The price of vegetables will be higher this year because of the California drought. That was reason enough for the mariner to increase the amount of ground dedicated to home grown vegetables. The great majority of readers have some amount of ground, even as little as a dozen square feet that could support vegetable gardens. Also, check with friends and family; they may be willing to share space. At least one reader belonged to a community garden club. A modern twist on vegetable growing at home is to have a pot farm. Virtually any vegetable from scallions to squash will be happy in a pot or wooden box.
The price of food is one reason to grow one’s own vegetables but the real benefit – guess – is saving water. Most truck crops are grown in irrigated fields because these soft vegetables contain a lot of water and need constantly damp soil. Generally, the source of water for irrigation comes from underground aquifers or rivers. There have been news headlines for years about underground aquifers losing water at rates that threaten many western states with drought and no crop yield. In 2005, the latest year on record, about 410,000 million gallons per day (Mgal/d) of water was withdrawn from aquifers for use in the United States. Processing (washing, etc.) requires additional water.
For readers with little experience in growing anything but grass, growing vegetables is similar in management except one doesn’t mow the vegetables. However, one must remove weeds that will crowd the vegetables and reduce productivity. Open the following link to see how easy it is to grow one’s own bell peppers:
If the reader has any interest in gardening, it won’t be long before sunny windows and grow light devices will provide whatever the reader wants to grow year round. The mariner has found that fresh herbs add noticeably more flavor to a recipe than dried herbs.
Home advocacy is a matter of degree. However, if everyone grew only one vegetable or herb, that’s one plant that didn’t require water from an aquifer.
Of all the home advocacy recommendations in this series, home grown vegetables provide the largest payoff in water preservation, food quality, and personal selection. Further, readers who want to avoid insecticide toxins or artificial hormone growth, home grown is the way to go.
If the reader grows enough crop that there is too much to eat before the vegetables go bad, one can freeze the excess or can it. Some shrewd shoppers wait until a vegetable is deeply discounted at the market then buy large amounts to freeze or can. This practice protects the buyer from price issues but this practice doesn’t save water.
The mariner hopes this series on home advocacy provides a link between the huge issues of the world and ways that each of us can contribute to resolution. We may not bring the oil industry to its knees but our efforts reduce pollution and natural resource abuse – if only by a tiny bit.