The Siege Part II: Victory Garden

compost

Photo above is a load of organic compost and cow shit. I’m expanding my garden.

I was talking with my Dutch bud yesterday, Dirk. We both agreed that this situation was probably the craziest thing we’ve seen. Probably the worst disruption since World War Two; no, definitely the worst disruption since then. He and I discussed where all of this may be heading, and we both agreed that our logistics chains are going to be stressed to the limit, both in Europe and the US. Probably Australia and worldwide.

No, I haven’t forgotten about my Aussie friends.

Today, though, I’m going to be addressing my readers in the Northern Hemisphere. Planting season is upon us up here, the time to prepare is right now. Actually, preparation was November, but this coming month will do.

It wouldn’t hurt for us to be thinking about planting a Victory Garden, like our ancestors did during WW2. In different parts of the world it was called different things, but the reason for planting one remained the same; to ease the burdens on the national logistics chains and to get the excess food to the troops.

OK, this time around there are no massive standing armies. But what we do have is an increased proportion of city/urban dwellers to rural populations that we didn’t have in the forties. This means that the vast majority of people are completely dependent upon the modern just-in-time supply systems that have sprang into being in the last few decades.

In short, there are no massive warehouses full of food. They do not exist. All that food sitting around represents a loss to investors, therefore shipping and storage schedules are as tight as a drum. One of the first things that happened during this crisis was for various governments to scrap safe-driving hourly limits on freight truck drivers. Think. There’s a reason that happened.

So for those of us who can, it’s time to start thinking about raising a garden. I’m not going to publish a book, I’m just going to make a few suggestions. And by the way, it’s never a bad thing to have your own produce. So if all this blows over (wouldn’t that be nice), you’ll have a nice little supply of self-raised vegetables.

Everyone can raise some veggies. Even people in flats can raise some tomatoes and herbs in pots. Every little bit helps. There are a thousand ways to garden, but the fundamentals remain the same no matter which method you choose.

  1. Good dirt.
  2. Water.
  3. Sunlight.
  4. Adequate drainage.
  5. Tools.
  6. Seeds.

Good dirt- sounds like a no-brainer, huh. It isn’t. This can actually be pretty tough. So cheat. Go buy potting soil or topsoil from a store. Chances are what’s out in your yard in a city plot is horrible stuff. So CHEAT. That’s what I do. Oh yeah, and I use chicken shit. Mixed with compost, it’s the best.

Water- this can be tough. If drinking water is scarce where you live, use non-potable water. Once again, cheat. Lots of people let perfectly good water literally go down the drain with their eve spouting. Capture some. Use it for your little garden, water every day at night. But not too much.

Sunlight- At least eight hours of direct sunlight a day. Nothing less.

Adequate Drainage- Only swamp plants and gators grow in mud puddles. Common sense.

Tools- Bare minimum a shovel, a trowel, and a hoe. That’s it. You can scale up from there all the way to a tractor. Me? I have a rear-tine self-propelled roto-tiller, that’s enough for this little acre.

Seeds- Easier said than done. There is a bewildering variety, so I am going to be very specific and tell you only what we have used- each variety that I mention has done yeoman’s work around here (Ohio, North America). What works for you may very well be different! This is a rough guide. Heirloom, meaning the seeds, if preserved, are true.

  1. The staples of our ancestors- the Three Sisters Garden. Elegant and nearly foolproof. Indian corn for you and your animals, if you have any. This is supported by a living lattice of climbing beans that can be eaten raw or allowed to dry for soup. Then all the weeds are drowned out by a squash variety like pumpkins. These three things alone will sustain life and are easily stored. Plus, you will be astonished by how much you can grow in a small 5ftx10ft plot. So, corn. Indian or Golden Bantam. Beans. Rattlesnake. Squash. Don’t use a bush variety, because the whole point is to drown out weeds. Go with Sugar Pie pumpkins, or any vine squash.
  2. Cucumber- Marketmore 76.
  3. Broccoli- Waltham
  4. Lettuce- Black Seeded Simpson
  5. Kohlrabi- Early White Vienna
  6. Squash- Black Beauty Zucchini
  7. Bell pepper- Emerald Giant 
  8. Tomato- Mortgage Lifter
  9. Carrot- Nantes (limited success)
  10. Potatoes- buy a bag at the store. Plant.

You may have noticed that such staples as cabbage and cauliflower are missing. That’s because we have had awful luck with those. Cabbage attracts loads of green worms, and cauliflower draws rabbits like crazy. So yeah, I didn’t list those.

If you want to know more, do a little research on the internet for your unique conditions. No matter what your situation, there is bound to be something you can do.

So give it a shot, the Victory Garden.

Good enough for Grandma, good enough for us.

 

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