Sure, every year is a great year to start a vegetable garden, but this year I kind of realized how Noah must have felt when he decided it might be a good time to build an ark.
I first got the feeling when I saw all the dead and dry fields of California. A little alarm went off that food prices are going to be steep this summer as a result of the drought. Then I read in The New York Times about how even California residents are shopping as usual, not realizing the grave impact of what's happening in their own backyard.
It all reminded me of what happens when the stock market crashes. It's a big news headline, but people just go on living their lives until suddenly, they don't have jobs anymore. It's months or sometimes years later when it becomes real.
- The drought in California will cause food prices to rise this summer. Truth. No getting around it. And it will have at least a two-year impact because many of the crops in California are tree crops (fruits and nuts), which take longer to recover from drought. Start planning and planting your garden now (and plant a few fruit and nut trees while you're at it--some strawberry plants and raspberry bushes, too) and you will save money in the future, for sure.
- Nature needs you! Truth. By planting a diverse group of fruits, flowers, and vegetables in your yard, you're inviting in so many opportunities for nature to heal itself. You're promoting the welfare of animals, birds, bees, and butterflies--as well as soil microbes and fungi that store carbon (which, in exchange, will provide you with natural, organic serotonin, which can help fight depression).
- Even if it ends up as an overgrown patch, that's better than grass. Truth. Let's say you get lazy, and after you plant your garden you decide to go on a long vacation, lay by the pool instead of weed, or just simply forget to check on it. Let's just say that happens.... Well, then you've created the most important thing of all: food and fuel for the creatures we need for humanity to survive. Consider it a truck stop on nature's highway. And you don't even need to mow it!
- Climate Chaos. Truth. Seriously, who knows what to expect anymore? Droughts, floods, hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, plagues, you name it, I'm sure we will be surprised by something this summer. And it'll be a surprise that things like guns can't help us with (unless you're going to hunt for food). What's your best defense? A backyard garden. It's the ultimate in food security. Sure, it's hard work. But it's also exercise--exercise with added benefits: fitness and...
- Food, glorious food. Truth. At the end of the day, there are a thousand reasons to have a garden, but there's one that truly matters: incredible food, fresh from the earth. Grown with love. There's nothing better in the world.
You need one thing and one thing only to grow an incredibly fertile and productive garden: compost! Which also gives you the added bonus of diverting food waste from the trash system and putting it to good use. In fact, I just read that the best nitrogen fertilizer is human urine! So here is a fun activity your whole family will love. Sneak out at night and pee on your compost pile. Why buy something if you can get it for free?
Further resources for starting your own garden can be found at organicgardening.com.
For more from Maria Rodale, visit www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com