Backyard Magic

Often solutions to what appear as huge, intractable problems come easily after taking the first step. The solution to problems like GMO foods, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, aquafer depletion etc. evolve from taking direct action toward the control of your own food as the first step. Then acting locally, in your backyard, deck or balcony is the second.

Start with something simple, maybe a good sized bucket of chives if you're tight for space. They don't need all day sun by any means and a shallow bucket about one foot in diameter can produce enough vitamin rich fresh chives and flowers in one season to change your whole summer menu. In mid-summer snip out the flowers and dry them as a bouquet. Once dried they'll release copious tiny black seeds to give away or to expand your production next spring. If you've got any land at all plant garlic in September [northern hemisphere], choose some large stiff necked bulbs, plant the individual cloves 4 inches apart. By the following July you'll have an amazing crop of the healthiest food on the planet. Beans and peas are magic too, they produce their own nitrogen fertilizer out of the air. When you plant them together with corn and squash the legumes [like beans and peas] feed the others, the corn provides a trellis for the beans and peas and and the squash provides cooling, water retaining ground cover for the others. Each separately do less well than when planted together.

It doesn't really matter what step you take first , the magic is everywhere, you'll find it as soon as you start to look. The circle of life gets completed when you learn how easy it is to dry and save a portion of your magic beans for next year. Garlic too is easily replanted each fall with a few of the best bulbs from July's harvest. Chives die back in the winter, if there is one where you live, only to come back stronger each year. Just add a bit of compost to the chive's tub early each spring and weed occasionally. Soon corn, potatoes, strawberries, and peas will all follow along. Once your eyes are open to the wonders of creation happening in your garden or on your deck, becoming a conscious consumer comes naturally. So does supporting local people who are taking direct control of their food and environment at your local Farmer's Market. All this from a little tub of chives or a hill of magic beans. Guaranteed.

by Bob Wiley