Holding Back the Dam

December 30, 2008

I’ve added Jesse’s Cafe Americain to the blogroll… another excellent site for in-depth financial commentary that you’d have a hard time finding in the mainstream media.

The latest post is quite good, in which the author describes his increasing belief that there will be a hyperinflation event in the USA at some point.

A choice quote:

That has now changed. The dollar is a Ponzi scheme, the waters of debt are overflowing the dam of artificial support, and only a few countries, two of them somewhat unstable, are holding back the deluge.

If this comes to pass, we may all pay off our credit card bills and mortgages in record time yet still have trouble paying for food.

For a picture of what a hyperinflation might look like, check out these pictures from Zimbabwe covering the last year or so.

If something like this comes to pass, having basic sustainable living skills like gardening, mending clothing, etc. will become more valuable than ever.  As Steve Solomon states in his book, being able to grow one’s own vegetables can be the difference between barely surviving and maintaining good health.   I for one plan to make it a goal to get a few square foot gardens in this spring, and to start learning how to save seeds.


September 12, 2007

My oldest child started kindergarten on September 5th… I took the day off so that I could be there both when he left and got back. It was a momentous day, but one that had a big gap in it while the young master was at school. So, how did I fill up the time? Let me show you…

Cooking Salsa

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The End of Cheap Food

August 5, 2007

Before World War II, most families spent a third or more of their income on food, as the poor majority in developing countries still do. But after the war a series of radical changes, from mechanisation to the green revolution, raised agricultural productivity hugely and caused a long, steep fall in the price of food, to a tenth of many people’s income.


It will probably return to a quarter of a family’s income within a decade, or higher, from four factors:

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The 90% Mobility Cut

May 17, 2007

Emme over at Simple Living has embarked on a project of reducing her carbon emmissions by 90% or more. It’s a noble effort that I fully admit I’m’ in no shape to emulate for the time being. Good luck!

Starting tomorrow I’ll be on at least a 90% mobility cut for a month or more. In the meantime, I’ll be thanking the powers that be that we have the miracles of anesthesia & high-powered pain-killers as we start down the back slope of Hubbert’s Peak. I’ve spent the last week tending to as much work around the house that I can do that require anything more energetic than sitting & complaining since I’ll be doing little else for a few weeks. This probably means my blogging will increase a bit since I’ll have plenty of downtime on my hands.

Anyway, my plans for a vegetable garden have been scuppered for this season. I’ll build the beds later this summer and get something growing in them, but my plans for bushels of tomatoes and peppers have come to naught. Such is life, but at least there’s the farmer’s market.
I’ve managed to plant six stands of raspberry canes behind my garage, and three out of four hops rhizomes appear to be growing well. I’m not expecting to get much in the way of yields from any of them this year while they concentrate on building out their roots. If nothing else this will hopefully break up the heavy clay soils in that garden bed; I’m amazed the worms can navigate through there at all.

Gas prices continue their long, slow march upward around here. I had the extreme displeasure of filling up at $3.26/gallon last weekend thanks in part to it being Minnesota’s fishing opener. The local news had several stories about local boaters who are feeling the pinch when it comes to filling up their craft. Most marinas are charging between four and five bucks per gallon, so a large cabin cruiser will be very expensive to fill up.

There are a couple of new houses being worked on in my neighborhood while at the same time there are a number of existing houses for sale that are simply not moving. It’ll be interesting to see how low prices have to come before there’s more action on these places. In at least one case the price has already been lowered by about 10% and still the house languishes.

Multiple Observations

May 9, 2007

It appears that my plans for the summer vegetable garden may be on hold… I found out last week that I need surgery on my left ankle & Achillies’ tendon, which means that after next week I’ll be on crutches for a month and then in a boot for another month after that. These last few weeks have been very busy for me, so I think I’m running out of time to get the raised beds installed before my surgery date.

Unless I get a perfect combination of free time, daylight and weather in the next week, I’ll be raising a few tomatoes & peppers in containers and that’s about it. I’ll then be able to get the beds in later this year, which means maybe a small fall crop of greens this season. It’s frustrating for me, but that’s life.

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Happy Earth Day

April 22, 2007

It’s been a pretty quiet week for me. The weather has improved to the point that I can think about my new garden again, and circumstances (namely an injured foot/ankle) have helped me come to the conclusion that a whole lot of digging just isn’t going to get done anytime soon. With that in mind, I’m now looking at putting in a few small raised beds and trying the intensive route ala “Square Foot Gardening” using lots of mulch to give me some instant soil fertility.

I’m modifying the SFG model a bit by not lining the bottoms of the beds with either plywood or landscaping fabric. Doing that seems to make SFG nothing more that container gardening on steroids, which probably works fine for a lot of people but not me. I am planning on removing the sod underneath the beds, forking up the soil to improve drainage and tilth (a little bit, I know), then putting down a layer or two of cardboard to act as a temporary weed/grass barrier, and then put the bed in as normal. The cardboard will break down eventually and allow the plant roots to get into the soil underneath. The beds will be a mix of SFG and sheet mulching I guess. Some instant fertility along with the ability to improve the underlying soil over time.

I celebrated Earth Day by sneaking out in the early morning and planting a few hops rhizomes in the back yard before the rain comes. If everything goes well I should have both Cascade and Kent Goldings hops available in small amounts by the end of summer, with larger crops to come next year.

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Gardening Stuff & Related Nonsense

April 14, 2007

I was at the local mega-bookseller trying to fight off the urge to buy a copy of “Square Foot Gardening” yesterday (I did) when I saw something very unusual. This particular bookstore (one of the major national chains) has devoted a good 4 feet of shelf space to titles related to growing marijuana. This is either something new or else I wasn’t paying attention before. Considering that possession or use of pot is illegal in Minnesota (medical marijuana is allowed in a few circumstances), I thought it odd that they were selling a number of books devoted to growing the finest weed you can.

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Book Review: “Gardening When It Counts”

April 7, 2007

NOTE: I originally wrote this review last year, but with spring planting season upon us again, I thought I’d repost it.

Like most people, I like to eat. Shortly after I came to the conclusion that the peak oil issue was a real concern, I decided that I needed to learn more about how to raise my own food. Since the city and homeonwers’ associations usually frown upon people raising livestock in their backyards, I decided that a good first step would be to learn how to grow some vegetables. I hadn’t touched a garden implement willingly in my entire life. I was conscripted into the weeding and transplanting duties around my folks’ house growing up, but that was about it. Being a bookish sort of individual, I decided to buy some books on the subject. I started with some basic book on container gardening before discovering permaculture. Permaculture is a wonderful set of practices, but it’s focused more around trees and perennial plants, not the annual plants that make up the majority of vegetables & herbs that I like to eat. So, more research was needed. It was at that point that stumbled across the holy grail of vegetable gardening, or so I thought.

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Fiskars Garden Tools 25% Off at Menards

April 5, 2007

If you don’t have Menards stores in your area, this post is of little interest to you, and I apologize for that.

If you do, the latest ad has the Fiskars spades, shovel and forks on sale until April 15th.  Normal price is around $25 per tool, they’re on sale for $18.88.  These are the new models with the extra-large ‘D’ handles and feature all-steel tubular steel handles that are welded to the blades.  I’ve looked at them several times in the last 6 months or so, and almost bought the garden spade a few weeks back.  They look to be pretty strong, and they’ve gotten good reviews from what I’ve seen.

I’m in the market for a garden spade for sure, and possibly a drainage spade as well.   If I can’t find my spading fork (haven’t seen it since we moved…) I may get another one of those as well, though I’m not sure how useful that tool really is for what I’m looking to do.

Anyway, if you’re in the market for some new spades or shovels and you have Menards in your area, I’d check these out.  It’s a good price for what looks to be some solid tools.   I’ll post a review of the garden spade after I get a chance to dig up the new garden in the back yard.  Since we moved from low 80’s a week and a half ago to mid-20’s with a little snow, I have no idea when that will be.   Isn’t spring in Minnesota wonderful???

Tiger’s Eye Seeds

March 28, 2007

I apparently jumped the gun in my whining about missing the Tiger’s Eye Seeds from Seed Savers… they arrived today.    I didn’t see any mention of these seeds shipping in a separate package, but that may very well be just me not paying attention, which, as my wife would tell you, is quite common.