All of this is the result of several decisions my wife and I made as we were packing the house in preparation for selling our home and looking for a new place to live.
We decided to pack everything, store it, move it and then, after we found a hew home, bring it up. From there we would bring in what we needed and hold onto the rest of the stuff. The things we decided we wold *never* use, but were in good condition, we would sell or donate. The idea was to not need to buy something that we had. To keep the storage costs down, I build some shelves so that everything could be stacked in the storage unit. Each unit was filled left to right, back to front and top to bottom. Opening the storage unit roll-up door revealed a literal wall of boxes. We managed to move the contents of a 2,000 square foot house, a 900 square foot garage, a 100 square foot shed, all fairly full of stuff, into 500 square feet (or 5,000 cubic feet) of storage unit space.
The place we found was in USDA plant zone 5 (our old place was zone 10) and we moved in too late to start a proper garden. The huge zone change also means we need to do some learning-experimenting to figure out what will grow at our new home.
Remember how “we packed everything”? Well, I pulled out of storage seven large plant pots. By large, they are 3 feet across the top, 2-1/2 feet across at the bottom and 3-1/2 feet tall. I also had a couple of rolls of wire fence/screen, several T-posts (metal posts for barbed wire fences) and many pieces of rebar. All I had to do was get some soil to put into the pots and get the plants. The hardware store, which is also a garden store, had some left over large plant starts, so I bought them; a bell pepper, a tomato, a jalapeno pepper, a crookneck squash, a cilantro plant and two serrano peppers. The total cost for filling my old truck’s bed with soil, and the plants, was just over $35.
We are already getting food from the plants. It’s obviously not enough to make an impact on our grocery bill, or to even cover the $35 I spent, but we are learning. For instance, the black tailed jack rabbits are trying to kick over the metal screening, but, so far the T-posts and rebar are holding the metal screening in place. I’ve also learned that it’s warm enough that the cilantro is going to seed.
While we do have an *excellent* well (more than15gpm) that supplies all of our water needs, I’m sensitive to the fact that we live in a desert, so I’m going to investigate plants that have adapted to the desert environment. Since they get no water, except for the rains, I’m expecting I will not need to “spend” (much) water on them.
There is an organization in Tucson, Arizona, called Native Seeds. They sell seeds of food plants, and other useful plants, that like my nearby sunflowers, have successfully adapted to the desert climate and soils. Native Seeds’ website is at https://www.nativeseeds.org/ I look forward to trying out their seeds next year. I’m sure I will need to do some work to grow “their” plants, but I’m hoping the effort will not be as intensive as growing plants that are adapted to some different environment.
I keep hearing about potential food shortages. Both “the left wing” and “the right wing” media like to showcase stories that attract viewers-readers so they can sell advertising and I feel both use fear to attract users…I haven’t decided if the shortage stories are “fear” or real. Even if the stories are “fear” or even if there were stories were about how there will be record harvests of *everything*, I still want to have a garden.
My dad used to tell me, “Prepare for the worst as best as you can and hope for the best. That way you will never be surprised or disappointed”.
By the way. The well. Right now I’m a bit nervous about it. If there is an electricity outage, we’re out of water, except for the 30 gallons of bottled water (and the water in the 50 gallon water heater) we have in the house. So far the electricity has “gone out” four times since we’ve moved here. Fortunately each outage has been no longer than 10 minutes.
A friend is giving me a 10kva propane-gasoline generator and a manual transfer switch, which will do for a short term solution. This is free except for my labor and fuel. The longer term solution is a solar and/or wind power system to generate electricity to operate the well. This would cost me a few thousand dollars and my labor. The ultimate solution would be a second well using a windmill to pump the water to the surface. This would cost in excess of $30,000. The “as best as you can” part of my dad’s advice applies here, so, after getting the generator connected, I’ll work on the solar/wind system.