More than 500,000 workers are losing their jobs each month and many financial analysts claim it’s going to get worse before it gets better. As our economy seems to be grinding to a halt, how can families strapped for cash save money on food and eat healthier at the same time? Grow a garden! That’s right, just like they did in the 1940s, only back then they were called Victory Gardens——Americans nationwide grew food in their own backyard during the Second World War.
But what if you live in the city? What if you don’t have a backyard? No problem. As Alice Gomostyn with ABC News reports, “From Boston to Seattle, municipal officials and community organizers are finding an increased demand for plots in community gardens as more residents look to grow their own food.” Users under community garden models pay an annual fee to grow plants on a plot of land within a larger garden. In fact community gardens have gained so much popularity that in some cities like Portland and Boston, people are on waiting lists to secure plots——but don’t let that stop you. Your town or city may not have a waiting list. Check with local officials in your area and inquire about any community garden programs.
If you’re like me and don’t like waiting in line or prefer not to venture any further than the kitchen coffee pot, you only have to go as far as your window to “plow the back forty”. Find one that gets at least six hours of sunlight a day. That’s enough sunlight to support the growth of leafy lettuce, chicory escarole and arugula, or how about cherry tomatoes, peppers, root crops and bush beans. Perhaps herbs are more to your liking. You could grow cilantro, basil, chives, parsley, oregano, or rosemary.
If you have an apartment with a patio or balcony, you can use any item laying around that will hold healthy soil: used tires, plastic pools, feed sacks, buckets, or watering cans. Using these odds and ends as plant containers, you can harvest tomatoes, strawberries or zucchini. People living in crowded cities have even resorted to “guerilla” gardening. These rogue gardeners green thumb their way into vacant lots, parks, street medians, or those quaint little slices of land between streets and parking lots. Some urban garden revolutionaries hurl seed bombs (a balled up concoction of seeds, clay and soil) into abandoned lots, then check back later to see if the seeds take hold in the soil.
If there was ever a time to start a garden it’s now; and with a little love, care and attention, you can grow food anywhere there’s soil, sun and water. There are plenty of books and websites available to learn special food growing tips and tricks to meet your gardening situation. Growing your own food is a great way to liberate yourself from repressive budget constraints while adding a fresh dose of nutrition to your family’s diet. And with this small effort comes a sense of independence——especially if you or a family member is unemployed——from contributing to your own sustainability.
Take a look at this inspirational video about the Dervaes family. They’ve cultivated their 1/5 acre city lot in Pasadena, California, into a huge food garden with over 350 varieties of edible plants. Think of it——they grow over 6,000 pounds of produce a year in the middle if the city. Happy canning!
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