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Gardening for Survival and Working Within a Community

Gardening for Survival and Working Within a Community

We're gonna take a week off from discussing all the various fires and how hot they burn to discuss some literally down to earth practices that I hope you're able to engage in with me. It's one source of bliss that I've found while working on preparedness/collapse and without it I'd probably be a bit more of a nervous wreck. While I mean gardening, primarily, we're also going to discuss a few other ideas here, so skip down a bit if you don't like getting your hands dirty.

I am by no means an expert gardener. This will only be my fourth year on the job and I've learned about as much about it as I have made mistakes. My first year I tried corn, but squirrels ate everything I planted before it could sprout. The second year I found out just how little food you can get sometimes–about two mason jars full of beans was my entire output, though the tomatoes and pumpkins did well. Last year, our first year with homemade chicken compost, I over-fertilized and wound up ruining the tomatoes. But, luckily, I've learned from those things, and shan't repeat them.

Growing Calories

This year, my focus is on growing calorically-dense food, and as much of it as possible. I had pretty great output last season from planting corn and cowpeas (black-eyed peas) in the same bed–almost accidentally replicating a portion of the famous Three Sisters technique used by Native peoples across the US. I'd like to try a full version of that in two separate beds this year. Though you might not think so to look at it, corn is very calorically-dense, and using the Three Sisters method maximizes utility of available space while also giving your plants good conditions.

My other big project is potatoes. One medium sized potato can net you over a hundred calories. Last year I tried growing Yukon gold potatoes in smallish canvas bags, about five gallons apiece, but I did not have a very successful crop, generating only a handful of medallion-sized potatoes over all. This year, I'm going to plant them in a raised bed and hope the extra room helps them grow. Potatoes (and corn, for that matter) are very hungry plants, and they have to be well-fertilized for good growth.

I'm trying to max out on calories this season as an experiment to see how long my family could last on our very slim bit of land. I've stored away plenty of food and water, but no amount of storage feeds you forever. We're not likely to actually eat everything I plant, but I intend to donate and give away a good portion while keeping track of everything that comes out of the dirt.

Working in a Community

Something you might naturally do if you live in a situation like mine is something critical to surviving and thriving in a community; I grow plants in my garden that my neighbor does not. I have not and probably won't, generally, grow kale or peppers, and I happen to be horrible at growing cilantro for some reason, but my neighbor does well with all of the above. We both grew tomatoes, but our plants flourished at different times through the summer, so we were able to trade and keep each other in tomatoes throughout the season.

Similarly, if you don't have a green thumb, it's important to rely on skills that you do have, and skills you enjoy using. If you don't like gardening but can knit or take care of animals, for example, those are useful skills and well worth trading some potatoes. The important thing is to put yourself into a system that exists outside of capital, one that is sustainable, local, and beneficial to all.

Taking a Break

Another short letter this week, but at least it was practical and I didn't talk about nazis at all.

The next couple weeks I will likely take off to catch up on other projects. Will be back soon enough though with some heavy material, so, we all might do well to step away from the pit for a little while.