It’s that time of year when we think about the garden a lot more than at other times of year, because there’s that limited window of opportunity to sow seeds.
Have you got plans for yours?
I’ve been watching a few videos of Vandana Shiva on YouTube recently and in one of the videos she said something that stuck in my mind… “To solve a big problem (the mess of the food industry, industrial agriculture and GMOs) we need to do small things. Only the small can multiply and diversify enough to solve the problem.”
And I would add: Only the small can CARE.
That small thing we need is more people re-connecting to the earth and growing food. Did you know that in India there are laws that prevent farms becoming too big? That means that farming is kept small, as it should be, in the hands of people and families, not corporations.
So what to grow?
Make a list of the fruits and vegetables you eat a lot of, and grow those in a natural way that mimics nature… the forest.
Here’s a list of things I eat that will grow in my climate (USDA zone 8), and in my small garden:
Small trees: apple, pear, plum, damson, cherry, almond, hazelnut.
Berries: blueberry, blackberry, blackcurrant, goji, strawberry.
Vegetables: carrot, parsnip, celery, onion, garlic, potato, tomato, sweet corn, broccoli, asparagus, runner bean, broad bean and pea.
For conservatory or greenhouse: fig, lemon, olive, eggplant, sweet pepper, chilli pepper.
Other: grape, rhubarb, mushroom.
Salads: lettuce mix, lamb’s lettuce, arugula.
Herbs: rosemary, sage, coriander, basil, thyme, parsley, basil, chives, dill, oregano.
Land always moves towards forest, even grassland is trying to, but it keeps getting mowed by grazing animals so it never gets very far :-)
The forest shows us how to grow food optimally, by layering the plants… large trees, small trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants, roots, ground cover and climbers.
Here’s a picture of a temperate rainforest with a path, that shows the natural layers in the system…
So, we can layer and path our unused land in the same way to create largely self sustaining systems that produce food for us. If you have very little time for gardening, you could focus only on perennials, so that you get a truly self-maintaining but useful system, that’s also beautiful.
Many of our commonly used foods have perennial equivalents… onions and brassicas spring to mind. And there are many perennial herb replacements too.
Gardens like this are low maintenance need no inputs, and control insects and weeds by natural ecology — I feel the perfect solution to all the problems facing us in health, agriculture, climate change, pollution and so-on. It’s a true holistic solution.
Let me know what you think and what plans you have for your garden!