Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tech Troubles and MEN

Unfortunately both my camera and my laptop are giving me fits lately. So apologies to everyone who has been kind enough to leave comments - I'm a bit behind. But thank you, as always, and I'll get this thing figured out. I might need a new laptop. Drat. My camera needs to be replaced also and I'll work on that soon. Today we'll just do a quick pic-less post.

To be sure Mother Earth News (MEN to its fans) and I have our differences. But somehow I got sucked into a automatic renewal scheme where I'm getting it for $8 a year. And so it stays. I just skip over the more extreme views and concentrate on the gardening sections. And what great gardening articles they have!

They haven't updated their website for the October/November issue but I got my hardcopy in the mail a few days ago. Sometimes people ask me how they can start their own "grow you own" projects. The MEN article, "A Plan for Food Self-Sufficiency" (by Cindy Conner starting on pg 29)  is a great overview for folks to get a plan in place to get started. 

First a word about the words "self-sufficiency."  There is always some clown who wants to argue that its not really "self sufficiency" because you may still get electricity from the grid, buy stuff from the store, and will want to throw the phrase, "well you dont grow your own coffee" at you like a stick. I say to them, "Go and stand over there with your friend who wants to keep saying "there's no such thing as a free lunch."

We'll assume that that "self sufficiency" vaguely means getting out of the stranglehold of big agribiz and doing something for yourself. Whether you want to save money, make a political statement, or do it just because you can - growing your own food is wildly rewarding. As is giving the finger to the local SuperGrocery and their broccoli from China. Now is a great time to get a plan in place for next year's growing season. This article "A Plan for Food Self-Sufficiency" is a great reference. I'd highly recommend picking up a copy of the new issue of MEN if you get the chance.

To summarize, the author Cindy Conner, suggests taking the following steps:

1. Establish your goals
2. Choose a gardening method
3. Plan how much to grow
4. Keep good records
5. Preserve your harvests

Sounds easy enough. And its not so overwhelming when its broken down into these chunks. If you haven't done any of these projects I think its hard to see how you go from nothing to harvesting grains to feed to your flock of poultry. Let alone canning meat!

But once you get your feet under you, and you have a garden going, you can move up to other activities such as growing/harvesting your own oils, sweeteners, and then getting into livestock. It is widely acknowledged that chickens are the "gateway" animal into a full barnyard. Once you start with chickens you think, "ducks would be fun" then there are turkeys, goats, and pigz. Pretty soon you only go to SuperGrocery for catfood, chips, and beer. 

If you are hesitant to take on the full gardening and barnyard then start small. Determine to grow, harvest, and preserve just one thing - say, all of your tomato sauce. Or salsa. Get your growing area ready now by establishing raised beds or mulching a sunny spot. Get a canner, some jars, and a few garden tools while they are on sale at the end of this season. Do research on what varieties of veggies do well in your area.  Then you'll be ready to get gardening when spring rolls around again.

For those of us who are well into the grow your own thing, I found a great resource for extending this gardening season on the MEN site. Check out this page on year round gardening and cold frames. There are tons of ways to keep those greens coming for the next several weeks... or longer.

Happy Thursday everyone! And if you know if a deal on a cheap, bare bones laptop... let me know.


Linda said...

When people tell me "I don't have room!" I crack up. My yrd is a postage stamp and I grow melons, squash, grapes, apples, pears, greens, and more! Plus I have my flock of fluffy idiots out there being all cute and giving me eggs. If I can do it most people can. NO EXCUSES!!! Buy a DUCK! :D

freemotion said...

Herbs are a great way to start for apartment dwellers, and you can get some practice in drying and storing them.

One of the best resources for new gardeners is....old gardeners! Most older folks are happy to share their knowledge....and plants and seeds....with young whippersnappers. These are the ones who really know how and what to grow in your neighborhood.

OFG, I hope you get that laptop and camera issue resolved soon! I need my "Adventures" fix often!

Charlotte Boord said...

I love M.E.N. and get a lot of ideas from them, plus of course your blog and several others. In my 5-year plan that I began last year, I wanted to include self-sufficiency in my Main Goal, but I knew I couldn't grow everything, so I inserted 'mostly' in front of it and feel that I have an attainable goal now.

Denise said...

You might want to try TigerDirect.com. They have some good deals. The last place I worked the computer geek told me about this company and I figured if the computer wizards go there for their stuff it must be good. I even got a reconditioned computer from there and it worked great for years but then finally gave out. They have great delivery too.

Chai Chai said...

And here I make most of my comments to see if I can get a chuckle out of you or to get your opinion.

Oh well, I'm off
To sleep, perchance to Dream (of bacon); Ay, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil (or the pigz),
Must give us pause. There's the respect (of bacon)
That makes Calamity of so long life(without bacon):
For who would bear the thought of life without bacon.....

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Linda, we totally need tshirts that say "NO excuses! Buy a duck!" Brilliant!

Yep, Free, i think i started growing tomatoes in containers even when I lived in the city.

Great work Charlotte! And yep I loved their article on a 5 year plan. I think they got some of that from Seymours, The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live it" - a great reference!

Thanks Denise, I'll click right on over.

Chai Chai - are you kidding? The only reason I write this blog is for your comments! "For who would bear the thought of life without bacon"..... bitter, bitter prose... *sigh*

David said...

Agreed, I have almost 375 lbs of produce now out of less than 200 sq ft of growing beds. Start small, grow what you can, can what you grow.

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