Grow More Vegetables Etc on Less Land & Feed More Persons Than Previously Imaginable
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.
Here's the latest edition with all the new information, designs and facts in this evolving science of organic sustainable gardening.
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.
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.