We preppers are famous for those big old buckets of rice, wheat and beans and #10 cans of freeze-dried butter. Powdered milk and cans of pineapple, our shelves bow under the weight. Today, I spent hours on my hands and knees in the mud and the rain, planting blackberries, strawberries, elderberries and a gorgeous cranberry bush, I could have shot off an impressive order to Emergency Essentials for about what I spent on all of my plants, season extenders, rock amendments and such but what I would have ended up with was short-term security rather than long-term sustainability. Don’t get me wrong. I will always buy grains and such in bulk as well as the occasional #10 can of freeze-dried butter but it feels really good to be doing the work that means my kids and grandkids will eat well.

The weather has been so dreadful here. It’s cold and wet and windy. The sun is random, breaking through just long enough to tease us but not long enough to do any good. I’m fortunate that my soil drains well. I’ve seen some gardens that are nothing but mud puddles. I am hoping that we aren’t looking at another miserable garden year. The summer of blight is still fresh in our collective memories. Last summer, the summer of heat and drought was nearly as bad. This unstable weather has got me thinking about season extenders. I spent too much money this week and bought some Wall O’Waters. I want to give them a try to see if I can get enough extra grow time to maybe avoid the blight. Early planting also makes it possible to have corn or squash flower before my neighbors. That way I can save seed without cross breeding.

I suspect we will all have to figure out how to make growing food work during coming hard times. The curve is steep and I’m not getting any younger. That’s the most appealing thing about permaculture. Once established, the asparagus and the raspberries just keep producing. The chickens eat the garden wastes and provide eggs and manure. The bees pollinate and give us wonderful honey. I really urge you to get a copy of Gaia’s Garden or any other good permaculture book. The day may come when I can’t afford to experiment with expensive Wall O’Waters or buy those pulverized rock amendments. I need to know how to regenerate my soil.

Nature note: The ramps are up and so is the rhubarb. The turkey vultures have returned. The climate may not be stable but the earth does go on.