Sunday, May 15, 2011

Prairie Gardening 101 - Lesson 2

You may wonder why I garden.  Is it because the food tastes better?  Yes.  Is it because I enjoy it?  Most of the time, yes.  Is it because I wanted to know where our food comes from?  Yes.  But the main reason I garden, and this may seem silly or alarmist, is because I think that in the not too distant future we are all going to have to know how to garden to survive.  I really do. 

The food system we have right now is set up to transport our food over hundreds if not thousands of miles.  In case you haven't heard, Peak Oil is most likely past (Peak Oil is that elusive moment when we are half way through the Earth's oil reserves).  That means that we, the human race, have used up more than half of the oil available to us - in about 100 years.  If you do the math, you might think we have 100 more years of carefree oil consumption, but that's not the case.  The easiest oil is gone.  The marjority of the stuff that's left is hard to get at - in all likelihood a lot of it will be impossible to get.  And it's also probably likely that the powers that be have overestimated how much is out there.  Plus, because of the oil economy, we have more than twice as many people on the planet than we did during WWII.  The short of it is that we are looking at not having any oil and gasoline not too far in the future.  And if we are going to survive in this new economy, we are going to have to grow at least most if not all of our own food.

I no longer find this depressing.  I actually find it a great challenge to be faced and conquered.  But the knowledge that this change is coming has made me adapt my life - I have read the writing on the wall and I am ready to face it.  I'm learning how to do things in more traditional manners.  And gardening is a huge part of this.  (as are baking, sewing, and a variety of other activities).

(Good Lord!  Is the wind ever blowing here.  For days now.  Is this climate change or just spring??)

I think it is also important for us to share information.  No longer do we live in an agrarian society where everyone grows up learning the "tricks of the trade" for raising food.  I have no idea how to raise a pig or a chicken.  But I think it's high time I learned.  And I think we should share gardening advice, too. 

So onto lesson 2 - there are plants that can survive a light frost, and if you haven't got them in the ground by now, you should get out there and do it!

Peas are one of my favourite foods - especially fresh out of the garden.  I will go out on a summer morning and eat fresh peas for breakfast.  I've found that I have to grow quite a number of them to satisfy my summer morning grazing as well as have some for freezing (peas last winter stretched to probably January).  So as soon as the ground can be worked, you should plant some peas.  I don't plant all of my peas that early, but I do a few.  Then a week or two later I do a few more.  Then, after the May long weekend I plant the rest.

You can also plant potatoes once the frost is out of the ground.  And lettuce, spinach, radish, kale, chard, carrots, turnips, beets, and onion sets all do well in cool ground.  I have lettuce, spinach, garlic, potatoes and peas in.  I really need to get the onions, kale and carrots in. 

I'm weeding as I go.  I was hoping to get the whole garden weeded, then rototilled and then planted, but the long winter and my procrastination has changed the pattern, so it's:  weed, turn with a fork and plant one section; then onto the next section to do the same. 

So why am I blogging?  I should be weeding, turning and planting my carrot patch.  Hope I don't blow away!

Off to it.

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