IMG_1468Yes, truly, the first step for food independence is to begin harvesting what is already on the land with ruminants, turning your green leaves into proteins, fats, and sugars of the most digestible and delicious nature; but a close second is the beginning of a garden.  More than one garden, probably.  There are advantages to having multiple smaller gardens, rather than one great big one, and, in any case, unless where you live is perfectly flat, clear, and empty — even of trees — chances are you’ll have to look a little to find good garden spots.

First, think about the sun — where’s it going to be during the growing season?  Don’t start your garden in deep shade.

Now, how about some raised beds?  A couple of small raised beds will let you get started with the most necessary (to you) species right away.  What about tomatoes, zucchini, and basil?  A bed of leaf lettuce or buttercrunch and a couple of rows of beans?  Fast growing, generous producing vegetables that you already know how to prepare, and know you will eat, vegetables like these don’t take too much space or work.

Start layering organic matter — almost anything you can get your hands on — in places where you anticipate wanting more (and larger) gardens.  Where you can pile waste hay, leaves and grass clippings this year, next year you’ll have a wonderful potato patch, already pretty weed-free and fertile.  Layers of newspaper, cardboard, and wood chips, well-watered when you first lay them down, are going to suppress whatever is growing already and invite worms to come aerate and fertilize your soil.  Now you can begin your larger gardens, where you will be able to grow vegetables for storage.  No need for fancy equipment or expensive soil amendments — everything you need is probably growing somewhere close.