Wednesday, April 30, 2008

plant your own insurance

It’s snowing outside right now. Not a squall, just flurries, but it’s enough to have me on edge, baffled at April’s audacity. Not a week ago is was over 75º outside. The sun was beating down on Nisaa’s salad garden and I was planting potatoes, onions, and broccoli in a new bed beside it. I was being bitten by bugs and watching the chickens scatter dust as they rolled around the dirt lined driveway, shaking any mites from their feathers in the process.

But last night… this killing frost came. Vermont is a fickle bitch when it comes to weather, and like all the other silly early planters; I was outside in the blustery evening wind, covering up the tender seedlings with decapitated soda bottles and newspaper.

Maybe some gardeners were doing nothing, having given up on the bi-polar weather, but this wasn’t mine to squander anymore. Nisaa had given up a whole day of her life to help me plant these greens and I had spent hours planting the box aside it myself. I wasn’t losing 32 square feet of food over one bitchy night. So I made little greenhouses, and held down the newspaper over the buttercrunch with rocks went inside feeling tired but smugly benevolent. It still surprises me how much emotion dirt and plants can rise up in you. Like a dipper in a well, it brings up whatever’s just under the surface.

This morning, the plants were fine. My newsprint and recyclables insurance policy worked. When I checked on them at 6 AM, the paper and bottles were covered in a fine ice, but the leaves below seemed hardy. I felt proud. It’s nice to watch the land take care of you while you take care of it.

So… speaking of insurance policies…

I am comforted, even if it’s just a little, by my garden and flock of birds. Knowing that there is a free source of protein and vegetables right outside my door brings me a little security. Come June, the price of a pound of tomatoes might shoot up to a ridiculous amount. I can’t imagine what organic vegetables will cost by then, but it’ll easily trump their chemical brethren. Right now the prices of gas and grain, and the world’s shortages in food are all I hear about on the radio (If not that, the war) While I could not survive off my little homestead for a long time. I can supplement my diet, and half of my meals this summer, with fresh local food from the backyard. And yeah, it’s a lot of work, but I’ll also be saving a lot of money. The six broccoli plants I just put in the ground cost 2.79 cents all together. Right now one head of organic broccoli is 3.49 in my local stores. Making my heads run me about 14 cents each, and I can keep planting more if the skillet calls.

And it’s not just eggs and the garden. There is comfort in the other skills I picked up along the way. When strawberries go on sale I can make a years supply of jam in one afternoon for a few dollars and some mason jars. A few pounds of flour and some yeast and I can bake all the bread I can eat. A good tomato crop and I will have all the pasta sauce (and pasta too, thanks to the eggs again) I can eat all winter long. If I’m lucky this fall will have a few jars of golden honey and some home brewed wine as well. Knowing how to produce, preserve and create some of your food feels kinda good when the average barrel of petrol is going for 150 bucks a pop. We’re not there yet, but you just wait. When your next salad costs ten bucks a pound you’ll feel it there and at the pump. If there was ever a time to start learning to garden, if only for the saved cash, now is that time.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, and I don’t expect the recession to drive us into a depression. I don’t think America needs to start turning their lawns in victory gardens. I do however; strongly believe they’d all be happier if they did. It’s harder to be angry at the news when you’re biting into your own roasted and buttered sweet corn.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We went back to Minnesota last weekend, but just as far north as the Twin Cities, for a craft show.

I definitely see your point about the insurance. I've been saying that my share in the CSA is a good financial investment.

Bloody hell I wish I didn't kill plants whenever I touch them.

I'm really good, though, and hunting and gathering. I'm great with finding what nature just grows on its own.

May 2, 2008 at 8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I DO think we all need to plant Victory Gardens (or whatever you want to call them these days). Every time you turn on the news you hear about food insecurity and how we're going to feed all these people, when the real problem is food waste. When people grow their own food, the value it, and they certainly try not to waste it. I see how much work you put into saving your crops from frost and it gives me hope that home gardening is the solution to our food crisis.

June 16, 2011 at 2:34 PM  

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