I’m pulling double duty for this Friday’s “Being Married” post, tying into a theme that’s central to our marriage, growing our own food. Let’s file this under “Being Conscious,” too… but I’ll still see you Monday!
I realize that my list of resolutions is seemingly endless, but due in large part to (1) the number of books I own & haven’t read, (2) the abundance of libraries in this town and (3) efforts to not spend money, this is my Year of Utilizing Books I Don’t Need to Pay For. When I explain this to people–or talk about my love of reading in general–they’ve begun to say the same thing:
You need an e-reader, Megan.
To which I respond, tactfully as always,
Now, before you judge me for how I feel about books while I say that I’m all for saving the earth, I would just like to point out that the Sierra Club has researched e-readers. If you buy less than 40 books per year, it’s actually more sustainable to buy the book than that baby-sized computer thing that will die in a few years creating environmental waste.
Now, I bring this up because we’re getting to the time of year when people start sprouting seeds & thinking about what they’ll be growing. (I wanted to feel like I was a part of this, so I bought one of those $1 cups with seeds & dehydrated soil at Target. It’s supported to grow strawberries. If it grows an inch tall, I’ll be happy.)
Anyway. We’re starting to plan our garden, since we’ll be renting community garden space for the season. That means I need to be doing a lot of reading & self-teaching. I wanted to share some of the best books I’ve found so far. Ages ago, a good friend pointed me toward Grow Great Grub, a gardening book from the woman who brought us You Grow Girl. We also have an organic gardening book on the coffee table, one we purchased as an early wedding present to ourselves.
I’ve read several studies & articles that say you can feed a family of four on less than an acre, “[b]ut without proper storage, most of it will go to waste since much of the produce ripens simultaneously in the summer.”* I appreciate canning–love getting homemade jams & my grandma’s homemade salsa–but I’ve always been skeptical. Would I have the time? Because of the salt and the storage, would the veggies really keep much nutrient value? Is it an expensive process to get into?
How to Store Your Garden Produce is exactly the sort of book I’d been looking for: a mix of methods; a very straightforward, alphabetical structure; included recipes. The Busy Person’s Guide to Preserving Food is another, almost more tempting option. The book is split more between methods (freezing, drying, canning, cold storage); it’s more affordable; it’s dedicated to
graduate students with jobs busy people.
There can be a lot of research and investment required to get ourselves into this sustainable agriculture business, but the benefits make up for it quickly. So while the ground here in the Midwest is still covered with snow, head to your library & see if they have these books–or better yet, let me know what books you find to be most helpful in the garden.