It’s time that the lazy anglers one of people rise up and take an explicit stand.
Food is now the front line of the struggle for sustainable living. Yet while I appreciate the proliferation of blog articles, videos, and publications about locavore diets and garden farming they have, I panic, generated a certain ethic around self-sufficiency and the idea of returning to the challenging, honest undertaking of working the soil. In principle, I have zero issue with this… except I do not really like hard, honest work.
It’s time that the lazy anglers among us rise up and take an explicit stand. So, for all the people who find weeding a job, who’d rather be reading TreeHugger than thinning their lettuce, and that never actually known the point in dual digging anyway, I provide you with some manifesto for lazy gardening. Read on, if you’ve the energy.
Even that a Small Harvest is a Step Forward
There is, of course course, little doubt that growing a significant proportion of your food is a superb way to lower your environmental footprint. But it is going to take time, effort, and skill. By starting little, and by picking your battles, even the most inexperienced or simply lazy gardener may enjoy a crop without breaking their backs.
From simple approaches for growing sausage to three simple veggies, TreeHugger’s very own Colleen Vanderlinden has done an awesome job of making gardening equally unintimidating and accessible. It’s my sincere hope that by adopting the principles laid out under, or starting the discussion, the lazy Trainers and foodies among us may take both our philosophy and our practice into the second degree. It can also make us much better gardeners in the process.
This sucks. Next year I’m leaving the leaves in which they collapse, and saving on compost. Image credit: Jenni Grover
Ditch the Work Ethic
When I first began gardening within an allotment community garden in the UK, I was struck by the good-old-boy civilization of digging, weeding, hoeing, watering, carrying, building, planting, pruning and usually trying to look as active as possible. It appeared to me , much like conventional agriculture, these men saw themselves as soldiers in a war with character —industriously trying to squeeze every last ounce of harvest out of their little plots, also to crush any insect or weed that dare get in their own way.
Then I fulfilled Mike Feingold, whose awesome video tour of a permaculture allotment established a hit on TreeHugger. He introduced me into a different strategy to gardening—tolerating weeds until they turned into an issue (and encouraging them if they are edible or otherwise useful), avoiding digging in any way costs (see also Warren’s article about the best way best to build a more no-dig garden), and usually letting nature take its course. Mike’s gardens might be a portion of the messiest I’ve found, but boy does he get a great deal of food from them—and that he generally has time to kick back, unwind and love the view also.
If You Fail, Give Up And Try Something Easier
Perseverance may be a superb thing, and people have an almost limitless capacity to overcome unimaginable obstacles. But we may also be astoundingly stubborn. For the lazy anglers one of people, or people limited by time, funding or skill, we would do well to reflect on our brink for admitting defeat — and possibly lower it a notch or 2.
For a year or two I’ve tried my hardest to increase both zucchini and squash here in North Carolina, just to see it decimated by stink bugs. I asked anyplace for organic solutions for tackling these little buggers, until I had everything I esteem for a revelation — zucchini and squash are plentiful in the farmers market and also in the grocery shop. If I’m struggling to increase themrather than fight through and obtain a mediocre crop, why don’t you give up and plant twice as many peppers or garlic instead? (Both are plants that appears to thrive here.)
Be Imprecise. (Nature Can Deal With It.)
Another habit of older school anglers who I dropped into in ancient days was plant spacing. Or more precisely, regimented plant spacing. Reading the rear of seed packets, it’s too easy to begin worrying whether the seed ought to be 1/2 and inch or a complete inch under the soil surface. Whether rows must be dispersed 10″ or 12″ apart. Whether you ought to stagger your plantings etc etc. Some times I felt nearly paralyzed with indecision regarding precisely what the right spacing has been for my salad mix.
In my experience, however, it’s never proven to matter that much. Sure, I take spacing as an overall guide — and strive to not plant plants. But I’m completed trying to get it precisely right. In reality, sometimes I do not even attempt at — lettuce, celery, spinach and arugula are broadcast in beds with hardly a caution to spacing — seeds are inexpensive, and there is simply a lot of lettuce that a man can eat anyhow. So rather than worrying about it, I would rather scatter my seed widely, so to speak, and reap everything I sow. Thinning then only becomes a case of picking a salad.
Plants Like Tough Love
Another big revelation, for mepersonally, was that it was OK to fail plants a little. Sure, you do not wish to let fresh seedlings wilt in the hot sunshine, but evenly mollycoddling your crops with an excessive amount of water, or even a lot of mulch, will produce weak, exposed specimens which will keel over at the first sign of drought. So second time your significant other finds you kicking back with a beer instead of watering those radishes, explain to them that it is all a part of your plan. Your plants are active developing heavy, resilient root programs. And you’re occupied quenching your thirst in compassion for their plight.
Choose Plants which Fend for Themselves
There is a disagreement going on in sustainable agriculture circles around moving from annual plants and toward perennials. On the farm scale, this is all about conserving soils and using less fossil fuels. On the garden scale, in which oil is generally replaced by individual labour, this is about being lazy. (In the greatest feeling of the word.)
Most vegetable gardening novels I see will warn you that growing asparagus takes up a lot of space for a little garden. But it’s important to weigh up distance versus time and effort and asparagus beds will create for twenty decades or longer with little labour required except for weeding, mulching and the occasional feeding.
Similarly, fruit trees and shrubs, herbs, perennial vegetables, shiitake mushroom logs and self-seeding annuals are a fantastic way to acquire ongoing crops for minimum work. Sure, some might require a little work to become established in the first location, however the authentic lazivore understands that sometimes even we need to split into a mild sweat if we wish to like the great life afterwards. (We only be sure we possess some iced tea available to unwind with afterwards.)
Self Sufficiency Shouldn’t Cause Self Hate
Lastly, becoming a productive, lazy gardener is about attitude adjustment. While I admire the 100-mile dieters and small grain growers as far as the next hippy, I needed to come to terms with the idea that this wasn’t me. At not yet.
Having your child do your gardening for you is a totally legitimate lazivore technique. Image credit: Jenni Grover
I have occupations. I have kids. And I have a true penchant for sitting in the forests by a creek and watching the world go by. Instead of beating up myself for not growing everything I can increase, I currently decide to redesign myself for everything I do develop. It’s another component of the missing eco-art of cutting yourself some slack.
Patrick Whitefield, a leading permaculture specialist and writer of The Earth Care Manual, once explained we shouldn’t forget that each time a seed develops, it is a miracle. So who cares if it is merely a radish? Stand back, enjoy your miracle, then go have a rest.
Maybe as soon as you wake up you will be prepared to exchange something else.
This updated narrative was originally published in 2011.