Blow up your t.v.
throw away your paper
Go to the country,
build you a home
Plant a little garden
eat a lot of peaches
Try and find Jesus on your own
If you would like to get a provocative and unconventional take on the coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying financial crisis, you should read James Howard Kunstler's refreshing blog, clusterfuck nation. Mr. Kunstler has been predicting an economic meltdown for a long time. And now, by God, his prediction has finally come true.
What we are experiencing is not just a health emergency, and it's not a recession. We are at the beginning of the 21st century's Great Depression, and it is going to last a long time. A lot of industries, a lot of organizations, and a lot of jobs are going to disappear, and many of them are not coming back.
So what should we do? Kunstler recommends planting a spring garden:
If you’re prudent, you can begin at once to organize serious gardening efforts, if you live in a part of the country where that is possible. I’d go heavy on the potatoes, cabbages, winter squashes, and beans, because they’re all keepers over winter. Baby chicks sell at the local ag stores for a few bucks each now and you’ll be very grateful for the eggs. Get a rooster — even though they can be a pain-in-the-ass — and you won’t have to buy any more chicks.I think Kunstler is right. I'm not saying we are in danger of starving to death in the coming months. I feel sure that our supply chains and grocery stores will continue to provide us with food. We may not be able to get Mexican blueberries in February, but we will always be able to get canned beans and Kraft macaroni and cheese--or so I believe. And, to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, we'll always have baloney.
But planting a garden is a good thing to do. I have maintained a vegetable garden for the last eight years, and it gives me great satisfaction to harvest and eat food I grew myself. As everyone knows, homegrown tomatoes are better than the store-bought varieties. And homegrown broccoli, harvested and cooked on the same day, is a totally different experience from eating frozen broccoli from the grocery store.
Furthermore, by planting a garden, we begin to retrieve essential skills that our grandparents knew. My elders knew when to plant various crops and when to harvest. They knew how to preserve fruit and vegetables through the winter. They knew how to butcher a hog and turn it into smoked hams, bacon, sausages, and lard.
I can't feed my family on what I grow in five raised garden beds. In fact, if I gathered all the food my garden grows over the course of a year, my wife and I would survive for about a week. But I am learning a few things about raising food crops.
For example, I planted a fall garden this year and learned that broccoli can survive a light freeze. I also learned that collard greens are ridiculously easy to grow and taste delicious if seasoned with bacon and a little garlic.
I plant okra in my spring garden. I've learned that okra likes hot weather and grows so fast once it starts producing that I have to pick okra every other day. But I also learned that I don't like okra very much.
In World War II, Americans ripped out their front lawns and planted victory gardens. I am told that at one time, people's individual victory gardens produced more food than all commercial farming combined.
That's comforting to contemplate because things are changing in America, and they are changing fast. We are going to have to be more resilient, more frugal, and more self-reliant. Planting a garden will help us obtain these virtues.
After all, a tomato bush growing behind the garage is a reminder that we are capable of taking care of ourselves.