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Grow More Vegetables Etc on Less Land & Feed More Persons Than Previously Imaginable

Updated on December 24, 2013

Imagine buying garden seeds by the spoonful!

Thanks to an online article by the San Francisco Chronicle's Amy Stewart I learned that we can do just that at a seed store in Palo Alto, CA.

At Common Ground Garden Supply, one can get this book and learn Jeavons's Grow Biointensive method (a trademarked name) in classes and buy organic gardening supplies..

That reminds me of the type of homey seed and farm stores in the town near our acreage where we raised children and animals and gardened. But still we were restricted to buying seeds by the packet for our family sized garden, as we were then under the impression that natural foods were enhanced by new chemical treatments..

But a few years after NASA landed a man

on the moon and our children were still tots John Jeavons was making strides in the realm of sustainable agriculture. His vision for feeding more persons per plot of land than the common person thought possible was proving viable.

He wanted us to think in terms of mass planting - getting much more out of our plots of land than we got with traditional row planting.

We gardened in former pastureland

which grew bountiful crops the first couple years that we brought irrigation water to the land. Formerly it had sat undeveloped. Before long the gardens needed feeding and since by then we had chickens, rabbits, hogs and horses we just used natural manure, and for the house gardens I applied stinky liquid fish fertilizer.

Our field gardens grew as many weeds as food plants and it was a losing battle to keep up with them, although we refused to apply chemicals to the soil, tempting as it was when we heard our urban family stories of pure green lawns and luscious crops, and witnessed our former farmer neighbors' weed free cornfields.

But Jeavons had developed his mass

planting strategy, based on the circular reach of a typical plant's roots, and grouping seeds such that the mature plants' roots would just meet their neighbors' root tips. This method deprived weeds of the water and light necessary to flourish, and led to that drastic square footage reduction in land sufficient to grow food to sustain one person.

Although I devoured the seed catalogs each Winter and read Prevention Magazine I hadn't yet mastered the art of organic gardening so I remained oblivious to such innovations as might have reduced the size and hugely increased the output of our gardens.

Now that I'm planning to return to the land with a small Biosphere greenhouse, and I want to incorporate a small ground garden as well for such crops as don't fit my diet, like potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant that belong to the nightshade family. I want to grow some organic corn and my greenhouse dome will likely be just too small for that.

How to Grow More Vegetables: And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine is the second printing and I chose that volume because it's in paperback.

I love my Kindle but I want to be able to write in the book to keep track of successes and add sticky notes too. For anyone who wants the most up-to-date information, the Feb 7, 2012 edition is available below in both Kindle and Paperback.

In 1972 it took it took up to 30,000' sq to feed one person per year.

3 years later Jeavons declared: "I've figured out how to get it down to 4,000".

Seeing the man in person reminds me of my professors back in the day when a cap and a tweed jacket meant intellectual sustenance. Listen to Jeavons ideas for self sustainability growing organically.

How to Grow More Vegetables, Eighth Edition: (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You ... (And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains,)
How to Grow More Vegetables, Eighth Edition: (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You ... (And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains,)

Here's the latest edition with all the new information, designs and facts in this evolving science of organic sustainable gardening.

The Sustainable Vegetable Garden: A Backyard Guide to Healthy Soil and Higher Yields
The Sustainable Vegetable Garden: A Backyard Guide to Healthy Soil and Higher Yields

If you're not convinced yet of the viability of biointensive gardening for yourself this is an introduction to the topic, complete with illustrated directions and even a valuable resource guide. Fit for a Kindle.

Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition
Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition

If I were to remain in the urban landscape I'd move in a minute to a home with at the very least, a balcony on which I could garden.

City dwellers with any outdoor space can contribute meaningfully to their diets even on a small scale.



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    • lesliesinclair profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @sousababy: Thanks Rose. Thinking about the gardens we used to grow, it was sometimes overwhelming to deal with weeds, since we had little understanding of complementary crop interplanting, and with my acquaponics greenhouse I think I can limit my outdoor growing to crops that won't grow in there. Thanks for the pin (learning the app is in my future).

    • lesliesinclair profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @Tarra99: Such fun to provide some of our own foods. I'll see what I can implement of these strategies in my new place.

    • sousababy profile image


      5 years ago

      This type of gardening will become increasing more important (crucial) within the next few decades for many people on the planet. I think it's wise - for anyone who owns land - to use John Jeavons' methods (esp. to reduce weeds) and make the most of any available land. And yeah, I tend to listen to anyone in tweed who also wears a cap - ha. Pinning this important information.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      We've been expanding our garden for the past couple years...I've learned a where to plant strawberries due to their need to spread like wild fire and potato container gardening to save space.


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