Your Reading List

Gardening season continues

I now walk pastures thinking about them as big gardens. Pretty nifty, as harvest of pastures is much easier than a regular garden. The cattle do it for you. Day and part of the night they just keep their heads down, chomping away eating grass, forbs and shrubs. They also perform automatic sheet composting by adding undigested organic matter in nice flat piles. Next, they mix things up with their hooves, stepping down on old standing vegetation covering the soils, planting seeds and stirring in air with their heavy hooves, then adding liquid to the soil surface with one percent nitrogen.

Of course, we all end up on the lucky end of this production model by getting to eat all that great tasting, high quality protein called beef. This kind of big garden production builds healthy muscles, stronger bones and gives long-term energy. What a deal with almost no work! However, to balance our food intake, we also need to add some vitamins in other kinds of food. That’s where this winter I have not given up on raising what I now call portable food gardens or to spin words, raise homegrown “Fast Food.”

Here in Montana, it’s cold, freezing and sometimes snowing and we have three gardens still growing in mid-November. One is outside, a square foot garden constructed in boxes placed on top of the ground protected with two glass shower panels that stand upright together in an “A” frame.

Another is a two foot by four foot portable food garden in an insulated box mounted on wheels with a thermostatic controlled soil heater and a nifty automatic lifting device for the glass lid. The last garden is also mounted on wheels and sets inside of our garage under newly installed clear plastic roof panels. This garden contains moveable flats and portable plastic buckets with tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, peppers, swiss chard and spinach all loaded into a John Deer garden trailer. I can move them outside on nice days.

These are test gardens, as I’m experimenting on how to grow veggies in very small places. I didn’t want to quit just because of the cold weather. Besides if I stay stuck in the rut of gardening the old way, I’m limited to only 90 days a year growing homegrown food. What about the other 275 days which is two thirds of the year slipping by with all that wasted untapped sunlight energy.

Last year I extended our growing season to Thanksgiving, this year I want to make it to Christmas

CONTINUED ON PAGE 20

Comments

explore

Stories from our other publications