Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times

Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times

by Steve Solomon

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Overview

Discover forgotten low-input food gardening methods for surviving uncertain times ahead.

The decline of cheap oil is inspiring increasing numbers of North Americans to achieve some measure of backyard food self-sufficiency. In hard times, the family can be greatly helped by growing a highly productive food garden, requiring little cash outlay or watering.

Currently popular intensive vegetable gardening methods are largely inappropriate to this new circumstance. Crowded raised beds require high inputs of water, fertility and organic matter, and demand large amounts of human time and effort. But, except for labor, these inputs depend on the price of oil. Prior to the 1970s, North American home food growing used more land with less labor, with wider plant spacing, with less or no irrigation, and all done with sharp hand tools. But these sustainable systems have been largely forgotten. Gardening When It Counts helps readers rediscover traditional low-input gardening methods to produce healthy food.

Designed for readers with no experience and applicable to most areas in the English-speaking world except the tropics and hot deserts, this book shows that any family with access to 3-5,000 sq. ft. of garden land can halve their food costs using a growing system requiring just the odd bucketful of household waste water, perhaps two hundred dollars worth of hand tools, and about the same amount spent on supplies-working an average of two hours a day during the growing season.

Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780865715530
Publisher: New Society Publishers
Publication date: 04/01/2006
Series: Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series Series , #5
Pages: 360
Sales rank: 504,561
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 16 Years

About the Author

Steve Solomon is a well-known west coast gardening guru, and author of five previous books. The founder of Territorial Seed Company, he has taught Master Gardener and Urban Farm classes at the University of Oregon in Eugene. His book, Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades has appeared in five editions

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction
The coming hard times
Getting land
Becoming a vegetableatarian

Chapter 2: Basics
What is a vegetable?
Helping plants grow
Increasing soil fertility
Summary

Chapter 3: Tools and tasks
The basic three and a file
How to start a new garden
Raised beds and raised rows
The bow rake
Restoring a raised bed for planting again
The hoe
Miscellaneous tools
Care of tools

Chapter 4: Garden centers
Transplants: Buyer beware
Growing your own seedlings the easy way
The garden center seedrack

Chapter 5: Seeds
The mail-order seed business
Who to buy from
Making seeds come up
Saving on seed purchases
Growing your own

Chapter 6:Watering ... and not
Four spacing systems
Not suffering drought
A gardener's textbook of sprinkler irrigation

Chapter 7: Compost
Why compost?
Making low-grade compost
Medium-quality compost: The once-a-year heap
Humanure
Green manure and cover crops

Chapter 8: Insects and diseases
Avoiding trouble
Insects and their remedies
Diseases and their remedies

Chapter 9:What to grow . and how to grow it
Some general tips
Crops that are easiest to grow
Crops that are harder to grow
Difficult vegetables

Chapter 10: Bibliography
Books
Online resources

Index
About the Author

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"I recommend Gardening When It Counts as an excellent first book for the beginning gardener. It includes all the practical details necessary to make, prepare, and tend a garden, make compost, choose varieties and seeds, and to grow just about everything. I also recommend it to all experienced gardeners. It is guaranteed to change the way you view and do gardening. Gardening When it Counts is a magnificent synthesis of garden science, original garden research, and agricultural history."
— Carol Deppe, Ph.D., author of Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving .

"In Gardening When it Counts , Steve Solomon prepares the ground by encouraging us to embrace the organic revolution by growing more food with fewer imported resources and more ingenuity. He provides a hands-on account of amendment-centered gardening, using a wide variety of sources, and exhorts us to save seeds of kinds and varieties that we like to eat, that do well for us, and that may be dropped from current commercial seed inventories."
— Alan M. Kapuler, Ph.D., President, Peace Seeds, and former Research Director and cofounder of Seeds of Change

"Steve Solomon's book is delightfully informative and abundantly rich with humor and grandfatherly wisdom. A must-read for anyone wanting a feast off the land of their own making..."
— Elaine Smitha, host of "Evolving Ideas" radio and telvision, and author of If You Make The Rules, How Come You're Not Boss?

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Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book ! I did find , however , that I had to spend time digesting sections before reading further because there is so much good content. This is a resource for any gardener who finds themselves frustrated with choices , planning , and getting output for your labor. I have always gardened , but this book is a resource I will use , hard times or good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very practical and easy to follow. Like others have noticed, the information is very dense and takes time to process. This is my goto book for gardening, mostly because i like his no nonsense low input approach for getting results. Especially valuable is Steve's debunking of the seed business and corporate influences on the home gardener.
Leah72 More than 1 year ago
This book helped me understand gardening and plant needs better. Gave my first copy to a friend this is my second copy. Love his gardening philosophy.
ChrisMarin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As you can see by my library I have collected most of the important food growing books. Gardening When It Counts is in my opinion highly valuable as the author not only proposes new information but repudiates the old oft repeated information with technical and logical reasons why these ideas should be challenged.
flouncyninja on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I suppose this book gave a little bit of helpful advice that I haven't read in other places. His technique involves working mostly organically, which I liked and he had some good ideas on how to maintain plants with a minimal amount of watering, which is useful in Texas where it doesn't rain that often. What didn't help was that this was for exponentially larger areas of growing than I will ever have access to.The author is an older man that has been growing plants and selling seed...moreI suppose this book gave a little bit of helpful advice that I haven't read in other places. His technique involves working mostly organically, which I liked and he had some good ideas on how to maintain plants with a minimal amount of watering, which is useful in Texas where it doesn't rain that often. What didn't help was that this was for exponentially larger areas of growing than I will ever have access to.The author is an older man that has been growing plants and selling seeds for a very long time. He knows what he's doing, but overall, I didn't find it to be overly helpful and think there are better books out there for newbie gardeners that live in the suburbs.I skipped a fair amount of sections - mostly about collecting your own seeds, veggies I have no intention of growing and how to make compost on such a large scale it would take up most of my back yard. Something tells me the HOA wouldn't approve.
peacegarden on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While I am not using all of his suggestions (particularly the spacing) I think it is a wonderful book. Use it (and COF) all the time.I believe his advice will be especially useful as external inputs become scarce or prohibitively expensive.His take on seeds and seed companies if spot on.
juniperSun on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first half of the book was so interesting I read it thru quickly, despite the many ways he challenges my gardening habits. He does support my lifelong approach of extensive gardening (tho I didn't know it's label before). I appreciate the concept of setting up a garden in a way that can be sustained no matter what happens to our energy supply, yet Solomon's approach is limited by his experiences in Oregon and Tasmania. For instance, he scoffs at mulching as being only for the handicapped and elderly but allows that it could be useful in areas with freezing winters and hot summers. That sounds like my home area in Wisconsin to me. Not a stickler for the standard organic approaches, Solomon challenges us to look logically at plant and soil processes rather than following Everybody Else. No references are given for his nutrient cycling explanations, so I can only take his word that plants will not grow well without a precise 12:1 carbon:nitrogen ratio. I can't help but think that nature is a bit more complex--and forgiving--than that. He makes no mention of the role of fungi in releasing nutrients. I know that our modern gardens are primarily driven by bacterial processes, but I suspect that fungi will need to be re-established for long-term sustainability. He gives a clue in his suspicion that Native Americans mulched between their corn hills with forest leaves--a source of fungal input. I will just have to wait for someone else to write the definitive Vegetable Gardening With Fungi book.The most informative chapters are those dealing with modern seed production and seed companies. Drawing heavily on his experience as former owner of Territorial Seed Company, he gives advice on purchasing reliable seeds. Apparently not all problems with growing vegetables can be blamed on home-grower error.The last chapter goes over 41 of the most common vegetables, describing the best method for growing for high nutritional value and taste. This includes methods for saving your own seeds which is somewhat inconsisttent with his previous assertion that plant genetics deteriorate unless a large enough planting is made.While his opening chapters state that irrigation will be too costly under energy and water shortages, he devotes a lengthy chapter to setting up an irrigation system. I suppose he wanted to be sure he passes on the best practices that he has gleaned over the years and didn't have any other book planned where it would make more sense to include.
Wmt477 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The best book for vegetable gardening since Coleman's New Organic Gardening.
jaygheiser on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I haven't had a chance to try out what he suggests, but he makes some compelling arguments that my Square Foot Garden was counterproductive.
Saponaria on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love this book. I have heard Steve Solomon called arrogant but I did not find him to be that way. He is however a glass is half empty kind of guy. I appreciate it. So many gardening books are so unrealistic leading people to believe they can grow anything if they only do a simply X.Y and Z. It rarely works out that way. This is the best gardening book I have read in a while and I have read a lot. I appreciate him breaking down vegetables into how demanding they are to grow. I love his recipe for COF or complete organic fertilizer. I can't wait to put more of his suggestions into practice. I definitely took his advice as a former owner of a seed company into practice with my most recent seed company choices. I will be pulling this book out over and over again. I can't recommend it enough. I will also not be doing any more French intensive gardening. He just confirmed what I had experienced over the years. I hate to say I just needed someone to point out that just because "everyone" says this is what is best doesn't mean it's so!
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