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Dirt Cheap: The Best Frugal Gardening Ideas on the Internet

Dirt Cheap: The Best Frugal Gardening Ideas on the Internet

With the price of healthful groceries going no place but up, lots of thrifty folks are starting a garden to save money on their bills this year. But what about the money to start a garden? It can be a very expensive undertaking, especially if you’ve never gardened before in your particular location.

I’ve been researching ways to start my own garden as inexpensively as possible and thought, “HEY!!! I know some other folks who would absolutely love frugal gardening ideas!” So…here they are.

Step One: What Kind of Garden Are You Going to Grow?

Of course, the very first thing to decide is what type of garden will work best for your situation. This will depend a lot on your soil, your climate, your skillset, and what you have easy and inexpensive access to. Following are some articles and books that will help you make your decision.

Pallet Gardens: Simple, Easy, Free

Straw Bale Gardens Complete

Create an Instant Garden with Sheet Mulching

Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding!

DIY Super Easy Raised Garden Bed for Under $30

How to Build a Raised Garden Bed for $12

For those who aren’t build-y: Big Bag Fabric Raised Beds (I have used these with great success for veggies with shallow roots and as a bonus, you can use them on concrete if you’re gardening on a patio.)

Square Foot Gardening: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space

15 Fruits and Veggies You Can Grow in a Bucket Garden

PVC Drip Irrigation System for Your Garden

How to Save BIG on Lumber Supplies for Your Square Foot Garden

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How To Start A Fruit Orchard!

How To Start A Fruit Orchard!

Nothing is more freeing than growing your own food. If you’ve already started growing vegetables in a garden, you know how good it is for your health and mental wellness, so why not try a fruit orchard?

How To Start A Fruit Orchard!

Nothing is more freeing than growing your own food. If you’ve already started growing vegetables in a garden, you know how good it is for your health and mental wellness, so why not try a fruit orchard?

A home orchard can supply you with delicious, low-cost fresh fruit, attract pollinators, and provide shade and beauty to your property. It requires a relatively small investment of money but a large investment of time and patience. The time and patience that you put in are more than worth it, however.

Being more self-reliant can change your life! It will offer a wonderful source of freedom and help you save some money in the long run.

How To Choose Trees

Not all fruit will grow well in all areas, but the same is true of vegetables.  You should visit USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to learn what agricultural zone you’re in and talk to those at greenhouses or nurseries to get a better idea of what will row well.  Nurseries should be able to provide you with information about the zones where their plants will grow. For example, we live in zone 4, and that means red and golden delicious apples are some of the best to grow in that climate. If you live in a colder climate, apple trees might be a great choice in general because they are hearty.  Cherry and plum trees will also be able to withstand some brutal cold, but you should make sure before you start to plant them.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Best Vegetables to Grow in a Greenhouse

Best Vegetables to Grow in a Greenhouse

I am always leery of any list that starts off with the word “best.” The reason being is that “best” is a subjective term that may or may not apply to the unique situation that we each face. As such, the word “best” in this blog is applied based on circumstance. Let’s get started.

Best Vegetables to Grow in a Greenhouse

The Role of a Greenhouse

A greenhouse is a tool. How you use that tool determines what kinds of foods will grow the best inside of it. Many of use our greenhouse to:

  • Start seeds before the last frost-free day
  • Grow and develop seedlings until they are ready to harvest
  • Shelter fragile plants that need a specialized environment
  • Extend harvest of plants that would either not survive the turn of the season from summer to autumn or from autumn to winter.

What your growing goals are is the first hurdle we come to when determining which types of plants are best for your greenhouse.

Growing Goals and Growing Obstacles

Around my house, the garden’s growing goals are all about food production and those range from starting seeds to extending harvests. I practice successive planting which is a little gardening trick many gardeners use to get the most production out of a plot of land.

It works by making sure that there is a viable crop ready to go into the ground as soon you harvest whatever is growing. Successive gardening is a practice that cuts down on the days-to-harvest and makes a perfect example of how I use my greenhouse.

So, time is one obstacle others usually include:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

False Solutions to Climate Change: Agriculture

False Solutions to Climate Change: Agriculture

Editorial Note: This is Part 3 of Mary Wildfire’s series on false solutions to climate change. You can read Part 1 on Electricity here and Part 2 on Transportation here.

It’s become increasingly clear that climate change is not only real but beginning to bite. Now that much of the population is finally feeling the urgency—and during a time when COVID19  has much of our frenetic commerce on hold, giving us a space for thinking and discussion–what can we do to protect the only planet we’ve got? Unfortunately a good many of the solutions on offer seem designed to quiet the increasing concern, the impetus to do something, without challenging the status quo.

Can we get real solutions and still maintain economic growth, population growth, and the growth of inequality? Are we entitled to an ever-rising standard of living? I believe the answer is no; we need some profound transformations if we are to leave our grandchildren a planet that resembles the one we grew up on, rather than a dystopian Hell world.  This is the basic theme of the controversial Michael Moore produced film Planet of the Humans. I see that film as seriously flawed, but agree with its basic message—that it’s time for humanity to grow up and accept limits, get over what I call human exceptionalism, or androtheism—the notion that man is God.

A veritable cornucopia of false solutions is being pushed these days, not only by corporations and think tanks but by the UN’s IPCC, the international body responsible for research and action on climate.  We could have made a gentle transition if we had begun when we first became aware of this problem decades ago, but for various reasons we did not.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The vital role local authorities could have in shaping food systems

The vital role local authorities could have in shaping food systems

In a world where most of us buy our food from big food retailers with global supply chains, and governments set the policy framework, it might not seem that local authorities have much of a role to play in our food system. However, they still have control of the ‘old infrastructure’ of markets, food safety inspections and roads, and they have much responsibility for food and food production, including school meals, meals on wheels and the provision of allotments. They are also the voice of local food, reporting back to national government, and they have a role in maintaining public trust.

Local government is therefore well placed to take a lead on local food security. That was the argument put forward by Tim Lang and others in a paper on why local authorities should prepare food plans for Brexit, recommending the creation of Food Resilience Teams that would conduct audits and make risk assessments, consulting with appropriate food-related professional bodies as well as local interests. Written in 2018, when concern was growing about the impact of a no-deal Brexit on food supply chains, it now reads as a dress rehearsal for the actual calamity that is COVID-19.

The rush on seeds, compost and local veg box delivery schemes that followed lockdown was a sign of public anxiety about the reliability of their food supply. For some, the threat was more psychological than real, as supermarket supplies are now returning to normal, but it does raise real questions about our dependency on imports. Meanwhile, for others, the loss of paid work and the requirement for some to self-isolate, has meant problems with shopping or paying for food.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Food Shortages Set in Motion by Politicians

Food Shortages Set in Motion by Politicians

COMMENT:  Dear Martin,
it is amazing what your computer is picking in advance. In Germany we now have the French fries crisis. (Reported now by N-TV) Do to the fact, that all restaurants are shut down, the Farmers cannot sell most of their potatoes. So we will see a lot of farmers get in financial troubles. Welcome to the beginning food crisis which Socrates is telling us.
Keep up the fantastic work
MG

REPLY: Absolutely everything is connected. Governments always function linearly and never understand that cycle exists. I got along with Margaret Thatcher because she kept an open mind. This is her address from our World Economic Conference. Here, she admits that governments think in trends, but perhaps they should think in cycles.

Once you see that everything is connected, it becomes so easy to grasp the fact that a single decision will set off a chain reaction that becomes unstoppable. Because politicians think in a linear manner, they do not comprehend the basic principle from physics which applies to everything. Newton’s third law: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

They cannot shut down the economy in the manner that they have done, for the damage to the entire supply chain is tremendous. You already have brick & mortar stores filing for bankruptcy. This is having a profound economic impact that will not simply rebound. The closure of restaurants has wiped out farmers who sold exclusively in bulk to that market – not to local grocery stores. That capacity to produce food has been destroyed by Bill Gates.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Do we need farmfree food?

Do we need farmfree food?

Because of how badly we humans have treated soils and animals and how we destroyed bio-diversity, it is understandable that people are looking for other ways of producing food.  The food tech sector hosts legions of entrepreneurs (mostly with background in the IT sector) seeking venture capital and researchers looking for grants to “disrupt” a sector which they claim is archaic. Most of them are based on the view that farming in general, and livestock farming in particular, is inefficient and wasteful. The environmental journalist George Monbiot writes in an article in the Guardian titled Lab-grown food will soon destroy farming – and save the planet.

“Eating is now a moral minefield, as almost everything we put in our mouths – from beef to avocados, cheese to chocolate, almonds to tortilla chips, salmon to peanut butter – has an insupportable environmental cost. But just as hope appeared to be evaporating, the new technologies I call farmfree food create astonishing possibilities to save both people and planet. Farmfree food will allow us to hand back vast areas of land and sea to nature, permitting rewilding and carbon drawdown on a massive scale.

“One of the promising initiatives mentioned in the article is the Finnish company, Solar foods. It claims that it has found a way to commercially produce hydrogen oxidized bacterial protein from electricity. The technology is actually known since the 1960s and has not taken off because of the prohibitive costs. In a research article, co-written by the founders of Solar Foods as late as 2019, it is concluded, that only the cost of energy required to produce microbial protein is higher than the price of soybeans, even if capital and other operational costs are not taken into account.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Where to Get Seeds When Online Sources are SOLD OUT

Where to Get Seeds When Online Sources are SOLD OUT

With the current shift in the economy, and with supply lines being interrupted all around the nation, there has been a massive – massive! – spike in the number of people interested in growing a garden this spring.

Hundreds of thousands – possibly millions – of new gardens are springing up across the country. Some are large, some are small, and all are important. Some people are calling them Victory Gardens, others are calling them crisis gardens. Even those living in high-rise apartments are planting “Victory Sills,” pots or glasses of water on their windowsills in which herbs or sprouting vegetables are rooting. Whatever the name, cumulatively, they’ll be an important source of fresh produce.

Normally the renaissance in gardening of all sorts would be nothing but good news. However, the surge of interest from both novice and experienced gardeners is stretching seed companies to the limit.  Many companies have stopped answering the phones and are putting up online pleas for understanding as they try to handle backorders with limited capacity and inventory.

Here are some other places to get seeds.

If you find yourself unable to order seeds online, here are some alternate sources to consider:

  • If you’ve planted non-hybrid seeds in previous years and have saved your seeds for planting this year, congratulations (and be generous with your gardening friends). This is the ultimate way to obtain seeds – by saving your own. Ultimately this is the position in which everyone should be. (Learn more about saving seeds here.)
  • Ask your gardening friends for any surplus seeds they can spare. They may also be able to offer helpful planting advice.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Can Community Gardeners Start Planting? It Depends Where You Live

Can Community Gardeners Start Planting? It Depends Where You Live

Interest in local growing is exploding while funds shrink.

VancouverCompostDemoGarden.jpg
Organizations that run community gardens in BC are working to ensure their allotments remain open to local gardeners. This photo of Vancouver’s compost demonstration garden was taken before the pandemic. Photo by Ruth Hartnup.

Interest in growing food has exploded during the COVID-19 crisis, but not everyone has access to a yard or even a balcony. Community gardens play a crucial role for both households and food security organizations. But how are they functioning now — if they are at all?

Despite the province designating community gardens as an essential service, some municipalities like View Royal, a small suburb of Victoria, have decided to keep them closed during the pandemic, with the council citing public health and safety concerns.

In Surrey, parks staff knew that when they looked at ways citizens could be outside safely, community gardens needed to stay open. “We definitely see the value of [community gardens],” says Dan Nielsen, manager of landscape operations and park partnerships. “We are, as a city, here to support our residents in these times.”

While the social aspect of community gardening may currently be missing, he says other benefits remain. “I think when [community gardens] were identified as an essential service through the province, we realized that aside from the value of growing local food, there’s also the therapeutic and recreational value that people can get from being able to garden,” Nielsen says.

Surrey parkland hosts about 450 plots in seven community gardens and one orchard, each run by independent garden societies. The focus is now solely on individuals efficiently tending their plots, and Nielsen is communicating more regularly with co-ordinators to help them with necessary changes. He’s encouraging them to hold meetings online and develop digital schedules for members.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Sustainable Living: How To Take Control of Your Food Supply

Sustainable Living: How To Take Control of Your Food Supply

Food freedom is all about getting creative and using what you have. With a little resourcefulness, you could literally create a backyard microcosm and take control of your very own, homegrown food supply.

Sustainable Living: How To Take Control of Your Food Supply

With a worldwide health crisis circulating the globe, it’s important to remember and put thought into what today is. Today is the day we focus on better ways to take care of Earth. Because let’s be honest, we haven’t done enough to care for this precious planet we call home. The way we live directly impacts our environment and, let’s be honest, humans are very wasteful in regards to using up precious resources.

The health crisis, which quickly became an economic crisis, and will soon morph into a food crisis shouldn’t stop us from doing the right thing by our bodies and the Earth. In fact, these crises should highlight how much more important it is to be self-sustainable by providing your own food and caring for the planet. We should all desire to take control of our food supply for the betterment of ourselves and the environment this Earth Day!

American decline is playing out in the news on a daily basis. Food banks are overwhelmed by those people who are unable buy groceries for their families. Mass unemployment and threats of looming economic recessions are forcing families to find more sustainable ways of making what they have work. As a result, rampant consumerism which is the backbone of the economy in America is doing an about-face.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Eight Meatpacking Plants Close In Weeks Across America Stoking Food Shortage Fears

Eight Meatpacking Plants Close In Weeks Across America Stoking Food Shortage Fears

Update (April 23):  Food shortages across the country are coming a lot quicker than anyone has anticipated. A total of eight meatpacking plants have already gone offline in weeks. On Thursday morning, we noted how pork shortages could hit households by the first week of May.

Now we’re starting to learn the dominos are falling, with meatpacking plants shuttering operations across the country because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Tyson Foods Inc. has announced the third plant closure in about a week and the second closure within 24 hours. The latest announcement crossed the wires on Thursday afternoon, specifies how a major beef facility in Pasco, Washington, is shutting down operations because of the virus outbreak, reported Bloomberg.

“We’re working with local health officials to bring the plant back to full operation as soon as we believe it to be safe,” Steve Stouffer, head of Tyson Fresh Meats, said in the company’s statement. 

“Unfortunately, the closure will mean reduced food supplies and presents problems to farmers who have no place to take their livestock. It’s a complicated situation across the supply chain.”

In total, eight major meatpacking plants have closed in the last several weeks. We noted on Thursday morning that a “rash of coronavirus outbreaks at dozens of meatpacking plants across the nation is far more extensive than previously thought.” 

As for the plant in Washington, well, it produces enough beef to feed four million people per day. Just imagine what happens when people who have just lost their jobs experience food shortages, or maybe rapid food inflation. It could be a trigger for social unrest.

* * * 

Update (19:50):  It appears meatpacking facilities in America’s heartland could be the next epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

On Wednesday, Tyson Foods announced two closures of meatpacking facilities because of coronavirus related issues.

Here’s the timeline of closures:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Fraying Food System May Be Our Next Crisis

Fraying Food System May Be Our Next Crisis

If you’re already overwhelmed with news of the pandemic and are coping with depression, read no further. However, if you’re a crisis responder by inclination or profession, you might start thinking food.

Experts who study what makes societies sustainable (or unsustainable) have been warning for decades that our modern food system is packed with ticking bombs. The ways we grow, process, package, and distribute food depend overwhelmingly on finite, depleting, and polluting fossil fuels. Industrial agriculture contributes to climate change, and results in soil erosion and salinization. Ammonia-based fertilizers create “dead zones” near river deltas while petrochemical pesticides and herbicides pollute air and water. Modern agriculture also contributes to deforestation and biodiversity loss. Monocrops—huge fields of genetically uniform corn and soybeans—are especially vulnerable to pests and diseases. Long supply chains make localities increasingly dependent on distant suppliers. The system tends to exploit low-wage workers. And food is often unequally distributed and even unhealthful, contributing to poor nutrition as well as diabetes and other diseases.

Whatever is unsustainable must, by definition, end at some point, and critics of our present food system say that a crisis is increasingly likely (just as public health professionals had long warned of the growing likelihood of a global pandemic).

And yet, year after year, decade after decade, crop yields have increased. The famine that ecologist Paul Ehrlich cautioned about in his 1968 book The Population Bomb never materialized. Indeed, our ability to feed an exponentially growing human population is frequently touted as a primary benefit of modern industrial agriculture and globalization.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Permaculture Pantry

Early Garden
 Photograph by Emma Gallagher

The Permaculture Pantry

Naturally Prepared

Going to the supermarket, in this time of pandemic, has increasingly begun to look more like a game of Russian roulette.  While the odds may still seem to be considerably better than 1 in 6, the stakes keep increasing and the likelihood of COVID-19 coming to a house near you (or, at least, me… in the USA) inevitable.  But, we have to eat, and food has to come from somewhere. Most folks out there are accustomed to figuring it out on a day-to-day basis.

I used to laugh at my dad because he was a connoisseur of store-bought canned goods and always had a pantry bursting at the seams with okra in stewed tomatoes, beef tamales, and anything that had recently been on special.  It was as if he were preparing for the end of times, though he had no other prepper tendency about him. Stacks of vegetables could easily be three high and five deep, with a couple of dozen rows per shelf. The man loved to eat.

He passed away a little over a year ago, and when messaging with my surviving stepmother recently, we had another giggle because he’d be laughing to himself now. We all poked fun at him for decades, but he never faltered. If he’d use a can of corn, he’d buy two to replace it. I’m not sure where the compulsion came from, but fourteen months later, she hasn’t even made a dent in the stockpile.

Food from Storage: Provision

I seemed to have carried with me (and my wife Emma along for the ride) a penchant for the prepared pantry, only with a love of dried goods rather than canned goods.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

It’s Not Just Toilet Paper, Seed Shortages Spread As Locked-Down Americans Turn To Growing Their Own Food

It’s Not Just Toilet Paper, Seed Shortages Spread As Locked-Down Americans Turn To Growing Their Own Food 

Americans are panic hoarding plant seeds as the coronavirus outbreak confines millions to their homes, crashes the economy, and disrupts food supply chains. This has resulted in people questioning their food security.

A Google search of “buy seeds” has rocketed to an all-time high across the US in March to early April, the same time as supermarket shelves went bare. 

We’ve done a pretty good job of documenting the evolution of panic hoarding over the last several months. Americans started buying 3M N95 masks in mid-January, then non-perishables in February, followed by toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and guns.  

U.S. Facing Meat Shortage In Grocery Stores

Now apparently, plant seeds are the next big thing…

Seed companies who spoke with CBS News said they have stopped taking new orders after unprecedented demand. George Ball, chairman of Pennsylvania-based Burpee Seeds, said the recent increase in new orders is “just unbelievable.” The company will start accepting orders again on Wednesday after it stopped taking new ones for several days to catch up on the backlog.

Americans in quarantine are becoming increasingly concerned about their food security. What has shocked many is that food on supermarket shelves that existed one day, could be completely wiped out in minutes via panic hoarding. Some people are now trying to restore the comfort of food security by planting “Pandemic Gardens.”

“If I had to put my thumb on it, I would say people are worried about their food security right now,” said Emily Rose Haga, the executive director of the Seed Savers Exchange, an Iowa-based nonprofit devoted to heirloom seeds.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Global Food Supply Chains Beginning to Erode, Crisis Looms?

Global Food Supply Chains Beginning to Erode, Crisis Looms?

As the coronavirus continues to infect more and more people, food supply chains have started to become more strained in recent days. It was announced yesterday; the world’s biggest pork producer is closing a primary U.S plant indefinitely after a coronavirus outbreak amongst employees.

Smithfield Foods Inc. will halt its pork-processing facility in South Dakota, which accounts for 4% to 5% of U.S pork production. The company also warned that closures across the country are taking American meat supplies “perilously close to the edge” of shortfalls. This is just one of the latest examples of the coronavirus beginning to disrupt food chains at a more significant scale rapidly.

We anticipated this, as we reported on April 1 that food supply chains were in the early stages of being strained. Many countries were preparing many weeks ago by cutting back on exports to begin stockpiling. Surprisingly, dairy farmers in the United States are starting to dump milk because there was no place for them to go as the marketplace for dairy products has been affected by the closures of restaurants, schools, hotels, and food service businesses. 

One would begin to believe history might not be repeating itself, but it is undoubtedly starting to rhyme. During the great depression of the 1930s, the hardest-hit industry was farming. Farm incomes dropped by nearly two-thirds at the beginning of the 1930s. Dairy farmers dumped countless gallons of milk into the street instead of accepting a penny a quart.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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