Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Break from my Old Furniture series~~

Our veggie gardens are planted; we got them in weekend before last - a bit later than normal but the chill that remained in the {not so gentle} breezes allowed us to procrastinate jumping into the busyness of our outdoor life for a bit longer.

We did a lot more planting from seed this year; in the past we've purchased a few packets of seed but the majority of our veggies were grown from the little plants you can pick up at the nursery. Most gardeners in Florida don't start their seedlings inside - our sunshine and warm ground means we don't have to - and if you wait until the pecan trees are showing their buds, then you can be pretty certain that you'll have no more frosty mornings.

I guess I thought that that (planting seeds out in the real sun and not under lamps) meant a quicker germination process too, but I've had to practice patience. It wasn't easy. I kept telling David that my little raised kitchen garden seeds weren't germinating while his field garden was apparently going gang busters. I was ready to run to the nursery and buy seedlings but David kept reminding me that I was practicing I said it wasn't easy.

Suddenly, as I backed out of my parking spot on Thursday morning, and glanced to my garden, the miracle had taken place - little green things were sticking up all over - squash (planted with seeds for nasturtiums), cilantro, celery.....most of what I'd planted could now be seen! Today (Saturday) though, I've yet to see my sage or my sugar snap peas make any appearance. Tomatoes, peppers, lemon balm, marjoram - those are coming along beautifully so I had a pretty good run with my first attempt at planting a garden primarily from seed. And, I 'll head to the nursery again sometime this week for a second go at that which failed to germinate.

We've begun planting fruit bushes this year as well; a raspberry and blueberry bush are the start of our growing something other than citrus (we already have oranges, kumquats, and lemons thanks to the previous owners). And we'll be buying a deep freezer and a food dehydrator to go along with my canning this year to begin a combination approach to "put up" our produce.

All of this venturing into new (old~) ways of doing things has a purpose. We're slowly making progress on becoming as self sustaining as possible - for a variety of reasons. For the fun of it; for our own health, for the planet and perhaps more importantly to be prepared for any local or national emergency that could bring on a food crisis....

Americans and Europeans have become so accustomed to a vast supply of foods to choose from at the large grocery chains, that we have become disconnected to the supply chain. Unless that store takes in its produce from the local farmers, that produce travels by train or by truck from somewhere else in the country or even from another country. Fuel prices and weather conditions affect both the price and availability of our foods (like the deliberate withholding of water from the California farmers that has affected the food chain already - all to save a wee little fish - although the Representatives were bribed by DC using a promise of turning it back on ~ but that's another post).

Think for a minute of the impact of that volcano and its shutting down air travel over a great deal of the world - although our news media spent their time reporting on the poor stranded air travelers imports and exports were affected by this too. The affect will be temporary and will slip by almost unnoticed but watch prices rise on certain products as attempts are made to recoup the losses.

What about an epidemic that shuts down communities? Or another hurricane such as Katrina? Are you prepared to feed your family if any of these occur? Or do you have complete faith that our government will be able to respond to take care of you? Let's think back to Katrina and then consider the recent report from DC that went out to local officials warning that they were not to expect FEMA or other Federal help for 46 - 72 hours in an emergency. Don't count on the media to give us adequate warning of a shortage in the food supply either - they barely mentioned the affect of the volcano on those imports or exports focusing instead on those stranded travelers.

We've gone a long way from the the Boy Scout motto everyone used to quote - "be prepared" - we've come to expect to be able to buy anything and everything we need at Publix or Walmart or Winn Dixie.... in my opinion, its time to wake up and start to live in the real world which includes the possibility of a disruption in the supply chain from any one of the things I mentioned above - and probably more that I've not thought of. And if that's too paranoid for you - just remember this winter's affect on citrus fruit from Florida including that most popular of fruit the tomato - been yet to one of the restaurants that is now charging for that item because of its shortage this season or picked through the damaged fruit in your grocery's produce department?

Finally and perhaps more importantly in this economy - our government has been printing money and artificially keeping down the rate of inflation but inflation will come - lets pray its not in the double digits like it was in the late '70's and early '80's or in hyper inflationary rates like Brazil and other countries have experienced in the past....but shouldn't you be prepared just in case?

David and I have shopped in bulk from places like Sam's and BJ's for most of the last 20 years - it takes awhile to get it all in order when you shop that way and in the beginning it is a bit more expensive than weekly or bi-weekly shopping. But, the reward will be experienced even if no emergency ever occurs - about 2 - 3 times a year, I can look in the freezer and the pantry and the staple supply (tissues, cleaning products, toiletries) and at my store of fresh veggies and say - we don't have to shop this payday....and that's a good feeling. And eventually, you find that you're spending less each month on groceries than before you shopped in bulk. So, even if you're one of those who poo-poos those of us who are moving toward self-sustainability, shopping in bulk would be a good thing to consider in this unstable and uncertain employment environment for anyone. (Some economists believe unemployment rates will not go back down to what we knew in the past and that while people will probably move on and off the unemployment rolls the changing economy and need for an increased level of education for the "new" jobs scene will keep more middle aged, middle class Americans unemployed).

We're concentrating on stocking up on things like flour and sugar and peanut butter and other long life products - our goal is to have the ability to go for three months without needing anything other than a trip into town for milk......and even that need is something that we hope to outgrow in the future by having a goat or a milk cow to supply our own.

Its not that difficult to prepare for self sustainability - it just takes a little more effort. And there's nothing more peace evoking then knowing that you can feed your family whatever comes your way and maybe even feed a neighbor or two who's hit hard times.................

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