I was disappointed this morning when I went to collect our milk and juice delivery. Yes, those were there as usual. So, too, was a small bag of sugar. But the bread, butter, and especially the fruit box that we have recently signed up for were not. I have checked daily for a home delivery slot with Tesco – there are none. This only confirms and highlights something that Alan and I have been aware of for a couple of weeks now –
The Importance of Grow Your Own.
Don’t get me wrong – I have been on this bandwagon for years. Practically my whole life. But even I am getting more serious about this issue now. In fact, Alan and I spent most of our Sunday afternoon in the garden putting together this raised bed.
We bought it and a couple of others on Amazon over a week ago. It is not that solid and will likely only last a couple of seasons but that is okay. That gives us the precious time we need to put other plans into place, and that is what all of us are doing right now, including our national and world leaders.
Admittedly, we are in a financial situation to invest in what will essentially become our @HomeCrazzyHome urban garden. So, some of you may dismiss what I have to say as irrelevant. Perhaps think, ‘What does she know? I can’t afford all that.’ But I do know. I understand being poor, and I have not always had the wherewithal to just purchase a raised bed on Amazon. Hear me now:
You Don’t Need to Spend Loads of Money!
With about the same amount you spend on a weekly shop, a small plot of land or even a sunny windowsill, the internet, and your time you can increase your family food security, cut your grocery bill, and improve your mental health. All while doing something pretty good for the environment.
Why do I think this is so important? Headlines like these:
AS ITALY coronavirus death toll continues to climb, locals are becoming restless to the point of calling for “revolution” and organising raids of supermarkets because of food shortages. (The Express)
Please hear me: I do believe there is food in the supply pipeline. I do believe it will eventually make it to the market. Most people will not go hungry, either during this lockdown or the winter to come.
Prices will increase on most goods.
The supply chain will take weeks and perhaps months to recover.
The things that will be most affected will be perishable items like fresh fruit and vegetables.
The good news is those are the very things that you can and should do something about.
In the UK, we are just entering our growing season. There is still plenty of time for most people to address this issue and ensure that they provide their families with food security in the coming months. Mother nature is even showing us her grace with a couple of weeks of mild and sunny weather.
So, for now, this blog is going to focus exclusively on this issue – at least until I cover the basics. So, let’s jump right in.
1) You do NOT need loads of space. You don’t even need a garden. Even those of you living in apartments/flats in the middle of the city can grow at least some of your own fresh fruits and vegetables. If you have a patio, then container gardening can provide a surprising amount of food. And no, you don’t need to spend hours and days of back-breaking work to turn your lawn into a farm in the middle of the city.
2) You do NOT need fancy pots. If you simply scavenge your recycling bins or go through your home, you will probably find plenty of things you can repurpose for growing. Old garbage bins = potatoes and onions. Old plastic storage/toy boxes = carrots, onions, beets, and loads of other things. Old dish tray is the perfect size for your lettuce. If you can find cut and come again lettuce seeds, then you can eat salad for over a month on one packet of seeds alone. Even our old chimneys became the home for our leeks. Old tin cans, milk cartons, and soda bottles are great for growing seedlings. Margarine and ice cream tubs, I could go on and on with my list. But perhaps these photos of my garden last year will give you more ideas.
3) You do NOT even need seeds for many things. Do you realize that many of the things you regularly put into your food waste bins could be regrown? Here is one video on a few of those:
But he misses loads of others. Did you know that every dried bean you have in your pantry could be planted? With some care, of course. And think about the number of seeds that we carelessly discard in our food waste: peppers, butternut squash, tomatoes, and many others.
Will those be as productive as special ‘seed’ ones? Most certainly not, but if even 1 in 10 or in the case of peppers and tomatoes, 1 in 100 made it to the fruiting stage then that would make a serious dent in your food needs. And the only way to learn which will and won’t work is to experiment. So, from now on, before putting anything in the food bin, ask yourself, ‘can I plant this?’ But we have loads more to talk about that food bin this week. (Hint: if it is raw, then it don’t belong in that one.)
4) You do NOT need to dig or hoe. In fact, this can actually deplete your soil. That bed I showed you earlier is filled rich, dark soil, alive with hundreds of worms. I ‘made’ that dirt myself. It is easier and quicker than you think in a process called lasagna or layered gardening. Most of what you need is even free in your recycling bins. And you don’t need to wait months or years to use it either. But I will cover that more later.
5) You do NOT need to spend lots of time even. I find that an hour or two a day is usually enough. But doing a little bit every day is key. Much better than doing loads at once and then ignoring it.
So, what do you need to buy to get started?
- Compost – peat-free is best, especially for organic.
- Sand – If you have trouble finding the gardening type, look in the play section. Heck, we are using up the builder’s sand that we have lying around.
- Vermiculite and perlite – Watch this video to understand which or both you need.
- A good organic feed/fertilizer. There are loads of them out there, including chemical ones. If you want to be sustainable or organic, then avoid those. The natural alternatives seem to fall into three categories: manure (cow and horse pooh – yes, shit), comfrey ( plant/herb-based), and seaweed. I won’t go into which is best because frankly, I am still researching them all.
Yes, that is the basics, especially for container gardens that can be done in the smallest of spaces.
The rest of the stuff I have been buying on Amazon are just extras, conveniences and experiments primarily because I am scaling our @HomeCrazzyHome sustainable city farm up so quickly. If I had planned ahead better, then most of what I have bought would not be necessary. But heck, I think most of us got caught with our pants down on this one.
Oh, one more thing.
But where can I get all that with all the shops closed?
As I have said, Amazon continues to operate albeit more slowly. And be careful to double/triple check those estimated delivery dates. So far, at least, Amazon seems to recognize the vital nature of gardening products and it has not yet been hit with some of those priority restrictions. Who knows how long that will hold out though?
The other option is that, at least here in Swansea, many of the small Mom & Pop local multipurpose hardware, pet, and feed & seed shops have remained open, though with some limited hours and social distancing measures in place. And most people are just beginning to hit these stores. So, go today.
Don’t go hog wild, I am doing that for you. But do check out what seeds they may have and don’t forget a couple of edible and naturally bug-repellent flowers like marigolds, viola, and nasturtium. Add a packet or two of those, or buy the plants themselves if available.
***This is NOT an Amazon-sponsored post. As a writer and human being, I have very conflicted feelings about the company. Nonetheless, in these trying times, we sometimes have to make deals with the devil.***
One more thing, tomorrow we cover the issue of food security and what you should grow, so don’t just buy every seed you can find.
Wow, we have covered a lot today. But there is so much more to cover still. There is loads of info out there on YouTube. I shared some of my favorites in this earlier blog. But as I got to thinking about it, I realized that one weakness with all those was scale and applicability. Most of those are made by ‘professional’ YouTubers, who are sponsored. What I want you to understand is…
You can do this, too!
You don’t need to live in the country, have lots of land, or carry guns.
Whether you are a single person in tiny studio flat in the middle of the city…or a single mother in dinky, dingy council tower-block…or a two-income working family in a townhome…or even a couple of hippy-types in one of the poshest neighborhoods in Swansea, there is something we can all do to improve our food security in the weeks and months ahead.
Over the next few days, we will look at some of those things for each of us. With special emphasis on urban settings and less temperate climates. I hope you will join me for those…and please, share this far and wide. I don’t have sponsors or make any money from my blog or YouTube videos. I just want to help people during this crisis and beyond.
Goddess bless, protect, and nurture you and yours,
From our @HomeCrazzyHome to yours