Garden thoughts and more ponderings

I started this post yesterday and didn’t get it finished, so here it goes:

This post is going to be a garden/prepping update, then I’m going to get another post written about some Ukraine news. It was overcast and very humid here in southeast GA this morning, but I took a few photos. The flowers are looking pretty on my patio.

My vegetable garden is mostly done in by the heat and I’ve already started some seeds inside under grow lights for a fall garden effort.

I replanted cucumbers, because my cucumbers have some fungus thing, I guess it is – leaves got yellow spots, which turned into brown spots and then they got very brittle. I tried peroxide in water and sprayed that on them, but it didn’t help. The new cucumber plants are getting the same thing. It’s been very hot, very humid and I’ve got more bugs attacking my plants (and me) than I can identify.

I had a lot of cherry tomatoes, but the Abe Lincoln tomatoes didn’t produce many usable tomatoes – many had blossom-end rot or birds pecked into them (I watched the mockingbirds do this). I had planted six 18-gallon plastic totes with seed potatoes. The first three I dug up were not impressive. This morning I dug up the potatoes in the other three. Out of these six totes, I maybe broke even on the weight of the two small bags of seed potatoes I planted. It was my first time planting potatoes and although the plants grew tall and vibrant, they didn’t produce many potatoes.

Here’s today’s skimpy harvest.

That brings me to expectations vs. reality and here’s the thing, I didn’t really expect much, so I wasn’t disappointed by the reality. Even more importantly, I haven’t banked any of my emergency preparedness efforts on my little container gardening effort, so everything it’s produced is a bonus. I’ve learned a lot, from the failures as much as the successes, and I’m looking forward to the fall garden effort.

I have tried to use whatever my little container garden has produced and preserved any extra – even herbs. I will use these potatoes and be thankful for them, plus there’s a satisfaction that’s hard to describe when eating food that you grew yourself.

Along with the container garden, I’m continuing to stock up store-bought food and supplies plus encourage family and friends to stock up, even ones who don’t think inflation or shortages will get much worse. It is frustrating to feel like my advice is not being taken seriously, but I keep mentioning it. The grocery stores here have more food in stock right now than they’ve had in a long time and I assume most people see this and assume everything will be fine.

Each day I try to do something to work on being better prepared. Today I have cayenne peppers in the dehydrator and I cooked and pressure canned 16 pints of chili.

Learning to pressure can was something I’d thought about for years. I bought the pressure canner a couple years ago and it was sitting in the box in the garage. I really wanted to stock up on more canned meats, but most of that canned meat is expensive and has loads of salt. I thought home-canned meats would be a good thing to have, even though I’ve got a lot meat in the freezer and some store-bought canned meat too. I’ve pressure canned chicken, ground beef and pork a few times now and I am so glad I finally took the pressure canner out of the box and am learning how to use it. I pressure canned 20 lbs. of store-bought potatoes last week. I water-bath canned pickles too. I am going to pressure can more vegetables I buy at the store or local produce stands.

There are loads of people online who have a lot of experience and knowledge about home canning. I like the RoseRed Homestead YouTube channel for canning information, because the lady there provides the science behind home canning. I’m a total dunce at science and math, but she explains things in a way that I can grasp it. I’ve also been following instructions and recipes in my Ball canning cookbook and the USDA booklet. I reread the general canning instructions each time, so I don’t forget steps. For this chili, I used a recipe at the National Center for Home Food Preservation., with a few little changes.

Vincas I started from seeds.

I’ve been collecting seeds from the zinnias, cosmos and marigolds. Those are easy seeds to collect, but I bought two books on seed saving and have been trying to learn more. Buying more books on how to do various things has become part of my “prepping” effort.

More flowers.
These 5 succulents are still growing and a couple of them have babies started at the base of the stems. I had some green onion bulbs still left in a bag, so I planted those too.

In 2020, when I began to stock up a lot more, I went through periods of self-doubt about having so much extra food and supplies on hand, because for many years after my kids were grown and had left home, I still kept buying food and cooking like I was cooking for a family of six, when it was just my husband and me.

Gradually, over the years I tried to downsize on stocking up and with my recipes, especially after a Walmart Neighborhood Market opened very close to my home several years ago. That store was open 24 hours a day, but 2020 changed my views completely. My confidence in almost every American system, that I took for granted, has been shaken since then. I never thought America would face serious shortage situations, especially not food shortages, but here we are. I had a high degree of trust in American medical experts – that’s been demolished since the pandemic. I trusted Americans would pull together in a crisis and now I have serious reservations about that too. I admit I hadn’t had much faith or trust in our political leaders for decades, but now I worry that the federal government is creating more problems than it solves.

Beyond the food storage and supplies, I’m trying to learn how to do more types of home repair things, since my husband died. He was very good at that sort of thing, but I’m not, so I’m working on learning how to do more basic home repair things. Of course, I’ll still have to hire a professional for many things, but I’m now browsing the aisles at Lowe’s, beyond the gardening section, and when I purchased a pack of washers at the Ace Hardware a few months ago, the cashier asked if my name was in their system and she asked for my phone number. I gave her the home phone number and my husband’s name was in their system, so I asked her to change it to my name. It felt weird.

My days of second thoughts or caring what anyone thinks about my focus on becoming better prepared are long gone and these days I wonder why everyone isn’t working hard to stock up food and basic supplies. I often think about a neighbor I had, who didn’t even have a flashlight in her home in case the power went out. I gave her an LED battery-operated lantern when we had a hurricane warning years ago I wonder how prepared her adult children are and worry that there are millions of totally unprepared people in America.

I bought this little box a few years back and I keep small office supplies in it on my desk. I like things with sayings on them and “Be grateful for this day,” is a good reminder.

I still remain hopeful for the future and remind myself daily to be grateful for the many blessings and the abundance that life in America still offers, but truly I believe everyone should be taking steps toward being better prepared and acquiring more skills to become more self-reliant.

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Filed under Gardening, General Interest

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