I decided to try a different gardening approach a few years ago. Here in Southern Utah I have had trouble growing a garden. I have tried HUGE pots filled to the brim with Miracle Grow Potting soil designed for pots. I have tried the Extra Moisture type potting soil as well. They did not work for me either. I didn’t get more than two or three tomatoes in those pots. I even had special tubes watering them through the sprinkling system. The pots did not work for me here in the heat of the summer where we sometimes get temperatures up 110 degrees, too HOT for regular gardening!
Raised Beds For Gardening:
A few years ago I started with a few raised gardening boxes. I bought the Suncast RBD939 48-Inch by 48-Inch by 18-Inch 6 Panel Tiered Resin Raised Garden Kit manufactured by Suncast. I found these on Amazon. They are designed to be two levels…I didn’t want two different levels. I wanted mine extra deep (18 inches) so I bought three sets and just snapped together the sides of different sections to make the 4 foot squares I wanted. These are definitely something you can build on your own. I filled them with Miracle Grow Potting Soil mixed with a little “dirt” that came in bags. The red clay soil here is way too hard. I have slowly been adding more and more boxes.
I have seen raised gardening boxes made with the white vinyl fencing and they look sturdy! I had to do these because I could not dig the holes for the white vinyl fence gardening boxes. When I lived up north I would have done those for sure. We have really hard clay soil here.
This year I will try planting seeds since I really want to know that I could survive eating from my own garden in case something unexpected happens to my family. If you have tried any non-hybrid or heirloom seeds please let me know.
I fill the raised gardening raised beds with soil up to within two inches from the top. My husband and I ran the black tubing to run the sprinkler full circle 360 degree spray heads. We have two of these full circle spray heads in each 48 inch raised gardening bed. We raise them about 2 inches above the soil in each box.
Gardening In Raised Beds Work:
After trying different gardening approaches, I realized that the best growing soil here in Southern Utah has to be 18 inches deep (above the ground). The soil is so hard that the roots could not grow deep enough in the ground. It might just be my imagination, but it works and I am so glad because I have to have a garden. Last summer I had so much lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers we had a fresh salad every night for almost 6-7 months. This saves me so much money and we are eating healthier!
Tomato Cages For Gardening:
The winds where I live can pick up unexpectedly and I wanted to have really good tomato cages, so I got the cages shown above called Sturdy Cages from a gardening center in the Salt Lake City area. You can get some good sturdy Lifetime Tomato Cages, Heavy Gauge, Set of 4 on Amazon for a pretty good price. I purchased my “Sturdy Tomato Cages” at Glover Nursery in Salt Lake City, Utah.
My garden did really well last year. I had so many tomatoes, basil, cilantro and cucumbers I was giving them away! The zucchini did not do so well. I know it usually grows like a weed. I can’t buy the flimsy tomato cages because then I have to replace them every few years. Plus, they never hold the branches correctly. I have had these cages for almost 8 years. They must be lifetime cages because they still are as strong as the day I bought them.
It’s been fun to garden and see these various plants grow in my own backyard. I just ordered 3 more Suncast grow boxes. Yes, I want more 48″ grow boxes! There is nothing better than fresh fruits and veggies from your own garden!
Have you seen rising food prices continue rising? I think most of us are taught as we grow up to be as self-sufficient as possible. We see from those around us that with a combination of hard work, training and education we can find work and get ahead, thus providing the finances to support ourselves and those we love. Most have also been told to plan ahead and have sufficient reserves so that we are prepared, just in case some unexpected event happens that turns our life upside down, whether it is an act of Mother Nature, a lost job, illness or accident.
Some things kind of sneak up on us. We try to control our surroundings and work to make our homes and workplaces safe and secure. But from time to time there are forces at work for which we have no input or control. That is the case right now in the US due to the rise in prices across many sectors, including food. I read an article recently in which this challenge was brought to my attention in a very strong way. Those of you living in the east where a very severe winter was the norm may not be aware that much of the west, and parts of the mid-west, are experiencing a drought that is affecting food prices in a very adverse way. Let me bring to your attention some of the issues currently at hand.
Serious Effects Of Drought
Drought over the past few years has had a cumulative effect such that the feed for cattle has been in decline. If you can’t feed the cattle you sell them off. In doing so the herds are getting smaller every year, and as supply and demand forces kick in, the price of the meat and dairy products go up since there aren’t as many ranches raising milk cows or sending cattle to market. It has been reported that food prices are up over 21% just in the past 12 months.
Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea
Besides the effects of the drought on meat and dairy products, the country is also experiencing a perplexing problem in the hog market. Many hog farmers are seeing their production drop drastically due to a virus called Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea that kills many young pigs. With the pigs dying off in droves the price for bacon and other pig related products has skyrocketed like never before. Researchers are trying to find a cure, but as of now they haven’t been able to prevent the disease from spreading or to cure the animals once the disease is contracted.
Bacteria Targeting Citrus Crop
There is also a challenge to the citrus industry in Florida right now. The growers there are in panic mode due to a plant disease called citrus greening. The bacteria causing the disease makes the various citrus fruits taste bitter and drop from the trees before they ripen. The gardening disease affects more than the leaves, it attacks the root structure of the trees and doesn’t allow the fruit to stay attached long enough to mature for a full harvest season. We may not be enjoying that morning tall glass of orange juice or lemonade in the very near future, unless we are willing to spend “an arm and a leg” for them.
California Is A Large Food Producer
One of our physically largest states, California, is also the prime region for the gardening production of many of the fruits and vegetables we enjoy as part of our everyday meals. California continues to experience a years long drought that seems to have no end. Although the tourist trade in California is huge, so is their agricultural production. The California Department of Food and Agriculture reports that their state provides 99% of artichokes, 97% of plums, 95% of celery, 94% of broccoli, 90% of avocados, 90% of lettuce, 88% of strawberries, 86% of lemons and 84% of peaches for the rest of the country. Most all of these foods are in shorter supply due to the drought, and things don’t look favorable in the short term since the drought continues.
Coffee From Latin America
Similar challenges are to be found in Latin America as it relates to their coffee production. There is a fungus infecting coffee plantations in Mexico, Central and South America. This fungus is call leaf rust (roya) and the trees simply choke from lack of nutrition. There is no cure for this fungus, so the future of the industry as it relates to our most common sources of coffee beans is in serious doubt.
Future Water Concerns
Out west there is also constant dialogue about the growing population and the shortage of water resources. The county I live in here in Southern Utah is talking about building a water pipeline from Lake Powell, a storage source using Colorado River water, to our area. This pipeline is projected to cost in excess of $1.0 billion and they aren’t sure how they will pay for it. The lake is already low from many years of drought. The various states that rely on water from the Colorado River aren’t anxious to see this precious resource drained off simply because Southern Utah is a pleasant retirement location. These kinds of conflicting priorities will surely become more prevalent in future years.
I don’t mean to paint a picture of gloom and doom, I just want us all to realize that no matter how successful we may be in making money to support the family, there may be circumstances beyond or control that will make providing all the food we need much more difficult if weather patterns stay the same and if the scientific community can’t solve some soil and plant diseases now plaguing our country. For me, it simply supports my desire to plant and grow what I can, harvest and can/preserve what I grow, and to purchase and store for emergency use those items that I enjoy eating, and do so before the prices go up so dramatically that I can’t afford to buy them.
We all need to plan ahead, become pro-active, learn what is going on around us and prepare accordingly. Let me know your thoughts about these issues and how you see yourself responding to challenges beyond your control. If you already have a garden, I applaud you! Some of us don’t have much land so we need to learn to “garden” in different ways…….
Please start gardening today if you haven’t already and buy weekly a few extra cans of the food you enjoy. Please stock up on beans, rice and wheat. If you can’t eat wheat then stock up on the foods you can eat. I am sure you are all aware of the rising food prices…
I know gardening can be a lot of fun! Let me know if you have tried raised gardening boxes! Gardening and cats: Prepare Garden Beds.
Earth Easy website (one of my favorite websites)