Self-sufficiency in a kitchen garden: Part 2

Why this series?

It’s a complex world.

P1040587Once of the great pleasures of a garden (and there are some unpleasant things) is that it allows you to disconnect from our ‘always-on’ world of mobile phones, computers, Internet, television, traffic and relentless advertising.

You need to keep this small private world simple, so

Tip #6: Buy simple but high quality gardening tools.

P1030377Good tools last a lifetime. A sturdy wheelbarrow is essential. You need not spend-up big on machinery, though a big powerful shredder is my exception to this rule – it’s an essential tool for recycling carbon in your backyard ecosystem.

Chainsaws are also useful for recycling dead branches, especially if you have a wood-fire in winter. P1030344Electric chainsaws are sturdy and always start. Small petrol engines – if used infrequently - are expensive to maintain. Petrol-driven chainsaws, lawn mowers and whipper-snippers cause more frustration and wasted time than just about anything else. So

Tip #7: When the kids have grown up, you don’t need a lawn. Plant it to vegetables. Use the front yard for fruit trees.

No lawn = no lawn mower, and more space in the garden shed. Sure, the grandkids are likely to want to run around outside (do they do that anymore?) but there are plenty of open-spaces and playgrounds in modern suburbia, maintained and watered by others. So,

Tip #8: Eat your landscape.

P1020296Many vegetables and fruit trees are highly decorative. Better a real pear tree with an annual crop than a non-fruiting ornamental one. Espalier fruit trees along the fence line to save space, as you will need to use every bit of room you can find. To this end,

Tip #9: Pull out old plants quickly.

This is particularly true if plants are unhealthy – playing doctor to plants that are in the wrong place or growing in the wrong season wastes your time, which is your most precious resource. They also take up space where something that feeds you could be growing. P1020333Other plants will simply be unsuitable for your climate; we buy more bananas than I can successfully grow, though I am trying to do better at this.

If it’s flowers and birds you want, let your vegetables run to term. They all flower, and while they may lack the spectacular blooms of floral plants, they can also delight the eye and tickle the nose.

So seed-saving is the one useful exception to Tip #9; leaving plants in the ground to run to seed is a time-honoured method of cutting costs in a garden and propagating along rare and adapted local seeds, so

Tip #10: Learn to save your own seed.



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