Episode-693- Creative Gardening Solutions for Transitional or Harsh Environments

A quick bag garden combined with a natural trellis.

Gardening and permaculture are key topics with me when it comes to modern survival living.  Some question this concept and feel survivalism is far more about beans, bullets and bandaids than compost, a shovel and turning soil.

To such types I have one question, where do you think the beans come from?

I have said a few things before that I feel need to be reinforced today.

  1. You can only store so much food
  2. You may fight a real battle a handful of times in your life or never but you must eat daily
  3. Our current food supply is threatened
  4. Our food supply is now heavily effected by inflation
  5. Being self sufficient means you must feed yourself

This is all well and good but at times we find ourselves in transitional periods or dealing with harsh environments.  While I believe that permaculture can in fact terraform the desert (because it has, see Greening the Desert for an example) such terraforming takes time and resources.  Something you may not have or have in sufficient amounts to feed yourself this season.   Today I present to you some options that can get you up and producing quickly during just about any season of the year.

The purpose of today’s show is to help you get production will making major improvements to the land itself or even use the transitional method to improve the land long term.

Join me today as we discuss…

  • The bag garden
    • For quick production
    • For creating a permanent “fence garden”
    • Fore creation of conventional raised beds
  • The self watering bucket and rain gutter garden
    • Self maintaining
    • Used easy to find materials
    • Presents unlimited configurations
    • Can be permanent
    • Takes care of itself while you improve your land
  • The Straw Bale Garden
    • Can be up and running in a few weeks with no digging
    • Can be a permanent or transitional
    • Is very water efficient
  • Rock Garden Hugelkultur
    • Fast permanent structure
    • Requires no digging
    • Looks great
    • Perfect for herbs
    • Uses abundant/cheap/free  materials

Resources for Today’s Show

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29 Responses to Episode-693- Creative Gardening Solutions for Transitional or Harsh Environments

  1. Growing lettuce is easy and fun, try finding an old bathtub, fill half way with dirt and plant your seed or plants,pinch off the flowers you will have yummy lettuce all spring and summer long.

  2. Great show Jack. I’d much rather listen to episodes on gardening, water saving techniques, seed gathering, etc. than debates on who should or should not attend college.

  3. Brent Eamer

    I slit open a compost bag and dropped in six acorn squash seeds and dropped the bag in my cold frame and put the lid on it until the seeds came up. Now that it is warm enough, I will allow for ‘squash wanderage’ over the lawn. Cuts down on slug problems too, since they tend to leave mature plants alone

  4. Great show!

    At my old house I never attempted a garden because of the plethora of deer always in my yard. There could be over 12 at any given time (city deer). I lived adjacent to a 300 acre park and if necessary could bow-hunt by opening a window facing the back yard. Neighbors poached from the park behind me and nobody around me really cared because city deer are always considered a nuisance. Convenient that there was an archery range in the park behind the house as an excuse…

    Anyway, back on point — I moved and started a garden this spring by digging up sod and turning it as best I could with a mattock and hand tools. I’m not going to get much of a yield because of all the issues we’ve had with rabbits etc but I know which plants they want and which they don’t.

    I put up a fence to keep them out and they keep finding ways in. My lettuce is pretty much done, as are my sweet potatoes. The leaves have been stripped bare every time they get any growth. I am gathering large river rocks and placing them around the perimeter of the fence where I think they are getting in, but it is a losing battle this year.

    I have found out they don’t want the bell peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers at all. They completely leave those plants alone and they are starting to take off.

    Because of the show today I am going to stop at the various places on my way home that sell bags of soil and see if the prices have come down since the spring gardening peak.

    I wanted to make my garden much larger than it is right now but once I fenced in the area I dug out I haven’t wanted to because of the rabbit problem.

    I am going to get some soil bags and use them to smother out the grass where I want to expand my garden into for next year and plant things in them that I know the rabbits will leave alone. Then, in the spring I should be much farther ahead than I was this spring when we first moved into this house.

    Thanks for the ideas!!!

    • I have a lot of rabbits in my yard, they never touch my garden. I believe its b/c of the marigolds we planted around the perimeter early in the season (the raised-beds may also help).

      Also I have noticed recently that the beds that have marigolds have very few or no squash bugs. The beds w/o the marigolds have a ton of squash bugs. I’m going to put in more marigolds.

    • I live and garden in a place (rental house on a 500 acre farm in southeastern VA) where there is a herd of about 40 deer, lots of other critters, and they almost never bother my garden (except the occasional digging and planting pecans by squirrels and recently a groundhog or something that dug a few big holes in the daffodil bed). This is going on 6 years!

      I think the reason is a combination of: they have the farmed land with plenty of other good food for them eat where they don’t need to go near my house (about 300 acres of corn now, previously soybeans or wheat). I also plant a lot of things they don’t like (many daffodils, which are poisonous to them ,,, and yes I plant a lot of tomatoes, peppers & cucs). I also make my garden mostly very close to my house or in large containers quite near the house, but have no fence around it, just something like the raised bed idea. I try to make my garden “human” obvious (I assume they smell me or something and the containers are something they find strange and alien).

      I also talk to them whenever I see them coming too close to the house and remind them of “our” agreement (that I won’t hit them if they don’t hit me) and remind them to stay away. Of course they look at me like I’m nuts! I also scare raccoons off by making hoot owl noises in the dark… I don’t want them hanging around mostly because we have raccoon rabies in these parts. I could be wrong, but clearly something is working! Hope this will give you some other ideas.

  5. Great show Jack. I’m going to have to try the rain gutter gardens and straw bale gardens.

    My property is all forest and sand and also has more deadfall than I’ll ever need for heating.
    One thing I’ve recently done to enrich my soil that you might be interested in is Biochar. Here is the demo video that inspired me http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXMUmby8PpU

    I made myself a smaller version of this with some used 55 and 33 gallon steel drums and used insulated stovepipe. I’ve done about 4 runs now and the char seems to be a nice improvement to my soil so far.

    I like doing the burns at night so we sit around with some homebrew and watch the barrel glow.

  6. Agorculture

    Great show & perfect timing! I have been taking down some pine trees as well. On Thursday, the youth group from my church will be helping me with the tree debris, logs and other tasks. They were very enthusiastic about the opportunity, but I will, of course give them an unspecified donation. (It is tax deductible, too!)They are looking for projects like this! My new neighbors also mentioned that they want to start a straw bale garden, so I will, of course, share this episode and also with my coworkers, as well! My plan is to bury pine logs and branches under manure and loam with logs forming sides of the bed for aesthetic reasons. Also, next weekend, in Goffstown, New Hampshire, is a very cool garden where the property owner made 1 acre look like 5 through the use of berms up to 12 feet high. The property is covered in woodlands, mostly pine and rhodendendron. What would happen if Hugelkulture was used instead for food production? I went last year and, it was so inspirational, I hope to take video of the place this year. I will post them and the link if my camera works. Here is the event page: http://www.gardenconservancy.org/opendays/open-days-schedule/venueevents/625-Evergreen

  7. Great show. You talked about the balance of predators and prey. One tip for people overrun with pests is that you can buy predators in the form of ladybugs at many garden stores. They are ravenous and great for controlling things like aphids on tomatoes. Once they’ve cleaned your plants of prey they harmlessly move on and help somebody else out while leaving your plants alone. We’ve never needed to use pesticide or herbicide (besides 20% vinegar), and neither of these hurts the animals or ground water, or me.

  8. Perfect timing!

    Having just this week finally been handed my allotment I was wondering what I could possibly get up and growing before the winter. Thanks for the ideas.

  9. Hey Jack,
    I had an idea for your rain gutter-bucket garden to increase the available water.

    What if you plumbed the condensation drain from your air conditioner to your rain catchment? That and/ or your grey water?

    Would love to hear your thoughts.
    Jarrett

    • Modern Survival

      Well on the AC yea, the key though is that water is low so some energy must be used to get it elevated above the trough, a bucket and once a day dumping by hand and it could be that simple but energy must be used.

      On gray water it isn’t a good idea for veggies or anything you eat that comes in contact with soil. That would better server tall shrubs, trellised vines or trees.

      • Where is your AC condenser coil? Since you are in a mobile home I’m guessing that it’s in a closet and probably elevated about a foot above the floor. So that would give you a foot plus the height of the floor from the lowest plantings. It might not be high
        Enough to help keep your rain catchment topped off but it would certainly help with you plantings below the level of your home’s floor simply by gravity.

        Just a thought.

        • Modern Survival

          Ah you are talking about the internal not the external unit, that is in the utility room, I will have to look at how much it produces. I was thinking of the pipe on the outside unit. In a humid area they produce a lot of condensation.

  10. Jack great tip about DE and squash vine borers.

    I’ve just gotten the bugs in my garden (central Ark). I cut out several larvae y’day. Someone told me DE would work, but I had reservations for the reasons you mentioned (I’m hesitant to just carpet bomb like that). So I’m going to try spot treating around the base of the plants, since it seems thats mainly where they enter.

    Thanks again.

  11. matthew n gooseneck

    Great show today. I have never thought about a bag garden. I want to try the hugelkulture you described to day.

  12. Hey Jack…love your show.

    You mentioned that Miracle Gro is owned by Scotts which is owned by Monsanto. This in not correct. The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company is an independent publicly traded company. The stock symbol is “SMG” on the NYSE. The Hagerdorn Family, which owned Miracle Gro, is the major shareholder.

    Keep up the great work!

  13. Clåte cåos

    Hey, this was one of your better shows, Jack. I’m glad you are showing people how to take measures to combat the global wârming that is ravaging the West and South of the US.

  14. Hey Jack,
    Actually the condensation comes from the condenser coil inside your house. As the freon expands it pulls heat out of the air thereby cooling the coil. The air that is blown through the condenser coil cooling the air. The water vapor in the air being blown across the coil condenses on the coil then drips into the collection pan beneath the coil and is channeled by gravity out of the house through the drain pipe.

    The HVAC guys usually plumb the drain out near the compressor or outside unit. That might be part of the confusion.

    • ugh, sorry I didn’t edit that correctly sorry if it is hard to understand. I think you know what I’m talking about though, and being a mechanic you probably already knew that.

  15. CRAP!! I just re-read your last post. Yes that’s it! In the utility closet. Sorry, I need to learn to read a little more carefully.

  16. Just a thought, but you might try something like a wood lattice to shade the garden so they get some sunshine but not full sunshine so the garden doesn’t cook in the hot sun. Great show.

  17. I thought Larry Hall’s idea was fantastic! However I did not quite understand how the system takes care of itself? How is the water level kept steady in the rain gutters?

  18. This is one of the best ones on gardening yet. We started experimenting with container gardening this year. I must say, not having to worry about moles, gophers, etc. is nice. I really loved Larry Hall’s idea, and we plan on implementing that in a small space of our four acres next year in addition to a larger greenhouse. I liked the idea of sewing seeds directly in the buckets, then just moving them outside. I’d also love to have some large rain collection barrels out by the garden with some kind of funnel on top to create more surface area to collect rain water and guide it into the barrels, have them up on a stand and have gravity deliver the water to the troughs (gutters), set up to fill when the float valves say so. Not really sure how to do all that yet but makes perfect sense in my head. We will be teaching our kids how to do this too.

  19. Margaret Lifgren

    I was shocked to find that all of Larry Hall’s videos on rain gutter, self-watering gardening has been removed from YouTube. So glad you mentioned him and I got to see them before they were gone.