Publisher’s Note: Greyman and I have known each other for years and he has some words of wisdom to impart. A few thoughts from my perspective. Gardening of any food is hard, just tough work. If this is something you are considering, you need to start tomorrow morning. My wife is a master gardener and we have had food gardens as large as 2500 square feet in the inland west from the Idaho cold to the arid desert of southeastern Arizona. Every climate zone has its own eccentricities and tailoring farming that needs to take place. In one instance, we put 16 tons of sand in the soil to increase porosity in the desert soil. Your mileage may vary in your location.
There should be a network of master gardeners in your area who will talk for hours on how to do this if you ask. But gardens take years to mature and your first few years will full of legions of mistakes from “volunteer” genetic cantamelons because of proximity planting to acidic soil conditions to learning how to tame tomato plants (20 foot cattle panels bent into an arch solve the problem nicely).
The Internet ‘verse is a huge wealth of information for gardening in your local area. The amount of learning is intimidating for the novice gardener but the satisfaction of delivering your own food is worth it. By the way, there is nothing cheap about gardening.
Learn to can. -BB
As the stock market burns today an oft-predicted day of reckoning seems to be at hand. Perhaps you are ready for this type of catastrophe or perhaps it is taking you completely by surprise. If the present economy does collapse, which it very well can, it will likely set off a chain reaction of events that will lead into a Greater Depression.
Having studied the first Great Depression I have found the most common hardship experienced by that era was that of hunger. Because of this I am proposing a form of “Food Insurance” that may help you weather the coming storms.
There will be a window of opportunity for those that are not prepared and I have a suggestion as to where that opportunity might lie…farming. During the first great depression there was a group of people scarcely affected by the cataclysmic events circling the globe. The rural subsistence farmer had a hard life and during the depression it just continued to be hard. Rural subsistence farmers do well during economic hard times assuming they carry little debt and the bank doesn’t take over their land. They tend to have food in abundance, which is the most important commodity.
If you have the idea to be a subsistence farmer as a hedge against the end of the dollar as we know it there are a few things to keep in mind.
It doesn’t take much land. If you are willing to grow mainly plants and small animals, a family of five can be supported on an acre of land. This is assuming the land has a source of water available. In arid regions more land may be necessary in order to catch the water in man-made earthen features called swales.
Hand tools are more useful than power tools when it comes to small-scale farming: shovels, rakes, saws, axes etc.
Hopefully your land has some dirt on it. It is pretty hard to grow a garden through rocks.
Don’t worry about tilling the soil. Many farmers are practicing “no till” farming with great success. Plants roots are used to break up the soil and make nutrients more available. Worms do an amazing job of keeping soil from being compacted.
Try and pay cash for your subsistence land and never borrow against it.
If you don’t understand gardening and farming try and get help. The learning curve is steep and you will have some failures. If you want to be into food production in a hurry then don’t be shy about asking for assistance.
If your “homestead” will be far from where you work consider getting a “sharecropper.” A sharecropper is someone who works your land for a part of the increase. Free rent for a camper and all of the food they can eat is appealing to certain people. Meanwhile the soil is being developed and will be ready when needed.
Don’t get discouraged if the economy doesn’t collapse right when you thought it would. Do you get discouraged when you don’t cash in on your car insurance policy? How about life insurance, do you want to get your money out of that anytime soon? This is just a form of “hunger insurance.”
Learn form the Permaculture movement. This “natural farming” movement has become mainstream in the past three decades. It is a method of working the land where the least amount of energy is used to get the most amount of food. Type “Permaculture” into YouTube and spend a few weeks learning. Then go out and do what you have learned.
Relax, nothing lasts forever. If you have enough to eat and some kind of roof overhead you’ll be fine.