The most rewarding money and stress reliever is gardening, empowering your food security. I gave my son-in-law, who lives in an apartment, a tomato plant for Father’s Day. He was so thrilled when he got his first tomato! Even if you only grew one plant on your porch you’ve empowered yourself. Even if you only grew one zucchini you’ll end up with a lot of food. One 8” zucchini, shredded, will fill a one-quart freezer container. A quart of shredded zucchini mixed with cooked rice or quinoa makes lovely fritters for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or zucchini chocolate cake.
Of course if you have a larger garden you may need to lock your car door at church to avoid anyone dropping a baseball-bat-sized zucchini into your car! They can be sliced lengthwise for lasagna or crosswise for sautéing, never waste food. Almost one half of all food in America is tossed as garbage! No wonder starving nations think we’re wasteful. Give food to your neighbors, start a compost heap, get chickens to eat your vegetable “waste.”
If you had a large garden it’s not too late to preserve your harvest for winter. Canning, freezing, dehydrating may consume your time, but if you are out of work it’s a good way to save money and empower yourself. And it feels great to look at those pantry shelves of your efforts. There’s still a lot coming out of the garden-cucumbers, green beans, herbs, tomatoes, and of course kale. Make kale chips by massaging olive oil into bite-sized pieces, salt, and bake at 350 for ten minutes. Better for the kids (and adults) than Cheetos. Or you could make guacamole with minced kale added or zucchini hummus using whatever recipes you have.
Forage-actually pick all those apples on your or your neighbors property (with permission, of course). When I lived on my five-acre farm I had Clackamas County’s oldest living Graventein apple tree, still producing. When I wasn’t making applesauce, my four donkeys and two llamas got the rest. Chickens cleaned up any pests under the trees. Alas, while something of a homesteader, the new owner of the farm has cut down that apple tree. Is buying applesauce in little plastic containers a better choice? Not any more.
The farmer also tore down the old cabin, built in 1925, that had a full basement, that I’m sure was used to store garden produce. I had used it as a guesthouse, a bunkhouse for my farm workers, and my ex-husband wrote several books there. Now it is history that is gone forever. But my new property, also built in 1925, is not even an acre, but may have one of the last freestanding fruit rooms. All four walls of this 8’x9’ room are fifteen inches thick. It’s a perfect place to store my home-canned goods, as well as potatoes, squash, onions, fruit and even T.P. in case of the next unforeseen disaster.
I am no longer a part of the “consume all you can” society, though I’ll admit that I once was. Living alone in a twenty-two hundred square foot house leaves a lot of room for “acquiring.” Maybe the pendulum is now swinging the other way back to “less is more.” Even my twelve-year-old grandson requested “no gifts” for his birthday party. Buying things for a moment’s pleasure that end up their lives in the landfill is no longer sustainable. Let’s build up spiritual abundance and peace instead of “stuff.” A society based on “ever more money” will not survive, for those are not real riches.
As the Harvest Moon appears and the time to “gather up” the garden nears remember to tithe to the soil. While continuing to plant lettuce and other green leafies every two weeks can also put in starts of cabbage, kale, onions, radishes, and garlic and potatoes. With stored squash that’s still a lot of produce to get you through winter. So you can stop buying industrial and over packaged food.
We each need enough food to make it through to the “lean months” of February and March. Those home-canned tomatoes become the “fast food” of the end of the year.
Many grocery stores still don’t have filled shelves and many never again. What if our next crisis is over oil and gas? Transportation will be difficult. Though we’re all getting used to staying home more, instead of using our precious resources, it never hurts to be prepared.
The cooler air and falling leaves of September make us restless. It puts us in the mood for preparedness. It’s time to gather up the sweaters and blankets, for we do know that overall things will get cooler. Learn new things and teach your children. Publications like Mother Earth News and the New Pioneer and this newspaper will teach all of you to empower yourselves.