Since we started our “glamstead” I’ve been talking about gardens. Oh, what’s a glamstead? It’s kinda like a farmstead thing, kinda like a homestead thing…but with lots of modern conveniences such as relatively close to town, water, power, nice house, air conditioning, etc. It’s what we are doing…our situation is not dependent on raising our own food, meat, or being organic, etc. We do have our own solar powered well, solar system for power, sewage system, a nice comfortable house, air conditioning, etc. That is the “glam” part…and we have a few acres, a garden, tractor, UTV & ATV, riding lawn mower, etc. Glamsteading.
If you followed my previous articles on gardening you know we struggled with the whole garden thing. The first year ants, birds, and mice ruled us. They simply thought we were providing a great lunch & diner buffet for them. Last year was better but once again the ants, birds, and mice got the lion’s share. But, we did eat out of our garden last year and we loved it. It would have been better had the birds not pulled up the cantaloupe, zucchini, squash, etc. Well, we thought it was the birds…little did we know.
This year we were not going to have a garden, simply too many other things going on and I wanted more time to get back to writing/posting my book. Wife person was fine with it…done…no garden.
Then the whole food thing fell apart in the country, the prices went through the roof, inflation rampant, etc. We talked…a smaller but productive garden became the order of the day. But, we didn’t want to plow, till, amend, etc. No problem. I was doing a major “put away” on my shop and our small barn/garage. I had 7, foot locker sized plastic storage bins left over…perfect for us to try our hand at container gardening. And so it began.
We planted our standard fare; tomatoes, cantaloupe, peppers, squash, green beans, and I started the strawberry patch. Yeah, I killed off the first strawberry plants with compost that was too hot. And then came the destruction of cantaloupes, squash and peppers. We were discouraged. But, we were looking at this as a very needed learning experience…more on that later.
Well, we had cleared out the local mice and pack rat population really well over the last year…none of those little buggers anywhere inside our acre of chain link fence. So it must obviously be the birds. Yes, we ruled out the herd of jack rabbits that live in the area…they stay outside of the chain link fence thanks to the dogs and my Ruger 10/22. We bought bird netting and up it went…and the plants kept getting dug up, knocked over, and torn out of the soil. Dang those birds!
And then I saw the culprit…our youngest dog! I use an organic fertilizer when I first put the plants into the ground. It gives the plants a boost without burning them out like chemical fertilizer might. But, our youngest dog thinks the organic fertilizer pellets are great food for snacks between meals. She would nuzzle up against the plant, chew out, or lick up the pellets, and leave the plants virtually destroyed.
Varmint fence went up, problem solved. And that single lesson was worth this year’s effort, work, and money in our garden world. Why? Because we had no idea it was our dog. If we had planted a large garden out of necessity, she would/could have virtually wiped us out before we knew what was happening. So it was a much more cost-effective problem solving experience than it otherwise could have been.
In my two previous year’s articles I encouraged you, kinda begged you, to plant a garden. Any size garden…just plant a garden. I guess it was in the hopes you might work out any garden-related issues you would face as well…before “necessity” came into play.
Moving on to the next subject…
So let’s talk necessity…it is really important. For about a month now I have been really impressed to talk with you and your next year’s garden but just couldn’t figure out the “why” or other details. But now I have. I want to strongly encourage you to have a garden next year…as large as practical and as your situation will allow. And maybe push it just a little bit past that mark.
You guys are smart folks…you see and hear what is happening all around us. You know fertilizer is up 200 – 400%. You see the prices of food in the stores. You also hear and read the stories of farmers talking about looming food shortages and food chain disruptions. Any now there are rumblings about some seed shortages. There are few worse experiences in life than starving…and watching your children starve.
I have no concrete fact-based empirical evidence that there will be significant problems with food next year. But the circumstantial evidence points that there is a high likelihood of that being the case. And of course…it is just a gut feeling that I need to stress how important it is that we all have a garden for next year…situation permitting.
But, here is what I really want you to do now…regardless of your decision of a garden for next year…buy now the supplies needed for a garden next year.
I am not saying supplies won’t be available next year. I am not saying those supplies will be prohibitively expensive next year. I am not saying garden vegetables will be 10 times more expensive next year. I am not saying that vegetables will be absent from store shelves next year. I am not saying anything about doom & gloom end of the world scenarios.
What I am saying…be ready to have a garden. That means have all the supplies in the garage ready to go…and get those supplies together within a month. Yup, I am asking you, encouraging you, to buy all the supplies now for your garden next year.
Now how big of a garden?
Well, that may be dictated by a number of things; 1) space for a garden, 2) physical ability to garden, 3) HOA restrictions, 4) financial resources, 5) capability.
But, how big should your garden be?
If you had all of the 5 issues above under control, then how do you decide what is the right size?
Some years ago I did a whole lot of research to see what it would take to be self-sustaining as far as food goes for a family of four. Wow…it was eye-opening!
Under ideal circumstances it would take a minimum of 5 – 12 acres to grow your own fruit, vegetables, and meat. But the worst part…it is a full-time job to do such a thing…or pretty dang close to it…for two people.
So I am not asking you to be an organic, mother-earth, hippie commune homesteader. I just want you to have a realistic sized garden for food. No, not all your food, just to supplement your purchased food…or your food storage.
My wife and I have talked it over and we have neither the time nor desire to work so hard to provide even most of our fruit and vegetables. We have already planted 11 fruit trees, a couple fig trees go in the ground this coming winter. Strawberry patch got started this year, should be 3x – 5x times larger this coming year. Blackberries and raspberries go in this coming spring.
Now, we have no intention of a really large garden…we simply can’t do it and honestly have no desire to do it. But, we love fresh food…nothing better than a warn cantaloupe on a summer morning. OK, maybe a bowl of fresh strawberries with 4″ of heavy ReadiWhip on em!
I’ve purchased the heirloom seeds, soil amendments; peat moss, perlite, and composed steer manure. We still have to get a 3-yard load of compost and some more bird netting. I will get the compost in the next week or two, it will sit and chemically cool off till needed in the spring, then it should be perfect. I bought the organic starter fertilizer, the chemical fertilizer, diatomaceous earth, and bone meal. I bought the heirloom seeds for all the plants we want to grow and eat…with some left over to share. We are ready to go!
And a previously planned/schedule project included two cattle panels, clear plastic, and some lumber supplies still needs the materials purchased. That will give as a small, cost-effective greenhouse to get a jump start on the growing season. I will probably get those supplies in September/October, build it in December/January. I will get an article up for that project too.
Now I want to get pretty personal…I mean truly from my heart to yours…
I don’t know for sure why I am asking you to not just have a garden next year but to buy the supplies for next year’s garden within a month. I really don’t know. But, I know I am supposed to prompt you, urge you, plead with you, even beg you to do so.
I know it is a lot to ask…but ask I must. It might mean the difference between being hungry or not. Might mean you just save a few dollars on your food bill next year. Maybe just enjoying great tasting tomatoes. Maybe it is a learning experience on how to garden in your location for a time when it will be needed…I mean really needed. Maybe all of the above. I am telling you point blank I don’t know entirely why I am asking you. But I am asking you to do it.
And it may be a lot to ask of you to lay out money over the next month to buy the supplies…I know it has impacted us to be sure. But I am asking to very seriously listen to what that little voice is telling you right now. I hope it is confirming what I am asking of you. If not, then so be it…it is your decision to make and I respect that.
I hope you felt the spirit with which I wrote this, I hope it means something to you, and I hope it helps you.
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I tried offering some of my land to members of our Ward to garden, but got blank stares instead of happy gardeners. That being said, I have planted and will do my best. I love canning, so that will be what I do with my excess. Thank you for all your good advice.
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Being a care giver, I have become a lurker. I usually print your posts and read them when I have time to sit for a few minutes. I love your posts for their clear thinking and straight forward information. You give great advice and it is truly enjoyable.
I have a couple of comments on your gardening article. I live in the mountains in South-central NM. It’s pretty wild country as you know. I recently tripled my garden size by turning my front yard into a garden. It took me two years. I had to put a 6 ft fence around it to keep the deer out and around the base of the fence I put 12” of ½’ wire cloth to keep out the field mice and pack rats. The wire cloth comes in a 2’ roll so I cut it in half with a reciprocating saw.
I have never been a great gardener until I got The Mittleider Gardening Course. It can be found on Amazon for about $30. Now my neighbors love me for the produce that I share.
Another book that has helped is The Seed Garden. In it I learned that you can’t dry and save tomato seeds like other seeds. They will never sprout. They must be fermented to remove a protective coating. Most other seeds are pretty straight forward but it is a great book for saving seeds to plant next year. Sometimes we get produce at the store and save the seeds. It works very well for peppers.
I noticed last year that there were no bees pollinating my garden so now I am a beekeeper. It comes with its challenges but helps with pollination. I had to electrify the fence to keep bears out. Always a new challenge.
I am not a purest in organic gardening, though I do try to be responsible and aware of what I’m putting in my garden. My rule of thumb is to keep a three year supply of commercial fertilizer and seeds on hand.
I hope this helps in your gardening experience.
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Hey Glen…GREAT to hear from you!! I hope all is well and glad to hear about you increasing your garden size. I think in your area, because I have visited, you could be a model project for prepping/homesteading/gardening.
You gave so much great information I am going to give your “reply” as its own article.
Please, tell your wife we said “hi!”
Anything I can do for you I certainly will. You can use our glam-stead (thanks for coining the name) in any way that you think appropriate to help others.
I remember you coming here but I don’t remember when it was. Let me catch you up a little. Kathy had a stroke in March 2014 and was just starting to walk a little with a walker when she had another in March 2020. She can’t walk or even put weight on her left leg now. Don’t get me wrong, we are doing great. Kathy is like living with an angel. I tell people we are like a couple of schoolgirls sitting in a corner giggling and carrying on…not a care in the world! I am her caregiver and extremely protective of her.
Hope all is well with you and yours. Tell your dear wife “Hi” from us. Keep on keeping on.
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I, too, have felt very prompted to increase my garden. I follow the Mittleider gardening method. They have a website “Food for Everyone Foundation” for the books, etc. They also have a facebook page. I have been following them for several years now. I am in the process of spearheading a community garden at church too.
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Sounds as if you are all over this idea. Good on ya!
Could you please share your thoughts and observations on the “community garden at church”???
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