Grow Your Own!

“The sun comes up in the morning,
Shines that light around.
One day, without no warning,
Things start jumping up from the ground.”
– Neil Young, “Homegrown” (American Stars ‘N Bars, 1977)

Living in the country means many things: privacy, fresh air, room to live, but most of all: making things grow with your bare hands. Tending a garden is one of the truly sublime joys of life.

When we moved to the farm, there wasn’t much of anything growing (unless you count grass). I’m no horse and not much of a horse-lover either, so I see grass as the canvas upon which a gardener paints his or her masterpiece.

I’m also not a real farmer. I have no desire to get a tractor and plow, till, cultivate, seed, and fertilize on an industrial scale. I did that for one summer in college and it was too much like real work. Instead, we put our plants* in raised beds. You can’t see them all in the photo but we have nearly 30. You just pick a spot, build a bed, put cardboard in the bottom, lay in a couple of inches of organic compost and a few more inches of top soil and you’re in business. Of course, you’ll need some way to keep from sharing the bounty with the local fauna. Dogs work as does a scoped rifle. But for full-proof garden security 24/7/365, nothing beats a deer fence. No it wasn’t cheap and yes, putting it up was sweaty knuckle-busting work. But we did it all on our own.

Between the garden and the barn we put in a dozen fruit trees. Fresh organic apples, cherries, and peaches will really put a smile on a face. And you can’t get any more local than your own backyard.

When the collapse comes, you’ll have three choices when it comes to sources of food: 1) Loot, scavenge, or beg for whatever is still available in town whenever you get hungry (not recommended due to associated health hazards); 2) Survive as long as you can on your supply of grains and canned/dehydrated meats and vegetables that you wisely stockpiled in advance (good option for the rich and/or lazy); 3) Raise plants and animals that continue to feed you for years (so long as you know what you’re doing).

I think you’ll agree that Choice #3 makes the most sense. Many people might think gardening is hard work but just remember the last time you were really really hungry. Doesn’t seem so “hard” to pick up a hoe now does it?

So get out there and start a garden. Grow whatever YOU like to eat. If you have a surplus at the harvest, learn how to can. I only have two pieces of advice: use heirloom seeds whenever possible (hybrids are not sustainable); and go organic. If you can only keep your garden going because of all those bags and jugs of nasty chemicals you get from the store, then you are doing it wrong. Organic (artificial chemical-free) farming is cheaper, easier, and healthier. It’s also the only way that will be available after the collapse so why not learn how to do it now?

Uh oh, I almost forgot the “rhyming” part of this whole story. Once upon a time, our elected (and unelected) masters told us it was good for us all to grow gardens. They called them “Victory Gardens”. Of course, today you’d be hauled off by the INS for hiring the wrong people to work your fields or perhaps the IRS would audit you because of all that undeclared “income” you made from your garden. Or maybe a USDA SWAT team might show up and do a “no knock” home invasion because you were suspected of distributing uninspected produce (if you’re really lucky, they’ll not shoot your dog). Oopsie, now you’re getting sued because your seeds weren’t Monsanto-approved. On second thought, don’t grow a garden – because gardening is what terrorists do!

And people wonder why sometimes I can’t help but look forward to the collapse…


*Currently in the garden: tomatoes, onions, potatoes, blueberries, strawberries, kale, cabbage, peppers, lettuce, spinach, carrots, radish, chard, thyme, sage, oregano, sage, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, garlic, beans, watermelon, and peas.


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