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Pull Up A Chair…

This year, after a dreary gray and muddy winter, you can almost feel the urgency of the life pushing up through the soil, the quickening of the earth’s pulse as so much green bursts forth. And all of the animals — and children — in our neighborhood are rejoicing as well.

With all of the bad news on the food front and the economy — from food shortages to outright famines, vast price increases and riots in some parts of the globe — I’m feeling this urge to slip veggies into every corner of our tiny yard…just in case. And to get out my canning supplies and put a little food by for the winter as well. Not even so much for my own family as much as to have extra in case someone else we know needs it, too.

You just never know, and preparing for the worst case scenario when you can never hurts.

It’s probably my granny’s hard-earned survival instincts from the Great Depression and an early divorce that left her, my aunt, and my mom nearly destitute as my granny worked three jobs to buy back her own home (it had been sold out from under her by my grandfather to fund his excursion with his hussy…long story, but it broke my granny’s heart, and left her with a need to teach me to be able to stand on my own two feet no matter what.)

Back in 2005, just after Hurricane Katrina, Alpha Geek did a series of posts at DKos on how to be prepared for a disaster. There was a lot of information contained in them that you may never use, but it never hurts to at least know what you could do…just in case. Every time some crazy event comes up — the tsunami in the Pacific islands, an earthquake or a massive fire, another hurricane or flooding season, rumors of bird flu, or even the latest news on food shortages — every single time I read about something like this, I think back to that series. So I’m posting the link for all of you to keep handy as well.

We’ll be popping a few extra veggies into the yard this year as the season progresses — my usual fresh herb pots, some tomatoes and peppers, a couple of cucumber mounds and at least one of zucchini as well, and I’ve added in a little broccoli this spring. Later in the year, I’m hoping to get some pole beans started — their blooms are lovely, and I’m thinking of using some bamboo pole teepees and think they’d look nice woven in and around my perennial beds. What I can’t grow, I’ll buy at the local farmer’s market and either can or freeze a bit of everything. At least so long as my shelf and freezer space allows for it, anyway.

A friend of ours has a saying that applies on a whole lot of levels: when you can, not when you have to. (Think of the last long car trip you took, and how little time it takes for that second cup of coffee to bombard your bladder, and you’ll see what I mean.) I don’t know why, but I am feeling an enormous urge to put food by this year. Call it a gut feeling, or maybe I’m just having some weird nesting urge, but there you are.

In any case, all sorts of veggies can be grown in small pots on a tiny porch or along your driveway, or even on the windowsill if need be, including cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, which both come in varieties that are perfect for pots (look for determinate tomatoes — and ask your local garden center person if you’ve found a good one for a pot on your patio). Anyone could grow a little herb garden and have fresh basil, chives, sage, parsley or mint (Rosemary is a little tricker, because it likes keeping its feet dry, but if I can keep it alive, anyone can! Just keep it in a separate pot.) — just imagine the wonderful flavor of fresh snipped herbs in your morning omelette with some slightly melted goat cheese, and you begin to see the benefits.

I don’t know about you, but helping something to live — and feeding myself with something I’ve grown — are two of my biggest joys.  In a world where sorrow and desperation are far too often present, seizing a little joy in a little dirt and some freshly picked tomatoes and cucumbers is well worth the weeding time. Plus, whatever extras you have can make their way around the neighborhood, feeding others with your handiwork. Or to the local homeless shelter.

There’s always something you can do, be it veggies or fruit (I long for dwarf blueberry bushes as a hedge in the yard, but we haven’t gotten that far in the landscaping yet.), or flowers, or even buying produce from a local farmer who desperately needs the money to keep things going this year. Every little bit helps. And this year, I have a feeling that it will take all of us giving a little bit of help to those around us for everyone to make it through. Pull up a chair…

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com