Carol Deppe has written a thought-provoking and very useful book entitled: “The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times.” (Chelsea Green, 2010)
I thought this was a timely topic, so I bought it and soon found myself underlining and bookmarking and making notes. This is not destined for my burgeoning “garden book pile.” It is one of those books that I will keep close at hand for quick reference.
Deppe is not a wacky survivalist living in a compound somewhere in the mountains. She is a middle- aged woman, gardening in Oregon. She integrates growing information with the latest on health and wellness, and then takes everything to the next level by describing which crops we should be growing in order to survive and even how to process and store them. (Deppe’s top five crops are: potatoes, corn, beans squash and eggs – preferably duck eggs.)
She’s not talking about the end of the world here – just the unpredictability of our growing climates, which are expected to become increasingly volatile in the years to come, and maybe a natural disaster or two. Of course, there are other calamities that can befall the garden, such as a serious illness or injury to the gardener, or maybe just a bad back, which Deppe suffers from.
Among the many things I liked about Deppe’s approach was her selection of sustainable cultivars. This is just common sense, when you consider that in many parts of the country, summers are dry and there is not enough water to irrigate.
The book also provides detailed information on different varieties. I have been growing “All Blue” potatoes for several years, but Deppe recommends a couple of better blues, including her favorite, “Azul Toro” which is earlier than “All Blue” with smaller vines. I intend to grow them this year – if I can get my hands on some.
I think this is one of the most important gardening books of the year. Deppe’s description of gardening as “an essential survival skill” might be a little ominous for some people, but I think she has a point. It never hurts to be prepared. It never hurts to learn some new gardening skills, either.