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Grow Your Own

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Jeanne Nolan grows food. Starting as a teenager, she managed rural organic farms for 17 years. She returned to her hometown of Chicago in 2004 where she has since grown hundreds of farms and food gardens in and around the city — in downtown parks, public school yards, suburban estates, inner-city shelters, restaurant rooftops, even the mayor’s back yard. Her book, From The Ground Up: A Food Grower's Education in Life, Love and the Movement That's Changing the Nation, will be published by Random House in July. She lives in Glencoe, IL with her husband and daughters in a home where all are encouraged to have dirt under their fingernails.

Amanda Little writes about the environment. She has traveled from deepsea oil rigs into the guts of the electricity grid, from Kansas cornfields to rooftop farms in Queens, to investigate America’s changing environmental landscape. She teaches journalism at Vanderbilt University and has written for The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, and Outside. She's the author of Power Trip: The Story of America's Love Affair With Energy and co-wrote From the Ground Up. Amanda lives with her husband and kids in Nashville TN and is the sort of eco-activist who uses disposable diapers, eats too much meat, and has a passion for all-terrain vehicles.

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How To Grow Your Groceries: The Rookie Guide to DIY Farming, Part 1

By Jeanne & Amanda |

First off, let’s dispense with the myth of the “green thumb,” and shed concerns that growing food requires lots of free time and special skillz. Sure, there are people who have keener instincts for plants than others, but really anyone, anywhere can grow their own food — even Amanda, who works full-time, has two small kids, and can barely keep a fern alive. Only three weeks ago, Amanda planted a vegetable garden following Jeanne’s crazy-simple growing guidelines, which we outline in this post, and now, look at her go:

Amanda's Garden

 

Jeanne isn’t a by-the-book type, she’s a get-down-in-the-dirt-and-learn-by-doing type, and after 26 years of experience growing food in hundreds of farms and food gardens, she’s boiled down the magic and mystery of edible gardening to the barest essentials. We’ll roll out our Rookie Guide in three posts—this one on planning your food garden, then planting, then tending—with five simple steps to success in each. The guidelines will apply whether you’re growing on a rooftop, in the ground or in containers or pots.  Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about planning your food garden. Once you get these key principles right, the planting and tending is shockingly simple and fun.

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How to Grow Your Own Food: Five Steps to a Green Thumb, part 1

Sunlight

Most fruits and vegetables require loads of sun, so pick a spot for your garden that gets at least 6-8 hours of sun per day (you can measure the amount of sun you get with an affordable device like a “Suncalc” ). If your location has limited sun (5-6 hours), choose crops that can tolerate less sun, like leafy greens, cucumbers, beans and herbs. If you don’t have a sunny yard, you can plant in containers on a sunny deck, balcony, rooftop or fire escape; if you don’t have any of those, plant with a neighbor or on a community plot or in a schoolyard.

In part two of our Rookie Guide to Growing, we’ll give you more details on supplies, what to plant when, and much else. In the meantime, get some paper and start sketching plans for your garden using the guidelines above.

 

 

Sketch of Amanda's Garden

Jeanne’s hand sketch of Amanda’s garden

 

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About Jeanne & Amanda

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Jeanne & Amanda

Jeanne Nolan grows food. Starting as a teenager, she managed rural organic farms for 17 years. Her book, From The Ground Up: A Food Grower's Education in Life, Love and the Movement That's Changing the Nation, will be published by Random House in July. Amanda Little writes about the environment. She has traveled around the world to investigate America’s changing environmental landscape. She co-wrote From the Ground Up. Read bio and latest posts → Read Jeanne & Amanda's latest posts →

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2 thoughts on “How To Grow Your Groceries: The Rookie Guide to DIY Farming, Part 1

  1. Howdy would you mind stating which blog platform you’re working with? I’m going to start my own blog soon but I’m having a difficult time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique. P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

    1. Jeanne & Amanda says:

      Hi,
      We use wordpress. Good luck with your blog!

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