Food · Simple Living

Moving toward self-sufficiency…

If you’re on the East Coast, you’ve probably been affected by the Colonial Pipeline hack. I had never heard of the Colonial Pipeline until it wasn’t working anymore. Isn’t it funny how little we know about things that have the ability to massively upend our lives?

In a matter of hours every gas station on the island was sold out of gas. One or two may have had diesel, but not a single one had regular or premium unleaded. Of course, I had procrastinated about getting gas and I was almost on empty. The following day the gas stations all received deliveries, but again they sold out. The island is full of tourists, and they all rushed to fill up their tanks lest they get stuck here with nowhere to stay and no gas to go home. That panic buying is what caused everyone to sell out.

In line to get gas.

It got me thinking again about how dependent I am on what Paul Kingsnorth calls “The Machine-” gas, government, and corporations. What a fragile machine it is too! One little blip in the supply chain and there’s no gas, no food, no commodities. It’s very hard to move away from that system because it’s so convenient. It’s easy to go to the grocery store, easy to fill up the tank, easy to expect that all of those interconnected parts will continue to run smoothly. The gas shortage was a wake up call for me to get back to my instinct to be more self-sufficient, to grow at least some of my own food, and to rely as little as possible on The Machine.

My mom has a big garden and a dozen chickens. She keeps us in eggs. My dad is a commercial fisherman, and he often brings us fish. I have a big side yard that’s just going to waste, nothing in it but crabgrass and penny weed. I’m going to turn it into a fenced garden with raised beds. The price of lumber is extraordinarily high right now, so I’ll be starting off with containers, but the goal will be a neatly laid out area with raised beds where I can grow at least some of what my family eats.

Plenty of room for a garden!

I measured the space I want to start with, and it will be 17 feet square. That’s not huge but, if I’m smart, I can pack a lot of punch into that small space. When I lived in Georgia we had a lawn, and my husband would not sacrifice his lawn to indulge my homesteading fantasies. Here on the island we will never have a lawn, because that kind of lush, perfect grass cannot survive salt tide and poor, sandy soil. The little part of the yard in Georgia that was allotted to me for a garden had only partial sun, and even though I grew beautiful flowers and herbs, I didn’t get much in the way of vegetables. That shouldn’t be a problem here. I have a large area with full sun, and my husband is on board with the garden idea.

I feel like there is coming a time when I will say, “I wish I had planted a garden,” so I’m heeding that warning and getting it done while I can. It takes a while for a garden to produce, for me to learn what works in this climate. The sooner I start, the better!

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