Most people alive don’t remember famine, war, or disease in the United States of America wiping out large swaths of US peoples. War, plagues, famines, and food shortages are things that happen across the oceans, or at least across the borders.
In 1816, Mount Tambora in Indonesia erupted pushing massive amounts of ash into the air. The global weather turned so cold that crops across the US died due to frost in June. Pennsylvania had river ice in July and August that year. Many people starved to death the next winter. Luckily, that could never happen again in the USA because Indonesia no longer has volcanos.
With the drought in California reaching critical status, we could see much higher prices for all kinds of products. Believe it or not, a shutdown of food production in California could lead to shortages of many food products across all of North America.
In the last half century, California has become the agricultural giant of North America. Most of the vegetables, nuts, and fruit consumed in America come from California. Milk, grapes, and almonds are among California’s lead exports. California grows nearly all of the America’s olives, kiwi, pistachios, prunes, raisins, and walnuts, among other products. Even the majority of our strawberries—1,400,000,000 pounds of strawberries—come from California.
Currently, much of that food production is grinding to a dusty halt. News anchors gleefully talk of “potentially higher prices,” while the reality of potentially empty shelves, gets swept under the newsroom rug.
The first few years I grew tomatoes, the plants got big enough that the little tomatoes formed, and then the hottest days of summer hit. When it gets into the 90’s and 100’s in Utah, tomatoes stop growing. They don’t start growing again until the weather drops to the 80’s in the late summer and early fall. As a result, tomatoes don’t ripen until just about the first tomato-killing frost.
Having no tomatoes until just before the frost doesn’t put food on the table for an entire summer. I might as when just use freeze dried tomatoes if I can’t get a longer harvest season.
I thought about jumpstarting my tomatoes by sprouting them inside under grow lights in late winter or early spring. However, growing plants under electric lights seems to be against all my prepping instincts. Grow lights don’t work when there is no power.
My second option was buying or building a small greenhouse. We have strong winds in Woods Cross, so I’d need to spend some money to have a greenhouse that wouldn’t collapse or blow away. The price was just too much for me.
Finally, I learned about cold frames. Cold frames are mini knee-high greenhouses. I realized that Cold frames were the tomato seedling growing tool I needed.
Potatoes require less water than most plants in a typical garden. You really need to make sure that you don’t rot the potatoes or cause fungus on the plants. I like keeping the watering down to about once per week. However, doing so when planted with water hungry plants is nearly impossible.
My solution is growing potatoes in tall sturdy buckets. Potato buckets allow complete control over water, sun and weather. And, repurposing buckets as potato buckets is a great use for old pales left over from grinding wheat into flour.