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Practical Gardening Series; Getting Serious About the Program, Chapter 4

Jan 24, 2024

 Now that we have gotten to the point of being serious about the program of doing some kind of gardening, we now need to get a better view of just how to go about that very thing. So first I want to bring up the idea of looking beyond what we are talking about with us sitting around the table, talking turkey. Here I want to introduce you to a good place to start. 

 Perhaps one of the best books to study is this book, The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible, By Edward C. Smith. You can look it up, I bought my copy at Tractor Supply. The listed price is $19.95. But I am sure you can find it without a whole lot of effort elsewhere if you want the book. It would be the best 20 bucks you could ever spend as it deals with getting started. He outlines the many different plants that you can grow in containers and what types of containers work best for that particular plant. On page 16 of the book, he makes mention that the 5-gallon bucket is the likely one of the best ways to get started. I quote; “This is probably the least expensive container garden you’ll ever have: a garden of 5-gallon plastic buckets. These are often available free (we get ours from our local food co-op) and can be turned into self-watering containers relatively easily (see page 34 for directions). 
 As a twist to his idea is the way I do it. I have explained how I do it and my method end up costing a little less, but the principle is the same. If you feel adventurous, then go with what I suggest, but if you want to play it safe, go with his idea. Then on pages 18 and 19, he talks about the 3-container garden. He shows how he does it and what he plants in each container. Then he shows how his wife does it, using 3 containers, and what she plants in them. So even married couples can see things differently and carry out what works best for their individual needs, yet not fight over it and make it a political statement. What is important with this book is that he shows pictures and demonstrates just how to make the sometimes-difficult process into an easy to do deal that can actually make the deal fun. Extra add on to the core idea.
  Another aspect to consider is this; What can I do that adds to what I'm already doing? Where I am going here is the idea of what you can do with your waste from your gardening project. One of the better ideas is to consider having a few chickens. Since most of you are likely going to be found in an urban or even suburban area, most of these types of areas are now allowing a person to have a few chickens. Well, I should say a few female chickens, aka, hens. They usually will not allow the incessant rooster’s (males) making sure everyone knows they are there and reminding everyone of their presence. As a general rule a hen will require about 4 ounces of feed to produce 1 egg. So, as you go about your gardening duties throughout the season, you will end up with some plants that you thinned out that would maybe go to waste. The chickens will make sure that doesn’t happen, as you can include those “thinning's” in their daily diet. Plus, the chickens will eat the weeds, bugs and other unwanted critters that might decide to move in on the thing you have going on. At the end of the day, you will likely get a few eggs.
  Another one is to have a few rabbits. They are usually fun to have around. Some people use them as part of their own diet. Generally, they are pretty efficient at transforming material that you can’t really consume into a consumable product. There are various types of enclosures to keep both chickens and rabbits in and confined. I know someone will inquire about why a person should keep these animals to consume unwanted plant material and such. The question will be centered around using that material in a compost heap. Well, these animals are excellent compost makers. The rabbit manure is a very sought after fertilizer source. Rabbits require a large number of varied amounts of nutrients and as such pass a lot of those through their system. This then becomes readily available when the rabbit pellets are used in applications in the soil. Chickens produce a very rich source of nitrogen in their waste product. So, in reality, it is just a matter of choosing which route you want to go as to the secondary use of the waste product, which really isn’t waste. If, in the event that you don’t want to destroy the animals in the end, you can always trade them for something that you might need. However, you need to not worry about the animals as being your main thrust, as your main thrust might very well be the products from the plants you are growing, and the animals are just an addon for support to that end. Now with talking about these 2 different secondaries add ons to your gardening system, you can see that there are ideas for you to use to enhance your efforts.
  These ideas should help you to give some thought to other ideas that may be available in your specific local situation. Summary; As I bring this chapter to a close, I want to throw out the idea that there are many books, catalogs and seminars that you can participate in to help you to do the type of gardening that works best for you.
  I have mentioned a number of them in these essays, but one that is likely the best one that you can buy is this one; Grow More Food, by Colin McCrate and Brad Halm. They go through and talk about every aspect of growing your own food and how to do it. They cover just about every method out there and do it in enough detail that it is simple to understand and do. I am sure that it would not take a whole lot of searching to find it as it is published by Storey, a publisher of many of these gardening types of books. See to find it or for me, I just bought it at Tractor Supply. It is a 25-dollar book.
  I hope that I have sparked some interest that will propel you to chase after this whole gardening thing, well actually food production for yourself. The insights gained from doing this will help you as much psychologically as it will physically. For me to try to describe it further is akin to me asking you to describe and identify just exactly what salt tastes like. 
 Since there are books without numbers out there and literature beyond measure on this subject, I don’t want to try to do something that others have done that is much better than what I could ever do. Besides, my motivation with this whole series is to get you to think about the possibilities of what you can do and the joys you can experience by growing your own food. So, with this being said, I thank you for your interest in the subject and if I can ever be of any help to you in this arena, let's talk and maybe we both can experience the joys that you will find in this task.

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