Friday, May 27, 2011

Guest Post: The Wealth of Benefits Stemming from Self Sufficiency

Guest Post: by Ryan Halston

Growing with the popularity of more eco-friendly lifestyles, many have decided to begin on the path to a simpler and more self sustained style of living. For those looking to take part in a more simple and sustained lifestyle, starting a home garden and growing crops is an easy way to make life more efficient and sustainable.

One of the most noticeable reasons people start with produce is the freshness of home grown food. Home growth effectively eliminates food miles and carbon footprinting, and thus reducing a serious toll on the environment. By growing your own crops at home, you can eliminate crop decay from travel times as well as environmental decay from fossil fuel emission. The choice to home grow food can assure that the freshest food possible is available at all times.

Home growth can also have a multitude of health associated benefits. When you are planting your own crops, you assure control over all aspects of plant life; from seed to crop. This ensures the removal of health risks caused by toxin and pesticide contamination that are extremely common in purchased foods. In the past there have been multiple of examples of issues stemming from Bisphenol A, complications relating to asbestos exposure, melamine, and pesticides. Taking the time to develop your own crops cuts out any of the unknown factors that may afflict food purchased from common sources.

What might be the most prevalent reason people choose to grow food from home is because of the long-term positive financial implications. The purchase of a pack of seeds is most often significantly less in cost than having to buy individual fruits and vegetables, and a pack of seeds can produce multiple fruits or vegetables at a time, and over time, making for true savings.

Gradually attempting to grow produce is generally a better idea than attempting to plunge in head-first. Caring for a few small plants and trees at first can help with adjustment period between the old and the new life. Small berry plants and fruit trees are great options because they are incredibly easy to care for and have a long production lifespan and continue to grow throughout the years.

A major benefit of the ongoing development and popularity of self-sufficiency is the growing amount of resources to help with living the lifestyle, and growing your own produce. There is a strong developing community full of others from all walks of life and experiences completely willing to help. Even in the beginning stages, the benefits of self sufficiency cannot be denied.

Ryan Halston, a graduate of the University of Central Florida, is an aspiring writer and advocate of self-sustenance and green living. Contact Ryan at[AT]gmail[DOT]co​m.

The opinions expressed by guest bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the D.C. Guerilla Gardeners (DCGG). The DCGG is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by guest bloggers.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Asking: Rats In The Belfry (Or Rather, Brussel Sprouts)

Calling all urban gardeners! I need some advice, yo.

This year I started my very own vegetable garden - MY VERY OWN GARDEN! - in the backyard of my very own apartment - MY VERY OWN APARTMENT! (The My Very Own Apartment is Big and Important - capital B, capital I - so proper props are due.) I've been super excited about the fresh fruit and vegetables MY VERY OWN GARDEN will yield, but there's a small problem...

... Or rather, a large problem.

A rather large RAT problem.

Living in the city has its benefits, but there are also drawbacks. Rats? They're the biggest drawback, the motherlode of drawbacks. There's nothing worse than walking down the sidewalk all nonchalant, only to be disrupted from your reverie by the SQUEAK! and SCRABBLE! of rats as they skedaddle from the garbage cans they were ravaging.

When those SQUEAKS! and SCRABBLES! are happening in your garden - ON YOUR FOOD - the worse becomes even worser.

I know that there will always be something out there in the world that will sneak into my garden and eat my vegetables, and I will concede that rats will occasionally feast on my Brussel sprouts, but there HAS to be a way to keep that feasting to a minimum.

Any advice from you seasoned urban gardeners? How do I dissuade the rats from my garden? (Solutions that do not include me picking up dead rat carcasses preferred.)

*Year of the Rat image from

Monday, May 23, 2011

Checking In On The Past: Vermont and T

Hidey-ho, guerillas! So... it's been like... A MILLION YEARS since we last spoke. You're probably thinking, "Dang, that girl Theresa, what a loser." And if you are thinking that, you'd be A) correct, and B) kind of mean. C'mon! What did I ever do to you?! Golly.

Anyhoo, it occurred to me that Life took me out of the game for a while and that it's now time to get back into it. Put me in, coach! I'm ready to play! And to get dirty. So chime in with some project ideas, people, so that we can get our hands into D.C.'s dirt. I live in Baltimore now and need your input on the District's "need some green" spots.

In other news, I'd like to share some SUPER AWESOME SMILEY news! Our project site at Vermont and T is ALIVE! And CLEAN! And GROWING! As evidenced by these photos taken by he-who-I-not-so-secretly-love's friend:

This site is near and dear to my heart, as it is the first project the DCGG ever did. On a brisk morning in 2010, I sat on those concrete steps with trays of plants, some bags of compost, and a nervous heart because I was about to meet strangers. STRANGERS. People I DIDN'T KNOW were going to show up and help me plant this cut-out.

Fear, guerillas. I feared you! You could have been crazies! Stalkers! Weirdo's! And delightfully, you were (are) all of those things. The other thing you are is AMAZING. And I'm so happy that this group has gotten us together to do amazing (and crazy) things for our beloved city.

A couple of weeks ago I was going to write about Vermont and T, but my news then wasn't so encouraging. The photos taken by Guerilla #2 (aka: my love-muffin, Doug) showed a less-than-successful guerilla gardening story. The box was weedy, the plants were crumbly, and the site was a general mess. That it is different now means one of two things. Either: 1) the garden cleaned itself up; or 2) a citizen - A CITIZEN - took the site under its wing and nursed it back to health.

I believe we're looking at #2 here.

And if it is #2, then WOOOOOOOOOO! That is EXACTLY what we want! For people to see our work and be inspired to keep it going and to then go out and do it on their own. Every empty space is a blank canvas waiting to be greened, oh yes indeedie.

To the wonderful person caring for Vermont and T, our hats are off to you, good person! Thank you sincerely. And also send me an email so that we can chat about your wonderful gardening work. Drop me an email and I'll send you something to add to your wonderful garden.

Go out and green, y'all. And send me some ideas for our next project. For reals! I don't know what's happening in D.C. now that I live in Charm City and he-who-I-not-so-secretly-love (HWINSSL) moved to Saudi Arabia. (We miss you, HWINSSL. Don't forget about that pygmy camel I want.)