Growing food in a drought

Its hot out there
The crops got a little drink in the US today but the drought is still severe. It looks like the combination of extreme heat and little rain will send food prices rocketing. A punishing heat wave in the Midwest on top of the worst drought since 1956 is predicted to result in skyrocketing soybeans, corn and meat. And some communities will impose water controls before the end of the summer.

So, what should we do? We already wrote about Aquaponics which requires very little water as it is recirculated. Read this book: How to Grow More Vegetables (and fruits, nuts, berries, grains, and other crops) than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine by John Jeavons

Its a detailed instruction manual for a family of vegans to grow crops to supply most, if not all, their food requirements.

One positive outcome of the increasing cost of food is the renewed interest in home gardens. Not only is growing your own far more economical, but most of us have become so accustomed to eating processed food grown thousands of miles away that we have forgotten what real food tastes like.

How to Grow More Vegetables is for beginners and covers basic topics such as soil preparation (by double digging), composting techniques, maximizing soil nutrients (by adding compost and growing crops that increase carbon and nitrogen content), water management, seed propagation, non-chemical pest control and companion planting (growing plants together that enhance each others’ growth or discourage pests). Nearly half the book consists of tables with basic information about the spacing, care and calorie and protein content of specific crops.

They emphasize maximum carbon and calorie production in the space available. The principle behind the book is that 60% of a biointensive garden is devoted to carbon-and-calorie crops – in other words crops that produce large amounts of carbon (via leaf and stalk residue) in addition to substantial calories. The former is essential to maintaining the health of the soil and the latter that of the gardener (most people require 1,500-2,000 calories daily to maintain body weight). Examples include corn and wheat, planted along with legumes (peas, lentils or dried beans) to replace soil nitrogen. An additional 30% of garden space should be devoted to high calorie root crops, such as potatoes. No more than 10% should be devoted to low calorie vegetables and fruits that provide missing vitamins and minerals.

Them anual starts with a 100 square foot (ten feet by ten feet) one person mini-garden. Then doubles the size and expandd the number of crops. By year four, it has planting 380 square feet (nineteen feet by nineteen feet).

One Response

  1. Here’s an amazing and instructive documentary about Paul Gautschi and the garden he never waters that produces the most amazing food:
    The film is available as a DVD but it also streams completely free on the front page, to get his simple message out there as much as possible. Even the end titles include bullet points for how to just get on and do it. I don’t have a garden right now but a couple of friends have been so inspired by this that we’re arranging some land to use, hopefully…

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