Friday, February 6, 2009

Gardening - Feast then Famine?

Everything I've ever read about gardening, every garden I drive by here in TN, operates on a feast or famine philosophy. When things are great and warm, there's loads of fresh food, when things get cold, the garden dies back and then you're scrounging on canned produce or *gasp* going to the grocery store to buy tired produce. The gardening season is the feast and the rest of the year is famine. With one of our goals being this tiny tiny homestead of ours providing us with as much as it can as steadily as it can, I refuse to accept this feast or famine gardening idea this year. But being a somewhat new gardener I had no idea how to really achieve this goal.

BUT I just finished reading a fantastic book. It was given to me for Valentine's Day by my always thoughtful Gramma. Love you Gramma. It's definitely on my top 5 must-read gardening books. Click the picture to go straight to Amazon and buy it!


I got it and read it obsessively in a day. Now, first let me say his ramblings about going all over Paris grew a bit old, BUT this book really changed my outlook on gardening. It's FABULOUS! Greenhouses always seemed so complicated. Winter gardening so complicated. I kept reading about heating the greenhouse, running heated water pipes underneath, and on and on. It sounded SO expensive. Then I read this book.

He and his wife live in Maine and don't heat their greenhouse. Yeah no heat in Maine. He doesn't try and operate outside of nature, heating greenhouses and trying to grow tomatoes when they don't want to grow. He operates in harmony with nature, growing plants that WANT to grow in the Winter. From his point of view, greenhouses, cold frames, row covers are for regulating the wild change in temperature that can happen in the winter and for keeping the temperature just high enough to not kill our winter hardy plants. The phrase that stuck with goes something like this "the goal is not to extend the growing season but the harvest season". You're not trying to grow things that don't want to grow, you extend the harvest on things that can handle it.

And he focuses a lot on what I was talking about before. Feast or famine. This year I'm going to focus more on successive plantings. Why does everything I read say I need to plant zucchinis on x date when I can plant new ones every few weeks for a month so when the first ones start slowing down my next ones are in full force. Then just yank those tired zucs and plant something for the winter there. The goal is to have there always being top quality produce coming out at any moment.

He talks about root cellaring, he has exact plans for green houses and cold frames, it even has a whole section in the back with a lot of information on every plant you could want! And loads of info, even whole chapters on soil and organic gardening.

Wait, you back from buying the book already to read the rest of my post? Man I need one of those Amazon affiliates things over there. I just lost money while you bought this book.

I can't wait for Spring!!!

1 comment:

el said...

Kim, I think you will love greenhouse living! I agree about the whole feast-or-famine thing, and what's great about having one of these (or two in my crazy case) is you're able to space out your harvests well enough that it's not crazy-eat-it-all-or-it-will-rot all the time! Yay. I hope you guys can at least try a simple hoop house this year, there are so many versions out there, like Ali's in Maine built out of conduit.
http://henbogle.wordpress.com/homemade-pvc-hoophouse-construction/