Thursday, September 06, 2012

Growing Our Own

Does anybody else here have tomato plants? This year, for the first time in I can’t remember when, my husband’s tomato plants are behaving very oddly. The cherry and “grape” varieties are bearing plenty of fruit. The full-size tomatoes, though, have produced hardly any. Most years, we have trouble keeping up with the harvest, and we get several meals (spaghetti sauce, chili, etc.) out of our few plants. The bell pepper plant has done hardly anything this year, too. Must have something to do with the hot weather earlier in the season. Some people on e-mail lists where I’ve brought up the question report similar results in other parts of the country.

The lovely gardening song “Inch by Inch, Row by Row” has a line that goes, “I feel the need to grow my own, for the time is close at hand.” Since LORD OF MOUNTAINS by S. M. Stirling, latest in his “Dies the Fire” (aka Emberverse) series has just been released, and post-apocalyptic motifs have become a hot topic in movies and TV shows (HUNGER GAMES, FALLING SKIES, a forthcoming new series called REVOLUTION, etc.), I started thinking about what dire straits we’d find ourselves in if we had to depend on our food-growing skills to survive. Between the erratic tomatoes and the dwarf plum tree in the back yard that has its fruit riddled with sawfly larvae every summer, we’d starve in a hurry. True, my husband owns a gun or two, but he hasn’t practiced his marksmanship lately, so we couldn’t count on a steady diet of rabbits and deer from the county park that borders our street. Not to mention the fact that we’d be competing against all our neighbors for those meat sources. Our city has recently passed an ordinance allowing residents to raise egg-laying hens in their yards, but we don’t have chickens nor do any of our neighbors. So, once the canned goods have been eaten up, we’re doomed.

Recently there was a discussion on the Stirling list about how well we’d survive in the event of the Change as imagined in his series, when all advanced technology ceases to work. A lot depends on where you live. If you happen to be in the middle of a metropolitan area on the fateful day, only extreme luck as well as skill could save you. I’m afraid our family doesn’t possess enough of those survival skills to outweigh the hazards of our location near Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.

Do you have the abilities and material resources to survive the collapse of civilization? Another question: Why is this currently such a hot topic in the entertainment media?

I must admit (Robert Heinlein would heap scorn on me for this attitude) I enjoy our technological civilization too much to have any desire to scrabble for bare survival in its ruins.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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