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Gardening Tips 21-25


Tips 21-25

21. Partner with Animals (Chickens, Pigs, Worms, Black Soldier Flies, Bokashi)

22. Recycle all organic wastes onsite

23. Planning a garden

24. Collaborate with others, especially in your local area

25. Practice a Gifting Economy

21. Partner with Animals (Chickens, Pigs, Worms, Black Soldier Flies, Bokashi)

Animals are the best way to turn kitchen scrapes and weeds into manure and more food. Chickens are synonymous with Victory Gardens. Early in the 20th century gardeners used animals like chickens and pigs and maybe a dairy cow because they are so valuable to the production of vegetables, not just for meat, milk, and eggs.

A Liberty Garden, like old fashioned home gardens, should include an animal component. Even if you are vegan you should consider animals. They are not to be slaves. They are partners. They recycle wastes and provide manure and urine for fertilizing plants. A system without any type of animal is artificial. Animals are part of every natural system.

If you are unable to have large animals such as chickens or a pig, you still need a way to cycle your wastes. Composting takes high levels of labor, and takes up valuable space that could be used for growing more food.

Composting also needs to be done in batches, which means more than one pile is needed. Continually adding to the same compost pile is like trying to add ingredients to a cake already baking in the oven. It will result in failure. Compost failure, no matter the method, is high, and results are inconsistent.

Animals are easy, they eat and poop. Waste becomes manure, which is great fertilizer. Chickens are the ideal animal for the Liberty Garden. Chickens are easy to care for, and because they are omnivorous they can recycle anything from the kitchen, and most things from the yard.

If you can’t have animals like chickens, there are smaller ways to include animals in your garden. The best is using Black Soldier Flies, or BSF, which can digest absolutely any food item. Black Soldier Flies live most of their life in a larval stage, digesting any matter that used to be alive, plant, animal, fungi, it doesn’t matter. They can be given feed stock that other animals, such as worm or chickens, cannot eat.

BSF pupate and emerge as flies (they look more like a small black wasp without a stinger) only for about a day and only to reproduce. The larva make great feed for animals such as fish, chickens, and pigs, and the compost they leave behind turns all your waste into fertility for your soil.

Collection of BSF larva for animal feed can be automated. A system can be designed so that when they have eaten all they can and try to leave the food bin to pupate, they fall directly into a collection tray, or directly into a fishpond or a chicken house.

Worm bins are also a great option. They produce a liquid, called leachate, which can be used as a fertilizer. The dry castings they leave behind are perhaps the best fertilizer possible. However, worms are sensitive to many foods such as onions and citrus, which limits their effectiveness. Worm bins can be kept indoors.

Another option is a bokashi bin. This is an indoor method that uses microbes to convert food scrapes into compost. A bokashi bin is typically installed in the kitchen. Worms & bokashi bins should be able to be maintained indoors without any smells or sanitation dangers, and both methods can be fed daily, unlike a compost pile which needs to be processed in batches.

22. Recycle all organic wastes onsite

If you eat you will have food scrapes from food prep and leftovers. If you garden then you will have garden waste. Waste is actually the wrong word as everything discarded from the kitchen and the garden are valuable resources.

Feed whatever you can to animals, or add to worm bins or compost. Chickens, for example, will eat food scrapes then lay eggs and provide manure for fertilizer. Chickens recycle waste material from the garden and the kitchen into more food and more fertility, thereby eliminating wastes altogether.

Use gray water (water from sinks and showers) for use in the garden. The food particles, even soaps, will help fertilize your garden and offers a source of water. Be careful not to put anything toxic down the sink or shower. Not only could it harm your garden but it’s not good for your family either.

23. Planning a garden

The best gardens are carefully planned. When planning your garden consider these factors:

· Sun

· Direction, time of year, shading, plant tolerance of sun and shade

· Wind

· Some plants need wind protection, windbreaks

· Some plant will dry out too quickly with too much wind

· In wet humid areas wind can help dry the system and help avoid molds, mildews & fungal disease

· Water

· Water sources should be clean, no chorine or other chemicals, or toxins such as too much iron

· How plants will get water (rain or irrigation)

· Soil

· Loam soil with good crumbly structure is ideal

· Soil should be full of live and worms

· Soil should contain high levels of organic matter (decomposed compost & mulch)

· Sandy soil and clay are both corrected using mulch and compost

· Season for best production

· Grow cold weather crops in spring and fall into winter

· Grow warm weather crops in warmer weather

· Consider rainfall if you have wet and dry seasons

· Plant companions together and enemies apart

· Spacing size for fully mature plants

· What may look good planted young may be overcrowded at full maturity, lowering yields and making harvesting harder

· Perennial, annual, self-seeding annual

· Perennial plants only need to be planted once (e.g. trees, shrubs, some vegetables)

· Annual plants need to be replanted every year

· Some annuals will drop seeds and new plants will come up next season by themselves

24. Collaborate with others, especially in your local area

The best source on how to grow food in your area, and which foods to grow, are people that live near you & live in conditions most similar to you. Neighbors can grow different foods and share, increasing the diet diversity of the neighborhood.

Tools and equipment can be shared. Bulk purchases can be bought and distributed in a co-op format. This gives small home gardeners the value of using the economies of larger scale operations, saving money and resources for the community.

People work best in small collectives, and gardening can be most productive when grown in cooperative groups. Skills other than growing food can be shared by the collective. Your neighbors should be your partners.

If times are hard and you want to survive, but you fear your neighbors, you need to either move or change the way your neighborhood works. It will probably be better –and easier– to take a plate of cookies to the neighbor and develop a neighborly relationship.

Cooperation and collaboration is how people have survived and that is how we thrive. You don’t need to like your neighbors to be able to work with them. You may even find friendships with people that have different views.

25. Practice a Gifting Economy

While many speak of creating bartering economies to help in hard times, try instead to develop a gifting economy.

If you have filled your pantry with apples for the winter, and canned enough applesauce, and still have loads of apples, don’t find neighbors to trade with or sell to. Give your apples away. Give them away without expecting anything back. In the long run you will end up with more than if you bartered and traded.

One neighbor will give you extra zucchini, and someone else will give you eggs. This creates more abundance and more goodwill than limiting exchanges to fair trade events only.

Don’t let food go to waste, even if it’s not your family eating the food. A gifting economy makes everyone richer. This is how my community worked when I was growing up. This is how my community worked in Hawaii. This is how the community works with indigenous people in the South Pacific, where I now live. It really does work.

It doesn’t take formality. Having formal organizations with rules can actually be counterproductive. All it takes is to just start giving. Giving creates a better world for everyone. Be the change.

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