I’ve been somewhat scatter-brained this week, so this may seem a bit disjointed. (…a bit more disjointed than normal?) I read something in the newspaper that got me thinking, though. It’s a similar notion to one I’ve read about, thought about, and even mentioned here, but it approaches the question from an angle I’d not considered before.
The concept: We may be entering a new Dark Ages. Not this generation; probably not our children’s generation. Our grandchildren? Maybe.
Old news, right? If things go through catabolic collapse, stair-stepping down the technological hierarchy, that’s one obvious assumption as to where we’re headed.
Where this one was a novel idea: We’ll be suffering from lack of knowledge.
Well, duh… That’s what makes Dark Ages “dark”. This version, though, went on to describe exactly what knowledge we stand to lose: knowledge about our planet. You see, as climate change cranks through, past even the best-case scenarios, we see global weather patterns shifting, often wildly, quickly, and unpredictably. If we can’t reliably predict that “we’re probably not going to get another freeze this year, so it’s safe to plant things now”, or “the monsoon season will probably be starting shortly”, we’re going to have a hard time with agriculture. That’s a vast oversimplification, of course. One hopes (in vain, perhaps?) that we’d still be able to paint the seasons with broad strokes of the brush–plant mostly in spring, let things grow through summer, harvest largely in fall. Will we lose a crop or two? Well, yes, but we do that now–although seldom catastrophically (unless, of course, you’re the farmer). The point was, it’ll get much worse, and for a long, long time before it gets any better.
I’m still kind of letting that one percolate, so I’d like to just leave that pleasant thought with you for a while, and maybe re-address it later. In the meantime, though…
Speaking of planting, how grow your gardens? We hope, here, to avoid a repeat of last year’s “weed-mageddon” (weedpocalypse? weednarok?), by severely restricting the size of the garden, and doing our best to smother and/or cook the rest of it. From our ten raised beds, we’ll be planting three (sort of–one will hold the tires for our potato tower, more on which in a moment). The rest get cardboard and paper, maybe some mulch, and black plastic, to “cook” all summer. Then next year, we’ll rotate, and over the coming seasons we’ll gradually open things back up. A long process? Yes, but one we hope will yield dividends with time.
Now, “potato towers.” In an effort to kill multiple birds with one stone, metaphorically speaking, we acquired some worn-out tires from a local tire shop. (Often, they’ll give you the ones they were going to throw out for free.) We’ll use one as the “side walls” of a raised garden bed (while actually placing it within a bed), filling it to the rim with suitable soil for planting potatoes. Then, well, we’ll plant potatoes in it. We place a second tire atop the first, and we wait. When the plants just slightly peek over the top of the second tire, we fill it with more soil, and add a third tire. Rinse, repeat, until we’re five or so tires tall. Then, wait for the greenery to die off in the fall, signaling that it’s time to harvest. Lay out a tarp, tip the tires over onto the tarp and dump out the dirt; then roll the tires away to save for next year. What you have left is a pile of dirt and potatoes; dig them out, and hey presto!
Yes, I know the likely first complaint: growing something edible in a chemical-laden leeching-into-the-soil thing like a tire. Maybe so; it hasn’t been a problem, thus far–and I figure you have to draw the line somewhere. I’ve got no control over the pesticides, etc. used on commercial potatoes; I don’t think I’m taking in any worse a chemical load. But your mileage may vary–it’s all up to your personal comfort levels, I suppose.
I’d like to address community a bit more, next week; we’ve found out a bit more about the history of our homestead and its previous occupants, and I think it’s very interesting. I hope you’ll stick around!