If you’ve picked up this book, it is because you have asked yourself an iteration of this question at some point:
If it all fell apart tomorrow, would I still be able to provide for myself and the people that I care about?
Maybe you answered no, realizing that you would like to take steps towards reclaiming your independence and personal security. Perhaps you answered yes and simply delight in reading new takes on the art of self-sufficiency. No matter where you fall on this spectrum, I have been in your shoes, and I want to assure you that you chose the right book. This book has something to offer to anyone who has the willingness to learn more about self-sufficiency. To that end, I want to teach you everything I have learned about greenhouse gardening. I hope to make you feel as secure as I do in my knowledge that I am armed with the information I need to feed myself and my loved ones.
We, in the developed world, have come to take a lot for granted. The uncomfortable truth remains that what we take for granted is not as permanent as we would like to believe. The illusion that food will always be readily available in restaurants and supermarkets is all but a placation for the harsh truth.
Furthermore, our minds are decaying as fast as our bodies. We cannot produce sufficient “happy” chemicals and hormones for our brain’s health, whether through exercise or food. Gone are the days when humans were hunter-gatherers, foraging the forest for delicious ripe berries and fiber-laden tubers. Today, with our sedentary lifestyle, we are offered glucose-laden bananas and fiber-stripped rice as nourishment. We are so far removed from life, many of us not knowing how to nurture a plant so it can bear fruit. We have become overly dependent on mechanical processes, even for the little bits of nature that we can snag. Our supermarkets offer pre-cut flowers and already grown plants, giving us the illusion of the reality of nature. Now, we stay alive through industrialized farming, polluting our land, water, and food with chemicals that should never come into contact with our food or the human body. Somewhere between agricultural development and the present day, this is the world we created.
We are fighting a losing battle in a world where our fruit and vegetables now contain 40% fewer nutrients than they did in the 1940s (Long, 2009). Agricultural geneticists have favored modified breeds that produce more energy over species that give us nutrients. Should we want some exercise, so many of us are stuck in urban spaces, packed inside concrete landscapes with no greenery in sight that our options are minimal. We have become near drones, with highly limited options for eating good food and increasingly empty of nature. We are now so far removed from nature, the very thing that makes us human. As a result, our mental and physical health is deteriorating.
My name is J.D. Isaly, and I was trapped within this cycle for many years. I was spiritually, emotionally, and physically lost, continuously spiraling out of control no matter how hard I tried to center myself. As a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, I spent half of my life utterly destroying my body, mind, and soul with the most dangerous chemicals known to man. I lived my life completely devoid of nature, not knowing why I felt such a deep void in my soul.
I was given the gift of sobriety. Only then did I finally take my spiritual and physical health into consideration. Inwardly, I searched deeply and contemplated my life to find the areas that were poisoned. One of these areas was my food consumption and my relationship with nature. From then, I became obsessed with nutrition, food, and agriculture. I was hungry to learn everything about gardening because it was food that finally filled the void. Almost immediately, it improved my physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
I discovered that self-grown ingredients make me physically healthier, and the therapeutic process enhanced my psychological and spiritual health. The repetition of tasks, the daily care and responsibilities of life so sacred, and the extra focus I needed to get through gardening became the therapy sessions I needed. Each time I saw a plant bloom, that was my enlightenment, as I discovered the unparalleled joy that spontaneous life births inside of me. In gardening, I finally found the center that had always eluded me. It rekindled in me what I believe to be an innate and sacred connection to nature, enhancing my spiritual well-being, making me feel good inside. Equivalently, it improved my physical health too. Working in the sun daily and being active with the physical labor of gardening boosted my physical health, which, in turn, released a lot of the happy hormones—endorphins. It was a win-win-win.
Due to my local climate making it impossible for me to garden through all seasons, I expanded my repertoire into greenhouse gardening. Why limit my favorite hobby to just a few months of the year? With greenhouse gardening, I figured that I could get more out of my garden too. The healing and happiness my greenhouse brought me only made me wish that I had done it sooner.
So, my latest passion was born, and I couldn’t keep it to myself. It was here that my mission to help others take ownership of their sustenance to live happier, healthier, more independent lives was born. My spiritual connection to my garden was my lifeline, and I wanted to share my secret to vibrant, thriving life; when your plants thrive, you thrive. I have been studying approaches to gardening for years. Through self-taught endeavors, I became an expert at creating efficient and beautiful garden spaces under shelter and under the sky.
There was a time when I had buckets of passion and eagerness but zero knowledge or experience. As a novice, I spent years scouring every piece of material I could find, so eager was I to learn about gardening. The more I studied and spoke with those wiser than me, the more mistakes I made and cultivated a patchwork encyclopedia of greenhouse gardening. Now, I am an adept gardener eager to pass on my knowledge to you.
I hope this book will spur you to find your center and reclaim the goodness found on our precious Earth. I hope that you will begin to question the dominant narratives surrounding agriculture and horticulture and seek to discover what nature truly has to offer you. My sincere hope is that, after reading this book, you take away the tools you need to cultivate a sense of security and independence—in addition to some delicious produce.
This book is your beginning to a new life of serenity. It also covers some technical information for the greenhouse beginner if you have chosen to seek a new path. I answer common questions, such as why to use a greenhouse, when to use a greenhouse and how to use a greenhouse efficiently. So, if it really did fall apart tomorrow, you will be armed with the answers you need.