Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Starting to sweat

I'm not going to lie, I have put off posting because I was afraid I was going to only have bad news. The tomatoes I had planted were not sprouting and I wasn't sure what to do.

Last year you see, I started my seeds indoors in February because I was so excited by the idea of gardening. I just plopped whatever I found in some peat pots and soil I had lying around and boom, I had all sorts of things sprouting within days. I had peas, tomatoes, was great. A little too great I think. My peas never did really handle the transition outdoors in May.

But this year it feels as though it's taken FOREVER for any sign of green. Finally, about few days ago I got a tentative sprout. And then another, and then ANOTHER. Right now I have 6 Amish Paste Tomato plant sprouts. I'm still a little anxious but am feeling like I can ALMOST start breathing again.

I've been asked why I don't just buy the starters at the nursery. I don't think there is anything wrong with starters and in fact if my raised beds end up being as big as I suspect I may just end up having to supplement with some because I don't know that I planted enough seeds.

I do like seeing something I've started reach fruition, which is one of my favorite parts of gardening. And parenting. Sure, I could just adopt a 13 year old but what fun would that be? I like to see them (both plants and children) start small, almost from nothing, and grow into something amazing.

The difference of course is that I plant to eat the fruits of my labor with tomato. Not so much with children. Hopefully. Although there are days.........

In a powered down world I'm not sure that we will have such a steady supply of starter tomatoes at the local nursery. If we can get there the cost of a food crop might just be exorbitant if we are living in a world where growing our own food is the main source of our sustenance. Heck, being able to grow and sell starters for food crops might even be a home based business for those with particularly good green thumbs.

So having some practice on the whole plant life cycle as a gardener is probably a good idea. Right now if I kill all these plants tomorrow, I can do to the nursery and try again next year. In the future...maybe not so much.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Birthday gift

"What do you want for your birthday?" he ask me "Do you want like a real gift?"

"I'd rather put the money you'd spend on a gift towards an apple tree this year." I reply, sleepily.

"I'd buy you an orchard." He whispers

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

About Me

I realized not too long ago that I didn't really do a good job writing my "About Me" information because, well, I hate those small boxes Blogger gives you and I don't like how it feels to be redirected away from the blog I'm reading.

Since adding my name to the Survival Mom Blog Ring I've noticed an increase in traffic so I thought I might just throw my information out there so you know what kind of crazy you're dealing with. :)

I'm Lace. I'm 32 (in a few hours). I'm on my second marriage. I was married when I was 18 to my junior high school sweetheart. We divorced after 10 years of marriage because we really didn't have anything in common and didn't seem to interact at all with each other except for the occasional conjugal visit. I'm remarried to a wonderful man named Micah.

I work in Human Resources. I always feel like I have no professional "skills" when it comes to preparedness or survival but I am a heck of a people person and problem solver. When the SHTF we will see how that works out for me I guess.

Micah works in the oil and gas industry and is not into survival or preparedness at all. Except for the gun part. He likes that part. When I talk about it in detail it makes me anxious so I just talk about gardening. A lot.

We have three children.

K is 15. She dresses in black, listens to bizarre music by more bizarrely titled bands and every day I gain more clarity that I have, indeed, become old before my time. ("Who's that you're listening to? Snot Bucket?" "No Mom, it's Apocalyptica." "Same thing.") She's generally lazy but has a heart of gold. She should never have children of her own, however.

L is 6. She's just all around adorable and my only child not born with a midwife. She's in first grade, reads like a second grader and always wants to be my helper. She would be happy to spend every day with me all day if she could, at least for right now. She's in ballet and not very good but she keeps trying. I tried to get pregnant with L for 5 years before it actually happened. Considering how easy it was to get pregnant with the other two it was a little disturbing to try for so long with no results. L really is a joy to me. She is the person in our house that most other people are drawn too. She also looks the most like me which means she's gorgeous.

W is my son, my "Whoops, guess birth control pills really AREN'T 100% effective." surprise. He is 16 months old (at the time of this writing) and is an all around boy and daredevil. Before he could walk he could climb which frightens me, having 2 girls before him who didn't do that. He enjoys playing with L and avoids K when possible. I enjoy teaching him tricks like blowing kisses and giving high fives. He enjoys blowing out his diaper as we are walking out the door to daycare. And laughing at me because of it.

Micah is my husband. He is an all around geek and monitors oil well data for a living. We met on eHarmony, in case you're interested. He is from this Rocky Mountain region and has lived here all his life. His parents and sister live here. I include them in my prep planning.

My own mother is dead and I don't speak to my father. Some people just use up all their chances and eventually you realize that they don't deserve your time or attention anymore. My father is that person. My mother was a wonderful human being though and I miss her every day.

I was originally born in Alaska and was raised in a cabin for the first 5 years or so of my life with no running water. As a child that lifestyle truly seemed ideal. I wish I could do back to it but it's a process and a slow one at that.

So there, that's me. Questions? Comments? Concerns?

Saturday, March 19, 2011


One of the things that seems to often get left out of the picture in survival articles, blogs, forums, chats, etc. is community. Lots of times the debate of shelter in place vs. bug out is discussed. Often the topic of security against the "Golden Horde" or "Bands of Zombies" gets aired out (far too much for my liking if you must know) but I don't often see the frank discussion about community.

It takes a village to raise a child. Or so I've heard. It also takes a village to propagate the species. Breeding within families is generally a taboo topic so if the apocalypse comes to pass and we manage to survive are we only staving off the ending of our species if we hunker down with our food storage and survival gardens? Our children will need others. They will need them to security, for safety, for survival. As will we, truthfully.

Assuming it's my family against the world, there is only so long that my husband and I can keep watch before the lack of sleep starts to get to us, even on rotating shifts. Plus if one person is always on watch for those menacing hordes trying to take our stuff then how will any of the actual work of survival happen? Who will chop wood? Tend the garden? Cook the meals? Raise the children? It would be much easier if you had a community involved in security, food production etc.

So to that end I have started to build my community.

What I have found among survivalists is this sense of secrecy which I understand. I do. I'm not judging. If people get hungry they get desperate. They steal. They loot. They kill. So if people are hungry and they know you have food, well, there is a good chance you won't stand a chance. So I understand why people hesitate to share that they are preparing. They are learning. They are storing. Because we are afraid we wont have enough for ourselves we attempt to learn it all and horde it all with no thought of what happens after. But why not come out a little bit? Why not start sharing some information?

I blog in several places but I keep this blog very private from my friends and family because I know to them all of this sounds like Chicken Little and the sky is falling. If you look at it as a whole anyways.

During the holiday I gave canned goods from local fruits as gifts. That was my start of building my community. The other day I invited a friend to the upcoming Self Reliance Expo because of conversations we've had about rising gas prices and continued unemployment. Another friend and I had a long conversation yesterday about trees. I mentioned I was putting in apple trees this year. I was prepared for conversation about rising gas prices etc. but instead my friend mentioned that they have 2 apple trees in their backyard. We talked about the trees and I had some suggestions for her as to why they are only producing small fruit if any. She's been my friend for 5 years and I never knew she had apple trees in her backyard! That's another source of food in my community should we ever need it. (If we can fix the trees) Both of these friends live in my neighborhood which is my community.

So I'm not running around shouting from the rooftops that I have food storage but I am trying to turn my friends into a more local, survival, backyard thought process which I believe is a good first step towards building a community that could thrive without too many external inputs if needed. Is it complete? Is it whole? No. But it's a start.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patricks Day!

As my gift for St. Patricks day one of the tomatoes I planted last week has sprouted. YAY tomatoes! There is hope!

I was starting to get worried because the seed starting soil they are in seems REALLY packed on top no matter how often I try to break it apart. I'm kinda not pleased with that.

But I was pretty thrilled to see a "bit o' the green" today.

My family came from Ireland 5 or 6 generations ago. I joke that they did so to escape having to eat boiled cabbage. Certainly that is not a novelty food for me, that's for sure.

I hope you all are having a lovely week and a even more lovely St. Patricks Day. I'll write more later about my house of sickness.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My herb garden

I've gotten asked several times about the front yard herb garden. Specific questions are "what are you going to put in there?" or some variation of that theme.

My answer has been a shrug and "i dunno" for awhile. I had an idea. I sorta kinda new what sounded trendy or good. But I didn't have anything concrete.

So since my focus on my preperation of medicinal needs I set about deciding what I would put in my garden.

First, the garden has three functions. It's a medicine cabinet that only I know about really. It also is a cooking cabinet for herbs and spices. Finally, it's a butterfly and helpful insect attractant. In order for my backyard food production to get noticed I need to make my house THE place to be for helpful insects. So using the front yard (as well as parts of the backyard) as solely a place to put out the welcome wagon seems like a good idea.

For cooking herbs I want to have thyme, oregano, basil, sage, parsley, dill, rosemary and chives. Most of those will probably be in pots or just randomly spread through the raised bed and window sill in the front and back yard. Those I don't worry too much about.

When it came time to selecting medicinal herbs though I knew I needed to be a little more selective. I started by looking at what items I most likely would need by looking at my family's health and what issues we have.

1. Male, 36 - high blood pressure, some depression issues
2. Female, 31 (almost 32!) - hypothyroid, frequent headaches, menstrual cramping on and off
3. Female, 15 - no known health issues but of a child bearing age
4. Female, 6 - no known health issues
5. Male, 1 - asthma

On top of that I knew I needed to be able to handle seasonal issues like colds and the flu.

Then I needed to evaluate where we live and what will grow here. We live in the Rocky Mountain region, approximately a mile above sea level. We are pretty arid and our summer sun is intense. Soil depends on where you live. I currently have pretty decent soil.

Then I started reading and researching. I bought a book, Edible & Medicinal Plants of the Rockies and attended a class called Herbal Remedies for Cold & Flu at my local greenhouse.

Between these items I've narrowed down my list of MUST GROWS.

Elderberry - (Whenever I say this out loud I feel like I'm in a Monty Python movie) In the backyard I'm putting Black Elderberry bushes. While elderberry raw is often considered poisionous (there is some debate on that but lets just assume for safety's sake it's correct) the flowers and cooked or dried berries are edible and quite tasty. (I tried some at the class) Black elderberries are considered edible by the way, don't go for the red ones. In addition to being tasty and packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron and potassium they also contain anti-viral compounds which are VERY useful in treating many strains of the flu. I've also found some information indicating the leaves and flowers are helpful for treating skin ailments such as eczema and blisters. Combine that with the fact that these berries have 5 times the amount of anthocyanins as blueberries and more antioxidants than cranberries and this feels like a must have in my food stash as well as my medicine cabinet. Also, this is safe for children.

Echinacea - Also known as purple coneflower. Most people use or have used echinacea as a vitamin suppliment to avoid getting the cold. I'm not certain how effective this is but it does appear that if you take it when you notice yourself coming down with a cold you can reduce the severity or almost avoid it entirely. Generally it is the roots and flowers used in either tea or tincture form.

Lemon Balm - The crushed leaves of lemon balm can act as a mosquito repellent and who doesn't need that? It also has mild sedative properties and anti-viral properties. It helps peoples mood and mental performance but shouldn't be taken by people like myself with hypothyroidism as it can make the body absorb less of the medication we take and possibly inhibit the hormone TSH from attaching to the TSH receptors.

Catnip - Of course my cat will LOVE this but did you know that Catnip can also be used for human consumption? It, like Lemon Balm, has a mildly sedative quality and the crushed leaves also act as a mosquito repellent. Also it is a mild muscle relaxer and has been used to calm coughing.

Goldenseal - Believe it or not goldenseal is actually very helpful for sub-acute or chronic conditions such as inflammation of the mucus membranes. Subacute means it's gone past the initial first 3 days of the disease and is lingering or causing a worsening of the condition. This is actually an endangered plant and so it would be better and more predictable if I grew it myself instead of trying to forage for it. It is not safe for pregnancy.

Coltsfoot - This herb is used to treat coughs and other lung complaints. It has mucous cleaning, cough suppressing and mucous inhibiting properties making it fantastic for use when people are experiencing a cold or asthma onset.

Lobelia - Fast anti-spasmodic action, relaxant. Relaxes bronchial spasms during an asthma attack. Expectorant, bronchiodilator. Tastes terrible as a tea.

Chamomile - This plant is an anti-inflammatory and good pain reliever and also has been used as a sleep aid and to calm people and relieve mental stress and tension.

Lavender - Lavender has been shown to be effective as a sleep aid (anyone NOT used Johnsons baby lotion lavender scent?) as well as treating headaches. It can also be used to treat insect bites and burns as it has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.

That's what I've got on my wish list for now. I have a few others that I would love to add but I'm not sure if I can find them or they tend to grow wild and don't cultivate well (Gumweed I'm looking at YOU).

Additionally I'm looking at food as a way to combat some of our medical issues as well. For example Celery, garlic and tomato can all be helpful for lowering blood pressure and they are foods he will eat.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What's that? Snow on the ground? Temperature is below freezing? Bah! It's spring if I ever felt it! So you know what that means right?

It's time for your FAVORITE annual series, Lacy's Vegetablepalooza!

This year I've toned down my excitement and am eagerly awaiting my raised beds, hopefully going in at the end of the month. *fingers crossed* That means that this year I have honed my focus and know what I want to grow instead of just haphazardly planting whatever I felt like.

Since a lot of my later season plans for canning involve tomatoes it only made sense to try and grow them. To that end today I planted 6 Amish Paste tomatoes, 1 cherry tomato, 1 plain old eating tomato and a pea plant. Just for funzies.

One of the good things about my house is the southern facing garden window in the kitchen. While my own green thumb is pretty small, this window makes it seem like I'm a LOT better at gardening or growing things than I really am. Thank you ex-husband for selecting this house. At least that window.

Hopefully in the next 2 weeks I'll have some sprouts. Then I'll be on my way to tomato sauce BABY!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

It's a gorgeous day outside today, has been all week. My chives that I abandoned last fall have made a recovery and are doing some massive sprouting. My strawberry runners are showing green growth and at least for right now my outside feels like spring.

It's supposed to snow in the next week. Of course.

My backyard is where most of my food production happens or is going to happen since it gets a ridiculous amount of sunlight. My front yard, as you've seen before, is destined for kitchen and medical herb use. While I have the actual ground part mostly figured out I'm not trying to decide what I want to put in the window boxes.

So I'm looking for suggestions. As you can see they are shallow, maybe 4 inches deep but long, about 2.5 feet. Width is also in the 4 inch range. These boxes get around 3-4 hours of direct sunlight in the morning and then the rest of the day they tend to be in shade.

So what would you suggest?

I could certainly plant other items besides herbs as well since I would like to be able to entire bees and butterflies to my area with flowers etc.