Monday, March 7, 2011

Grow It Yourself!

I had a strange experience over the weekend. Maybe some of you had the same one. I went grocery shopping. I live in a small town with a very small grocery store but the next town over has a nice sized store – not huge but pretty well stocked. At least it used to be. I hadn’t been there for awhile and was surprised at what I saw. The produce was – well mostly missing. You all know about the shortages and the huge price increases on what there is. Close to $3 for a head of lettuce – a small one. Green peppers almost $2 each. I could go on and on. The thing that struck me the most was that most of the produce bins had very little in them. It was almost eerie. There was a sign that read, “Due to shortages, produce is limited and the available produce reflects the higher prices due to the shortages. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

I totally understand the store’s position. It isn’t their fault. What bothered me the most was some comments I heard from two other shoppers. They were discussing this “inconvenience” and I heard the one say, “At least it’s only temporary. In a few weeks, as there is a new crop, things will be back to normal.” I really wanted to ask if she was delusional. We all know that it will be awhile before things are back to “normal” and I believe that “normal” is gone. Does she not realize that when they do have a new crop the prices will reflect the losses of the grower’s last crop? Because of the shortages everyone is experiencing, the producers will be able to charge whatever they want for their new crops. Not only that but it requires fuel to grow crops and with the increasing fuel prices will come increasing crop prices. What is a growing season for most things anyway? Three to four months?

I’m not trying to be an alarmist we all know what a mess we are in with the gas prices, food price increases, cotton prices, petroleum prices for anything made with petroleum – the price for new tires has jumped 50% in just the last month or so. Unfortunately we can’t sit around waiting for prices to go down – most likely they won’t. The only thing we can do is be cautious with how we spend our money and maybe learn how to make better use of our resources.

This brings us to the topic of one thing that we could do to help ourselves out. A vegetable garden. I have heard so many people in the last few weeks talk about growing a garden. Even people who have not grown a garden for a few years are going to this year. I read an email from a preparedness supplier that emails me regularly about a woman named Jan Shepard who had written about her gardening experiences.

She said in the article that she is older now and her family is raised and she had decided that her days of growing a huge garden were over. She has changed her mind. To make a long story not quite so long, she tells of the things she has learned about gardening and gives suggestions to anyone who can plant a garden this year. Here is a summary of what she says:
1) Plant something. Even if you don’t have a garden spot, plant some containers of something that you can eat that will save you money. Tomatoes, squash, carrots, beans, etc. She says you can grow quite a bit on a little apartment balcony if you are wise in what you plant.

2) Use your resources wisely. She tells about her past mistakes in gardening; planting lots of lettuce, green onions, radishes, two small tomato plants, a few cucumbers, enough peas to eat fresh, some corn that never matured and lots of beautiful flowers. She said when the gardening season was over, she realized that all they had gotten from their garden was salad; lots of salad. So much salad that the rest of her lettuce went to seed. She says this year, she will plant something she can preserve. Potatoes, green beans, beets, squash, peas for her freezer, lots of carrots, plenty of tomato and pepper plants and enough cucumbers for pickles, lots of fresh herbs, as well as the salads they love. She said there is nothing wrong with growing “salads”; just make sure that the time you spend working a garden is worth your trouble.

3) Plan ahead. Decide what is most important to you and how much of it you need to plant to preserve some. Make sure you plant early and make a vegetable garden a high priority instead of just a hobby. It can save you a lot of money if you plan and prepare carefully.

On tomorrow’s blog we’ll discuss some different gardening methods as well as seeds. Meanwhile, start planning to grow something, anything.

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