Fear and a veggie garden makeover

Last week I was working hard to clear my RSS feed of unread posts. I follow quite a few bloggers and some of them are rather prolific in their posts. 1 or more per day. Some are heavy bloggers, others light. Some fun, some permaculture, some cooking and basically a wonderful variety of information. Some days I can’t handle the heavy posters. I mean, how much doom and gloom can one handle? I KNOW the climate is going to hell in a handbasket. I KNOW our economy teeters on the brink of an all out and likely permanent collapse, or at least never to be recovered in the same way, and I KNOW that we are also on the slippery slope down the post peak oil slide. Some days I want information on just how screwed the world is. Other days I need to forget this so I can continue to function.

I finally caught up reading one of my favourite info posters and the info, plus that from a friend of mine led me to have a bit of a brain meltdown. It’s taken me 2 days to admit it but…

I am afraid.

I am afraid for my family that when everything comes to the collapse point we will not be ready.
I am afraid we won’t have enough food.
I am afraid we won’t be able to heat our house (and it gets pretty cold here in winter).
I am afraid for friends and family who aren’t on the eco-bandwagon.
I am even afraid for those that are eco warriors because that’s what fear does. It starts with 1 thing then immediately dredges the mind to find anything else possible of which to be afraid. My fear trawl was clearly highly successful. :(

However, one thing this time has been different. Last time I didn’t cope so well with my fear. Last time I needed to hide from them and I needed a major distraction. This time I must say I am likely twice as afraid. Like truly, my stomach is in knots. :( However, as I said, it’s different. Or, more to the point, the way I’ve handled it has been different.

Fear is powerful. It is almighty powerful and fear can motivate us to do things we would never contemplate with an unafraid┬ámind. Fear can be just like the sun. The sun is powerful and too much of it can burn. It can burn skin and plants and when that is long-term it can have terrible consequences. However, the sun can be a wonderful tool and it can be harnessed. We harness the sun every day to grow fruits and vegetables. We harness it at our house to heat our hot water and it can also be harnessed to produce electricity. Fear too can be harnessed. If fear can make us do things we wouldn’t do when we’re not afraid┬áthen surely we can harness that extra power to do the things we normally do but with perhaps, even more power. I managed this today. I have no idea how but I was able to use that fear to boost motivation. :)

I’ve been working on plans to make over my veggie patch. I want something larger and more productive. I want something where I have a better composting system, more space to grow and a better system of rotating beds. I also want to fit some perennials in and basically maximise production whilst adhering to permaculture principles and basically have a thriving soil annual and perennial garden there. It’s anything but that at the moment. I am ultimately excellent at dreaming up big plans but not so good at planning out and even less so at instigating. Finishing off projects I am terrible. :( This time I used my fear to get me started. Big time! :D

A friend came over last Thursday and brought with him what I think is a wonderful gift. 2 bags of nice fresh horse manure, a bucket of worms from his compost and muscle power. :) Between the 2 of us we installed a bath worm farm and moved in the first of its residents, poisoned out weeds (I know, it sits very heavily on my heart but with very deep-rooted weeds and running silver poplar roots there was little choice :( ) then sheet mulched before laying down a bale of rotting hay, 3 bags of coffee grounds (thanks dad) and then some compost and after a heavy watering in I’ve covered it with shade sail. The entire pile is about 2.5m long and about 1.2 wide I reckon. I need lots more nitrogenous and carboniferous materials to go in there and ultimately I want that pile a metre or even more tall but I’m stoked with that for starters. :D

The start of my wonderful new compost heap. It now has the finished pumpkin vines in there too and a large piece of shade sail on top to let in the rain and keep in the moisture and heat.

The start of my wonderful new compost heap. It now has the finished pumpkin vines in there too and a large piece of shade sail on top to let in the rain and keep in the moisture and heat.

After the compost was completed we moved in several very large thick red gum sleepers left over from dismantling the old piece of decking that was here when we moved in and used them to set up a terrace line to keep the sloped land and flat land separated for easier garden building. I even sheet mulched another area and released my existing compost to begin building up more soil and garden beds. :) The cat litter compost bin was moved to its new location and I finished digging the poopy soil out today. It’s been moved to where the orchard will be and it’s cleared another area ready for sheet mulch and more layers.

Not the est pictures and still clearly a LOT to do but the worm farm is in the corner between the fence and the chook shed with my spuds and struggling tomatoes in the foreground.

Not the est pictures and still clearly a LOT to do but the worm farm is in the corner between the fence and the chook shed with my spuds and struggling tomatoes in the foreground.

And down the hill to my new compost heap with pathetic pumpkins (which are coming out) in the foreground. There are pieces of chimney flue on the stakes for safety until I either remove the excess stakes or get my coconut cream cans on top of them.

And down the hill to my new compost heap with pathetic pumpkins (which are coming out) in the foreground. There are pieces of chimney flue on the stakes for safety until I either remove the excess stakes or get my coconut cream cans on top of them.

For me, this has been a truly practical use for my fear. The power of the fear has been put towards a solution for the fear itself. I cannot stop a financial crisis and if anything our lifestyle will contribute to it. I can’t halt climate change although I am fighting as hard as I can to do my part. I cannot ease the peak oil crisis either as the amount of fuel we use is truly negligible in the scale of things (although being frugal with it also helps fight climate change). However, what I CAN do is build upon my own resources, prepare myself as best I can and then, when things really do go pear-shaped I will be able to place less burden on a collapsing system and possibly even be in a position to help.

My new worm farm. Salvaged bath tub. We put a little scrap of fly screen over the plug hole, then some rocks pinched from our overgrown and weedy drive before some used mulch and lots of horse manure. There's a nest of wet newspaper for the worms to rest in and in a little while I'll start adding in pureed food scraps. :) On top is a piece of recycled carpet (thanks Lynda) and a scrap of chipboard or some such pulled out from under the house. When it gets a little cooler I can look to planting out some trees to shade the worms during the heat of summer.

My new worm farm. Salvaged bath tub. We put a little scrap of fly screen over the plug hole, then some rocks pinched from our overgrown and weedy drive before some used mulch and lots of horse manure. There’s a nest of wet newspaper for the worms to rest in and in a little while I’ll start adding in pureed food scraps. :)
On top is a piece of recycled carpet (thanks Lynda) and a scrap of chipboard or some such pulled out from under the house. When it gets a little cooler I can look to planting out some trees to shade the worms during the heat of summer.

Trying to stop being afraid of something this big is for me simply not possible. To be a parent is to have your heart walking around outside your body. My heart is divided into 3 plus my husband so not being afraid for how they will all be through the tough times to come is not possible but preparing and being ready for it will help alleviate the fears as well as prepare us to face what comes.

And to climate change, peak oil and economic collapse nay-sayers, we will be better off financially by a big way and leading happy and healthy lives so nothing to lose there except maybe a few sleepless nights (when digging compost isn’t possible) to alleviate fears. ;)

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22 thoughts on “Fear and a veggie garden makeover

  1. Fiona says:

    There are times when I feel just like that. I lie awake at night and worry about the possible future we are install for. For me my worry is that we will not have time. We have purchased land in NZ and intend to move there but as it is bare farmland I worry that we will not have the time required to get things up and running before the S**t hits the fan. For now I focus on paying off our mortgage as fast as I can and saving money so that when we do move we have the means to buy what we need as soon as it is practical.

    • I think that sometimes the best thing to do is use the fear to motivate us to get done what we can and at the end of the day what will be will be. Still, sounds like you’re on the right path with your land. Do you have a house on your block? Start growing in pots what you can, ready to plant out and earmark friends who have the cuttings and trees you hope to source. Get them to start them in pots for you ready for when you’re ready for them.;) And like me, try and breathe. ;)

      • Fiona says:

        No we do not have a house it is just one big paddock. We have planted out a windbreak with self seeded natives from my mum and dads garden. I have also asked my parents to start growing some things (Rhubarb, Horseradish, Asparagus and Bay tree cuttings) for me so that by the time we move there they can be moved to our place. Meanwhile they are growing more natives for more windbreaks. Until then I just need to lean what I can and yes breathing will help too.

        • Oooo how exciting. You have an empty slate! What permaculture plans and ideas you can put into play. :D And nice work on getting those longer growing perennials in play early too. Can i suggest planting out all your apple pips now too. They likely won’t grow fruit you can eat (although they may) but you’ll have lots of root stock onto which you can graft in a year or 2. :)

  2. Hey :) I get the same way at times – I fear.. I cry with frustration at stupid political decisions I don’t comprehend, I think of my family and all the “what if’s”. Sometimes I think so many are doing such wonderful things out there, there is alot of hope, other days just blah. There’s alot I no longer read for this reason. I think it was you who shared a great article by someone a few weeks back that put it into perspective for me, we can do nothing but what we can do for ourselves and our family in our space. And to live life with as much fun and joy as possible.

    You are right though, fear is a powerful motivating force :) I try not to let fear run my life, I try not to read too much now that puts me in this frame of mind but rather consciously work towards some sort of security that only we can do for ourselves. And I am forever hopeful we (everyone) will all be ok and combined human intelligence will bring us through.!!

    • I try not to read too many things that frighten me too but sometimes the need for the info in the article outweighs the fear it brings. :( Don’t even start me on politics. I’ve come to the conclusion that Australia is aiming for the precipice and running as fast as it can like a big old bunch of lemmings. I am also grateful for no TV to have to watch the collapse happening between the lines of life as normal. I can read enough info on the net to scare me silly. ;)

  3. k8heron says:

    My boyfriend is calling me a doomsayer of late because of my sense of urgency to establish our veggie gardens. We have a lot of land for a suburban/rural fringe block but not a lot of experience with growing our own food. In our first year we’ve really only grown enough to snack on, certainly not enough to keep us fed. I too worry. And I’m glad you wrote this because now I feel like I’m not alone in feeling horribly unprepared.

    • I’m sure my husband thinks I’m batty! When we went gluten free i refused to substitute pasta with gf pasta as I can’t grow the ingredients for it at home. I try to stick to a diet, even if not entirely so, that we can grow at home. I try to replace technologies we have with off-grid versions which means we’re out on the back deck in the dark shoving sticks into our kelly kettle to boil water most mornings. There’s a reason I’m called Rabid I guess. ;)
      And one day we will be in the position to say I told you so (if we wish that is) as we will be at least partially, if not entirely prepared and they will not be. I’m not being spiteful but time will out us as being right for sure.
      As for food growing experience, now is the time to get it when you can still buy what we can’t grow. :) Keep on trying. :D

  4. Lynda says:

    Knowledge is power and you have plenty of it. You also have the ability to educate, inspire and motivate others. You put into practice that which you preach and lead by example. Things might not be magazine perfect but they are achievable, by you and mostly by all of us. If this is what fear does to you then be afraid Jess, be very afraid, and lets see what great things you can do with that fear. You can always count on my posts to be not so serious, perhaps even sometimes entertaining, if only to laugh at what i get up to and the randomness of it all. :)

    • Thank you for your kind words. :) I think we can all turn fear into energy but I know there have been times in my life where fear has motivated me to stupid or rash decisions or when it has literally paralyzed me which is never fun. I hope never to return to those days. It’s the reason why I am sharing my fears and trying to make them work for me. I’ve lived the reverse and it’s not pretty. :(
      Your blog stays on my soon as I see it I read it list. :) It never fails to make me smile, if not laugh and often out loud. :D By the way, getting in early… HAPPY FRIDAY! ;)

      • Lynda says:

        And to you too, i didnt have to make any one redundant this week so i guess it is a happy Friday. Do you still need pallets. I saw some on the side of the road and asked one of the guys at work to pick them up. (he had a ute). They are in the yard at work.

  5. Sure! I think I understand. I dread getting up in the mornings even though I don’t have a reason. Yea, I do have a reason. The world appears to be heading to an ending and I have to rev myself up and believe my own good natured rhetoric.

    I know the score. After all I am an absolute realist. I mean except for the times when I self delude myself into believing life will go on. So back and forth I go. Up and down I feel. Side to side I weave and dodge.

    By Midday I finally realize Life will go on. There is Meaning, Purpose, Direction and future Goals.

    So right now I’m going to prepare my wife’s favorite dinner. I going to help my son with his tax rebate papers. Then I’m going to sit down and learn all 12 Mixolydian scales on my piano. I’ve ordered my new Bee Colony and so I have to prepare the hive. The Garden needs to be prepared.

    Suddenly I find the I don’t have enough hours in the day to do what I want to do, to do what I need to do.

    I’m reminded of an old inspirational song from the movie Cabaret. In the movie the song as used as a wake up call to two Germans citizens of Nazi Germany’s impeding takeover(Another end of the world scenario). The song is supposed to be a Patriotic song but it doesn’t really talk about Germany and I find my self singing it as inspiration

    Thanks for an honest but redeemable post.

    “…….tomorrow “vill” come and the world belongs to me.”

    • Love the song. We need to make that our theme and work towards a world that we control and own, even if it’s our couple of acres, my half acre or our balcony. We can own the space in that little world and truly make it belong to ourselves.
      Nice 1 on ordering your new bee colony to. I intend to learn about bees this year. Not to get them but at least learn. There’s a bee fellow up the road whom I wish to meet and he’s the next door neighbour of a friend which makes meeting him easier. Need to plant out flowers this year though. Planning in dedicated flower beds now. :)
      And yes, getting up and running takes time but once you’re on the go you suddenly blink and it’s dinner time. Frustrating that there aren’t 20 workable hours in the day. ;)

  6. foodnstuff says:

    You’re way ahead of most people, because you have an inkling of what’s coming and you’re prepping for it. Fear is good only if it motivates and doesn’t paralyse. I can’t see you ever being paralysed (not for long anyway ;-) As things get worse, more people will get on the self-sufficiency bandwagon and want to know more. You’ll be ideally placed to educate.

    I don’t read ‘doomer’ blogs as such, just those that give me the facts and put them into an understandable narrative (Finite World for e.g.). I think it’s necessary to have that understanding so you know what you’re preparing for. Then I get back to the positive blogs like yours for the nuts and bolts of doing.

    If collapse is fast, we’re all done for…no good worrying about it. If it’s slow (and humans have a happy knack of muddling through somehow), there’ll be time to build new ways of living and doing.

    You’re doing fine. Keep at it. ;-)

    • I’m not a doomer blog follower either but sometimes the news is doom no matter how you say it. :(

      If the collapse happens fast then a few will do well, others will struggle immensely and others won’t make it. That’s just fact. I intend to be in a position to survive and to be hopefully able to help others to survive too.

  7. Linne says:

    A good post, Jess. The information about what’s coming has been around for at least a hundred years now; I first became aware of it back in the late 60s and since then have gone through many of the ups and downs that you describe. In the end, you’re right; we can only do what we can and be at peace with what comes.

    Part of why I gathered so much stuff was to have tools, books, etc., on hand when the time came; but now it’s mostly in BC and I’m here . . . so I’ve had to make my peace with that and just keep going. If there is a major collapse, I don’t see myself surviving here in the city. Mum is on meds, so that would be critical for her. My Aunty simply wouldn’t make it. I’d hoped to have a place set up similar to what Narfie’s doing and so many others. The Lammas project in Wales comes to mind, too. But my choice has been to do what I’m doing and trust that if I’m meant to make it then I’ll find the way through.

    I like your approach to fear, Jessie. It’s a good, healthy way of dealing with scenarios such as we contemplate. I read the ‘doomers’ stuff for info, too, but there’s no use letting it get me down. That just spoils what I have today.

    You know, when I was in high school and the Cuban Missile crisis was going on, I rode the schoolbus every morning, wondering if I would be alive to return home. I never said anything to anyone; in those days it was all ‘stiff upper lip and keep on keeping on’. Not that those exact words were ever used around us. But we got the message.

    When my sons’ dad and I decided to go to Mexico when I was expecting the FES (favourite eldest son), we left with only $50 (I know! I’ve always been a ‘jump . . . and the net will appear’ sort). When we got to Seattle, the sight of bomb shelters on every block downtown, with signs outside stating the capacity, scared me so much we ended up going back to Victoria. I could see us being in Mexico, the idiots having an atomic bomb party and us being cut off from any way of getting home. I’d already decided that if that happened, I would steal a couple of horses and ride home, but I knew the odds, even then . . .

    We pretty much opted out of ‘normal’ life after that (the whole back-to-the-land thing was in full swing by then). My point, though, is that, with all our fears and with preparing as best we could, in the end I am still here and the world has not yet crashed. I honestly thought we would not live this long. So that’s given me a similar attitude to yours; be informed, gain skills and tools (don’t store them in another province, though), but enjoy life day by day until that’s no longer possible, if in fact it comes to that.

    I know there’s a chance I will not see my sons or my grandkids ever again, or the rest of my family and friends who live along the coast; it’s an earthquake zone with a really big one overdue for some time now. The sea is supposed to rise up to 30 feet in any case, so pretty much every place where people I care about live will be well underwater. I just don’t think about it. There are a lot of other things that can kill people and I’ve lost friends and family to several of them. There are no guarantees in this life, except that one day we will leave it behind; the day and the means are unknown to us in nearly every case.

    So I’m with you; do what you can with all your might and still find it in yourself to make joy every day, to sing and play and create . . . if nothing else, you will teach your kids a very valuable tool for their own survival. I worry sometimes that kids today are so wrapped in cotton wool that they have no inner strength and no resources to help them through any ordinary crisis, never mind global ones.

    Yours will have a much better chance than average and that’s all you can give them, really. So hang in there; you’re on a good path, so far as I’m concerned. Big hugs to you. ~ Linne

    • I have to treat my fear as a tool. The alternative is crippling for my whole family. :(

      The Cuban missile crisis for me, being in the past, can’t carry the impact I imagine it did for you but I can at east imagine that fear somewhat as I feel it when I see news about Shell selling refineries or hear about another country’s economy teetering on the brink. I want to be in a position to help my extended family but at the moment I still feel to insecure to support my own. That isn’t as immediate perhaps as a nuke but the fear is there for sure. Terrifying times come to every generation I guess. The Depression, both world wars, Spanish Flu, Swine Flu, Conquistadors, Witch hunts and more. There is something to test and try us and as they say if it doesn’t kill you… ;)

      • Linne says:

        those last words are SO true! So let’s all keep on Carrying On (hm, you can take that in more than one way :-) ) and we’ll grow stronger together! :-)

  8. a says:

    Many call me a hippy but in this day and age, we are the pioneers, and the visionaries. Cheer up and hug a worm. If anyone has a chance, it’s us.
    Ps, I’m planting a green roof for my bath tub worm farm. The current sections of removable roof are planted with light coloured succulents (echeverias etc); as my tree cover also established I’ll replace the roof sections with with other sections planted with shady small succulents (gasteria etc). They thank me with ecstatic writhing and copious poo

  9. narf77 says:

    Fear sucks the will out of you and leaves you hopeless and afraid. Best to face it and go to battle methinks! Glad you have turned it into galvanising action now and that you no longer have to let it imobilise you. Permaculture gives us all hope that come what may, we CAN do “something” to fix this crap.

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