I don't know about you, but I need a break from headline news ... it's not that I want to stick my head in the sand; it's just that I need to devote a little "head time" to my own needs. And I guess I've arrived at this moment as I'm approaching my annual Labor Day assessment of our self-sustaining lifestyle.
Both PLW and I are striving to become more self-sufficient and "organic" in how we live. We just filled the freezer with fresh, hormone-free beef, and picked up our bi-weekly supply of raw milk. And we are blessed to be part of a growing network of friends who are embracing this lifestyle, as well. Although we don't mind being called "preppers", it's become as much about being as healthy as we can, and making our own decisions about what we put in our bodies.
Although we are rather new to this lifestyle, we are eagerly learning what works best for us in our climate and growing seasons. Our next big move will be to square-box gardening, in the hopes that we can conquer our ever-present nemesis, the weeds. Any suggestions from those of you who have perfected this method will be gratefully appreciated. We're hoping that the use of wicking beds will also help us fight this unrelenting drought. And PLW is even going to introduce a worm motel! Oh, the joys of unconventional gardening!
But, seriously, this lifestyle is coming more and more under scrutiny in our over-regulated culture. It is not only a matter of small farmers, who choose to sell directly to the consumer, and are battling Big Agriculture; but we private citizens are under the microscope for daring to raise our own cattle and butcher them without the all-important USDA stamp of approval. Making your own cheese, or fermenting cabbage to make sauerkraut are all suspect, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This is becoming such a problem, that there is even a "food rights" movement!
Certainly, they're not going to try to convince us that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are safe or healthy ... are they? Because I'll take my chances with raw milk or grass-fed beef, before I'll choose food that has been subjected to fertilizers, pesticides, high fructose corn syrup, and aspartame.
I hate it that everything is becoming a struggle between private citizens and an encroaching government. It's not enough that our health care is no longer between us and our doctors; now, they want to take away our choice of the very foods we eat! But I figure that if I can eat more organically, (minus the additives that will slowly erode my health and send me to a government-controlled doctor), that I will, very simply, be healthier. And there's an additional benefit: I am, in my own small way, asserting my individual rights and control over my own body. Bon appétit!
1 Corinthians 6:19 "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,"
On top of all this, give thanks for all that we do have and are allowed to eat and drink. 1 Thess. 15:18ReplyDelete
Give thanks for everything we have and ask for God's blessing upon it. We are to do what we can to keep our temples clean and pure, but when we don't have a choice to eat the better foods, pray for God's blessing to keep all impure and evil destructive elements out. Through Christ all things are possible. He even said we can drink poison and be unaffected.
Thanks for this post! God bless!
This is free advice with well wishes to you from a long time Master Gardener - And God's best for your family in this life enriching, health-giving and fun adventure for the whole family!! . Remember weeds are just flowers out of place....And some are valuable and nutrient rich food sources for humans. Always identify what you have before doing anything with them. Many are also food and host plants for the 97% "good" insects that we want in our gardens. When I pull up any "weeds" if they have not gone to seed I leave them right there on the ground to enrich the soil. Or add them to the compost pile.ReplyDelete
Too many people use toxic chemicals like pesticides, herbicides and insecticides...not only destroying their precious soil but also killing off the 97% of the "good guys" those predatory insects that we want in our gardens as well as the small 3% of the "bad guy" insect population. Growing using natural and safe methods such as ----- companion planting, Integrated Pest Management tactics, rotating your crops, making your own fertilizer by composting everything - kitchen waste which includes coffee grounds, tea bags, left over "fuzzy" vegetables, vegetable scraps and cuttings,. leaves, shredded paper (no they don't use lead based ink anymore) barn yard manure if you have barnyard animals (no dog or cat manure). In other words everything that came from the earth goes back into the soil to build up nutrient rich, loose soil with lots of earthworms. When you can stick your shovel into your soil and you come up with many earthworms you know your soil is good. It takes time and consistency to always feed your soil. When the "food" is gone the earthworms and beneficial soil insects go away. They go where the food is.
Start a garden journal by just siting and observing your land for awhile. Log in everything you do from what you put into your soil and when. Log the early morning temperatures and weather changes, look where the sun is and plant where your crops will get at least 8 hours a day of sunlight, and good drainage. Log what you plant and where so you can rotate your crops from year to year, season to season.. Start making a compost pile, Start preparing your soil now for Fall planting, Know your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone so you know when to plant cold crops and when to plant your warm crops - this is a huge one so your don't waste money on plants that are growing at the wrong time and die off. All this information is easily available online.
Print out stuff and put it in a notebook.
MOST IMPORTANT - ALWAYS BUY HEIRLOOM SEEDS. NEVER, IF POSSIBLE BUY HYBRID. There are many excellent seed providers in the internet. http://www.botanicalinterests.coim; http://www.rareseeds.com. Most hybrid seeds are tweaked by Monsanto and will never grow again. Learn how and when to save your Heirloom seeds and you can grow and pass them along for generations to come. The Amish grow as much for their seed as they do for food! An important commodity for future barter.
When you prepare your soil always mulch thickly with leaves, hay or alfalfa. If you live where there are barnyard animals, a feed store will have bales of either one available. Mulching conserves water, enriches the soil, keeps down the weeds and keeps the soil from baking in the heat of summer and protects the plant leaves from water splashes in rainy winters that can cause plant diseases.
Grow what grows in your area. Grow what you and your family like and will eat. Eat right from your garden for good God giving health. Always try to add something you have never eaten before for a new delight. Plant fruit trees first so they get a good start as they take the longest to produce. Plant lots of flowers like marigolds, nasturtiums, etc. There are many flowers that are edible. Learn what they are. Mix in herbs for good cooking and then when they are at their peak...dry and properly store them in canning jars on the pantry shelf.
Learn how to can, dehydrate and preserve the foods from your garden. A bit of an investment starting off but will be well worth the cost when you can go "shopping" right in your own pantry! There is nothing like a delicious jar of fresh plums or peaches to make and enjoy eating a warm fruit cobbler in the middle of a snowy cold winter. Then teach others how to grow and preserve their foods.
Hope this is good for a start!! God bless your in the many years ahead of good growing and healthful eating.
Don't let all this information discourage you from starting...starting is 1/2 way there!!!
You are getting, in a nutshell, what I've learned over a span of many, many years.
There are many excellent books available...I buy mine used - mostly the cost is .01 cent from amazon.com and they are always in very good shape for a total cost of $4.00 including shipping ($3.99).Some of the best, but out of print, and if you can find them, are written by Ruth Stout. She was an organic gardener before anyone ever devised the word "organic". Which is how people grew their own foods for centuries. She lived and gardened to well over 90 years old. If you can find any of her wonderful books, you have a real treasure.