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Re: SC69

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June 03, 2008 12:08PM
http://www.energybulletin.net/45239.html

A doomer's garden

Now that oil is up over $130 a barrel and the subprime debacle is making everyone think that there may just be a Big Problem in the future, I would like to reopen the discussion on the menu du jour, post-Peak. Tractor trailers may not be able to bring in our Krispie Flakes and California oranges, and we may have to “make other arrangements,” as James Howard Kunstler often says, to feed ourselves. I am worried with the frequency that I see “gardens” as a solution to a breakdown in the food supply, and I would like to disabuse the peaknik crowd of this dangerous illusion.

“If there’s a problem with the food supply, I’ll just garden,” you say! If the Peak comes and causes disruptions in the food supply, your Hubbert Victory garden will see you through the winter months. I’m sure most of us love to picture ourselves putting up forty quarts of tomatoes and salting beans for the winter in a large beige crock. With your green thumb and Mason jars you’ll can enough to last until next year’s first corn comes in.

This is a nice fantasy, but I would ask the more serious to do a simple survey. Each of us likely has a friend who has a fairly large garden. Ask him or her what percentage of their family’s yearly food intake comes from the garden – I would be astounded if any say more than two percent. Annual gardening, like agriculture, takes an enormous input of energy for the return you get, and that is assuming you are good at it.

Are you good at it? How much do you know about gardening? To have a truly successful large garden you need to eliminate as many of the risks as possible. Unfortunately, the risks are myriad: poor germination, premature planting (or a late frost), garden pests (from aphids to groundhogs), too much rain, too little water, and so on. Taking each of these individually, we can see that annual gardening has a lot of luck involved in it. A good gardener buys high-quality seeds, uses cold frames to start plants before the last frost, knows the growing periods of each vegetable well, is prepared for the various “enemies” of his/her plants, and spends hours watering if need be.

What happens, though, if it doesn’t work out well? If gardening is your hobby, it’s not a problem. But in a post-Peak situation where food is tight, it just may be. Ask yourself what you know about gardening, and whether that is enough to risk your life on the tomatoes coming in and rows of corn ripening. Horticulture alone is not a valid answer unless you are already an expert, and even then it is tough. I am emphatically not saying that you should not garden – a large garden will be essential – but simply that it is dangerous to depend on gardening alone..................
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