Watch over my shoulder as I show you how I use simple, ancient organic methods in new ways to help support natural systems that allow food gardens to thrive. In 2001 I started several biointensive garden beds at home and have expanded every year. I now have about 1300 sq feet that produce between 1000 and 1500 pounds of nutrient-dense veggies per season depending on the proportions of the 35 veggies I typically plant. I've spent over 15 years fine tuning efficient ways to grow more food, with less work, since people have busy lives, but still want to grow some great organic food at home.
My yields have been consistant. Pests and disease have been extremely low, and my labor is easier each season. (I only weed once a year now, because of the planting methods) You can use these same methods in just about any climate zone to grow intense amounts of food in small spaces, with no synthetic chemicals, and no special gizmos or expensive inputs.
The same techniques can be used in any sized garden from 100 square feet to larger gardens or CSA operations with thousands of square feet. Once you learn to "align the design" of your garden with the needs of natural systems, you can cross that threshold where you just go out your door and harvest great tasting, clean, organic food every year with confidence!
Chris was a recent student in the garden program that I run each year.
She had the common problem where she put tons of work into the food garden beds around her home, and nothing seemed to grow like the photos in the seed catalogs. She toiled away weeding all the time, fighting the tough, colorado soil and fickle weather each year, only to find weak, spindly plants in late summer--Hardly worth the effort. She was tired of harvesting baby-sized carrots and beets that were the size of average radishes and having to explain to neighbors that they weren't radishes. They were just really small beets... pretty frustrating.
So Chris decided to enroll in the online class in late winter to get a jump on a different approach to growing food in the spring. She implemented only a handful of the methods from the program, enhancing the "Soil Food Web" in the beds, using compost, and she started a small worm bin out back, used the new planting methods to increase yields and reduce weeds, installed a small drip system to automate the watering using a couple AA batteries, did simple mulching, etc...
I hadn't recieved any communication from her in mid summer, but then she gave me a call in late July... She was in a totally different mood. She was giddy about what her garden was doing. She said she now looked forward to summer outings away for a few days of camping or outside activities, because the garden took care of itself, first of all, and it was growing so well that she was now excited to get back home and see all the growth that took place while she was out of town.
She was now walking out to the garden daily to pick all kinds of greens and veggies that she used in meals throughout the week. By autumn she was harvesting full sized carrots (which she had never experienced) and finally, full-sized, beautiful beets! She had found the same feeling of contentment that, I think everyone has, once they finally 'get it" and understand how to grow food well. It's hard to describe, but when it happens to you, you'll understand that it feels 'as right as rain".
" My tomatoes are ridiculous...so many. Squash, cukes, zukes, potatoes, green beans, onions, beets, all did great. I have learned so much and had so much fun. When I can grow food where I live, I feel like it's a healthy place for me and everyone and everything around me. My summer meals have been filled with garden bounty. That is so special. I have learned so much from your videos and conversations. So more I want to try and want to do."
~ Chris in Colorado - GrowFoodWell member 2016
I've seen this kind of success at small and large scale. It doesn't matter what climate zone you're in, soil type, garden size, urban or rural. Plants just want to grow. And when you learn how to adjust your local variables to align with the conditions the plants need, you can grow just about any vegetable to its full genetic potential. So you end up with Great Food every season that you can eat fresh, or preserve for later in the year.
I believe in the step-by-step approach. Start small, succeed, and move up from there. This avoids the issues that can arise when people get ahead of themselves and the garden suffers. When that happens, it's usually the gardener who suffers, because they feel unscuccessful in their efforts and they risk losing interest in growing their own food. So if we can have small success and grow from there, it's way more fun!
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