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Defeatist Article on Home Gardens Backfires on 'Land Science' Author
May 30, 2008

Defeatist Article on Home Gardens Backfires on 'Land Science' Author (June 11, 2008)

Published on Friday, May 30, 2008 by
It Will Take a Lot More Than Gardening to Fix Our Food System
by Stan Cox

I didn’t mean to lead anyone down the garden path. Adding my small voice to those urging Americans replace their lawns with food plants wasn’t, in itself, a bad idea. But now that food shortages and high costs are in the headlines, too many people are getting the idea that the solution to America’s and the world’s food problems is for all of us in cities and suburbia to grow our own. It’s not.

Don’t get me wrong: Growing food just outside your front or back door is an extraordinarily good idea, and if it’s done without soil erosion or toxic chemicals, I can think of no downside. Edible landscaping can look good, and it saves money on groceries; it’s a direct provocation to the toxic lawn culture; gardening is quieter and less polluting than running a power mower or other contraption; the harvest provides a substitute for industrially grown produce raised and picked by underpaid, oversprayed workers; and tending a garden takes a lot of time, time that might otherwise be spent in a supermarket or shopping mall.

So it was in 2005 that our family volunteered our front lawn to be converted into the first in a now-expanding chain of “Edible Estates“, the brainchild of Los Angeles architect/artist Fritz Haeg. We already had a backyard garden, but growing food in the front yard (which, as Haeg himself points out, is a reincarnation of a very old idea) has been a wholly different, equally positive experience.

Our perennials and annuals are thriving, we’ve gotten a lot of publicity, and I’ve been talking about the project for almost three years. Yet neither of our gardens, front or back, can stand up to the looming agricultural crisis. Good food’s most well-read advocate, Michael Pollan, has written that growing a garden is worth doing even though it can make only a tiny contribution to curbing carbon-dioxide emissions. He might have added that growing food is worth it even if it does very little to revive the nation’s food system.

World cropland: the pie is mostly crust

The edible-landscaping trend is catching on across the country, and with food prices rising, it has taking sadly predictable turns. A Boulder, Colo. entrepreneur, for example, has tilled up his and several of his neighbors’ yards and started an erosion-prone, for-profit vegetable-farming operation. It will supplement his income, but it won’t make a nick in the food crisis.

That’s because the mainstays of home gardening — vegetables and fruits — are not the foundation of the human diet or of world agriculture. Each of those two food types occupies only about 4 percent of global agricultural land (and a smaller percentage in this country), compared with 75 percent of world cropland devoted to grains and oilseeds. Their respective portions of the human diet are similar.

Suppose that half of the land on every one-acre-or-smaller urban/suburban home lot in the entire nation were devoted to food-growing. That would amount to a little over 5 million acres (pdf) sown to food plants, covering most of the space on each lot that’s not already covered by the house, a deck, a patio, or a driveway. (And in many places it couldn’t be done without cutting down shade trees and planting on unsuitably steep slopes).

That theoretical 5 million acres of potential home cropland compares with about 7 million acres of America’s commercial cropland currently in vegetables, fruits, and nuts, and 350 to 400 million acres of total farmland. The urban and suburban area to be brought into production would not approach the number of healthy acres of native grasses and other plants that are slated to be plowed up and sickened to make way for yet more corn, wheat, soybeans, and other grains under the newly passed federal Farm Bill.

A nationwide grow-your-own wave would send good vibes through society, ripples that could be greatly amplified by community and apartment-block gardening. But front- and backyard food, even if everyone grew it, would not cover the country’s produce needs, much less displace our huge volume of fresh-food imports.

We could, instead, plant every yard to wheat, corn, or soybeans, which would account only for a little over two percent of the US land sown to those crops. Other policies, like dispensing with grain-fed meat and fuel ethanol, would free up far more grain-belt land than that.

Not even a poke in the eye

I’ve played a part in the promotion of domestic food-growing, and I now I seem to hear daily from people who believe that it’s the best alternative to industrial agriculture (as in, “I’ll show Monsanto and Wal-Mart that I don’t need their food!”). Even though most prominent home-lot food efforts, like the “100-Foot Diet Challenge“, also try to draw attention to bigger issues, the wider message can get lost in the excitement. Whatever its benefits, replacing your lawn with food plants will not give Big Agribusiness the big poke in the eye that it needs, nor will it save the agricultural landscapes of the nation or world.

To do that, the big-commodity market must be not just modified but overthrown. Until then, most of that two-thirds or more of the human calorie and protein intake that comes from grains and oilseeds (directly in most of the world or among Western vegetarians, largely via animal products for others in this country) will continue to be served up by a dirty, cruel, unfair, broken system.

Essential for providing vitamins, minerals, and other compounds, a highly varied diet is important, and home gardens around the world help provide such a diet. But with a world population now approaching seven billion people and most good cropland already in use, only rice, wheat, corn, beans, and other grain crops are productive and durable enough to provide the dietary foundation of calories and protein.

Grains made up about the same portion of the ancient Greek diet as they do of ours. We’ve been stuck with grains for 10,000 years, and our dependence won’t be broken any time soon.

The United States could emulate Argentina and a handful of other countries and by raising cattle that are totally grass-fed instead of grain-fed and thereby consuming less corn and soybean meal. But most of the world is utterly dependent on grains. The desperate people we saw on the evening news earlier this year, filling the streets in dozens of countries, were calling for bread or rice, not cucumbers and pomegranates.

Capitalism: It doesn’t go well with food

Humanity’s attachment to cereals, grain legumes, and oilseeds has acquired a much harder edge in the industrial era, but as a base for political and economic power, the staple grains have always been unsurpassed. Because they hold calories and nutrients in a dense package that can be easily stored for long periods and transported, the more fortunate members of ancient societies could accumulate surpluses. Those surpluses are recognized by the majority of scholars as necessary to the birth of market economies, which allowed the prosperous to exercise control over society’s have-nots. Eventually, states used control over grains to exert political power over entire populations.

Few foods could have filled that role. Noting that before grain agriculture came along, ancient Egyptians might have gathered a surplus of various foods from nature, most of them highly perishable, economic historian Robert Allen once wrote, “If all a tax collector could get from foragers was a load of waterlilies that would wilt by next morning, what was the point of having them?” The Pharaohs managed to exert control over the area’s population only after people started farming wheat and barley.

The even bigger problem with grains — which are short-lived annual plants, grown largely in monoculture — is that they supplanted the diverse, perennial plant ecosystems that covered the earth before the dawn of agriculture. We’ve been living with the resulting soil erosion and water pollution ever since.

Then, when grains became fully commodified a couple of centuries ago, things really started to go downhill. In discussing his new book Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System, Raj Patel cited India as an example: “The social safety nets that existed in India under feudal society had been knocked away by the British. If people couldn’t afford food, they didn’t get to eat, and if they couldn’t buy food, they starved. As a result of the imposition of markets in food, 13 million people across the world died in the 19th century. They died in the golden age of liberal capitalism. Those are the origins of markets in food.”

Indeed, if capitalism were a wine, it would be a wine that doesn’t go well with any type of food.

Most food today is produced not as an end in itself but as a by-product of a global economy with the singular goal of turning maximum profit. That is a dysfunctional arrangement, as Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, the founder of ecological economics explained almost 40 years ago in his book The Entropy Law and the Economic Process: “So vital is the dependence of terrestrial life on the energy received from the sun that the cyclic rhythm in which this energy reaches each region on the earth has gradually built itself through natural selection into the reproductive pattern of almost every species, vegetal or animal … Yet the general tenor among economists has been to deny any substantial difference between the structures of agricultural and industrial productive activities.”

Industrial or commercial output can be increased by building more capacity, stepping up the consumption of inputs, taking on more workers, and pushing workers harder and for longer hours. Farming, by contrast, is inevitably bound by the calendar - by month-to-month variation in the capacity of soil and sunlight to support the growth of plants. It depends fundamentally on the productivity and the habits of non-human biological organisms over which humans can exert control only up to a point.

That clearly isn’t the ideal pattern for efficient wealth generation, so the past century has seen relentless efforts to mold agriculture into the factory model as closely as possible and, where that can’t be done, to graft more easily regimented industries — farm machinery, fertilizers, chemicals, food processing, the restaurant industry, packaging, advertising — onto an agricultural rootstock. In the US, the dollar outputs of those dependent industries are growing at two to four times the rate of agriculture’s own dollar output, putting ever-greater demands on the soil.

With a wholesale shift toward mechanization of US agriculture, 75 percent of economic output now comes from fewer than 7 percent of farms; furthermore, there has been a steep rise in the proportion of farms owned by investors living in distant cities (some of them perhaps avid urban gardeners).

Because, as Georgescu-Roegen showed, there’s a fundamental difference between the farm and the factory, the well-used term “factory farming” represents more an aspiration than an accomplished fact. Nevertheless, agribusiness’s attempts to defy natural rhythms and achieve industrial efficiency have been ecologically devastating. The biofuel craze, encouraged by subsidies that continue in the new Farm Bill, compounds the problem.

“We must cultivate our garden,” and …

To repair the broken system that supplies the bulk of the nation’s diet will require Americans to step out of the garden and into the public arena. Beyond working to get a better Farm Bill passed five years from now, we have to work together to break the political choke-hold that agribusiness has on federal and state governments.

With land and wealth being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands (and with more prisoners than farmers in today’s America) we have actually reached a point at which land reform is as necessary here as it is in any nation of Latin America or Asia. Only when we get more people back on the land, working to feed people and not Monsanto, will the system have a chance to work. Most home gardeners know that the root of the problem is political, but the agricultural establishment would like nothing better than to see us spend all of our free time in our gardens and not in political dissent.

Ironically, it’s that great troublemaker Voltaire who has too often been trotted out (and too often misquoted) as an advocate of withdrawing from the tumult of society, into tending one’s own property. Voltaire was indeed a gardener, and he did end his most famous novel by having Candide, after surviving so many far-flung hazards, utter those famous words to his fellow wanderer Dr. Pangloss: “We must cultivate our garden.”

However, with the publication of Candide in 1759, Voltaire entered the most politically active part of his life, as he “went on to a series of confrontations with the consequences of human cruelty that, two hundred-odd years later, remain stirring in their courage and perseverance,” in the words of Adam Gopnik.

If Voltaire could find the time for both gardening and radical political action, then all of us can do it.

Stan Cox is a senior scientist at The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas and author of the newly published Sick Planet: Corporate Food and Medicine (Pluto Press, 2008).
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27 Comments so far

1. TurnoffyourTV May 30th, 2008 12:49 pm

Getting my potatoes in this weekend. But its been too cool for some seeds to sprout. And thinking about what to can…

2. Simple Sauce May 30th, 2008 1:39 pm

Interesting analysis, but overall disempowering and misses some fundamental lessons of the past 10,000 years. I’m not surprised that a plant breeder for the Land Institute (how’re those perennial grains coming along, Stan?) would be so heavily focused on perpetuating the Western Diet and its associated diseases. The messages are that our system is broken and fundamentally unsustainable, and therefore we need “land reform” and political engagement to change federal agriculture policy to meet different ends.

Our system is broken and fundamentally unsustainable, of course. The headlines every day for the past several months and the prices of foods of all kinds attest to that. But why is it that we should focus on “fixing” a food system that hasn’t served us well as a population (diabetes, heart disease, anyone?) or as members of an ecosystem (speaking of erosion-prone, have you heard the one about the top export by weight of the US is our topsoil?) instead of focusing on the root of the problem?

Land reform would be nice, but ecosystem restoration would be better. While Cox gets it right that growing gardens in the cities won’t do squat about agribusiness monocrops in Iowa, he’s completely missing the point that this is not about the “global food crisis,” and it’s insulting to suggest that people don’t understand that. Raising produce where we live impacts a lot more than just CO2 emissions. Most produce is over 90% water by weight, and shipping tomatoes grown in California (with water from the Colorado River) back to Colorado (or Manhattan) is an exercise in idiocy, with all kinds of huge environmental and social impacts.

I could go on about this for a while, but I think the saddest part is that Cox completely ignores the political nature of community gardening - whether in one’s own yard, a public space, or sharecropping someone else’s land. Interpreting Voltaire’s final quote from Candide in a non-isolated, non-traditional way that matches the modern urban gardening movement hits the nail on the head: by cultivating our gardens, we are growing the kind of society in which we wish to live. And we’re having a hell of a lot more fun than writing letters to politicians who won’t care unless we’re donating a few thousand dollars…

3. ezeflyer May 30th, 2008 2:23 pm

Asians grow huge veggies from human manure. We flush it down the toilet, treat it expensively and dump it in the ocean here in Florida.

In California, they are going to treat and drink the flushed water.

Asians will survive.

4. Recycle1 May 30th, 2008 2:42 pm

But planting more and more of my yard in food may help a coming food crisis in my neighborhood. Of course my gardening does nothing for the hungry overseas, perhaps more of the global resources could go towards finding ways for starving folks to grow food (without monoculture and chemicals).

5. cc1944 May 30th, 2008 2:43 pm

Americans used to grow their crops with manure, too. They got it mainly from horses that did their business all over the place. This created a cycle in which cities could have access to fresh vegetables from nearby farms, like Manhattan getting its produce from farms in Brooklyn and Queens, which fertilized their fields with manure scooped up from horses in Manhattan. Once cars replaced horses, this cycle was broken and Americans have had to look farther and farther for their produce.

6. Forgiveness May 30th, 2008 2:46 pm

People in the US need to eat less anyway.

Stop raising animals for food, world food shortage problem solved.

7. Kernel May 30th, 2008 2:47 pm

Most younger people do not even know how to cook food anymore, let alone raise the stuff, which is quite an amount of work and is time onsuming. Consequently, it is difficult to see how a great percentage of families will do that unless they are hungry, which could make a difference. However, it is a great idea for those that will take the time and effort to raise some of their own food.

8. Forgiveness May 30th, 2008 2:50 pm

Oh, and tear down the fences and let buffalo roam. Want some meat go kill and butcher a buffalo. Raising cows is stupid.

9. Recycle1 May 30th, 2008 2:55 pm

Kernel-you’re right about people not being able to cook, much less grow food. I’m a Gen Xer and most of my peers consider Kraft and Hamburger Helper a homecooked meal. My kids know how to plant seeds and help them grow. They’ve helped us with canning and freezing the harvest for years and even helped brew beer. We have a solar cooker my husband built and the girls get a kick out of making food iin it in the summer months. My youngest (9yrs) can even recognize edible “weeds” in our lawn and she and her friends made salads of them this spring (and yes, I did verify that they had edible greens). I figure at least my children and the neighbor kids who are over, will know how to do SOMETHING.

10. speckdog May 30th, 2008 3:57 pm

I am in full agreement with ‘Simple Sauce’ above…..the entire framework of this article assumes that backyard gardens, community gardens or even localized food production are all failed projects that have seemingly been overhyped; as if all we ever hear about on the news is ‘growing our own food, blah, blah, blah’. Growing our own food isn’t an immediate ‘poke’ in the eyes of corporate food giants, but it’s a powerful steppingstone for people to realize WHY they should even be invested in such issues to begin with. And this is assuming that community gardens are only useful as strategic political tools, which is totally asinine. As noted by many people of color–who have suggested these ideas WAY before white yuppies decide to start gardening–community gardens serve an invaluable function as public spaces, educational environments and places where folks from different generations can mingle (this is itself a rare achievement today).

So, while I am in full agreement that ‘capitalism does not go well with food’ as the author puts it, I also recognize that the reasons for massive land reform movements worldwide (and historically) are because many people still DO have a connection with their own means of food production (Palestinian olive farmers are one of the many, and all to frequently ignored, examples). I think trying to cultivate (literally) the same connection between people and food in this country is a profoundly positive gesture, and a project that has not really been taken seriously since WWII.

In short, I do not even have a yard, much less a garden, but I do have enough common sense to realize that there is something far better to be gained from gardening, and particularly community gardens, than ‘good vibes’. Rather than shooting down a good idea before it even takes root, it might be worthwhile to spend some time thinking about how you frame an argument for people who are not already versed in the types of food debates with which you are obviously familiar. Most people have never even seen a community garden (or a farm for that matter), so it’s hardly worthwhile trying to convince a country of non-farmers & non-food growers that growing one’s food is ‘not enough’. I think we are a long way from having to worry about whether this ‘movement’ is going to cloud people’s thinking about the need for political reforms (which are very real). The type of ‘bigger’ political reforms you are talking about should not been seen in contrast to localized food-growing movements. Indeed, they seem to go hand in hand. It’s important to emphasize this when you talk to people instead of posing these approaches as two competing solutions to the same problem. People shouldn’t have to ‘choose’ between being politically active or growing their own food…we should emphasize both.

Up the punx, z

11. matti May 30th, 2008 4:37 pm

I think the Author may be a bit full of himself and HIS particular understanding of why gardening is catching on again. I for one, have never thought for a moment that home gardening and community gardening co-operatives whould solve the “global food system crisis”.

They will go along way toward letting a large number of the people on the globe eat though. While simultaneously breaking the false boundries between neighbors that the “suburban” system has put up, increasing community cohesion, and restoring vigourous local democracy and public spirit. This will likely happen even as the “global system” continues to crash and burn.

The flaws in this “system” that the Author reveals are important, but he seems to miss a more fundamental flaw: That the whole idea of a “global system” for something as essential as food is completely unnatural and stupid and insane.

The whole thing was only even set-up in the first place because of a perfect storm of cheap fossil energy, capitalist super-elites, the rigid nationalist heirarchies that support them, and breakthroughs in electronic tele-communications.

So yeah, its gonna be FUBAR, just like all the other gigantic, overly-complex, efficient, “global systems”, who but the invested and the deluded didn’t see this coming?

And yeah, we’re still gonna need lots of real farmers to grow the bulk of the grains and soy -in fact, we’ll need a helluva lot more Farmers on a helluva a lot more Farms, on the same amount of Land- who but the short-sighted and the ignorant doesn’t know this?

And so, for many reasons other than actual yeild of food crops, community and home based agriculture is an essential ingredient to any kind of decent and peaceful future for humanity.

As was pointed out above, many people have no idea where to begin even understanding the principles and theories of agriculture. So, given that many more people will need to involved in food production in the future, where will they obtain these skills?

A book? A government program? The Internet? Or that old lady down the steet with the prize-winning Hydrangias? Or That young hippie couple around the corner with the bean poles? How ’bout a “sister school” exchange between suburban high-schools and rural ones during the summer vacation?

I’m just trying to give one example of the comparable advantage that local and home based gardening would provide over continued focus on a “nation” that spans the world’s second largest continent and dozens of bio-regions.

There are of course many others.

Lastly, I have a bone to pick with the Author’s seeming implication that the only crops that can be grown in community gardens or suburban backyards are vegetables and fruits. I am right now as I type looking out my front window onto a empty, grass and dandelion strewn quarter acre lot that I can practically hear begging me to grow corn on it.

-Grain crops don’t necessarily require large fields to be grown succesfully from a “food and eating” point of view, they need those fields because of the ECONOMICS of farming.-

Your local neighborhood park could be a ready made plot for barley or rye or corn or wheat or rice or even sugarcane depending on you local climate- it could even be pasture.

Won’t be needing your car so much in the re-localized future. Maybe there are some roads in your area that could be reduced in lanes, ripped up and made clean for long strips of grains?

And if you were foolish enough to move into a suburban tract-hell that doesn’t have any available fields or parks, then tear down some of the silly McHouses, then clear, level, and manure the resulting field and plant some figgin’ food already! That pacrcel was almost certainly a producing farm 50 years ago anyway, make it so again. Pull down the Home Depot! Burn the Pizza Hut! Turn the Target into a greenhouse! DO something!

But all this may be beside the point, the Human diet is not a fixed thing and just as it change to include the seeds of domesticated grasses in the last several thousand years, it could change again to include more vegetables (and squirrels? Who knows?).

Ramble over with apologies, but sometimes people write things that on one hand so inane, and on the other so elitist, that they demand a thorough haranguing on so many points that my 2-finger typing skills aren’t up to the challenge, and my words and thoughts pile up a bit.

I assure the Author et al, that the harangue would have been far better and more eloquent out loud, and in person.

Thank you and have FUN.


12. Forgiveness May 30th, 2008 4:50 pm

I just bought a 450,000 dollar, 3500 sq ft house with no yard.

j/k I am not dumb     

13. lennee May 30th, 2008 6:07 pm

Forgiveness- You are on the wrong website.The rest of us who are trying to do what we can to reduce energy consumption-diet changes, home gardening,smaller homes and cars will be laughing at your air conditioning and heating bills to come…

14. dkm May 30th, 2008 6:19 pm

Those complaining about the article seem to have missed the point. At no time to Stan ever suggest that gardening wasn’t a good idea. All he said is that if you expect home gardening to rectify any of the problems that face the world that are related to agriculture, you will be sorely disappointed. He said that many other things have to be done to prevent disaster associated with commercial agriculture, among those being the use of food to produce fuel, that backyard gardens are not related to.

And yes, a global system for food IS necessary. When there were only a couple billion people in the world, then systems could be simple. Now to maintain three or four times that either the systems have to become more complex or we have to go through some sort of a crisis that brings population down to where simple systems work again.

15. dkm May 30th, 2008 6:26 pm

For those of us who are not blessed with yards or with yards in which plants can’t be grown, there is always the window box and planter, either inside or outside the house. We haven’t bought lettuce or acelgas in a while, nor various herbs. The chilis are also doing well and saving money. If I could get them to grow without dying from fungal infections, tomatoes would also be in order.

16. rtdrury May 30th, 2008 7:45 pm

The author identifies grain as the historic commodity for elite control over people and food/fuel commodities are abused as feverishly as ever by today’s greed-stricken elites. Our top priority today should be releasing the people from elite control via mass commodity independence.

A simple model of food production is based on the average garden yield of one pound per square foot fresh produce per year, which is evident in the data from MSU that typically show 100 lbs yield from a 100 ft row (1ft row spacing). The average yield for dry produce (pulses/grains) is 1/2 lb per sq ft. The average human caloric intake is 2000/day, from 1.5 lbs dry or 3 lbs fresh produce, see dry corn in NATS . So each person is fed on 365 x 3 = 1095 sqft, or 40 people fed per acre. In US suburbia, av. lot size is 1/6 acre providing about 4750 sqft of growing space to feed 4 people.

It’s reported that in Kerala India sustainable permaculture home gardens 6 people are fed per acre. The difference is probably in the MSU data reliance on unsustainable intensive cultivation. If we assume 6 people fed per acre then US suburbia can probably grow an average 1/4 of its own food. Fruit/nut trees and bushes and fresh herbs/vegetables around the house make the most sense, with superior taste/nutrition. Trees and other perennials have huge benefits to ecosystems but have wide yield variance. But they tend to greatly outperform annuals in marginal and arid climates, thus extremely helpful.

While the author states about 10 m acres are available in US suburbia for growing food, total developed land is 139 m acres. Replacing all the sod we just might gain 36% (50 m acres) and, at 6 people per acre, feed the entire country with maximum health for both people and the biosphere.

17. good luck May 30th, 2008 8:03 pm

grow and preserve as much as you can for your family. By the time in 6 months you open that jar of what ever it will cost twice as much at the store to buy it. The only way you can live off the land is have land you can use. It is that basic.

18. Malthus2 May 30th, 2008 8:27 pm

Lots of good information and points are made here by all including the author. Gardening is a good way to spend your time whether it results in survival or not. In California we can garden in suburbia and elsewhere as long as there is water to pump and electricity to pump it.

When or if you understand that civilization is a 10,000 year mistake, you can begin to comprehend the depths of our ecological dilemma. Let’s garden and learn gardening skills and enjoy it for the time we have and the differences it can make whatever they might be. Just don’t think that this will transform the world overnight, although it is about our best shot at some of us having a future.

19. rickster469 May 31st, 2008 6:10 am

Kernel May 30th, 2008 2:47 pm

which is quite an amount of work and is time consuming.

Once you get your dirt made, yes, you can make dirt, vegetable gardening doesn’t take much effort or time. If you do it right you don’t even have to dig it up every year. As a matter of fact once you get your dirt made and the garden growing right you shouldn’t have to dig it up ever again. I recommend rock line raised beds no more than six to twelve inches tall three to four foot wide. If you don’t have quality dirt to start with the first two to three years you will need to turn it over a couple of times per year. I recommend using a spade for that; some people call it a fork. After that using a living mulch, rotating your crops and keeping your mulch trimmed back it doesn’t take much time or work to have quality veggies.

Remember this the next time you hear someone say I’m older than dirt. With some grass clippings, leaves from a tree, some clean sand and powdered clay you can make high quality dirt in sixty to ninety days. Now that does take some work.

20. rickster469 May 31st, 2008 6:17 am

dkm May 30th, 2008 6:26 pm

If I could get them to grow without dying from fungal infections, tomatoes would also be in order.

You may be over watering your tomato plants.

21. rickster469 May 31st, 2008 6:24 am

Forgiveness May 30th, 2008 4:50 pm

3500 sq ft house with no yard.

A bed and breakfast home, or an elaborate apartment complex, the choice is yours. Do you clean it your self or can you afford to hire someone to clean it for you. What do you do in there.

22. Hollow point May 31st, 2008 8:56 am

I just bought a 2500 sq foot house sitting on 55 acres of land in Canada. I have trucked a load of stuff there and will buy the rest when I move in officially. What do you do with lots of room, what ever the hell you want. The pool is up and running as well.

23. earthbound May 31st, 2008 9:37 am

I am the product of a midwestern farm. No matter where I have lived over the past 60+ years I have found some way, some how, to grow something (edible). Lately my wife and I have gotten into dehydrating foods (last year it was lots of apples, tomatoes, fruit rolls, veges and so forth). The resulting produce will keep for months in bags, and probably longer if we used air extraction methods (vacuum sealed). This way we can have a supply of fresh foods when the sun shines, and delicious snacks and rehydrated foods all year round, a good way to deal with the excesses during the short summer growing months. I highly recommend that everyone look into these techniques, and also such food preserving such as fermenting.
Peace and good eating.

24. kelmer May 31st, 2008 10:48 am

Hey leave the buffalo alone. They have enough trouble being shot by ranchers or in the old days being stampeded off cliffs. If people want meat eat their deceased relatives like some cultures do.

Asian cultures have other problems–polluted air and water etc. Will they survive any better than the west? Not so sure. 

25. ML8_ML8_2 May 31st, 2008 4:00 pm

I have been gardening since I moved to my modest home 31 years ago. I have been composting and recycling since the get go. My back yard is over 6″ higher than behind my fence. 2 years ago, I pulled up ALL of my grass and covered it with mulch fabric and pea gravel walkways and have utilized every square inch of space to growing my own food.

My shade trees, fig (the more I prune it the more it grows) Myers lemon, peach, alvacado, tamarind, and coming soon, pecan. My hedge…blue berries. Good fences make good neighbors, try black berries and rasp berries, the whole fence. Cantalopes? 6 of them in the same bed. Let me see, what else is in my back yard, strawberries, 5 different squashes, red and yellow bell peppers, red potatoes (rice is in vacuum packed containers as is a few metal trash cans full of other dry goods), corn, tomatoes, herb garden galore, grapes provide shade for my chicken coup (Rhode Island Reds, great pets, eat bugs and lay an egg a day 6 days a week…each, cucumbers, yams, and okra (in Texas, not only do we grow okra, we actually eat it). I do all of this and I live in a subdivision. I hunt and I fish, processing all that I harvest from the woods.

I come from a ranching family, Beef Masters of America type. Ate beef most days of the week. I quit eating beef and my gout quit bothering me. Why don’t you try on a copper bracelet, quit eating beef raised on steriods and anti-biotics for a few months, then eat a big ole juicy steak, watch your wrist turn black and maybe get some sores too, mine did. . Why feed fat cows grain that can be fed to people instead?

When I read that growing grains for ethanol for fuel could feed a person for a year on what it would take to make ONE tank of gas, it made me think that we are on the wrong track, heading towards a speeding locomotive!!! Wake up America, the Dumbing down of America has succeeded!!! The best entertained but least informed people in the world is going to bite us in the rear.

26. sparrowdancer May 31st, 2008 5:04 pm

This article is based on a flawed idea that people are supposed to be dependent upon a grain diet. This is utterly false and was further helped along by the USDA’s Food Pyramid. The real Food Pyramid (created by Dr. Luise Light) called for a diet based upon vegetables and fruits, not grains. But the powerful grain/cereal industry was successful in changing the Food Pyramid, stressing grains instead. Unlike fresh produce, grains have a long shelf-life and are easy to store and ship (while losing nutritients). Stick with your home grown gardens, folks - what your hearts are telling you is correct.

27. Juliania May 31st, 2008 6:00 pm

A lady realtor walking down my street with a client in tow looked over my front gate at my rows of greens tubs and tomato hoops and shade cloth, and (not seeing me in their midst with my watering can) said loudly to her companion, “…and just look how bad THAT one is!” Just as loudly (and happily) I piped up “HELLO!”

And off she scuttled.

A butterfly flaps its wings in the Far East…

We are doing good. And that is what it is ALL about. I sent my four year old granddaughter scarlet runner bean seeds for her birthday. Her grandfather loved to grow them; they are beautiful big seeds. And they are delicious.

We are doing good.

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