The coronavirus (COVID-19 or SARS-2) pandemic is upon us. The world has closed. Yet we are all connected. A bright, new future awaits!
What should we do? We should grow food. That is what I have been doing, and I recommend that everyone help grow our own food. There is plenty of opportunity for everyone, and unemployment will not be a problem. Elders and children can do many necessary tasks, and I am sure there is something that everyone can do to contribute. For example, insomniacs can guard crops from squirrels, raccoons, skunks, and birds just by talking all night.
Like many American homeowners, we (my ex-husband and I; yes, we still live together and we’re still best friends) started with a yard full of grass called a lawn. Television commercials advertising chemicals and fertilizers, multiple heavy bags each season, to make your lawn green show children running barefoot with pet dogs and their leisurely owners. During the past 10 years of my long-term unemployment, we have been removing more and more lawn and growing an edible landscape instead. We brought in black dirt and compost by the truckload. At first there was a lot of resistance, but now our neighbors have backyard chickens!
Even if you only have a shady balcony, you could grow some valuable shade plant(s), especially considering food as medicine. Goldenseal, for example, is so valued that it has been overharvested to the point of near extinction, and it needs shade. Potting soil, pots, and seeds can be obtained at hardware stores, for example, that are still open for business where we live.
So much information is available to so many people today that one could start by reading about valued plants in one’s local climate zone and strategizing about what to do and when. Soon opportunities may abound to help others, be part of a community garden, or even work for a farmer now that hundreds of thousands of migrant farm workers from Mexico are not joining us this season in the USA.
It is early Spring here in the Twin Cities of the large state of Minnesota, in the upper Midwest (plant hardiness zone 4) of the USA. We do not use chemicals or genetic engineering in our yard thanks to all our training and experience as life scientists. Indeed, those who ate more organic food, which is less likely to contain chemical residues than so-called conventional foods, were less likely (25% to more than 50% less likely) to develop cancer in a recent study of 68,946 French adults (JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(12):1597-1606. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.4357). Further, there are supply-chain issues with the chemicals and the corresponding genetically engineered seeds (that farmers must purchase every year) that can survive the chemicals designed to kill other plants (weeds) and pests (insects) and fungi including molds and mildews.
Once the snow melted in the backyard, a bunch of garlic appeared in one of the garden beds. I mean a lot of garlic. So much garlic that there must be a reason for it. We had been growing garlic there, and it went to seed and took over the whole area while I was gone for a couple of years trying to survive PTSD. I was dismayed at first glance. But having a ton of garlic seedlings is not such a bad thing, especially during a coronavirus pandemic. Garlic can boost immune function and can thereby enhance the body’s resistance to colds and the flu and probably coronaviruses.
The problem we have is that the green Spring garlic are way too crowded. Thinning the garlic is easier said than done because we turned over the soil last Fall, so the garlic are several inches deep and so close together. A solution is to clear the adjacent area of all the weeds and then plant individual green Spring garlic plants about a foot apart. We selected the largest plants since it can take several years to produce larger size bulbs from bulbils (the “seeds” which are actually small bulbs). There were only a couple of days when the soil was dry enough to be worked, and then it rained and snowed again. We can continue thinning out the garlic by harvesting and eating more extras.
Years ago, we purchased a small greenhouse that now allows us to start the growing season much earlier. We assembled the greenhouse in 100+ steps according to the instructions one hot summer day when the temperature was 100 degree F. But it was worth it.
About a week ago, we planted seeds that are cold hardy or that need to be cold (cold stratified) to germinate, like cabbage and calendula. We also planted seeds like squash and peppers that we must bring inside when frost is predicted. Today we will plant carrot seeds directly in the ground. Beans will be planted later and maybe corn, too. We have big plans for this season, so please stay tuned.
I am also working towards livestreaming my Zumba® suave dance fitness classes. Michael is teaching all his anatomy classes and laboratories online. So welcome, everyone, to our living room, at least virtually! We have also been cooking, cleaning, and making soap because soap kills coronaviruses.
Hunters and gatherers, please remember the anteater. The anteater does not eat the whole anthill all at once because they know that if they do, then there won’t be any ants in the anthill to eat later. The anteater eats some ants from several different anthills in order to leave enough ants to make more ants so that there will still be ants to eat later, not just now.
Lots of Love, Marie
p.s. If you run out of toilet paper, use a washcloth instead and rinse well if you use soap. Use soap to clean the washcloth afterwards and let it dry. Wipe toward the back, not toward the front, especially females.