G R I T S Guide to Prepping ( Girl Raised In The South )
Chapter 2: THE TOMATO PROJECT
By Linda Leonardy
To Begin with there really is no Chapter One. It all starts with a $9.98 twenty pound bag of extra long grain rice from our favorite discount store, a couple dozen bags of dried black eyed peas and there you have it. It is the staple the South was raised on and in times of stress you will find it in almost any pantry South of the Mason Dixon Line ever since the Act of Northern Aggression. I can’t recall a single New Years Day regardless of what part of the country I lived in over the past 60 years that it wasn’t on the table.
Most retired Southerners already live where a lot of folks want to end up, so it is pretty tough to think about prepping under balmy skies and fair weather. However, true GRITS, especially baby boomers heading into retirement already know what happens when the SHTF. Their grandparents drummed it into them as bedtime stories. We know first hand., collectively about survival. It really does not make any difference what is happening on a global level if your world and way of life as you know it is being irretrievably destroyed. Reconstruction by way of gun toting Carpetbaggers is just as annihilating as an Alien stepping from a space ship when the weapon is pointed at you. A Total Economic Collapse is not going to be one bit different then all that useless Confederate paper money I can still remember my daddy showing me. There will just be more people experiencing it for the first time.
Like any good GRITS if you look on my book shelf you will find GWTW sitting somewhere between the Bible and Emily Post, unopened but not forgotten. It is the first book of female survival skills ever written. So with the turn of the economy, escalating grocery prices and political events it is not surprising that images of that particular fictional story reinforced by family legend, start coming to mind. It is not easy, like so many American Senior women to find yourself alone at retirement age taking on concerns for an unstable future, your grown children scattered across the country . Suddenly you find yourself taking inventory of the pantry and you realize one bag of rice and a few peas, albeit better than nothing just are not going to cut it.
So there I was with the image of Scarlett O’Hara standing in the fallow field at Tara, destruction all around her, with a half a dozen whining family and staff looking to her for salvation. It is no wonder when she holds the nearly inedible root dug from the dried earth and declares to the heavens that no matter what if she has to lie, cheat or steal, she will never go hungry again, began to have real meaning. My meager planning started to take on new significance as well.
Today, thank goodness, Internet research makes survival information, overwhelming, but accessible. So after doubling up on my current stores, and learning all about BOGO shopping I was getting a little more relaxed into the process. Research taught me about food storage oxygen absorbers and individual serving size Mylar bags for long term. Never the less retirement budget issues were still a consideration and that of course requires food storage rotation, store what you eat and eat what you store. I was feeling a bit more confident, a long way from absolution, but with the realization that at this point for Prepping to have any significance what so ever it was going to have to become a way of life.
Having spent my career years in designer suits and heels I knew more about advertising demographics then I did how to plant a row of seeds. But come on I am a GRITS, I have grown marigolds! So there I was standing in the serious garden aisle at Home Depot with an empty cart looking like the amateur I was. It is amazing what you can learn standing their by chatting with a couple of girl scouts working on a badge project!
I was pretty lucky, I took home 3 sturdy looking tomato plants, bags of soil and a learn as you go attitude. That was 3 months ago. I decided if the project had any chance of success, control freak that I am it had to be in a controlled environment. So out went the potted palm on my screen enclosed deck, the space was dug out, filled with garden soil and in went the new plants. Armed with organic insecticide and unlimited water I have at least learned what it takes to have a start on growing a salad. And today there is a abundance of cherry tomatoes. Not the quantity I hoped for in my fantasy to put up in sparkling glass canning jars, but enough to prove successful. Summer is not over yet either!
As the plants grew they started becoming the wonder of my neighborhood. I live at the beach. Not exactly the ideal spread of the plantation at Tara. However, I made an incredible discovery. The shelter of the screen enclosure on the deck, which sits directly on the ground had a perfect South Eastern exposure and got the required 6 hours of full sun but filtered from the harsh coastal glare. The plants became a marvel. Armed with that success I solicited the aid of a young neighbor and cut out a 4ft by 7ft section of the deck and laid in a very simple garden. It is too soon in the summer to tell the results but barring anything unforeseen the peppers and squash are growing by leaps & bounds.
It is a very simple beginning. But an incredibly empowering one. If being a GRITS has taught me anything it is to not only survive but to prosper. Sometimes it just requires a bit more creativity.