Growing

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As the ecological crisis that we now find ourselves in is exacerbated, so too does the collective desire to understand where it actually began. Jared Diamond,(160) and an increasing number of anthropologists, scientists and ecologists like him, argues that it was the emergence of agriculture that triggered many of our converging ecological, social and personal crises, and that agriculture is “in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered,”(161) the “worst mistake in human history”. Diamond adds that “hunter-gatherers practised the most successful and longest-lasting life style in human history. In contrast, we’re still struggling with the mess into which agriculture has tumbled us, and it’s unclear whether we can solve it.” Historically, agriculture was heavily dependent on slavery and serfdom; now it is heavily dependent on fossil fuels. It is no coincidence that we finally abolished the slavery of humans (though the monetary, wage economy is just a more subtle form of slavery) during the advent of the Industrial Revolution, which effectively enslaved the rest of life on Earth instead. A litre of oil, remember, is less hassle than keeping a slave. As fossil fuels are a finite resource, it is self-evident that we cannot continue with this. Meaning we either need to go back to slavery, or kick our fossil fuel habit by redesigning our economies and drastically changing the way we think about our place in the world. We need to abolish the slavery of the rest of life on Earth too, otherwise it is just narrow minded, anthropocentric speciesism.

If human history thus far was a 24 hour clock, and each hour represented 100,000 years, then we have lived for the first 23 hours 54 minutes as hunter-gatherers, and only the last six minutes as agriculturalists. In the time it takes to make a cup of cosmic tea, we’ve somehow managed to create for ourselves a conundrum of epic proportions.

I agree with Diamond to a large extent. The concept of agriculture has paved the way for the mess we see today, despite this view contradicting the views of many environmentalists over the last fifty years who have believed that simply getting back-to-the-land is the solution. However, I argue that our present problems began a few stages earlier than the advent of agriculture. They began when we slowly started seeing ourselves as separate from the rest of Nature, and started believing that our fates are not interdependent on everything that makes Her up.

Regardless of when we diverged down the ill-fated track we now find ourselves on, it’s clear that sixty one million people in the UK (a population size that agriculture has facilitated) cannot feed themselves from a hunter-gatherer diet, given that we’ve destroyed the Wilds that such a food supply would have once come from. Therefore, new solutions are required that mix the reality of our dependence on what is an inherently unsustainable agricultural model, with the reality that we simply cannot keep on going like we are, and the reality that we need to eat. Luckily, many such solutions already exist.

In terms of eating without money, I want to present a menu of methods and techniques for you that, though not as sustainable as our hunter gatherer ways, provide a manageable target for us to work towards. For a food system to be moneyless, it needs to be based on a circular model and not the linear type that most modern farming is based on – cradle-to-cradle as opposed to cradle-to-grave. The linear model only functions through the importation of resources that attempt to replace the fertility that their methods have stolen from the Earth, and the fossil fuels that allow one farmer, and a few farmhands, to control hundreds of hectares of land. The importation of such resources would not be possible without a tool such as money.

These options and methods I describe below will provide you with all the practical tools you’ll need in order to grow your food without money, and offer a middle ground between the ultimate model of sustainable food
– hunting and gathering – and the reality of feeding 61 million people from the 54 million acres of potentially productive land the UK has ‘at its disposal’ (and at the minute, disposing of it is exactly what we are doing).

Seed saving and swapping

In order for you to achieve the type of closed loop food production system that would give moneyless living its least complex and most realistic form, saving seed is crucial. Seed is usually very cheap to buy, which is why most gardeners don’t bother to collect it (another example of money’s marriage to the maximum economies of scale proving extremely wasteful), as it can be a bit fiddly depending on the plant. However, whilst it only costs a pittance, it is obviously not free to buy, meaning that unless you save seed you must enter the monetary economy and accept all that goes with that. This highlights the difference between living frugally and living completely without money. With frugal living, innumerable seeds go unsaved up and down the country every day. Without money, saving them is a matter of survival. Therefore moneylessness doesn’t just avoid waste, it forces us to be highly attuned to Nature’s rhythms.
Saving seed is easy once you know what you’re doing, and as long as you store and label each batch correctly, including all the relevant information, it can be a very rewarding practice. Each plant will obviously require methods that are marginally specific to them, but you will quickly learn these through a mixture of reading and experience. If you want to be completely moneyless for food, I’d recommend Sue Strickland’s book, Back Garden Seed Saving.(162)

As Dave Hamilton, in Grow your Food for Free…well almost(163) points out, “in terms of food security and biodiversity, [seed-saving] is the most important thing you can ever do”. It also presents us with our best opportunity to allow plants to evolve and adapt for the future climatic (including micro-climate) and soil conditions of our geographical region. Just as importantly, it really connects you to what is going on during each season and the effect of meteorological factors on plants, encouraging you to stay awake to everything that is going on in your garden.

If there isn’t one already in your community, why not set up a local seed and plant swapping group – you’ll get to meet other local growers, get access to a wide range of seeds, and create a supportive network of people who can advise each other on all aspects of growing.

Perennial plants

Even better than seed saving is growing perennial plants. The definition of a perennial vegetable is a source of constant debate amongst the green-fingered, but it is generally accepted as plants that live for two or more years. As Charles Dowding(164) notes, “perennial vegetables grow again, every year, from roots that survive over winter. There is no need to start again in the spring, and early crops are assured, growing vigorously while newly sown seedlings of annual vegetables are only just underway.” If grown using methods such as forest gardening or no-dig, there are even more time, fertility and energy saving benefits. Commonly recognised varieties include plants such as rhubarb, asparagus, and artichoke, but there is a huge list to choose from.

Any gardener who has grown both perennials and annuals knows how much less work there is with the former. Considering that the moneyless world I envisage is one with less drudgery, not more, this is an important advantage. But there are many other advantages just as important. As Patrick Whitefield points out,(165) they can be used instead of terracing to protect the soil on steep slopes, generally have a higher nutritional content (sometimes at the cost of a little of the flavour our modern palates have become accustomed to), are generally more resistant to diseases (meaning you don’t need to buy in pesticides), and most importantly for moneyless living, they will help you to get you through what is known as ‘the hungry gap’,(166) that time of year when there aren’t many annual crops ready to be eaten, a period when we import a lot of our food from warmer climes. Whitefield also adds that “the fact that almost all the plants in natural ecosystems are perennials suggests intuitively that a garden of perennials may be more sustainable than one of annuals”.

I would recommend Martin Crawford’s book How to Grow Perennial Vegetables(167) for anyone who wants to eat for free without breaking their back in the process.

Closed loop systems

Closed loop food models are essential to creating simple moneyless micro-economies. Therefore maintaining the fertility of the soil, so that it can support you and the rest of life without any need for imported and industrially produced fertilisers, is very important. Modern agriculture intensively grows annual crops which rapidly depletes the soil of nutrients, then replaces this lost fertility using raw materials imported from outside of that region, often from the other side of the world. These fertilisers include ingredients such as zinc, phosphorous, potassium, sulphur (all finite), and they are mostly synthesised in a laboratory. In other words, they would not be possible without the high economies of scale and specialised division of labour that money allows us.

Similarly, there is no place for industrialised pesticides in a moneyless system. Beside the well documented ill effects of pesticides (insecticides, fungicides, herbicides etc.) on both the egocentric and holistic self, they again have to be imported into a system from the outside, which means that not only are they inherently unsustainable, they’re also an impossibility without money.

Yet moneyless people still need food that hasn’t been decimated or destroyed by pests. To deal with these two needs, there are a number of farming methods based on circular thinking that we can utilise.

Organics
A moneyless food system needs to be, at the very least, organic. This is obviously a large subject in itself, but in terms of moneylessness it replaces industrialised fertilisers with soil improvers such composts and mulches, and pesticides with methods such as companion planting, crop rotation, slug traps, the utilisation of heirloom seeds, encouraging beneficial microorganisms and insects through increasing biodiversity, along with a host of other methods.

There are countless books on organic growing, so if you are a beginner to gardening then pick one up from the library that best matches your abilities and needs. For making compost – a crucial skill for the moneyless human – I’d recommend Nicky Scott’s How to Make and Use Compost for a very comprehensive guide.

Understanding organics is at the very heart of moneyless food growing. It’s Moneyless Living 101. If you’re seriously considering fully localised living, or just meeting your own needs in as respectful a way as possible, you’d be wise to get versed and experienced in approaches such as the no-dig method, agroforestry (including forest gardening), and biodynamics. My advice would be to do so either by taking an initial course (which may cost money) or, ideally, by finding a farm that has already adopted the approach you’re interested in and volunteering with them for a period of time. The WWOOFing directory is perfect to help you find something suitable.

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HOMEMADE NATURAL, ORGANIC PESTICIDES, FERTILISERS AND PLANT AND SOIL ENHANCERS
Steph Hafferty, organic no-dig grower, teacher and speaker(168)

Herbs and wild plants have many uses in the garden, as companion plants to enhance growth, attracting beneficial predators and pollinators, as organic liquid fertilisers, compost activators and insect repellents.

Spray the garden early in the morning or late in the evening to minimise disturbing bees and other pollinators.

Rich in nitrogen, potassium, calcium and other important minerals, comfrey has a chemical composition which is similar to manure. Although it is extremely beneficial, it is highly invasive and so it is best to grow it in a part of the garden where it’s enthusiastic nature will not take over your vegetables! The best comfrey is Bocking 14 which is sterile and propagated from root cuttings, so ask a friend if you can have some of theirs. Alternatively, wild comfrey (leaves only) can be gathered whilst foraging.

Comfrey is a superb compost ingredient, adding essential nutrients and helping the heap to heat up. Research has shown that it can reduce composting times by up to a half. I layer comfrey leaves whilst building the heap up. Never add roots or flowers or you may end up with baby comfrey plants inconveniently popping up everywhere – it is extremely difficult to eradicate, the deep tap root which brings up so many minerals from the subsoil ensures that even when ‘dug out’ there is always a piece lurking which will regrow.

Chopped and used as a green manure or mulch, comfrey is especially beneficial for fruit bushes and trees. In the vegetable garden the layer of damp leaves provides a habitat for pests so is best avoided in sluggy UK. Gather large bunches of leaves during the growing season and dry in a warm airy place (I hang mine in the shed). Crushed and stored in sealed bags or containers, these dried leaves can be added to the compost heap, potting compost, used to make a feed in winter or sprinkled on top of the soil as a beneficial enhancer.

A potent and valuable liquid feed is made simply by filling a container with leaves and topping up with water (if you are using dried leaves, half fill the container). I make mine at the New Moon. Stirred occasionally, it is ready just after Full Moon, and the waning moon is the best time to use liquid feeds. Strain into another container (put the sludge onto the compost heap) and dilute 1 part feed to 10 parts water. It is very good for tomatoes, melons and cucumbers and any plants you are growing in pots.

Warning! Comfrey liquid smells terrible! Wear your worst clothes when straining and using.

Familiar everywhere, the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a wonderful help to the gardener, rich in iron, copper and calcium. Ladybirds, whose larvae eat hundreds of aphids, lay their eggs on nettle leaves which also provide a home for the caterpillars of comma, tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies. Nettles grow too abundantly in the wild to necessitate cultivating in the garden: they are very invasive and this is best avoided.

Nettle leaves are an excellent compost activator. Either remove the leaves with a gloved hand before adding to the heap or chop into 4 inch pieces with a sharp spade or secateurs, after checking that there are no flowers or roots which may invade your garden. Nettles can be dried like comfrey for winter use.

Nettle liquid feed is an excellent fertiliser, helps to build plant resistance to pests and disease and also can act as an insect repellent. Fill a container with nettles at New Moon and top up with water, before covering. Stir occasionally. Just after Full Moon, strain (adding the sludge to the compost heap) and store in sealed containers. To use, mix 1 part liquid with 10 parts water. For a foliar spray, mix 1 part liquid with 20 parts water.

The leaves and flowers (not seeds or roots!) of the dandelion can also be made into a beneficial fertiliser in this manner, or add a handful to the nettles or comfrey before soaking.

Horsetail (Equisetum) is highly invasive and almost impossible to eradicate so do not introduce into the garden, but the foraged plant makes a wonderful magnesium rich spray which can be sprayed on the soil or directly onto plants. Boil one handful of fresh horsetail with 3 cups of water (½ cup dried plant) for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool, still covered, for 6 hours. Strain and dilute 1 part horsetail liquid to 4 parts water.

In late May, when the larger plants die back, shoots resembling baby Christmas trees appear. Harvest these to make Little Shoot Spray – a beneficial fungicide. Simmer 2 cups of fresh shoots (1 cup dried) in 2 gallons of water for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and leave, still covered, for 24 hours. Strain and dilute 1 part liquid to 2 parts water.

Yarrow (Achillea millefoliuim) is a renowned compost catalyst. Tests revealed the perfect ‘dose’ to be two finely chopped leaves mixed through 1 cubic metre of compost (about the size of a domestic compost bin). A larger quantity of yarrow actually reduces its potency. Grown in proximity with other herbs, it increases their fragrance and yield, although be wary of its invasive nature. Yarrow can be easily found whilst foraging and grown either from seed or a piece of root. Yarrow further benefits the gardener by attracting hoverflies.

A tea made from chamomile (Anthemis nobillis and Matricaria chamomilla) helps to prevent damping off in seedlings (as does careful watering and good ventilation). Add a handful of flowers to 3 cups of hot water and steep for two hours. Strain and use. Chamomile has an ancient reputation for benefiting nearby plants and is a valuable addition to the compost heap.

Pests
Dried crushed tansy leaves (Tanacetum vulgare) repel ants, flies, fleas and other insects. Sprinkle on the ground to deter these pests. Rich in potassium, the herb is an excellent compost plant and the flowers attract many beneficial insects.

All types of chillies make a potent deterrent for mice, rats and other rodents including squirrels. Sprinkle fresh or dried chopped chillies to discourage them from eating pea, squash and other seeds either in the greenhouse or garden. Always be very careful when chopping and sprinkling chillies. Wash your hands thoroughly and especially avoid touching the eyes or other sensitive areas.

Mice – and slugs too! – also dislike a spray made from southernwood or wormwood. Simmer 1 cup of fresh herb with 3 cups of water and cool, still covered, for 6 hours. Strain and spray onto the soil. Alternatively, use pieces of the fresh or dried herb, crushing the leaves first, to repel rodents.
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Biodynamics
Originating out of the work of Rudolf Steiner, biodynamic agriculture shares many of the same principles and methods as other organic production approaches. Yet it differs in two major additional ways: the compost preparations it advocates (which includes no less than the urinary bladders of red deer being stuffed with yarrow blossoms and buried in the earth between summer and the following spring), and the fact that it takes into consideration the celestial and terrestrial influences on the plants. It specifies what time of the month (i.e. phase of the moon) is best for all stages of growing – planting, cultivating and harvesting – for each variety of plant that we grow.

This all sounds wacky at first glance, and biodynamics does receive a lot of criticism – the fact that it has been proven to be very successful seemingly being secondary to the fact that science can’t seem to work out exactly why.

Because it views a piece of land holistically, within which all the parts
– soil, people, plants, animals, water – are interdependent and considered in their relationships to one another, it makes it a particularly useful tool for anyone wanting to grow their food without any need for external inputs. If this is a method you’d like to understand in more depth, I’d recommend Hilary Wright’s Biodynamic Gardening: For Health and Taste, or any other book on the subject (especially Steiner’s writings) depending on your previous knowledge and experience of it. Better still, I’d spend some time volunteering on a biodynamic farm to understand it in practice.

Forest Gardening
One wrung down, below wild food, on my POP model for food is forest gardening. Forest gardens have the potential to optimise both vertical and horizontal space through their layered design of trees, shrubs and ground covering vegetation, making them ideal for small growing spaces in cities.

Martin Crawford(169) describes them as gardens “modelled on the structure of young natural woodland, utilising plants of direct and indirect benefit to people”. This often means edible crops (fruits and mostly perennial vegetables), but the useful plants which they have the potential to abundantly produce can be used for cordage, dyes, firewood, medicinal purposes, furniture, basketry materials, poles and canes (useful for normal gardening), spices, soaps, honey, building materials, salads and herbs, mushrooms, nuts and seeds and sap products. You can see why I’m a fan.

A well designed forest garden ought to be at the core of moneyless living for anyone, regardless of whether they live in a rural or urban setting. It represents the best closed loop model, outside of the Wilderness, that I have seen in practice. A very well designed forest garden requires little or no composting or manuring, simply by using multi-purpose plants such as the autumn olive, a crop I have fallen in love with. Not only do these produce great fruit for jams, they also just happen to be an excellent nitrogen fixer for plants living in the layers below them, due to their ability to “convert free air nitrogen into fixed nitrogen for eventual plant protein assimilation and storage”.(170)

Supplemented with some annual and wild food crops, forest gardens will play a central role in the moneyless micro-economies of the future, and they are at the core of how I intend to meet my needs over the coming years. The only downside is that they require a long-term perspective towards life (insofar as that can ever be a bad thing) – depending on their size and the crops planted, they can take many years to reach maturity, so harvests will be low to begin with (which largely explains their otherwise inexplicable absence from the hundreds of thousands of under-utilised gardens of rented accommodation in cities).

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AGROFORESTRY: ESSENTIAL FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
Martin Crawford is Director of the Agroforestry Research Trust.(171) His books include Creating a Forest Garden(172) and How to Grow Perennial Vegetables

Agroforestry is the growing of trees or shrubs with other agricultural crops. It can range from lines of trees intercropped with a cereal like wheat, to fully integrated forest garden systems incorporating trees, shrubs and perennial crops in a self-sustaining system.

Over the last few hundred years almost all the research and agricultural effort has been focussed on annual plants, to the extent that most of the world’s population depends on them. This wasn’t always the case, though, and many people have forgotten that the mass growing of annuals on a field scale is never going to be sustainable because they take a huge amount of energy to grow. As long as energy is cheap and available they can continue their dominance – but it is clear now that energy is not going to remain cheap for much longer.

We need to move much more towards perennial crops – whether it be tree-based crops (for example, nuts to take the place of some of the cereals) or smaller plants such as perennial onions. In other words, we need a move towards agroforestry.

Perennial plants, once established, take much less work to maintain than annuals – you only have to plant once (in a long while anyway), and most plants look after themselves with far less susceptibility to pests, diseases or the vagaries of the weather than annuals.

Perennial plant products are often more nutritious than their annual counterparts too, because their roots systems are larger and can get more nutrients out of the soil.

Sustainable growing requires a change in attitudes too. Agriculture has been misled into thinking that every bit of ground needs to be productive – in other words needs to have a crop coming from it. This is never going to be sustainable. Truly sustainable growing systems must devote a proportion of the land to plants with ‘system’ functions – in other words, plants which increase the health and resilience of the total growing system (whether or not they produce
a crop). Such plants would usually include nitrogen-fixing species (to make the use of nitrogen fertilisers unnecessary), and also plants to deter pests and diseases by, for example, attracting predators of likely pests or by confusing pests with aromatic emissions.

The most sustainable systems will be closed-loop systems, where no extra nutrients are brought in and the growing system sustains itself. Forest gardens are an example of this.

Agroforestry systems are less suited to very large scale production than monocultures, so by their nature they will be smaller scale – which also means that they are much more likely to be integrated far better with their local economy: crops are likely to be sold and used locally, so the mass transportation of food should decrease significantly as these systems become more popular.

They have many other benefits – wildlife value is very high, they can provide shelter and thus reduce energy usage for heating or cooling, and so on. Once understood we’ll wonder how we ever did without them!
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No-dig gardening
Conventional modern agriculturalists, and their books, almost always advocate digging the soil as if it was some sort of universal truth that needs no qualifying. In fairness, it is well intentioned advice and it is recommended by them for a number of reasons: to incorporate manures and composts into the soil, to open it up from compaction (often caused by heavy machinery), to loosen the soil and produce a crumbly tilth, and to bury weeds. Most of these reasons are flawed and come from a lack of understanding of what the soil actually needs, resulting in lots of unnecessary graft and damage to the very ecosystem on which our lives depends. Needless to say, such results as these are not exactly the goals of moneyless living.

Showing a new (or rather, old) way of growing food without disrupting these delicate, finely tuned systems, and saving you from a life of drudgery into the bargain, are pioneers of the no-dig method such as Charles Dowding.

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THE NO DIG (NO-TILL) METHOD
Charles Dowding, author of Organic Gardening: The Natural No-dig Way and How to Grow Winter Vegetables(173)

My advice for growing your own food is to garden little and often, to treasure your soil and to be realistic in what you attempt. Supermarkets have created an attractive impression of year-round abundance and it is false. Every soil and climate is different so you must adapt to local conditions and seasons, ensuring that whatever you sow and plant comes to fruition. Growing the right food for your climate and locality, although bringing you less food range, will result in tastier meals and extra vitality every day.

Some homework before starting is a great investment and helps avoid sowing the wrong seeds, or growing plants in the wrong way. For example, cauliflowers need a lot of space and tend to mature all together, aubergines are a hot climate vegetable which are unproductive in Britain, and tomatoes as well as potatoes will succumb to fungal blight if it rains regularly when their fruit and tubers are developing. So for example, in my damp climate I grow just a few caulis, one or two aubergine plants in a polytunnel, tomatoes only where their leaves can be kept dry, and varieties of second early potato which mature before the blight arrives.

Our most precious resource for growing healthy food is soil and it needs careful attention, but does not need to be dug or cultivated, except by its inhabitants. Worms and other soil life do the job better than we ever can, leaving soil aerated and firm at the same time, with a stable structure which can bear the weight of a gardener and wheelbarrow. There is a common misunderstanding that soil needs to be loose and fluffy for growing food, and this is absolutely wrong: I garden on dense clay and roots travel happily through my soil, which has been undisturbed for fourteen years.

Soil improves when fed with organic matter and this serves to increase the amount of both air and nutrients. In moist climates I recommend a thin mulch of compost to feed soil life, and hence all plants growing in that soil. In dry climates a moisture retaining mulch has a similarly beneficial effect, but is not a good idea for growing annual vegetables where rainfall is common, because damp mulches of half rotted organic matter encourage slug damage.

We should all be able to nourish our own soil with humanure (and litter from any animals we keep) but attitudes need to change in order to allow this if food is being sold. Stacking manure for at least six months allows it to compost and retain nutrients when spread. Once a soil is fertile it is possible to ‘close the loop’ and keep it productive with your own waste materials, including all weeds and garden residues, preferably composted. But infertile soils will improve no end if you can import an initial, one-off dressing of compost or manure on the surface.

Should you have more land than is needed to grow food, green manures can be sown to build up soil humus, but this is slower than using compost and before growing vegetables again, you need to allow time after they mature for decomposition in the soil, even if you dig them in, which reduces their value compared to using a mulch. I often feel that the space devoted to green manures could be sown or planted with a second vegetable instead, and that time spent on growing and killing green manures would be more profitably spent on scrounging extra additions for the compost heap from verges and edges. Remember also that weeds will grow and set seed amongst green manures, unless you weed them as if they are a crop.

Fruit can be cropped at the same time as vegetables and herbs, but be careful to choose the right kind of tree. In Britain I find that apples complement many vegetables, with a spacing of about four metres square, for trees that are grafted on medium size rootstocks. I have trained them in espalier style, to increase light available to vegetables underneath. On the other hand I have not succeeded in growing annual plants under plum and apricot trees. Before planting trees, do as much research as you can to be sure of their suitability and productivity, because it will be years rather than months before you know any results, and that is a long wait if it is an unproductive or greedy tree!

Perennial vegetables are an option and are generally considered quite easy, but bear in mind a few things: the range of food is less extensive than from annual vegetables, some flavours need getting used to, such as small leaved lime instead of lettuce, harvesting may take longer (small wild raspberries compared with garden varieties such as Autumn Bliss), there are no native perennial root vegetables in Britain for a substantial meal, an issue in winter when leaves and fruits are scarce, and perennials are not zero maintenance, still needing some clearing and tidying.

For fast and abundant results, salad leaves are wonderful and offer a great range of flavours. Keep soil around salads clear of weeds at all times and also clear any overgrowing, surrounding vegetation to reduce slugs. Sow seasonally and pick with fingers rather than a knife, so that plants live for longer. Seasonal salads means sowing lettuce, spinach and pea shoots in spring, then endives, chicories, more lettuce and kale in high summer, oriental leaves and herbs such
as coriander and chervil in late summer, followed by a wonderful range of winter cropping plants in early September. If you can afford them some shelter, it is possible to have tasty leaves every day of the year, from a small area.
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Guerrilla gardening

This most recent of gardening methods usually involves gardening some other person’s land without their express permission. This land is usually neglected or abandoned by its legal owner, and in effect the guerrilla gardener is often a productive squatter who doesn’t even bother to move in – guerrilla gardeners should be in demand! It is obvious that, for some, this is a political statement about land ownership, but it is also a way for some people to access soil and grow their own food – not just for themselves, but often for others in their community.

Depending on the motivations and locations of guerrilla gardening squads, this can involve working in the middle of the night. Other groups make a point of being seen, in order to provoke thought about the neglect of potentially productive land in a world that needs to rapidly localise – this means that many teams also go out in waking hours, you’ll be relieved to hear.

If you want to set up your own guerrilla gardening cell, or join an existing one, go to GuerrillaGardening(.org)(174) and get involved. Not only will you get to meet a network of like-minded people, it’s also another way to meet your food needs for free and turn wasteland into something productive.