Thursday, February 2, 2012

VictoryGarden/WildlifeGarden/ WaterGarden

It is my intention to start ‘Open House’ meetings, perhaps weekly at first (since this is an intense time to start; spring is just ahead and February is the time for planning), for folks interested in growing and harvesting vegetables and/or meat & eggs; planting and maintaining a Native Plant garden that will produce lots of food and cover for birds and other wildlife; as well as a forum for those who’d like to build, or already have, a pond or water garden whether it is in a barrel, a prefab container or dug into the ground. Or even for people who just have a lovely garden and would like to share it (perhaps we can have tours!) It is my dream that interested folks share experiences with like-minded others in their effort to create, or share their creations, in gardens that provide a family’s food on a back-yard lot or several acres. Of course this could include a flower garden with chickens and/or rabbits that provide compost; just a few vegetables in pots on a patio, or a purchased water-feature that brings beautiful ‘music’ to your world. In other words, regardless of the involvement, all interested folks could participate as they see fit, whenever they are able. Are you interested?

Victory Garden
As part of the war effort, the government rationed foods like sugar, butter, milk, cheese, eggs, coffee, meat and canned goods. Labor and transportation shortages made it hard to harvest and move fruits and vegetables to market. So, the government turned to its citizens and encouraged them to plant "Victory Gardens" They wanted individuals to provide their own fruits and vegetables. Nearly 20 million Americans answered the call. They planted gardens in backyards, empty lots and even city rooftops. Neighbors pooled their resources, planted different kinds of foods and formed cooperatives, all in the name of patriotism.
Farm families, of course, had been planting gardens and preserving produce for generations. Now, their urban cousins got into the act; all in the name of patriotism. Magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post and Life printed stories about victory gardens, and women's magazines gave instructions on how to grow and preserve garden produce. Families were encouraged to can their own vegetables to save commercial canned goods for the troops. In 1943, families bought 315,000 pressure cookers (used in the process of canning), compared to 66,000 in 1942. The government and businesses urged people to make gardening a family and community effort.

The result of victory gardening? The US Department of Agriculture estimates that more than 20 million victory gardens were planted. Fruit and vegetables harvested in these home and community plots was estimated to be 9-10 million tons, an amount equal to all commercial production of fresh vegetables. So, the program made a difference.

Harkening to the self-sufficiency of previous generations who planted victory gardens in their front and back yards as a means to support their nation’s war efforts - today many are undertaking the challenge of declaring independence from corporate food systems, reducing reliance on fossil fuels to bring food to the table, and cultivating a more healthy and fulfilling life. This grass roots revolution is occurring in today’s modern version of the victory garden. The “war” is a revolution – and the battleground is right here on the home front. It is all about taking back responsibility and control of our own food supply. Whether it is a modest container of tomatoes on a patio deck or a full fledged self-sufficient garden – each effort represents one step towards freeing ourselves from the forces that would keep us dependent on a system of petroleum fueled and factory farmed food. Growing more of our own food heightens the taste and nutrition of meals, and along the way we experience the empowerment and fulfillment that comes from learning the basic skills of providing for our families and ourselves.

Benefits of Garden Self Sufficiency

  • Frugal - saves considerable money if done sensibly without "buying" your way out of all problems
  • Healthful - a diet that is composed of higher proportions of fresh vegetables and fruits is proven to be life extending
  • Better for the Planet - the average produce item travels 1,500 miles to get to my table consuming petroleum in it's travels, refrigeration, and in the pesticides and fertilizers used
  • Good for the Soul - a garden is a good place to reconnect with what is important in life and to literally stay "grounded"

Wildlife Garden

Like most of you, I am more than a gardener; I am a reader, a bird-watcher, interested in ecology and what plants have grown here and what has come to depend on those plants. I am also unemployed, getting older, and worried about what is in, or on, the food I eat. I am also a bit lazy, which works out for folks who want to support birds and other wildlife, but who do not put and support out a bunch of feeders. I like a simple, native, healthy yard that will offer my backyard, and the rest of the world, a beautiful retreat/sanctuary that will still allow me plenty of reading time. Believe it or not…the more native one goes, the easier it gets, and the less water used, to boot! Such a garden is not only lovely to behold, it is a life-saving island of food and shelter to bees, butterflies, birds and more; perhaps yourself!

Pond Garden

I built a lovely pond in my Denver home; it was 10x12 feet and dug to five feet deep. I used the dirt I dug to create a ‘berm’ from which I built a waterfall that used a biological filter to clean and re-circulate the water. I kept what are called Butterfly Koi, a lovely, long-fined type of carp or goldfish that can live all year in such a pond. It was a delight!

Here, in La Veta, I am in the process of creating another such pond…but I’m having some troubles. It would be good to share information and ideas with others who have or would like to have ponds. In my current pond, I have added “Shubunkins,” another hardy and colorful goldfish; much less expensive than Koi. In that we have raccoons here, and in that I’ve seen as many as four, as big as Cocker Spaniels, in my yard at once, not to mention skunks and bears…there is no point in adding expensive fish. Besides, I wouldn’t mind at all if the Belted Kingfisher dined in my yard!

A Sharing Community for Experienced and New

Now is the time to start thinking gardens! I plan to add 3-4 more ‘raised beds’ to my arsenal, and to try chickens again (last time a loose dog got in and made a serious mess of things. And some wonder why I do NOT like loose dogs, but that is another story.) I have worked it out with friends who will help me with the physical part of preparing and building for such things, as well as another who will help with ‘what grows in La Veta’. It occurred to me, as so many folks come into my yard or ask over the fence about birds I see, that a regular ‘get-together’ might be fun. I have always had folks ask about my gardens, my pond (in Denver) and here in La Veta I am often asked by birders from all over the country for permission to come see the Rosy-Finches which are quite rare, but come here by the hundreds (I’ve had 600 at a time; wouldn’t it be fun for La Veta to be renowned as the Rosy-Finch paradise? We could do that, just like Sandia in New Mexico and Estes Park in Northern Colorado…but no where else in the world.

But, what vegetables should I start now? What grows with what? Which chickens do well here? When should I order them? I am a good researcher, but there is little better than a friend who has done it before! Would you like to get together and chat for an hour or two, once in awhile? I would… Imagine what we could learn; just from sharing.

We are in a horrible economic time; not to mention what is happening to our world with regard to wars, climate change, and the insidious changes to the food we buy. I plan to start a Victory Garden to ensure I eat healthy food and save on both ecological and financial costs; a Wildlife Garden that will both feed my birds and help the environment and that which lives in it; and to finish my pond…for the shear beauty of it. What do you want to plan? Would you like to get together with like minded people?

I am organizing such a group which will meet regularly but will not be a ‘club’; there will be no RSVPs; just come when you can and if you want to. I plan to pick ‘topics’ to start the evening…but we will undoubtedly go on to much more. I will have books to share, do you? We can meet in my home, or at Sammie’s, should the numbers be greater than six; unless you have other ideas. I will research stuff, bring print-outs, and ask for a donation to cover costs and my time; give only what you think I’m worth or for the cost of printing & hosting. If you are interested; call me, Beverly Jensen (I'm in the local phone book) and leave a message with phone number. Or, e-mail me: goldiloucks (notice the spelling) at the yahoo place, or ‘friend me’ on Facebook: Beverly Loucks Jensen.

The number of folks interested will decide when and where we meet… Add: ‘Gardening’ to your subject line, or topic so that I can tell you from SPAM! LOL

Leave religious and political notions at the door, bring questions and answers about gardening only. I would prefer we stay organic and leave talk of toxins & other poisons at the door, too.