As discussed in my first post, “What is a CryptoCoach?” and further detailed in my post “Energy Return on Energy Invested“(EROEI), we are facing a trend where decreasing energy surplus from our legacy energy system (Oil) will be one of the driving forces of change as we move into the future. Our mass-produced food system is made possible through the energy of oil. According to Pollan (https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/plugged-in/10-calories-in-1-calorie-out-the-energy-we-spend-on-food/) for every 10 calories of energy put into the food system, only 1 calorie is produced!!! So while it appears we have an abundant food supply it is highly inefficient. As the ERoEI of oil continues to decrease, we will see strain put on the mass-produced food system.
This will drive change in how we get our food. The world will not end, but we will see the effects of this strain in the form of higher food prices. Small-scale farms like Green City Acres and Singing Frogs Farm will demonstrate their ability to undercut larger farming operations because oil is not essential to their operations and use human labor. It is my opinion that the true efficiency of small local farms will start to show as the ERoEI of oil approaches 5. However, if more people do not start small farms to meet demand, then prices will still climb in tandem with the large-scale farms. Regardless of the future result, there will be a fundamental shift in the structure of our system as a result. Food is not optional; society will transform around this shift away from large-scale agriculture.
By learning to grow some of your own food, you can be prepared for the future and build up “Knowledge” and “Experiential” Captial. Learn more about the 8 forms of Captial in my previous post “Saving for the Future“. Gardening is not complicated; it just requires attention and patience. Start small so you do not get overburdened. Learning to garden is much easier if you set simple achievable goals where you only need to spend 1-3 hours a week managing a garden.
Now, in Fall, is the time to start preparing for the next growing season!
Here is a quick method to get started quickly. You do not need to build any wooden frames for the raised bed unless you want the look. The mounding method works just fine and is how I build my beds. This will take no more than an afternoon on the weekend and you will have a garden bed ready in the spring.
- Pick out a small 4’ x 4’ area on your property, it should be southeast, south or southwest facing. You do not want a west facing garden as the intense afternoon heat in most summer climates will be harsh on the plants. Remember start small! If you have bigger ambitions then go a little bigger, but don’t go crazy. Remember you will need to manage this!
- Find enough cardboard to cover the plot. You should be able to get this for free from either package deliveries or the store. Make sure its not plastic/wax coated cardboard. I found all of the excess cardboard from Amazon to be of great utility for this application.
- Cover your 4’ x 4’ area with the cardboard and water it down until it’s soaked.
- Find small dead sticks (optional) and place in a layer over the top of the cardboard. This will help add nitrogen to the soil over the long term, but it will not have any benefits in the first year.
- Purchase enough compost and place on top of the cardboard. The compost should be 6 inches deep.
- Add Lawn clippings (optional). If you have a lawn add in 2 to 4 inches of lawn clippings and mix it into the compost.
- Find tons of leaves!! Since its Fall, leaves should be readily available for free and your neighbors will more than likely be happy if you take them off their hands. Pile these leaves 6 to 12 inches high!! You can’t overdo it.
- Now procure some wood chips and add a good 4 to 6 inches of wood chips to the top. This will help cover the bed by keeping the leaves and compost moist; this allows for beneficial biological activity to occur throughout the winter.
- Now your bed will be 18 to 30 inches deep. This may seem high but over the winter this will shrink by roughly 50 percent! In the spring you will have an amazing garden bed with fertile black soil ready for planting that is 9 to 15 inches deep.
The method above is the simple method I use for starting garden beds. Most of the ideas came from Nick Ferguson’s method from Home Grown Liberty. Check out his site for more info he is one of the leading experts in sustainable gardening.