Growing Food in a Green Desert

I heard an analogy a while back, I don’t recall where, but it talked about a man who used the majority of his land to grow food for his family. He had beds of herbs and flowers, beds of carrots, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, etc, etc. He collects his “waste” from his produce and returns them to the beds or a separate pile to compost. The area around his home, his yard if you will, supports itself and nothing is wasted, placed in bags for pickup by the local government.

After years of his “yard” supporting itself and providing his family, friends and neighbors with bounties of food a man comes by. The man, a salesmen approaches out guy and tries to sell our guy the benefits of grass. The salesman gives his best line about how the grass will improve the looks of our mans yard and how all the cool guys are doing it. All you have to do is water it every day and need to cut it once a week.

Our man asks the salesman if he can eat it. No he replies.

“So let me make sure I understand you. I have to water it, I have to cut it and it doesn’t give me anything in return?”

“Yes sir” replied the salesman.

“Why should I plant grass when I can plant vegetables and trees, water and maintain them and get food at the same time?”

The salesman gives our guy an odd look and states “Because it looks pretty.”

Our guy rolls his eyes in disgust and walks back to his house.

Weird when you step back and take a look at it from a different angle, eh?

Reversing the norm reveals the flawed idea of a widespread grass lawn. The yard consumes water, consumes time to mow and maintain. All the while not returning any measurable value to the owner.

Why would we exert the energy to maintain something that gives us nothing to us? Why not take the energy and create a garden or garden beds? Heck, even flower beds will give something in return. Grass just takes, takes, takes and comes back for more.

To spin it back the other way what is stopping you from turning part of your pretty grass yard into a space that will give back and not just take from you? For me, the look of a wild prairie is more appealing than a manicured lawn.

We are not far removed from a time when every family grew a garden. Why did we get away from it? Does raising some tomatoes, squash and beans really take that much of our time? After planting they will take less of your time than your glorified “green desert” does now. Some water as needed. Maybe some weeding every few weeks.

Adding a garden will get you and your family outside, away from the tv, video games, etc. Once you get your hands dirty digging in the dirt, once your kids get their hands in the dirt it will all be worth it. Sounds funny but its therapeutic. Try it.

Many kids today don’t know where their food comes from. When he was young Monkey Boy was a very picky eater.  One of the things that helped him was helping us plant the veggies and harvest the garden.  When a kids grows the food he is much more willing to try new things.

There is something about growing your own food even kids realize is cool and normal.

If you do not know a lot about gardening don’t be scared. Ask around, ask me, go to the library and check out a few books. Or just get the ground worked up, buy some seeds which can be relatively cheap or buy plants from the store and put them in the ground.   Mother Nature pretty much does the rest.  Its been going on for eons so don’t over think it!

Neither option is overly expensive. Have fun and learn. Get with your grandma, grandpa or older relatives. Ask them your questions. Learn the way they did it, learn what works for you and create your own way.  Be sure to include your kids in the process as well.  They love to get dirty and learn new things.   Just don’t be too harsh if they step on your plants as you go!

To be honest I have had a working knowledge of gardening for awhile but not a lot of hands on experience. That’s changing. I would suggest if you are just starting to learn to garden organically.

Chemicals will keep the kids from helping and make us use gloves for awhile not letting us get our hands in the dirt.

Here at the Ranch we are going to expand our garden next spring. We, well at least I am. Have a few idea to experiment with to see what can be done. I will share those when the time comes.

As always we would love to hear from you about your garden, your experience and your plans. Together we can learn more than on our own. Also please share with any friend you have who would enjoy this post or anything we do.

A small side, the idea for this came to me after listening to Episode 1002 of The Survival Podcast. I recommend listening and checking out their forum. Great resource to learn about gardening and pretty much everything to get you and your family ready to deal with anything that happens.

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