Garden as if your life depended on it, because it does

By Ellen LaConte
Counter Currents

Spring has sprung—at least south of the northern tier of states where snow still has a ban on it—and the grass has ‘riz. And so has the price of most foods, which is particularly devastating just now when so many Americans are unemployed, underemployed, retired or retiring, on declining or fixed incomes and are having to choose between paying their mortgages, credit card bills, car payments, and medical and utility bills and eating enough and healthily. Many are eating more fast food, prepared foods, junk food—all of which are also becoming more expensive—or less food.

In some American towns, and not just impoverished backwaters, as many as 30 percent of residents can’t afford to feed themselves and their families sufficiently, let alone nutritiously. Here in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina where I live it’s 25 percent. Across the country one out of six of the elderly suffers from malnutrition and hunger. And the number of children served one or two of their heartiest, healthiest meals by their schools grows annually as the number of them living at poverty levels tops twenty percent. Thirty-seven million Americans rely on food banks that now routinely sport half-empty shelves and report near-empty bank accounts. And this is a prosperous nation!

In some cases this round of price hikes on everything from cereal and steak to fresh veggies and bread—and even the flour that can usually be bought cheaply to make it— will be temporary. But over the long term the systems that have provided most Americans with a diversity, quantity and quality of foods envied by the rest of the world are not going to be as reliable as they were.

What’s for Supper Down the Road?

As they move through the next few decades Americans can expect

* The price of conventionally produced food to rise and not come down again,

* Prices to rollercoaster so that budgeting is unpredictable,

* Some foods to become very expensive compared to what we’re used to

* And others, beginning with some of the multiple versions of the same thing made by the same company to garner a bigger market share and more shelf space, to gradually become unavailable.

Tremors in food supply chains and pricing will make gardening look like a lot more than a hobby, a seasonal workout, a practical way to fill your pantry with your summer favorites, or a physically, spiritually and mentally healing activity, or all four. Gardening and small-scale and collective farming, especially of staple crops and the ones that could stave off malnutrition, could become as important as bringing home the bacon, both the piggy and the dollar kind. Why?

Why’s Gardening So Important Now?

There are at least five reasons why more of us should take up spade, rake and hoe, make compost and raise good soil and garden beds with a vengeance, starting this spring and with an eye toward forever.

Read full post at Counter Currents

27 responses to “Garden as if your life depended on it, because it does

  1. Do not water your indoor plants with fluoridated water and get your heirloom seeds now, before they start irradiating everything… thanks, again Rady.

  2. great article… thanks for posting.

  3. thanks, you two.

    experts recommend fluoride filters to remove that and reverse osmosis filters to grab radiated particles.

  4. Northern Illinois here. Can’t wait to til up the back yard! It will be my FIRST garden ever. Wish me luck.

  5. It does look like we need to start making our own food but what if you kill everything? Supposedly, Basil is very tough, but I have killed three plants. So much for feeding myself. I have grown carrots that needed someone to feed (my son pulled them prematurely). I guess trying is the best choice.

    • yeah, my first two gardens were failures. I’ve got a 30 foot potato patch going now … I’ve got bug damage but cannot see any bugs, and a week ago the wind damaged half the crop.

      we’ll see how many taters I get.

    • Jessica, Those carrots your son pulled early, if they have got even a little root can be replanted or used in a stew (baby carrots cost allot at the store) funny thing is Basil is a weed, ignore it and you’ll never get rid of it, just keep pinching back the flowers or it will go to seed!

  6. Great article, can I share it with my friends?
    I have started a garden and trying to do my best, but it is all trial and error, we just have to not give up!

  7. Rady, would distilling water get rid of radiated particles?

  8. Excellent points that you’ve made.

    Community gardening kept me sane during a terrible time at University and home. It gave me stability and inspired me to learn again. Now I try to garden at least twice a week in order to get some delicious crops. Now I hate paying over £1 for a bag of salad which can take just a week to grow! The same with tomatoes and peas. I can’t wait for summer to set in, the growing season in Britain is good but it’s nothing compared to other places. We’ll cope though and still have a wonderful harvest.

    One of the best quotes I have ever read about gardening is
    “You will kill plants, many, many plants.”
    It doesn’t matter as long as you learn from it!

  9. Please respect Thomas Jefferson enough to quote accurately: “Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now.”

  10. Just keep growing like there’s no tomorrow. I am not sure that distilling H2O will get rid of radionucleides. I don’t think so.

  11. Dear Friends,

    I wrote a similar article a year ago:

    Garden Life on Earth

    With kindest regards,
    Barry Carter
    bcarter at igc dot org

  12. Problem is gardening isn’t cheap either. Weeds ar my biggest problem. Trying a weed barrier clothe and finding it is great for raising black widow spiders.
    I got all Organic heirloom seeds this year and they are sprouting (so far) better than any before. The weeds though. I usually get burned out by mid summer it is a constant fight. Way too much time and work. Way too many bug bites. Hate to be whiney, but some people make it sound so easy. And then there is the canning and freezing. Is it really cheaper? I guess one you collected all your supplies, but you still need seed starting equipment every season. Love those Jiffy pellets !

  13. Thanks for putting this on WP for the world to see! The last two years’ cherry tomatoes yielded over 1,000 tomatoes which I shared with friends and neighbors. This year–a much bigger garden. I use fish fertilizer–no Jiffy pellets or Miracle Gro for me.

  14. Daisy, I know it sounds hard at first but gardening is a skill to learn like any other and you have to give yourself time. Unless your parents were avid gardeners or farmers none of us have much background to rest on. I have bought very little seeds, share a pack with a friend or exchanged in seed co-ops. You can also reserve the seeds from the previous years crop for some items. For seeding containers I use discarded recycling like bottles and cans and one bag or organic soil. I’m all out for doing it as cheaply as possible and I have 3 kids to feed and fight to keep out of the garden. My three year old has destroyed a number of my seedings already but you have to keep trying, keep learning, connect with other local people who garden to share plants! I traded some flower bulbs on my property for 8 rhizomes of rhubarb! Make connections and keep trying! It is so very satisfying, but also more demanding then having a few houseplants!

  15. Good ideas about gardening that you presented, but you claim that nothing can replace oil and that’s incorrect. Cannabis hemp is much more efficient than oil & it’s renewable!

  16. This is an excellent book for those who want to live on their own in the wilderness or for anyone wanting to “Go Green”. The cost of building a log home is low with high rewards to those that actually build one. My purpose for getting this book is to have the knowledge to build a log home once I get myself and my family out of the “lower 48” and into the last frontier away from our ever increasing socialist government. The book is great as are many others! If for nothing else, learn how it was and is being done all around the world.

  17. Pingback: The Progressive Mind » Food Freedom | Decentralize, Grow Your Own, Buy Local.

  18. “I saw all the people hustling early in the morning to go into the factories and the stores and the office buildings, to do their job, to get their check. But ultimately it’s not office buildings or jobs that give us our checks. It’s the soil. The soil is what gives us the real income that supports us all.”
    ~Ed Begley, Jr.

  19. 1st time gardener here. Yes, start up was very pricey……I spent about 3 grand, BUT I have stuff growing. I studied the net all winter for everything that I could learn about square foot gardening, companion planting, crop rotations etc. The good news is I see some growth and I will have some veggies out of my 200 square feet of garden. The bad news is, I certainly can’t feed 2 people for a year on it, even if I learn how to can/freeze/dry it…. What else can we do?

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