Sunday, October 12, 2008

A six month plan towards sustainability/survivability

And having this in place may engender a good deal of sanity.

First month--buy 500 dollars worth of groceries and pack it in plastic buckets. If you have access to a scuba tank it can be helpful to blow the dry air from the tank into the buckets to prevent mildew. A bit of dry ice can provide the same effect and ultimately fill the bucket with CO2 preventing bugs and other degradation. You will need 2 lbs of dry goods a day per person in your household. For me, the bulk of that will be rice. Lintels are another good staple. You must remember that rice isn't a particularly good storage food. In fact, nothing really is in this climate, so the point of the "grub stake" is to give you a fighting chance to get your garden up to speed. You will need every minute of six months.

If you're a poor and un-inventive cook, your lifestyle will suffer. Few cookbooks really teach cooking, they teach recipe following--and you're going to need to know how to make stuff pretty cleverly. You may consider finding good books dealing specifically with ethnic foods from climates similar to our own. Focus on the simple simple simple. Indian food expansive and is a good choice. So is most everything of Asian influence.

Plant sweet potatoes. As soon as the sweet potato cuttings are growing well enough to clip, cut them and plant more. Strive for 100 plants per person in the household. It will happen sooner than you think, but will take 6 months to get harvestable, and perhaps you'd need some potatoes early on.

Plant potatoes in general. They do nicely. Yukon golds are what I have mostly. Remember we're focusing on a survival garden, not growing salads. Once you're at your benchmark then you can start planting greens and other goodies. And, you'll have learned a great deal by then.

Month 2-Things will be growing, but not harvestable. Get a generator, a cheap one, and enough gasoline stored to be useful in emergencies. 50 gallons minimum. Store it safely. Think of it as an investment. It's a better one than gold.

Build a rocket stove so that if your utilites were off, you can still maintain a sensible living. Learn to cook with it--it's easy. Learn the art of using firewood. Stock up at least 100 cubic feet of fine dry firewood in small sizes, 2 inch diameter is ideal. Guava is ideal. It won't take long and you you'll get it for free.

Plumb coils in the rocket stove into your houses hot water system so that the house will function more or less normally. Have some sort of awning over the rocket stove so you can dry clothing near it if you need to do laundry sometime between December and March.

Month 3--Hopefully at this point you can wonder why you were so paniced about things 2 months ago. If so, have a cup of coffee and idly walk around looking at all the neat things you've done and think about how much less back pain you have now that you're in better shape. Have the satisfaction of neighbors looking with keen interest on the success of your projects. Feel just ducky; but keep at it.

Now it's time to get chickens, as they've place to forage and won't need feed. If you have some, they'll love you for it, but elsewise they'll pick incessently.

Get the garden going now, and plant stuff that compliments the staples you have and the things you might be running out of. Now you know more about the whole thing and will have more success. You'll need to fence the chickens out of the area of greens and things, but they can forage around it.

Bananas and Papayas!

Month 4--even if at this point you'll have discovered enough self-sufficiency that if things haven't gone all to hell you'll be mostly through acquiring new habits and will live in a new manner with new expectations. You won't need to go to the grocery store unless you want to, and if things are a little freaky in town you may not want to. As well, you may want to stay home and keep an eye on things, eh? Expand the garden and cut more firewood. Cram your lot wall to wall if you're in town, plant in containers, plant on your roof(hey! there's a lot of space up there!). People will think you're either nuts or you'll be the local guru. Those always come hand in hand anyhow.

Month 5--You'll beginning to harvest from the garden. Hopefully you'll have success and plenty. It's much more likely if you've had time to properly care for your plants, and with an economic meltdown you'll have the benefit of having time on your hands to do just that. Preserving extra before it goes bad is important. I've always used drying for everything but some enjoy canning.

Month 6--Take a look around! The least you'll have pulled off is moved from the personal realm of helpless victimization to a life of robust optimism, and that's hardly little.

Some quick thoughts waiting for the rain to clear.

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