The Walden Effect: Homesteading Year 5. Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

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Resources for beginners

Praying mantis in the okraThis week's lunchtime series has barely scratched the surface of learning to start a small garden and eat the fruits of your labor.  If you catch the bug, you're sure to want to learn more.  Of course, you'll keep reading our blog, but where else should you turn?

Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle may help to get you inspired, and also includes some in-season recipes.  For more solid information about growing your food, many beginners report getting a lot out of Square Foot Gardening, despite its flaws.  The basic spacing, planting, and harvesting information about all vegetables can be found on extension service websites using a quick google search.  (I've found keyword combinations like "tomato cultivation" get good results.)

Year one is a good time to start learning about the soil food web, and Teaming With Microbes is a quick, fun way to open your eyes to what's going on beneath the surface.  I don't have specific books to recommend, but other important topics to consider include composting and beneficial insects.

Finally, why not take a master gardener class?  Most state extension services now offer these semester-long classes for a small fee.  You'll meet other gardeners in your area and will come away with a great grounding in basic concepts.

Whatever you do, don't put the process off until next year.  If all you have the time and energy for is throwing one tomato plant in the ground, do it!  Right this instant!  Turn off your computer, pick up your trowel, and plant!

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This post is part of our Beginner's Guide to Gardening and Eating in Season lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:





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I took a Master Gardener class even after gardening for over 20 years. It was immensely helpful and an excellent use of my time.
Comment by Russ Sat Jun 12 01:14:53 2010
For me, the handbook alone was worth the entire price!
Comment by anna Sat Jun 12 11:08:34 2010

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime