Saturday, June 20, 2015

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - What money can't buy

No, we have not put new garden fabric between the rows.  Yes, those are weeds breaking through...

I've had quite a few blog friends ask how I come up with new weekend posts each week.  Every week.  Well, no one is more surprised than I am but each week (with the exception of blog breaks) I tend to see something that sparks a post or I hear something or I do something... so far.  Should that stop then I know it is time to stop blogging!

This past week two things happened within the same few days.  The first was working in my garden and hoping the chard will survive and flourish in spite of being drowned greens at the moment.  The second was an advertisement about garden seeds packaged for long term storage.

The seeds are a good idea, all heirloom seeds so one can save the seeds from this year's "crop" and use them in subsequent years.  Having them in containers which provide an extremely long shelf life is a good idea.  But putting them on the shelf in case they are ever needed, well... that might not be such a good idea.

It all gets back to this.  What I've gone on about ad nauseam.  Just buying stuff and putting it on a shelf does not equal being prepared.  Oh, some things like perhaps banana chips work just fine without any experience.  And powdered milk packed for long term storage.  And you know how I wished I'd stocked up on powdered eggs!

Stocking up is a very good thing.  Sometimes.

For you see, if you think having packages of garden seeds on your shelves will provide food for the family, it just may be money tossed in the trash.  Unless along with the seeds, you have been gaining gardening experience through the years.

What can't money buy?  Experience!

You have to DO SOMETHING.  You can't store flour or wheat and then hope you know how to make bread should it be necessary.  (Much less grinding wheat if you don't also have a grain grinder.)  You cannot subsist entirely on Hamburger Helper and think you will learn to cook real food should it be necessary.   

I wondered where people who stored the seeds were going to plant them if it were necessary to grow their own food?  In the lawn?  Assuming the planting of the emergency seeds meant a true emergency, would there be time and money available to build raised beds, or dig up the lawn, and add a fence to protect them?  How about the soil?  What will it grow?  Is there enough direct sunshine in at least part of the garden?

Experience is just as important as stocking up!  My husband was told by an acquaintance that grows his food way out in the country (we can at least see neighbors around us) that he has never ever needed a fence around his garden plot.  He actually made fun of us because we thought a fence important.  When a critter got into the garden before we could finish rebuilding our fence, we thought of this guy and his scoffing!   If we did not garden already, we may have believed him.

I know from experience that tomatoes do not grow directly from a seed planted in my garden!  Perhaps my soil is wrong or the growing season too short or whatever.  I have to start the seeds inside first and that hasn't gone all that great since I don't have the proper lighting set up (and living within a forested area means no sunny windows!).

Not to mention... I haven't had much luck with even tomato plants in the raised beds so this year we experimented with growing larger tomatoes outside of the box fence.  Directly in soil where the sod has been removed and the soil amended and fertilized.  There has been time for trial and error and replanting in various spots each year.

When I started gardening, I didn't know the difference between bush beans and pole beans.  It was on another gardener's recommendation that I came to realize both were important to grow each summer.  It was through experience that I learned you have to thin out the pole beans especially or you get a lot of vine and less beans (and I think garden spiders hid within and bit me last year).

So it gets down to this once again.  Having a pantry is essential.  Deepening that pantry is a good idea.  But at the ground level there is that important item you cannot buy and place on a shelf.  You need to gain experience using some items you stock for emergencies. 

You need to learn to make your own bread even if you don't on a regular basis.  You need to at least garden just a little if you store seeds.  You need to know how to use a First Aid kit.  Learning can be fun as well as tasty (well, not bandages but bread).

Ummm... I do hope people who are depending on the heirloom seeds for future gardens have also had experience with seed saving.  Just saying.


Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

The lucky thing about gaining experience is that one can begin at any moment to work on this so necessary quality.And one should not be discouraged by the mistakes that are normally made by everyone when gaining experience. Better make them in a non emergency situation than later. A very good post. I bet not many people think of this!

Melissa said...

I thought about you and your post a while back on the folks at the State fair not being able to bring in their own live chickens for show, for fear of the bird flu. Well, we have now had a price rise in our eggs, up to $2.00 at Aldi, they say there is an egg shortage!

Mary Sorensen said...

Every time I look at your garden, Brenda, I KNOW I need to do the fence or else it's a losing battle. Thank you for always posting pictures - I need to see what others do. It's VERY helpful.

Mrs.Rabe said...

Good thoughts, Brenda!

I have taught my kids to garden and to cook from scratch, and to do a bit of canning - so they can have experience in case they need it, but also so they can enjoy the process of growing and eating your own food.


Vee said...

Read this last night and was so tired that I knew I'd have to reread. "Experience" is a word John loves. Recently, he and my son worked together on replacing a very high fence section between two others. In my son's mind, he was going have to take it all apart. He was pretty pleased to learn (from John) that that would not be necessary because John knew a better way. Later, I asked my son how it had gone. He said, "I just shut up and stayed out of the way unless I was needed." Hahahaha...that's how I feel about reading here many times. I have a lot to learn!

I am very glad that you always have new things to share. Say, do you have a scuffle hoe? It would make your weeding chores fun. Really.

Georgene G. said...

You are so right about the need to gain experience. We've dabbled in gardening for over 10 years but didn't get serious until we moved to this home. We are living on disability and the need to save money on groceries became very important. We have been gardening at this home for 3 years. We have learned a lot in those short years. Each year we learn something new and our garden produces more. I'm also learning more on how to preserve that I'm growing. I've been learning how to dehydrate the past few years. I finally found something I can do with ZUCCHINI... dry it and use it in soups this winter. *smile*

I always enjoy your posts. I hope you and your husband are feeling okay.