Diversity, Monoculture, and Greediness

Posted by on July 10, 2011

I was looking at some of my past gardening photos and I ran across these pictures from the 2009 garden.

You can also tell from the 2009 garden layout that I had planted a lot of different things. The rows were short, but there were many rows.

What struck me about these photographs, was the diversity of produce that I was harvesting at the time. I had lettuce, chard, carrots, green beans, radishes, turnips: everything I would need to make a nice salad, or an interesting stir fry. I didn’t have lots of any one item, but I had a little bit of a several vegetables.

In 2010, I had longer rows, and less diversity – not quite a monoculture, but certainly less diversity.

I remember when I first planted potatoes, back in 1999 – and how happy I was when I harvested just one big bowl of potatoes. But, as time went on, it was not enough. I wanted more potatoes. I was disappointed a couple of years ago by the number of potatoes I harvested. So that is why, in 2010, I planted three long rows of potatoes. And certainly, having a lot of potatoes did serve us well. We had potatoes well into April. But three rows of potatoes meant less of something else.

Last year I started tomatoes from seed but when I planted them out the weather turned hot and dry for about a week and my poor little seedlings wilted. So off I went to buy some tomato plants and I became rather greedy. I bought a lot of different varieties. I had something like 30 tomato plants. That fall, we canned a lot of tomatoes.

The Pantry – Fall 2010

That means I still have tomatoes canned from last year . I like have a full pantry. But I also like a diverse pantry. It doesn’t take many cucumber plants to get overrun by cucumbers and, consequently, by pickles. So I really don’t need to plant a lot of cucumber plants. Perhaps I still need to plant just as many potatoes as I did last year to last through the winter. But I know I could also get by with planting less tomatoes and still have enough to can to last me over the winter. I also know I don’t have to plant as many edamame beans – since I still have 10 quart bags frozen from last year. What I need to do is figure out how much is enough and how much is too much.  If I operate from an attitude of abundance and not from an attitude of want, then perhaps I will have an abundant garden, full of many different good things to eat.

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