Chuck Hall writes for the Wilson Country News. What I liked about this article was his
experimenting with gardening in containers and the actual number of containers you would need to grow you own food supply. It makes a strong point for not needing to have a lot of space to grow your own vegetables. Besides having fresh, chemical free food you get the benefit of a relaxing activity!
Below is the entire article.
Those of you who read this column regularly know that I am a vegetarian. Over the last
year or so, I have been experimenting with growing my own food in order to determine how much time and effort are required to feed someone who doesn’t eat meat.
Traditionally, the only people who have grown their own food have been people who live in a rural setting, because they are the ones who have the most ready access to land, but what about people who live in urban environments?
Should they just give up on growing their own fruits and vegetables, or is it possible that
even apartment dwellers could supplement their grocery budget by growing some of their
own fruits and vegetables?
This spring, I began an experiment in container gardening. I bought a dozen flowerpots, 12-inches in diameter, and planted vegetables in them. The goal was to see if I could grow at least one-quarter of my food in containers. If such a thing is possible, then people who live in urban environments can also enjoy the benefits of organic gardening.
As a result of this experiment, I have learned that a dozen flowerpots are more than
enough to produce a quarter of my vegetable needs. In fact, next year I plan to attempt
to grow at least half of my food using a dozen containers.
There were a few drawbacks along the way; for example, I have learned that next year I may make my own containers. The benefit of making my own is that I could make them square, and they would fit together much easier than the round ones I have right now. I also discovered that if I put chicken wire around the base of the plants, the cats won’t try to use the pots as a litter box.
The result of this experiment has been that I spent about 30 minutes, two to three times a week, caring for my container garden, and in return I got nearly half of my food from a
dozen flowerpots. I plan to try this experiment again next year, and this time I will keep detailed records of the cost of my container garden vs. the cost of the same amount of vegetables if purchased at the local grocery store.
While vacationing in Cherokee, N.C., over the summer, I heard of a planting technique that the Cherokee called the “Three Sisters.” They would plant corn, beans, and squash in the same hole. The corn stalk acted as a “pole” for the beans, and the broad squash plant’s eaves shaded the roots of the other plants, minimizing the growth of weeds.
I’m not sure how well corn will grow in a container, but next year I plan to experiment to see if it is possible. If any of you home gardeners have any experience with this, I’d
love to hear from you.Ultimately, sustainable living is all about minimizing our ecological “footprint” — that is, reducing as much as possible the amount of land and resources required to exist on this planet. The goal of my container gardening experiment is to eventually determine just how much (or how little) soil is required to feed a vegetarian. So far, it’s not as much as you might think.
Chuck Hall is a sustainability consultant and author. His latest book, Green Circles: A
Sustainable Journey from the Cradle to the Grave, is now available at the Culture Artist
Web site at http://www.cultureartist.org.
You can email Chuck at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have tried the Three Sisters Garden. They will do well in a container and have a creative theme quality to the planting. The following url will take to to a Three Sisters Garden article.
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