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This month in the garden - 2022

March in the garden

Here we go again. Time to get ready for another summer season. With the little rain we have had so far this year, it would be intelligent to plan for drought. This means thinking about designing your summer garden so that if you have to abandon part of it due to lack of water, you would be left with enough beds to be useful and include a range of crops. For example, you could grow a bed of mixed vegetables that you can water with your dishwater, or even consider redirecting your washing machine waste-water or your bath water and use it to water your food garden.

You can also build up your soil to make it more moisture retentive – add organic matter; compost or manure and mulch, which ever you prefer. You can also condense your garden with stacked plantings to make better use of your space. Melons, cucumber and pumpkins can be grown vertically up trees, fences or other supports to make most use of your space. Storing water is also useful but if we are in for a prolonged period of drought, we are limited by the capacity of our tanks or albercas. If you have a swimming pool, consider sacrificing that luxury to become water-holding capacity for the garden. Drip feed systems use limited supplies of water exactly where you need them, on your fruit trees for example, so it may be worth considering investing in one.

Tasks to do now; continue potting on your seedlings and sow cucumber, melon, courgette, pumpkin and watermelon seeds. Keep them protected from frost for a while yet. We may still get a cold spell. Peas, beans, carrots, radishes, spinach and beetroots can all be direct sown. Sow lettuces and companion flowers such as calendula, nigellas and poppies to attract pollinators and predators. Start some sweet potato slips by suspending a sweet potato in a glass of water, as you would an avocado stone. Source bean poles and consider planting a “three sisters” garden. Plant the sweetcorn first. When that is a few inches high, plant a couple of bean seeds at the base of each sweetcorn plant so that the beans can climb up the stalks. When the beans have started their journey upwards, plant some pumpkin seeds in between so the large sprawling plants can give some ground cover and help retain moisture.

Preparedness means different things to different people. Some prepare for the end of the world and build bunkers in which to survive the aftermath of a nuclear war or zombie apocalypse. Some others will store firearms, ammunition and dehydrated ready meals. But it doesn't need to be that extreme. Our gardens can provide many things for us – our food, seeds to grow more food in the future, medicinal plants, they can provide fertility in the form of green manures, compost or animal manure; and give us milk and other proteins in the form of eggs or meat, should we choose to raise animals. Gardens can provide us with firewood to heat our homes, our water and to cook with. We can also invest in a solar electricity system to provide our energy needs. As the price of gas and petrol continues to rise significantly, it makes sense to consider converting petrol farm tools to battery operated equipment. The initial investment is quite high, but by using solar power to recharge the batteries, its free power for chainsaws and strimmers into the future.

With the growing crisis about the lack and costs of fertilisers available to farmers around the world, maybe its time to consider where the fertility for your garden comes from. How can we produce our own? If we can no longer afford or source gas bottles can we use firewood or the sun to heat our water? Is it time to invest in a solar cooker or a wood fired water heater? It makes sense to source equipment now while the supply chain is still relatively intact. As Jack Spirko says in the intro to his Survival Podcast, its all about learning to live that better life if times get tough or even if they don´t. Being ready for hard times that don’t come, is better than not being ready for hard times that do.

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