Resilient Gardening - Part I and Part II
Due to climate change, insufficient oil supplies, and financial instability gardening is both becoming more a necessity and more of a challenge. In order to make gardening more successful and more resilient to changing conditions, four ways can be used to make food gardens more resilient:
•Reduce dependence on external inputs (localize)
•Backup plans (redundancy)
•Feedback, knowledge and observation
To eliminate dependence on purchased fertilizer make compost, rotate crops with legumes such as peas and beans, and start now to build organic material into the soil. Learn to save seeds and grow your own transplants. A combination of methods can be used to control insects without insecticides. Among the methods are growing resistant varieties, using soap sprays, encouraging bats and toads, and hand picking insects. To reduce the need to irrigate, increase organic material in the soil, use mulch, select drought resistant crops and perennials, and use runoff from roofs.
Diversify by planting a variety of crops. For example, spinach can be started very early in the season and matures early. Collards and kale will withstand some winter weather so the garden yeilds produce well into the winter. Choose varieties that are heat and drought tolerant and also choose varieties that do well in wet soil.
Think about where the garden can be located to avoid wind damage and flooding. Know what weather extremes have occurred in the past. Consult long time gardeners in your area about what they have done to avoid crop damage under those extremes.
Observe carefully such things as insect damage, water stress, and changing climate that might dictate earlier planting dates or different variety choices. Take action early to avoid failed crops or reduced yeilds. Study practices used in other climate zones that you might be able to apply to your area.
Grow extra produce so if harsh conditions result in lower yeilds, you will still have enough. Grow extra transplants in case what you plant first is destroyed. Have extra seed so you can replant if needed. Store produce by drying, canning, root cellaring, and freezing.
Community supported agriculture (CSA) and community gardens are an option if you don't have space for your own garden. If your neighbor has space and you don't, offer to start a garden on their property and give them one third of the produce.
Resilient Gardening - Part I
Resilient Gardening - Part II
Summary by Alan Detwiler, self sufficiency advocate and author. Bio at http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/alandetwiler