5 Reasons Why This Is the Most Important Year Ever to Start a Garden

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Sure, every year is a great year to start a vegetable garden, but this year I kind of realized how Noah must have felt when he decided it might be a good time to build an ark.

I first got the feeling when I saw all the dead and dry fields of California. A little alarm went off that food prices are going to be steep this summer as a result of the drought. Then I read in The New York Times about how even California residents are shopping as usual, not realizing the grave impact of what’s happening in their own backyard.

It all reminded me of what happens when the stock market crashes. It’s a big news headline, but people just go on living their lives until suddenly, they don’t have jobs anymore. It’s months or sometimes years later when it becomes real.

But I’m telling you now: This. Is. Real.

  1. The drought in California will cause food prices to rise this summer. Truth. No getting around it. And it will have at least a two-year impact because many of the crops in California are tree crops (fruits and nuts), which take longer to recover from drought. Start planning and planting your garden now (and plant a few fruit and nut trees while you’re at it—some strawberry plants and raspberry bushes, too) and you will save money in the future, for sure.
  2. Nature needs you! Truth. By planting a diverse group of fruits, flowers, and vegetables in your yard, you’re inviting in so many opportunities for nature to heal itself. You’re promoting the welfare of animals, birds, bees, and butterflies—as well as soil microbes and fungi that store carbon (which, in exchange, will provide you with natural, organic serotonin, which can help fight depression).
  3. Even if it ends up as an overgrown patch, that’s better than grass. Truth. Let’s say you get lazy, and after you plant your garden you decide to go on a long vacation, lay by the pool instead of weed, or just simply forget to check on it. Let’s just say that happens…. Well, then you’ve created the most important thing of all: food and fuel for the creatures we need for humanity to survive. Consider it a truck stop on nature’s highway. And you don’t even need to mow it!
  4. Climate Chaos. Truth. Seriously, who knows what to expect anymore? Droughts, floods, hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, plagues, you name it, I’m sure we will be surprised by something this summer. And it’ll be a surprise that things like guns can’t help us with (unless you’re going to hunt for food). What’s your best defense? A backyard garden. It’s the ultimate in food security. Sure, it’s hard work. But it’s also exercise—exercise with added benefits: fitness and…
  5. Food, glorious food. Truth. At the end of the day, there are a thousand reasons to have a garden, but there’s one that truly matters: incredible food, fresh from the earth. Grown with love. There’s nothing better in the world.

Final note: F*ck chemicals! If I catch you putting chemicals on your garden you are in BIG TROUBLE! Chemicals render all gardening efforts for reasons listed above null and void.

You need one thing and one thing only to grow an incredibly fertile and productive garden: compost! Which also gives you the added bonus of diverting food waste from the trash system and putting it to good use. In fact, I just read that the best nitrogen fertilizer is human urine! So here is a fun activity your whole family will love. Sneak out at night and pee on your compost pile. Why buy something if you can get it for free?

Further resources for starting your own garden can be found at organicgardening.com.

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49 Responses to 5 Reasons Why This Is the Most Important Year Ever to Start a Garden

  1. sarah February 19, 2014 at 8:34 am #

    Amen!!
    You are right on!

  2. KEVIN A MCCARTHY February 19, 2014 at 10:30 am #

    AGREE WITH THIS AND MORE . HOPE TO MEET YOU SOME DAY SOON MARIA AND SHARE A VISION. BE WELL AND BE BLESSED . OH JUST DUMP THE CHEMICALS NOTHING ELSE IS NECCESARY EXCEPT STOP MAKING THEM. HUGS FROM A FRIEND ON EARTH MY WIFE IS A BALTIMORE CITY SCHOOL TEACHER WHERE WE BUILT A RAISED BED GARDEN AND PLANTED A SMALL ORCHARD FOR THE ELEMENTARY KIDS TO LEARN, SHE ALSO TEACHES AN AFTER SCHOOL COOKING CLASS TO THESE YOUNG BABES TO LEARN THE VALUE OF REAL FOOD OH AND HER NAME MARIA OF COURSE DEW OF THE MORNING

  3. maria (farm country kitchen) February 19, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    Maria “Dew of the Morning” — beautiful!!!!

    I’m always of the “how do you solve a problem like Maria” sort of Maria. ;-)

  4. paul February 19, 2014 at 10:37 am #

    amen! To all you have said I have lived in California all my life growing you name it. but this year I have been saying it’s going to be a bad year for water. so I have been redoing my hole watering system I have 44 acres and I started last year changing it out. I just pray we get some more rain. I live in the shanondoa valley im surrounded by grape growers they use a lot of water! I grow vegys and fruit and berrys I help feed the homeless and who ever is in need. so people need to understand WHATS IMPORTANT NOW! can you eat your lawn or save water you used to wash your car! I think not. just my thoughts! paul

  5. Donna in Delaware February 19, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    Let’s get growing people, there’s nothing like it! Grow the food that you eat, it’s oh so rewarding!

  6. Elaine McFadden February 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    Would you rather eat your lawn or from a garden? Think it is mind boggling that 40% of water used by Los Angeles is for LAWNS! LA needs to take some landscaping tips from states like Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. Rocks use less water than grass. Also find out which plants are the most drought resistant. Turn off you sprinklers from automatically coming on.

  7. Ginna Germain Basile February 19, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

    Couldn’t agree more!! best investment the husband and I ever made was buying an old house on five acres of land that we’ve lived on now for over twenty years, and I’m proud to say that we have NEVER used chemicals on any of it!! can’t wait for Spring so that I can get my hands in the dirt and start planting our organic garden!! :-)

  8. Tofiq Pasha Mooraj February 19, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    Very true…….. its true for the whole world and especially so for our country, Pakistan, which has a very large population and very old agriculture and irrigation practices. So yes lets start planting and help nature and thereby help ourselves!!!!

  9. Songbirdtiff February 19, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    Absolutely! I shared this on facebook, on my page and in my local gardening group. There’s certainly a movement toward being self-sufficient, and those of us with knowledge have a moral obligation to share with those who are willing to learn.

  10. Mike the Gardener February 19, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

    Great article! All 5 are definitely true. Not sure how my neighbors will take it, if they see us out by our compost piles late at night :)

  11. Elaine McFadden February 19, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    If you don’t want to grow a garden yourself, go to EatLocalGrown.com or LocalHarvest.org and type in your zip to find a local farmer or farmers market. Have a CSA farmer that delivers one time a week to my home for $25 get two doz beautiful organic eggs, greens, fruit, peppers, tomatoes, and so much more. Each week a surpise and don’t have to shop. Buying direct from farmers keeps $$ in community and make me feel like acting human when she brings me food and I give her money to support her family. Also cut out broker, distributor, and retailer so more money to farmer and discount for you! Win-win for your health too. Just cook what she brings. Forces me to eat better.

  12. Pinky February 19, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    My father was an organic gardener back in the 60s when no one even knew the difference. We had a huge compost pile, that always had a few volunteer tomatoes and such growing in it, the best!
    I remember inviting a friend to lunch one afternoon, and she couldn’t believe it, when I took her to the garden to pick lunch. I don’t think she really thought it was safe to eat LOL! I’m in my middle 50s now, and my fiancé and I live on 13 acres in NH. We at the foot of a mountain and over an aquifer so our only problem with water is getting it out of the ground. Of course most of our property is forest, but we have land to grow, plus wild berries. We also wild forage for native blueberries, fiddleheads, cranberries and what ever else we can find. We preserve our harvests by canning, freezing, and dehydrating so we will have a full pantry to get us through winter. We share our harvest with friends and family. When we had an excess of eggs one year, we gave several dozen to the local “dinner bell” where I hear they made a wonderful custard from it. The best herbicide is vinegar. You don’t need round-up.

  13. Karen February 19, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

    Can anyone help with how to keep squirrels from eating all your tomatoes (red AND green)?

  14. Christina Quinonez-Jackson February 19, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    You make some excellent points here! I really enjoyed the read. I live in the San Joaquin Valley… This is QUITE a mess! What do I do about the garden I usually have with this drought coming/worsening? I usually grow zucchini, tomatoes, peppers and a few spices, at minimum. Any recommendations on veggies that are drought resistant?

  15. J. Cummings February 19, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

    Thanks, Marie … And what is better than starting your own private garden? I think that it is starting an Edible Garden for a school — which is what I am trying to do at a Title 1 School in Evanston, Illinois ( near Chicago). This is an excited project which I am hoping will bring our entire community together. If you have any ideas for grants to help us get started… please e-mail me back. Thanks !

  16. Mark furmston February 19, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    Nice post, couldn’t agree more Maria. Thank you

  17. Gladis A. Rosales February 19, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

    I totally agree. This year I will start farming organic vegetables. I am so excited. I can’t wait for the snow to melt so I can pick up loads and loads of compost at the compost site. This will get me started until I get to make my own compost. Thank you for sharing. I will pass it on to all of my friends.

  18. Amanda Charaba February 19, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    Hahah, I totally agree with you! Here in Washington, just waiting for the yard to drain lol (been calling my home a houseboat the last two weeks.) We have had a huge 30 by 30 garden for the last couple years. The kids love it, I love the fresh things to eat and we have been adding 5 feet on each side every year, but this year we start just adding 5 feet to the end. our lot is 125 by 125, but because of how our house sits, we can’t go any wider but we will add 5 feet to the end until it is about 100 feet long. We also have 1 apple and 1 plum tree, which will be getting a cherry tree friend this year. And we are dead smack in the middle of a city! It doesn’t take much to add a garden in. We have friends who live in apartments who each have a row, and we grow enough to feed us (6 people and our 2 neighbors next door, who are disabled gentleman). I think I will tell the kids about peeing on the compost now heheheh-best part!

  19. marissa berrier February 19, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    Every year my garden grows!i just placed my annual Gurneys order and it made me happy.we have had so much snow and cold here in Pa .i am planting things i dont normally plant because of the high prices!but i can and freeze everything,we’ve been enjoying the fruits of our labor all winter long!!!And the chickens seem to enjoy it a little too much sometimes,and the deer and the coons but its worth every hurdle!!!!

  20. Ray February 19, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    Grow heirloom varieties that you will eat or store. Can green beans and tomatoes, for instance. Mulch carrots, turnips and beets. Ferment cabbage, beets and pickles. Eat all produce you grow too.
    I, now, do not plow, till or weed after gardening the conventional way for years. Read Ruth Stout and Masanobu Fukuoka. The smart farmer lets nature produce your food.

  21. J Howe February 19, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    That was an excellent article. I have built up beds and plant vegetable in two of them and wild flowers in one. Two compost piles and seven fruit trees. I lived off of apricots,peaches,plums,pluots and mandarins during the winter.

    When I run out I go to the Farmer’s Market.

    I can’t wait to have a party and invite everyone to pee on my compost pile. I’ll encourage them to drink a lot of water:)

  22. Kris February 19, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

    It’s wonderful to get started with gardening and producing your own food. I’d note one word of caution about compost – it’s not all equally good. I could easily be lacking important minerals that healthy plants need. Some of it is actually laced with toxic herbicides. So I’d be careful where you get your compost,and consider adding some complete organic fertilizer.

    As for drought resistant veggies, I’m not sure which, but with plenty of compost the soil holds moisture better. Use plenty of mulch to hold in moisture and make the worms happy. Then I’d conserve as much waste water as possible and use it to water plants. I can imagine that quick growing things like greens might do better.

  23. Sam February 19, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    @karen-squirrels are quite tasty! If you’re not into eating them a cat will help as will a pellet gun.

  24. JOY February 19, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

    This is all great if you live in an environment that is not dirt visited by javelina’s. Thus not putting up a fence been there done that; however, what about staw bales that are treated for growing veggies, flowers, etc/ Welcome your comments.

  25. KC February 19, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

    So I started a garden two years ago, and excitedly put in all kinds of vegetables. Well, the beetles got the squashes and cukes, and other critters nibbled everything else so that all I ended up with was peppers and a couple tomatoes. Without chemicals, how do you get rid of the beetles?

  26. Kris February 19, 2014 at 5:12 pm #

    KC, your soil was no doubt lacking something that the plants needed to be healthy. That’s a common problem when starting out. If compost and good organic fertilizer haven’t done the trick, here is a website that can help you get on the path for healthier, more nutritious plants that don’t attract pests. Pests are nature’s clean up crew to take care of unhealthy plants.
    http://www.highbrixgardens.com/victory-gardens/the-path-to-high-brix.html

  27. Maria Luci February 19, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

    @Karen, here’s an article on keeping squirrels away from your garden! http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/squirrels-and-chipmunks

  28. Hollaina February 19, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

    We are getting ready to plant right now. We rent our home, so we will be doing a huge container garden in the backyard. I am from Central California, so I see the effects of the drought already. It is better to be prepared and grow even a little something to help right now.

  29. Dona K February 19, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

    Hello, how do I keep bad bugs like squash bugs, spider mites, and little tiny black beetle like bugs that jump, bite, and I think the little suckers fly as well (tiny fit through the little square openings in my window screens) how to I keep them out, is there anything I should be doing now? I am in the Panhandle of Texas hot and very dry in summer.
    Thanks

  30. karen February 19, 2014 at 7:41 pm #

    Please don’t sneak out and pee in the garden at night if you are on meds. Have your non-medicated child do it for you. You don’t want the meds going thru to the soil. There is already a problem with meds showing up in places they don’t belong…

  31. Richard February 19, 2014 at 7:46 pm #

    I’ve tried urine in my garden last year, this year I’ve spent a month or 2 of winter the filling a 3 gallon jug, I wish I could afford organic food, I live in Ontario, Canada and really couldn’t afford to buy food most of the time, been stuck living off of food banks, I live at home, but luckily have a 1/4 acre(.23acres) backyard/front-yard combined, I’d love if I could afford to move to Southwestern BC where it’d be warm enough to grow food year round. Better yet I rather move to New Zealand or Australia, even Britain would be better at least there the cops don’t have guns vs. Canada to shot you with, like if the sheeple realize we’re in a police state.

  32. GrannyTenderstone February 19, 2014 at 7:59 pm #

    right on, GREAT ARTICLE!!!! This year is going to be my last but most important, most critical attempt. Many failures in the past. But the time is now or never. If I fail at a veggie garden this year, I’m afraid I might just give up. I am heartened in that my daughter, previously showing no signs of possessing the gardening gene, has finally taken an interest — as do two of her three children! YAY.

  33. GrannyTenderstone February 19, 2014 at 8:18 pm #

    something I wrote right before I encountered your article….

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/granny-ermengarde-tenderstone/community-garden-and-store-i-have-a-dream/741816349164710

  34. Jimmy Deaton February 19, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

    urine must be diluted 10 to 1 in order to be used as a fertilizer, please if going to give out tips make sure you give all the details. Using straight urine would surely kill off some of the microherd thanks to the chemicals, one which is urea. Urea is found in…………CHEMICAL ferts. Also depending on one’s diet, the different chemicals/salts in the urine make-up would greatly affect the composting as well. Thank you.

  35. Rebecca February 19, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

    It may not be correlated, but when I used http://www.feedmyplanet.com/biogrow365 organic fertilizer in my garden, it seemed as if I didn’t need to water as long and my plants just flourished. I just bought one bottle, which is gone now, it lasted me two years and I had a huge plot. I also use horse manure each year, but the past two years with the bio grow fertilizer it was crazy awesome.

    I grew corn / beans / squash / peppers / radishes / leafy greens / tomatoes / cukes / tomatillos (for salsa verde!) / peas / onions and all grew awesome except my peas. I have never been able to grow peas successfully.

    There is just something about the dirt between my fingers that makes my worries disappear for a while.

  36. Ann Willis Scott February 20, 2014 at 1:23 am #

    Great idea. I always have a garden, but lately I’ve been a terrible gardener. In our last bad drought in CA in the 70s we watered with our washing machine’s rinse water and that will sure help build muscles…or kill you, one or t’other!

  37. Christine D February 20, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    I live in Michigan…Just last week-end…February 14th, my 12 yr old grandson & I planted a mixture of lettuce & spinach ..& to my surprise …It’s growing..you see …he’s autistic & & wont wont eat anything BUT mac/cheese & bananas……..He say’s he’ll eat some when it grows like it’s shown in the book’s…………I put the seed’s in am old plastic cake top lid…….from the bakery. …I hope he’ll start to eat other foods if I can teach him ..there good for you…….

  38. chris February 20, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    The most logical, responsible activity that everyone should (and will have to in my opinion; dying bankers a sign major upcoming currency tsunami?) participate in. By the way, your urine comment is spot on (ha). Seriously; don’t waste a drop of that stuff. If any of you are on facebook please friend Andrew Norton Weber or go to his http://www.aquariusthewaterbearer.com site and discover the magical healing properties of urine. Your own most healing medicine. And it is free. I simply enjoy sharing Truth.

  39. chris February 20, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    I have a question. Since city water is full of chlorine, fluoride, etc, do you use a filter for garden hose?

  40. Kris February 20, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    I tried a filter, but it slowed down the the water flow a lot and wasn’t practical. I had a tranquility Device installed – expensive, but seem to make better water http://tranquilitydevice.com/devices.html

  41. Shadow Bear February 21, 2014 at 12:32 am #

    Problem is that in order to harvest the fruits and veggies, we need to WATER those plants, a lot! Trees, especially newly planted trees need a tremendous amount of water. J.Brown is going to severely limit the use of water for all CA residents. Your water bill will go up, you can bet your life on that one. I’m all for growing your own organic food, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not as simple as it sounds in this drought. Something to really think about. Also don’t forget that a lot of our food is imported from Mexico and other southern countries, as other parts from America. That shouldn’t mean that it will be more expensive.

  42. boobaloo February 21, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    Pee on your compost pile… Urine has to be pasteurized to remove bacteria first… For the love of all that is good, don’t tell people to run out and pee on their compost.

  43. Barbara Tarleton February 26, 2014 at 8:57 pm #

    My seeds came in yesterdays mail. It’s always good to start over every year.
    I have a question for an experienced gardener. The first few years corn grew beautifully. I rotated crops. Then smut struck. Now I try corn about every ten years (40 in this house) and still get smut. Is it an infection that just won’t go away? Am I causing it by bad watering or other habits? Thanks for your help. Barb

  44. Roc Rinaldi February 27, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    What about what Fukushima nuclear pollution is doing and wil continue to do to our food supply?

  45. Joseph Miller March 23, 2014 at 8:34 am #

    Give a man a bushel of vegetables, he has healthy meals for a week.
    Teach a man to grow a vegetable garden, he has a healthy diet for life!
    Boomers, get on board, leave a better legacy than money to your grandchildren, teach them to grow their own food!!

  46. PAUL March 23, 2014 at 9:13 am #

    lets see now! food prices, I found out years ago that most of the water rights in the northern California mountains belong to private company’s. that sell it to southern California AND WE!! THE PEOPLE HAVE NO SAY SO.so they don’t worry how much the cost of food is and from a reliable sores from the state said that southern California has a reserve of water for two years. and can make it threw this years drought with out northern California’s water. yet t its still flow’in south and are farmers are suckin dirt! ( just my opinion! a farmer from northern California PAUL!)

  47. jeremy April 30, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

    I grew up in rural Jamaica in the 50′s-60′s, to parents who started married life basically during the second WW and had to grow their own food to survive, even though my Dad was an officer, so they were used to growing the majority of their own fresh fruit and vegetables, herbs, etc. And they farmed nwturally, used chickens for manure,
    stirring compost, eggs and meat, cows for milk and manure for the compost pile. All garden refuse either went in the hen house or the compost pile. They companion planted for bug control, used beer and vinegar traps and went outside at night to pick slugs, lol.
    So, I basically, carry on the tradition. I am currently making a box garden on my concrete roof. I first use some stone gravel, then a layer of compost, then soil, and cut grass as mulch. I have a 5gallon bucket with manure soaking in water and use that as added boost

  48. bella July 30, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

    If you could keep the hippy left wing politics out….it migjt be a decent article….as written…its just so much bs.

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