28 Mar 2013
I do not consider myself a “prepper”.
I do consider myself a “cautious libertarian with kids who has read too many dystopian-future novels”.
That being said, I was surprised to find out that I’m already doing or planning almost everything on this list. The philosophy of “plant everything and see what grows” is very important with our fluctuating weather. This dovetails nicely into my vision of “the garden as living laboratory”. Everything I do is a grand experiment, continually working towards greater diversity. I never thought of permaculture as something that would resonate with preppers, but it makes sense. It was interesting to see where I am on this author’s list:
1. Plant Perennials
Yup. Ten established fruit-bearing trees already here when we moved in. Another dozen fruit trees planted in the past year. Other perennial food-producers planted in the past year: elderberry, flatwoods plum, rabbit-eye blueberry, Mysore raspberry, Kiowa blackberry. There’s also the culinary herb bed with at least a dozen perennials in it already. This year will plant sunchokes, sweet potatoes, and cassava.
2. Plant polycultures.
Beyond the idea that my entire yard is a polyculture, I have worked hard planning specific polyculture “beds” to grow within the food forest above and in the raised beds in the back. The “fedges” are also polycultures mixing perennial food-producers, medicinal herbs, and natives to attract pollinators and predatory insects.
3. Breed your own perennial varieties.
Any time you save your own seed for more than one generation and plant it, you are breeding your own micro-variety. The plant is supposed to adapt to the particular conditions and become stronger. I’m trying this theory with my speckled butter beans, the first crop I’ve saved seed from!
4. Include animals.
This is the only piece missing, the piece that will continually keep my experiment from being self-sufficient. I cannot have farm animals or any pets due to the conditions of our lease. We can’t even have a cat. I currently drive 45 minutes each way for horse manure- not sustainable. Finding a regular and affordable source of animal manure closer to home is a big goal this year.
5. Manage rainwater.
Adding rain barrels and drip irrigation is the project for April, before monsoon season starts.
6. Process, preserve, add value, and store on site.
The only crop of significance we have right now is citrus. I juiced pounds and pounds of fruit and candied the peels. I made marmalade, syrups, and liqueurs. We buried the peels instead of throwing them in the garbage. I have several gallons of fresh unpasteurized juice in the deep freeze and many jars of marmalade.
7. Don’t forget annuals.
How could I? Without annuals there is no salsa! I’ve already started tomatillos, eggplants, ground cherries, pumpkins, and beans. The fact that I work at the farmers market keeps me from feeling much urgency to grow a lot of annual vegetables, so I’m only growing the weird, interesting, or expensive varieties that we eat in quantity already.
8. Become a wild plant gatherer!
Oh yeah. Done that. I can now identify a bunch of wild edibles, but most of the wild edibles growing in my immediate area are definitely starvation foods… they are there and edible and at least somewhat nutritious, but they don’t taste very good. I haven’t branched out into mushrooms yet.
9. Become a tracker/hunter.
This is my big reveal. Ready for it? I am 38 years old and I have never shot a gun in my life. Never. However, I also believe strongly that as a meat-eater I should be willing to kill and butcher my own meat, so my birthday present this year will be a rifle. Husband and I have already talked about teaching me and all three kids to shoot pistols and rifles. This fall, I am going hunting.
10. Start now!
Yeah, I got this. There’s this weird sense of urgency lately, despite my innate skepticism of the world-enders. I do not fear climate change… it is only our own hubris which wants nature to never change. I can only control my own behavior and live as lightly upon the earth as I can, pay attention to the land, and try to convince my kids to do the same.