**excerpted from Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs: The Thrivalist's Guide to Life Without Oil
Thus begins the story in which I, at the tender age of fifteen, discovered that all green things are not created equal, and yes, indeed, there is a huge difference between a "weed" and my uncle's potato plant. The lesson I learned that day is that one should not pull the potato plant like it is a weed. Oops!
To say I've come a long way is to engage in a bit of understatement. I'm no where near being a master gardener. In fact, my garden is mostly trial and error ... mostly error ... and blind luck. Still, I manage to do okay with a good many things, like lettuce and peas and raspberries ... and I know you are all tired of hearing about the damned hubbard squash already!
When we think of growing food, most of us tend to limit our vision to annual vegetable gardens, and we tend not to consider some edibles that would actually be a better choice. In fact, there is one food crop that is a significantly better choice than an annual garden. It requires very little maintenance, and in fact, could be completely ignored and still provide a good lot of food. Unlike annuals, this perennial marvel actually improves the soil and the environment, as a whole, wherever it's planted, adding not only an incredibly valuable soil amendment every year, but also loosening the soil with its, often far-reaching, root system. It provides food and shelter for wildlife. In addition, it absorbs CO2, which can help slow climate change.
If you hadn't figured out what it was, that last bit should give it away.
It's trees, of course!
They're probably the absolute best crop, especially for small space gardening, and carefully selecting the best varieties for one's climate and taste can provide an incredible amount of food. In fact, according to this site one apple tree can give 80 to 100 pounds of apples, which is enough for winter storage for one family. This article about acorns included the assertion that acorns are one of the most important wildlife foods in areas where oaks occur and goes on to mention that acorns are also highly nutrition.
But not just for animals, for us too. As the article points out, acorns served an important role in early human history and were a source of food for many cultures around the world. Our culture has forgotten a wealth of information about the kinds of plants that are good eating, opting instead for a bland, simple diet consisting of only a few, select foods - many of which aren't even all that good for us, and as we're discovering (possibly too late) are difficult to grow and cause considerable damage to the soil and surrounding environment.
Ideally, we would all have enough space for both an annual garden and a small forest garden, but if I only had space for one, I'd have the forest garden.
Of course, a forest garden doesn't just consist of trees. There are a great many edible plants that thrive on the forest floor under the shade and protection of trees, but if you're like me, you haven't the foggiest idea of how to go about planting something like that.
Today will be a double giveaway.
I have a used copy of How to Make a Forest Garden, but also a new copy of Gardening When It Counts.
Two books - two winners. So, if you have a preference of one or the other of the books, please say so in your comment :).
AND THE WINNER IS ...The winner of the Sharon's book Independence Days is Greta. Congratulations :). Please leave a comment with the address to which you would like your book mailed. Comments are moderated, and I won't post your address.