Whether it’s the economic downturn, your choice of looming eco-pocalypses or just a desire for healthy food, there’s plenty of reasons why interest in growing your own food has recently skyrocketed.
‘Anyone interested in the war against neglect and scarcity of public space as a place to grow things’ can browse through the photos and stories at guerrillagardening.org, which show a variety of reclaiming / replanting projects from all over the world by teenagers to grandmothers and all in between. And remarkably in Australia, this process has recently been documented on prime time television ( watch episodes, vote on the best guerrilla member etc ). Inevitably there are stylistic choices made to try and fit into prime-time television (( Welcome to the show where six young warriors are armed to the teeth with attitude and gardening tools …. the six Guerrillas will stop at nothing to reach a potential site â€“ they will abseil, rope and parkour (picture the opening scene of Casino Royale) to get to the make-over site on a 20 foot high ledge… )), but still it’s quite remarkable to see channel ten producing such a show, with it’s tagline : ‘Against the law? Guerrilla Gardeners â€“ bringing your city back to life’. Interestingly, while most online feedback was highly supportive, the negative responses tended to be people annoyed that the show seemed a ‘blatant rip-off’ of the site and group mentioned above. Aside from Tony J that is, who added his caps locked two cents, “They should be given 3 months jail each. It is ENVIRONMENTAL GRAFITTI.”
Permaculture In Cities
“When I first went to New York, I helped start a little herb-farm in the South Bronx. The land was very cheap there because there was no power, no water, no police, and there were tons of drugs. This little farm grew to supply eight percent of New Yorkâ€™s herbs. There are now 1,100 city farms in New York.”
– Bill Mollison, who along with David Holmgren, founded Permaculture in Australia in the 1970’s.
Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and perennial agricultural systems that mimic the relationships found in the natural ecologies ( thanks Wikipedia!), and started with Mollison’s realisation that no one had ever applied design to agriculture. “Weâ€™d had agriculture for 7,000 years, and weâ€™d been losing for 7,000 years â€” everything was turning into desert. So I wondered, can we build systems that obey ecological principles?”
Some of these principles include looking at a whole system, observing how the parts relate, mimicking patterns in nature, layered stacking ( growing tall, medium, and low plants together to maximise the effectiveness of shade, pollination, watering and mulching), valuing diversity etc.
Transforming That Garden Plot
Sometimes a helping hand or seven can help springboard a garden into bountiful existence much quicker. A little planning and preparation and a group of people can gather together and focus on one garden at a time, taking turns to do a quick day’s work-over on someone’s backyard. This can happen between friends easily enough, but it’s also the insight being used to drive the hugely popular permablitz.net – once you’ve donated time to help other gardens get a kick-start, you qualify to have your garden selected as the one where a team of gardeners will come and re-jig it all in one day.
And an even less DIY approach, some of the permablitz crew have started veryediblegardens.com, recognising the usefulness of having the option for having people come to install a raised vegie-patch kit for you. “Package deals come to suit every price range, from DIY edging kits, through to soil-filled, fully planted packages with pest netting and an automatic timer-driven drip-irrigation system installed.”
Actually Growing That Food Stuff Yourself
Seasonal planting guides abound, these are two good ones.
Healthy soil is an important part of every good garden and making a good compost heap will help that process tremendously eg http://www.milkwood.net/content/view/53/50/