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Always Have a Backup Plan

| 7/16/2013 12:45:00 PM

"Being successful at modern homesteading doesn’t require deep pockets of money," writes author Matt Kelly.

Having just started my journey towards a more self-sufficient life, I’ve been “blessed” with countless “learning opportunities”. One thing I have learned repeatedly – if not quickly – is this: Always have a backup plan.

The learning curve isn’t a single smooth line. It’s a rough, upward ride of a thousand little bumps. A backup plan for whatever project you’re engaged in will help smooth over those little bumps. It lets you keep your forward momentum on the bigger climb towards self-sufficiency.

Take my garden for example. Boy, did I have some clever schemes for dealing with the clay-like soil and producing a tomato-pepper-eggplant extravaganza this year. Raised beds made from pallets. Mixing my own soil from excavated dirt, leaf mulch and organic fertilizer. Growing my own tomato, pepper and eggplant starters from seeds in a low-tech fashion.

But this plan hasn’t produced any fruit. Literally.

Of the seeds I started, none of the pepper or eggplants, and only half of the tomatoes made it. The tomatoes that I did transplant to the garden are now stagnant. This could be for any number of reasons. The soil mix, while an improvement, is of questionable quality. I’m not sure there are enough nutrients for these plants or if I can get them enough. Part of me wonders if the soil mix drains too quickly, washing away any added nutrients and not holding water in a way the plants can access. Then there’s the perennial question of how much sunlight the garden actually gets: is it enough? And the weather this summer has been generally wonky in our region. Regardless, developing the garden soil and space to the point where I can reliably grow a wide variety of vegetables is going to be a long-term project. It’s not going to happen this year.

(In fairness to the garden and my own developing skills, the pole beans and zucchini I direct-seeded in the same conditions appear to be doing well. How they actually produce will help me figure out exactly what’s going on down there.)

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