*Veggie Gardens*
By: Sentinel
28 May 2009

A lot of people have buckets of non-hybrid and hybrid seeds along with several nifty books to go with a nice set of farming tools both mechanical and manual. Most of these items are unopened and barely used because they are being saved for hard times or worse. The problem is so many people think all you have to do is just scrape off the weeds and dig a hole before dropping a magical seed in and covering it up. Even those who have unused starter pellets don't know how to care for spindly stems coming out of a newly planted seed.

Gardens come from hard work and the love of fresh healthy food. They take tender loving daily care and a person who knows how to listen and look for problems before they are terminal to the plant or whole garden section. You have to get your hands and often your knees dirty to make the garden Gods happy. It takes practice and knowledge to know when a plant is sick or the ground needs a nutrient. It also takes time and back up space to keep from ruining the ground by over planting.

In hard times people will have to learn to make their own fertilizers from animal droppings and teas. They'll have to know what plants help repair the ground and which ones suck the land dry. Most importantly, they are going to need to know how much to plant per person for fresh and for storage needs.

Do unpracticed gardeners know how to can their bounty? How many canning jars do you have? How many canning lids? How many extra lids do you store? What about vacuum sealing bags? Vacuum seal containers? How much fresh water can you get to your garden in the dry hot summer? Have you started plants from seeds and succeeded in bringing them to harvest age at least 6 times? Can you do this off the grid?

The time to find out you don't know when a veggie is under ripe, ready to pick, or over ripe is now when you practice, not during an emergency. Potted tomatoes, peppers, and dwarf citrus are very nice as are many of the faster growing veggies. Almost everyone has the room to grow a few buckets of tomatoes or herbs in a window box.

A good challenge for all Rubies is a small raised bed for square foot gardening. The first time can be plants or seeds. It doesn't matter about the size of your first garden. What matters is that you try it now so you can learn from your mistakes and successes before you have to depend on a garden to live. I hope everyone tries to grow at least one bucket with tomatoes this year.

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