Self-sufficiency in a kitchen garden: Part 3

Why this series?

It’s a strange fact that growing ones own food is about the least profitable use of one’s time, whilst being the most rewarding.

Tip # 11: Gardening is the single most important step towards a self-sufficient lifestyle

P1060184Running a kitchen garden has real costs: water, mulch, seed and seedlings, compost, irrigation stuff and tools.

Against this red ink on a gardener’s ledger must be pitted savings at the greengrocery, the hardware store and the plant nursery.

One of the hardest lessons I needed to learn as a kitchen gardener was that I didn’t need industrial inputs and retail therapy to sustain the productivity of the garden.

Learn this, and the savings begin. So

Tip # 12: Skip the products – there are no magic bullets or secrets to be purchased.

P1060147Relentless advertising has convinced modern man that someone else has the secret product to cure all of his ills. Of this maddening array of costly inputs the most insidious are those from the chemical companies that support modern agriculture: herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and soluble fertilisers.

I don’t farm commercially, but I can well imagine that it must be almost impossible to produce modern crops on a vast scale to feed the masses without these products. But

Tip #13: On a backyard scale, you should farm organically – it’s cheaper.

P1060028Sometimes – particularly as you begin to improve your soil – you will need help to reverse imbalances in soil pH or deficiencies in soil trace elements. The soil may be depleted of nutrients or its structure may have been destroyed by years of abuse by previous owners. A soil test from an accredited laboratory can be helpful as you break new ground. However

Tip #14: The best fertilizer is the gardener’s shadow.

P1060031Patrol your patch. Or sit in it and let impressions reach you. There are no gardening mistakes - only experiments. Try stuff out – don’t just pour chemicals onto the problem spots. Healthy soils create healthy plants which feed healthy people. If you are going to add anything to your soil, add a good organic compost; your plants will feed off it for decades. Try not to poison Mother Nature as she gets down to work.

Tip #15: Small amounts of garden produce do make a difference to the weekly shopping bill.

P1060713A fruit tree bearing steadily is something a kitchen gardener can celebrate. It represents one small win in the unending struggle to balance the fiscal books. Keeping the cook out of the grocery store is a mark of a kitchen gardener’s success.

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