Saturday, April 5, 2014

Is Gardening Becoming Essential for Survival


The picture above looks just like our local grocery store on a daily basis. We have stopped even walking in the building because we know the attempt at buying almost anything there will be futile. The management keeps telling everyone that they are trying to change warehouses. This may be true, but in the meantime everyone is having to go else where to get even the necessities. This started me thinking. What if we couldn't just go a couple of miles to another grocery and get the things we need? What if prices jump suddenly and we couldn't afford enough to provide the things we are used to consuming?

If you have anything to do with buying groceries around your place you have no doubt noticed price increases. On some items these increases have been quite dramatic. Beef has gone up a good bit in recent months and promises to continue to go even higher.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard "I spent too much at the grocery store today" or " I spent $70.00 and really didn't get anything". What do you do to off set the ever increasing prices of just eating?  This is one of the expenses that there is no way for you to get rid of. If you were to try to stop eating you would not live for very long.

Gardening going viral?

I have heard more and more people lately say that they wanted to produce 100% of their own food. While this is an incredibly honorable goal, I do not think this is very possible. Let me explain. We live on the edge between agricultural zone 7 and 8. There are several fruits that we like but are either too cold or to warm to produce. If we wish to continue to enjoy these fruits we will need to buy or trade for them.

We live on 1/2 acre so we do not have room to raise cattle or pigs. We do have a small laying flock and are planning on raising broiler chickens, but that puts us pretty close to our limit due to space.
My goal this year is to produce at least 30% of our food for the year. This will actually not reduce the amount of money we will spend on food. This will however free up some money we were going to spend anyway for higher quality items like beef or pork.

This year I am starting all of my plants from seed. Depending on where you live you could either put your seeds straight in the ground now or start your seeds indoors. Even if you only get a weeks head start you will still be ahead of the game.

My decision to start everything from seed is purely economics. Many plants you buy are $3.00 each or more. For less than $2.00 you can get enough seeds to start many plants. If you learn to save seed, your expenses really go down to next to nothing. My germination rate on tomatoes is nearly 100%. Jalapenos about 90% and Belle peppers about 75%. Not bad. I will be sowing squash, zucchini, corn, and really everything else straight in the ground.

If you have a knack for growing plants you can start a cottage business with a very small greenhouse just by starting seeds a couple of weeks before you can safely transplant outside. Start more that you will need or want and sell the rest. Even if you sell the plants for $2.00 each, the people that buy from you will be saving money and you will be earning a little extra with very little additional effort. This will help not only you, but your entire community.

Making it till you get a harvest.

Many folks have to worry about today while preparing for tomorrow. Many states have a program so those in food stamps can use them at the local farmers market. This gives people of limited income access to better quality food while they are learning and starting to produce their own.

Our church has become a pickup point for One Harvest Food Ministries. One Harvest is not a hand out. It is group buying. You are basically buying your food at whole sale price. Each month One Harvest has different menus you can choose from ranging from staples to just meats. While this option does not deal with the problems of chemicals used in growing the food, it can provide needed relief from food costs. Everyone can use a little help with food costs.

I see promise.

We live in an area that would best be described as semi rural. Very few HOAs, most everyone has a little space they can call their own, and there are very few if any restrictions on what you can do on your own land. The other day I came home from work early. Early enough in fact that I was able to pick the children up from school. On my way home from picking the kids up from school I noticed that somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the homes were preparing a garden spot. This is great!

I work at Lowe's Home Improvement as my primary occupation. I see people everyday buying vegetable seeds or plants, fruit trees and berry bushes. I am able to talk to many of these people and about 20% say they are putting in a garden for the first time. Some are gardening due to the fact they are concerned about the quality and the amount of chemicals that are on the food at the grocery store. Others are trying to save money. Some even say that if you want to eat you had better grow it yourself.

The tide is slowly turning back toward more self reliance and I am proud to be able to say that.

Be sure and check out our affiliates for anything you might need. You can like The Rural Economist on Facebook. We are back at it full force. Please add yourself to our email list by filling out the form to the top right. Your email will not be sold or given to anyone else. You can also check out these posts that are related to this topic.

What to do if You Cannot Grow a Garden
.Becoming a Homestead Ambassador
Backyard Farming on an Acre (more or less) This Title available on The Rural Economist Amazon Store

May you all have Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes.



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