Back in March of last year, Charlie and I started an ambitious project. We were going to use John Jeavons’ Grow BioIntensive method to try and grow all of our vegetables. We decided not to renew our CSA. We had been buying from our CSA for several years, so this was quite a step for us. We loved the high quality and wonderful variety that Two Small Farms provided us. I already gave it away in the title of the post- we’re going back to our CSA. Yes, we’ve just moved, and I no longer have my wonderful garden. But, even if we still lived in our house in Belmont with the great garden, we would still be going back to our CSA. Here are some things that we learned last year in terms of the Biointensive method, gardening in general and our relationship with our garden:
- Biointensive gardening was too intensive for us. I love Jeavons’ methods. Truly, they do provide a way for the developing world to raise their own food in a sustainable way. But, the amount of work that is required for this method was just too much for us.
- I’ll reveal my inner lazy slug. I pretty much want to garden on my own terms. When my basil is flowering, I’ll get to it when I get to it. In case you don’t already know this, flowering is your enemy- it’s the plant’s attempt to reproduce before it dies. So, with basil, when it’s doing well, part of maintaining the plant is keeping all the flower heads pinched off. When I feel like gardening, it’s great. But, I don’t want to have to cut back my basil when I don’t want to cut back my basil. I know. Lazy slug.
- Double digging, which is one of the pillars of the Biointensive method, is a ton of work. A TON. They say you don’t have to do it that often. But, seriously, back-breaking. Those who say that I’m not doing it right and that it’s all about technique truly probably don’t have a temperamental back like I do.
- It’s really hard to get the variety in your back yard that you get from a good CSA. I found myself buying much more produce from the grocery store, which often said “grown in the USA” on the label. Seriously?! That’s all you can give me? Grown in the USA? Can’t you at least give me a state? With grocery store produce, I can’t ask questions about the practices of the growers. It’s also difficult to know anything about how they treat their employees. For the most part, I really don’t want to spend my money on grocery store produce. More on this later . . .
- I love the way that a CSA structures our family’s eating. Basically, with a CSA, we eat around what comes in the box. Which means that we get a terrific variety, and we try things that we would have never tried.
So, there it is. All in all, trying to raise all our food ourselves was more work than we could keep up with. There is so much that I love about growing my own food, which is why I’ll probably always be growing a portion of it. I love seeing my kids pick and eat their own peas. I love cutting my lettuce five minutes before I eat it. But, it’s nice not to have to grow all of it. This year, for the most part, I’m going to leave my veggie growing to my wonderful CSA, Two Small Farms. We’ll probably try to raise all our own veggies again at some point, taking the aspects of Biointensive gardening that worked for us. But, for this year, I’m going to enjoy picking up my veggies each week and letting Elizabeth eat the strawberries in the car on the way home.