The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Intensive and Solomon-style gardens

Steve Solomon with a cabbageSteve Solomon started his garden journey in the 1970s and jumped right on the intensive gardening bandwagon.  Intensive gardening is a term Solomon uses to encompass techniques like square foot gardening and lasagna gardening (and, to some extent, my garden) that promise to grow more vegetables in less space using raised beds and high influxes of organic matter and water.  Solomon was so enthusiastic that he wrote books on the subject, but over time his feelings changed.

In 1979, he founded Territorial Seed company and began to grow large trial gardens to test out his company's vegetable varieties.  He wrote:

"Trials require that you grow plants far enough part that each can develop to its full potential.  One thing I noticed from doing this was that my trial plots didn't need nearly as much irrigation as my intensive veggie garden.  Another was that these well-separated plants got much larger; they tasted better than crowded vegetables did when they weren't harvested promptly; and many vegetable species grown that way yielded more in relation to the space occupied, not less as I had read in books by intensivist gurus."

Solomon goes on to argue that Peak Oil will soon make fertilizers (organic and chemical) and electricity to pump water more expensive.  At the same time, more and more people will need to grow their own food for financial reasons.  Solomon notes that his methods will not only save money by reducing the input of fertilizers and water, but will also require only about half the time you'd spend tending an intensive garden.  Even if you don't believe in Peak Oil, if your goal (like ours) is to grow as much of your own food as possible, it just makes sense to save yourself time and money in the process.

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This post is part of our Gardening When It Counts lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Either that's a TINY man or that's a HUGE cabbage!!
Comment by DJK Tue Apr 27 13:18:37 2010
Solomon makes a point in his book to recommend that you grow big cabbages rather than the small ones. I just returned the book to the library, so I can't tell you all of his reasoning, but if I remember correctly the bigger varieties store better and taste better, in his opinion of course. :-)
Comment by anna Tue Apr 27 17:33:38 2010

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