Food Security: A Pantry and a Garden
Believing as I do that a tragedy of some form is coming, I expressed to my husband that food security is a great place to start. As he is somewhat skeptical of what may come, he did agree that a food investment is not frivolous. We have four children and already know what feeding six people a day is like and are used to buying in bulk and shopping smart. Our food security began by starting a pantry. Since our house was built in the 1920s, it has a peculiar little room (about 10’ x 10’) off the kitchen with a built in china cabinet which attaches to the dining room. This was Providence for us.
I have created a very efficient pantry with the purchase of three large wire shelving units with 4 adjustable shelves from Sam’s at somewhere around $30 each (what a steal!). I also inherited a 5 foot tall used dresser of solid wood with five spacious drawers, which I keep in there. I store rice, beans, pasta, salt, sugar, cereal, oats, water in plastic fruit juice bottles, and about 3 months or more of canned foods, all that we use on a reasonably regular basis. Anything non-perishable that we eat, I have a back up. I have also stored toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper, tissues and the like, taking advantage of sales. None of the food items are strictly ‘survival’ foods. All are part of the regular diet, even though we have our seasons for particular dishes. I buy more heavily foods that store for five years+, like canned salmon and potted meat. Wheat is still an intention of mine. I store a year’s worth of vitamins in the drawers, along with candy that I hope the kids will forget about from Easter and parties. First aid supplies would also go nicely there, along with herbal remedies that should be kept from light. I have stocked up more on dry herbs from Wal-Mart and used them on ice cream to treat ear infections, colds and other minor problems in my children with success, until I can expand my knowledge about liquid herbs, which are more of an investment.
My previous garden attempts have been dismal failures when it came to growing anything edible. I love fresh produce and it is a large part of my diet. This year, we have had plenty of squash and cucumbers from my first real garden, and everything I planted will bear fruit: tomatoes, eggplant, chives, dill, corn, and maybe a pumpkin. Our soil is red clay, and after my first soil test ever, I realized it is very acidic. The soil test was easy to get. I used an old pickle jars, dug six different holes around the garden, and took dirt from each, about 6 inches down. Then my husband dropped it off at the county extension office and paid $6. My pH was 5.8, which explains to me why my previous garden did not succeed.
My real secret was to follow almost exactly the advice in the book How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine by John Jeavons (7th edition). One big advantage of this method, when looking ahead to hard times, is that is requires no tractor or tiller. The other big advantage is that it works, even for beginners and dummies, like me. It does require manual labor in the spring, every spring, and this requires real conviction. Many times I told myself, I will overcome my difficulties and push forward. When the final, most difficult work came, I had to push not only myself, but my husband, and this was a serious mind game! We have never worked that hard for any garden, landscaping, or any other project I can think of. Except moving.Read the rest of the article
July 20, 2011
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