2012 Gardens

I don't remember exactly what lead me to this idea, but the conversation was centered around the impending and inevitable breackdown in society. The thought occurred to me, "What will happen when the trucks stop coming?"
Those trucks, of course, are the big rigs that constantly replenish our local store shelves with the sustanence we require. "Oh crap," I thought to myself, "we're totally screwed!" Thus was sparked my interest in sustainable agriculture. This was only a few months ago, sometime around early February, and, at that time, I knew little to nothing about gardening or agriculture on a large scale. I started out reading anything I could find on the Web about gardening. After eventually stumbling upon some literature on permaculture, I decided to focus on gardening techniques that would take only the inputs that I had readily available. After all, the trucks aren't running, right?
So all of this is getting ahead of my first foray into the world of gardening. I started out just ripping up some grass, putting some seeds under the dirt, adding some water and waiting. This, I decided later, wasn't probably the best way to start a garden, but it was an exeriment after all. I had terrible problems with powdery mildew and most of my plants failed to produce much, with the exception of tomatoes, which produced abundantly.
I eventually stumbled upon these Usenet groups. I learned more than I could have ever imagined about composting and was able to turn my dried out ant hill of a compost pile into an organic matter decaying machine. I also learned of the terrible plight of our honey bee friends and much about the numerous native bees and how to make a more favorable habitat for them.
Perhaps the most important thing that I learned from these groups is that all my plants needs can be provided for by the flora and fauna living in the soil, so long as I treat them properly and try to make my garden into a place where these tiny creatures can thrive.
Out of time now, so I will finish this later.
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There isn't much to my story so far. In my first spring and summer of gardening I managed to produce maybe four zukes, some snap peas, an abudance of tomatoes, two stunted little cukes, some tiny misshaped greenbeans, basil and spearmint like crazy, and more okra than I knew what to do with. Most of my failures, I think, were due to uneven watering. In the beginning, I was using a regular lawn sprinkler. Many people in these forums suggested using soaker hoses for a number of reasons. I tried some of the cheap ones from Wally World, and have used them with some success. Unfortunately, I won't be able to replace these hoses if I find myself suddenly living in a third world country, nor can I expect the municipal water system to continue functioning. So one of my biggest projects in the near future will be to build a rain water collection and drip irrigation system using materials that can be obtained locally. I don't expect this to be easy.
I recently spread my first batch of finished compost over one of my veggie beds and planted some green beans and bell peppers. The beans were poking out of the soil by the third day and the pepper transplants established themselves rather quickly.
I had some other plants growing in a variety of conditions. In one bed of okra, for which I had no mulch, I had allowed an understory of some of the less competitive weeds to grow up. These okra plants, despite being blown over by a storm earlier in the season, were producing in abundance.
In another bed, with only a thin layer of grass clippings as mulch, I had more peppers and green beans with some parley and basil mixed in. These plants were surviving, but the small amount of mulch allowed the soil to dry out almost as fast as the bed with no mulch, where everything struggled except for a few okra and two eggplants which were just beginning to bud out.
This is where everything came to a crashing halt as a big, ugly storm lashed my garden with 100+ mph winds and eventually dropped a large tree on everything.
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<snipped for brevity> Most of my failures, I think, were due to uneven

Rain water collection is actually quite easy. Get yourself a tank and redirect your down pipes to empty rain water into the tank from the roof of your house. Most tanks have a tap at the bottom that you can connect a hose to and you can then connect your soaker to or, if society does break down, a back up plan of a watering can might be a good move.

to start again and redesign your garden to be more productive. I guess you have to think in a permaculture way when these things happen and turn problems into solutions.
Andi
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Originally, I had envisioned a drip irrigation system made of dried out gourds and native bamboo, held together with some vines and sealed with a mud and clay mixture, like something out of Swiss Family Robinson (its been a long time since I read that book), but that just doesn't seem feasible. I haven't really researched it yet.
I really do hope society continues to function, as much as it can be said to function, for quite some time because my experiments in gardening are showing me how truly dependent I am on these crazy people all around me. I think I should be studying some basic survival skills, such as, how to identify edible native plants and how to capture small animals with sticks and vines. That way I might have some chance of surviving until I managed to get some crops harvested. Of course, this raises all kinds of questions like, where would I get seed in the first place, how would I keep roving bands of barbarians from raiding my stores, and other such things. Seems that it might be easier to help society come together and solve some of its dysfunctions before everything comes crashing down. Truly, it is all out of my hands and all of this is just some kind of crazy thought experiment. I just have to keep praying that that Unknowable Essence has great plans for us and wouldn't let anything too terrible happen, of course, that may be just what we need. We won't know until it happens and, even then, we won't likely know what is right in front of us.
I'm not so much heartbroken over my garden. The dirt is still there under all of that tree and I get more enjoyment from the work than the results. I have really gained much in the grand scheme of things. Now I am just looking for a good wood chipper.
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On Sat, 20 Sep 2008 17:16:18 -0700, Mycosimian wrote:

Mulch party.
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I take it you're talking about a general sustenance garden. You touched upon some things like water supply in subsequent replies to yourself. Rain water retention won't cut it in a drought period. Those with their own wells rely on an electrical supply outside their control. Doubtful if they have pump and piping replacements on hand, or means of digging their own well. Reliance on gasoline or other fueled equipment might be foolhardy if such fuel becomes too scarce. Some of this can be addressed by doing things manually without aid of powered equipment. Canning may get one by if the crop fails one year. Certainly can't be a problem that is addressed with pure rationalization, mostly hard work in the end.
Weather conditions such as high winds, drought, excessive rain and flooding are beyond control.
--
Dave



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On Fri, 19 Sep 2008 21:34:42 -0700 (PDT), Mycosimian

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dies_the_Fire
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
....iffen you're into that alternate history stuff.
Penelope
--
"Maybe you'd like to ask the Wizard for a heart."
"ElissaAnn" < snipped-for-privacy@everybodycansing.com>
  Click to see the full signature.
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On Fri, 19 Sep 2008 21:34:42 -0700 (PDT), Mycosimian

If you are serious about having a garden, contact the extension agent in your area. They have information the pertains to your area, such as what varieties of plants do well in your area. If you live in Canada information from someone in Hawaii is probably not going to be a lot of help. Some of the information you get from Usenet is very good and some is not. Unless you have spent time in a group and know something about the subject, you have no real idea who knows what they are talking about.
I recently downloaded a 20+ page booklet "Home Vegetable Gardening" that is published by my state extension service. It not only lists varieties that do well but they also have a plan for a garden that will feed 2 people for a year, when to plant, how to plant various things and other information. I have been gardening for many years and I found lots of good information and ideas in the booklet.
I suggest that you go to you local extension office and get to know the extension agent or at least get information from their Web site. You will get expert information for your area. It is better to get the correct information early rather than having several years of poor crops and having to break your bad habits.
http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/index.html
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I agree; good idea. I see you are from Texas, and the Ag Extension almost certainly has a Master Gardener's program. Many of the Master Gardener outreach efforts include call in 'help lines', some even have radio call-in shows. The programs all concentrate on local conditions, suitable varieties, and so forth.
I took the course this year, and the knowledge I gained is fabulous. I've had to re-examine a lot of my long-held 'best practices' that turn out to be harmful practices.
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