Self-Sufficiency: Adapt To Your Climate

Woke up to this this morning:

I suspect I’ll be replacing all the tomato, bell pepper and eggplant seedlings that I planted last week in a fit of optimism. Yesterday afternoon I covered them with upside-down clay pots and spanish tiles and stuff, thinking we might get a frost, but today’s forecast says more snow and I don’t think my little clay pots are going to be enough to save them.

On the other hand, I have very good things to say about the hardiness of honeyberry, serviceberry, goji berry and sea-buckthorn bushes. We lost our apricot crop weeks ago to a hard freeze, but these tough little berry plants from places like Russia and Tibet don’t even seem to notice that they’re covered with snow and ice, even though they leafed out a month ago and are well out of the dormant stage. I think the real trick to growing your own food in any given area is to let go of sentimental attachments to varieties that just aren’t right for your climate and seek out plants that aren’t bothered by whatever your area throws at them. There are plenty of options to choose from, and most of them I’d never even heard of until I got serious about growing my own food and started doing the research. This summer I plan to create a new garden bed filled with slightly acidic soil, to accommodate edible perennials that can’t thrive in our sandy, alkaline soil. It’ll be mulched with pine needles and peat moss instead of straw and manure. Whatever the challenges are in your area, there are probably solutions if you’re adaptable and creative.

I just wish I didn’t love tomatoes and bell peppers so much. My life would be a lot simpler without those delicious, demanding little divas in it. I guess at some point today I’ll have to go peek under my clay pots and check for survivors; maybe the carnage won’t be total.

Can we be done with winter now?

Categories: Edible Perennials, environment, food, frugality, Gardening, Health, Life, Nutrition, Self-Sufficiency, Weather, Winter | 3 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Bumper Crop


Categories: food, frugality, Gardening, Health, Life, Nutrition, Self-Sufficiency, Wordless Wednesday | 3 Comments

One More Reason To Love Garlic

About four years ago my health took a sudden, inexplicable turn for the worse. I went from vibrantly healthy to experiencing a baffling array of symptoms: a bitter, metallic taste in my mouth, a yellow/orange hue to my skin, coated tongue, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, tooth cavities, a sore on my cheek that wouldn’t heal, urinary tract issues and a general feeling of malaise. I even developed a mild heart murmur — and lost a half-inch of height! (I had them measure me three times, but there was no mistake: I was five-foot-two-and-a-half instead of the five-three I’d been my whole adult life.) My doctor tested my blood for heavy-metal contamination (negative), put me on a round of Cipro for the urinary tract infection, removed/biopsied the skin lesion (benign) and suggested that I look into ways of reducing my stress levels.

“Stress levels?” I responded in honest confusion. “My life isn’t stressful at all! I love my life!”


Anyway, then summer came and we had wondrous fruit crops on every tree and vine that year and I was happily occupied with building a new addition onto our house, and the healthy mostly-fruit diet, the fulfilling, productive work and/or the Cipro worked their magic on my health and I felt great again. Somehow I even recovered that lost half-inch of height, which was a huge relief because it’s not like I have a lot of inches to spare anyway.

But the next winter most of the symptoms returned.

It never occurred to me that Steve might be reinfecting me with something; at the time I had no clue about all his extracurricular activities. Because of the seasonal timing I decided that there must be a connection between my health and my crappy wintertime dietary habits. I resolved to start freezing more summer produce for the winter and to cut back on the Thanksgiving-Christmas-Valentine’s-Easter junk food binges. The following spring I planted more varieties of healthy stuff and really focused on eating well. The symptoms faded, but never completely disappeared again.

And then a year and a half ago my marriage ended, and little by little I found out stuff about Steve’s double life that changed everything about the way I looked at everything. I scurried back to my doctor and told him that I needed to be tested for every STD in the book: AIDS, hepatitis, syphilis, the works. The lab took about a gallon of my blood and a few days later returned the verdict: all negative. No trace of any diseases. Other than showing signs of long-term high stress levels my body appeared to be more or less fine.

This past year the symptoms have faded to barely-noticeable, but that metallic taste never completely went away. And then the custody issue came up, and that was Stressful in a way that nothing else has ever been for me, and all of my symptoms came back in a big overwhelming rush. I was sure I was dying of liver failure or kidney failure or extreme systemwide acidosis or SOMEthing. I made an appointment with my doctor for another exam, and meanwhile I did a bunch of online research into liver treatments and kidney treatments and pH-imbalance treatments, and the natural-remedy-type websites I visited all said basically the same thing: eat lots of raw garlic. Apparently fresh raw garlic is a powerful natural antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal, pH-balancing wonder.

I have tons of surplus garlic in my garden this year, but eating it raw is easier said than done. It sets my head on fire. I tried a few different methods for choking it down and finally decided that the simplest way is to run a couple of cloves through a garlic press into a tablespoon, then fill the tablespoon the rest of the way with a strong-flavored oil like extra-virgin olive oil or unfiltered sesame oil. That coats the garlic enough that you can swallow it all in one gulp. I have to be careful though — this method lets me take larger doses, but if I take too much at once my stomach threatens to send it right back up.

But here’s the thing: within a week of beginning the daily garlic doses all my symptoms started to disappear.

A few days into the garlic treatment I was accosted by a fellow in my favorite health-food store who was selling very small, very expensive bottles of something called Cell Power, that’s supposed to balance body pH levels and cure, like, everything. I never buy stuff like that, but this time I did, and added it to my daily routine. And I don’t know it it was the garlic or the Cell Power or both, but within a few more days I was feeling better than I had in years. Beneath my tan the underlying hue of my skin went from dark yellow to lighter pink, and the texture of it was smoother and healthier than it had been in a long time. My energy returned, and for the first time in years the metallic taste went away for hours at a time. I’m confident that it will be gone completely within another week or two.

By the time I went to my doctor’s appointment on Thursday I’d been taking the garlic for almost two weeks and the Cell Power for almost one, and I felt like the Bionic Woman. I felt a little silly explaining that I’d felt like I was on the brink of death when I’d made the appointment, but now felt absolutely wonderful.

They gave me the usual battery of routine health checks, and the results were textbook ideal. Perfect blood pressure, perfect cholesterol levels, perfect blood sugar levels, perfectly clear lungs, perfectly clean urine sample, and absolutely no trace of any heart murmur.

I am now officially a fan of raw garlic. And also Cell Power, I think. I plan to keep taking the Cell Power for the next three or four months to make sure it has a solid chance to fix everything that it can fix, and I’ll be keeping my garden generously and permanently stocked with garlic.

This is seriously good medicine, folks. I am a believer.

Categories: Edible Perennials, food, Gardening, Health, Life, Nutrition | 7 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Summer Sweetness



Categories: Edible Perennials, environment, food, frugality, Gardening, Health, Life, Nutrition, Self-Sufficiency, Wordless Wednesday | Leave a comment

Still Wordless: Which Way To the County Fair?


Categories: Family, Friends, frugality, Gardening, Health, kids, Life, NaBloPoMo, Nutrition, Self-Sufficiency, Wordless Wednesday | 2 Comments

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