So we all know where half the fruits and vegetables in the US are grown right? California. Currently experiencing some massive drought problems. You are growing some food this year right? I think you’ll be better off if you have some closer and cheaper options for your weekly salads at least, and if some of your roasting and soup vegetables come out of the garden, that’s all the better.
So how much garden are we talking here? Let’s just say, you ain’t gonna make a dent with a container garden. 1000 square feet will put a good dent in your fruits and vegetable needs. You might need something closer to 5000 feet if you want to cover all of your fruit and vegetable needs. If you start talking about covering grains too, you’ll need more than an acre.
Do you have the tools to see all of that food put in the ground, the weeds kept at bay and the harvest eventually gathered? If you’re looking at one shovel, a hand trowel and a leaf rake, the answer is no.
You need a couple good hoes. A big sharp one, maybe one on a wheel, and a smaller hoe, for precision work around crops. I know, I know, it’s not as sexy as something with a motor and spinning wheels and whirring blades. But just like food prices, fuel prices are doing nothing but going up. There’s no need to add to your production costs, just to move some dirt around or disturb weed roots. Learn the proper technique, spend some money on an ergonomically designed hoe, and enjoy the shoulder and arm muscles you’ll develop.
Get a good hand held combo tool. I have one with a small hoe on one side and a little 3 fingered claw on the other, and it is really great in the tight spacing I occasionally employ in my salad gardens.
Sure, you can harvest into grocery bags or 5 gallon buckets. But, eventually you’ll need proper containers to hold all the garden goodness. Baskets and burlap bags, some suitable for your fridge, some suitable for you basement or root cellar. Shelves and drying racks for curing. For fruit, I kinda cheat, I save plastic containers from the large yogurts, cottage cheeses or whatever, and I use those to hold the fruit in small batches in the fridge.
If you go into the grain side of things, you should try a type of sickle. Humans harvested a lot of grain before the invention of the combine, and sickles were popular for good reason.
Other food growers – Find them. There are some nearby. They’ll be the ones with large portions of their lawns turned under. Knowing more food growers means knowing more people with tools to borrow. More people to lend a hand for larger projects, maybe people with new or different transplants to trade for some of your extras.
Having the right tools in hand can make all the difference when you try that hand at growing your family’s food. Don’t let poor design or manufacturing get in the way of the hard work that needs to be done.
The best tool is always your head though. Get out there, get some practice in and learn some valuable lessons as quickly as you can. Anyone got a specific tool they want to recommend? Shout out in the comments!
– Jennie Erwin