worth your time to have one.

I’ve been reading Mel Bartholomew’s book and I’ve decided to do his SFG by the numbers.  He calls for a 1/3 mixture of peat moss, blended compost and vermiculite, so today I went by Lowes and hit the garden center.  The trick to this type of gardening is that you don’t use any of the dirt in the back yard – just his special mixture.  So I found some 2 x 6’s in the shed and I’ll knock those together for the 4’ x 4’ garden when all the snow is finally gone for good. 

Here’s the price of the special mix so far:

Peat moss – $8.49

Organic Cow Manure – $2.71

Vermiculite – $3.88

 

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I’m putting in two gardens this year so I figure I’ll need one bag of peat moss, four bags of compost, and six bags of vermiculite per garden, which comes to around $45 per garden.  There are some other things that I need to purchase and I’ll keep you up to date on that as I go forward.

Back during the world wars they started a program called Victory Gardens, which you’ve probably heard of.  It was estimated that in 1944 twenty million victory gardens were planted yielding nine to ten million tons of vegetables!  I hope my victory garden pays off this year!

Here are some benefits (in no particular order) of having your garden whether it be a Square Foot Garden or your everyday row garden:

Exercise – we Americans need more of this.

Save money – obvious, but well worth mentioning.  The savings from your garden this year could be in the hundreds of dollars or even more if you work at it.

A hobby that takes you away from the TV set.  Nuff said.

Fuel – not only won’t you have to burn fuel to go get the veggies you’ll save on fuel costs incurred by having it shipped to your grocery store.  A double whammy.

Fresh, organic vegetables – there’s nothing like a nice fresh salad with your steak and lemonade on the deck on a hot summer day.  Imagine pulling those fresh veggies out of your garden ten minutes before you eat them.  Yum!

It’s smart – if something happened to the economy or the supply chain this summer your garden might very well bail you out of a bad situation.

It’s a good project for the kids – anything that breaks a kid away from their xbox/computer/cell phone is a good thing in my book.

Knowledge – knowing how to garden is a great survival skill.

In addition to a garden I’m wondering how many of you have a compost pile?  Ranger Man has a post on putting one in using pallets, but I’m wondering what your approach is.

Let me know in the comments section below.  If I get enough info about composting I’ll do a com-post.  Get it?

-Jarhead Survivor

BTW: 

Here’s Mel and the Garden Girl answering some FAQ’s on Youtube. 

Mel and Garden Girl answer FAQs.