Planning a Year-Round Garden

Planning, planting and harvesting a year round garden.

| February/March 1996

Planning a year-round garden, how to plan, plan, and harvest your own food. (See the garden illustrations and photos in the image gallery.)

Planning a Year-Round Garden

Born in 1938, I was a product of the Great Depression. Ben Franklin's words from another era, "waste not, want not;" are burned into my psyche. How could people have gotten into the dreadful positions in which they found themselves during the thirties? More important, how could I avoid the same kind of pain and struggle if history repeated itself in my lifetime?

Living in New York City in the '60s I felt even more vulnerable. Remember when the lights went out in the entire Northeast? People were stuck in elevators and subways for hours. If the electricity were off long enough, there would be no water. When the sanitation workers went on strike, garbage piled up on the streets for weeks. Progress ... hmm.

What if everything failed, all that we have created in the industrial age-roads and means of transportation, electricity, communications, water delivery, the economic system? The farm in Maine that I purchased in 1969 became the focus of those thoughts. I could walk from New York City to Maine if I had to. I could dip my water out of a hand-dug well that was there. I could become a hunter-gatherer, if need be, on my own and nearby lands. These thoughts relieved my anxiety over being dependent on electricity, municipal water, and the complex and expensive food distribution system. Not only did the notion of independence relieve anxiety, it felt really good. The more I thought about it the better it felt.

When we moved to the farm in 1972 I decided to try to meet our needs as directly as possible. We needed to heat our house and we had lots of trees on the land, so we converted the heating system to wood and started cutting and splitting. While food is certainly a very basic need, I also find it to be a great source of pleasure. I wanted more variety and refinement than a hunter-gatherer's diet. Thus I began gardening for independence.

We need air, water, and food to live. Air and water were taken care of (though I later got involved in protecting those basics). That left food. The idea was to plant, tend, harvest, and store enough food to feed first two, then later, four people for 365 days. It would, presumably, be easier in the Garden State, New Jersey, or the central valley of California. But we lived in Maine and had no desire to relocate. I welcomed the challenge.

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