Hmmm….. I need to grow more food

I haven’t felt this way in a while. This year has been a normal garden season, no urgency, just grow our own healthy food and put it on the shelf for another year’s supply of homegrown food. The garden is a little smaller and would be even smaller still if we hadn’t decided to grow a little corn for the first time in many years. Just another year. Right? Waiting for the collapse, watching the shenanigans of our congress, observing the demise of civility, avoiding crowds if at all possible.

We had this same flooding about two weeks ago. Here it is again.

We have had an over abundance of rain this year, with over four inches in the last 24 hours, and more falling from the sky as I type. Everything is growing well, not necessarily producing a harvest yet, but growing well, except maybe the okra. It’s barely over knee high and is just starting to bloom. The peppers are in the same shape, starting to bloom. The tomatoes are green, but there are quite a few of them. 

Our great bread basket across the country has been flooding and flooding and flooding. Stories have been coming out about the impact to major crop harvests. Some say there will be shortages and rising prices, some say all is well. What do we believe? We have been fortunate to get comments from CW who lives in Iowa’s corn country. We like hearing from boots on the ground.

Somewhere along the way we ran into a link for the YouTube channel of the Ice Age Farmer. I watched him to see what he had to say about farms underwater and the country’s major crop harvest. It doesn’t look good according to him. And then he started talking about the grand solar minimum. I didn’t think a lot of it at first. I knew the sun cycle was at the low end because of how it is affecting radio propagation. Then I remembered an article I wrote back in 2014, What is a Maunder Minimum? I went back and read it, then went in search of more information about the grand solar minimum that the Ice Age Farmer was talking about. This took me to these two articles.

Winter is Coming – Super Grand Solar Minimum

Evidence of Grand Solar Minimum Continues to Mount

Hmmm….. comparison to another mini ice age? I sure hope not. But Colorado did just have two feet of snow in some places on the first day of summer. The same storm that caused major storms in other parts of the country. I have never believed in the current global warming paradigm. Man’s carbon emissions are not causing the planet to warm. The planet has always gone through cycles of warming and cooling. Just like the sun cycles. Either we adjust or we don’t. We learn new ways of living and producing food, or we don’t. If we as a society don’t learn to adjust, we die. To me, it’s that simple.


Is this the only reason I feel like I need to grow more food, after the growing season has started and the garden is already planted and growing? No. But you probably suspected that didn’t you? Our last few articles discuss the ways of the world, our country, our politics, the invasion of foreigners from all over the world, and the potential conflicts between countries worldwide. Is that it? No, not entirely.


In the last few weeks Frank has begun working on a project to provide another source of water to our house. We will write about it before long showing the steps, equipment and results. But just yesterday Frank looked at me and said, “After all this time, I don’t know why I am doing this project now.” You see, we have had the supplies, parts and equipment for a long time, in some instances up to ten years. It has all been on a shelf, waiting in the wings for the time it was needed. But recently, he took these things down, looked them over and started to work. The scary part is he doesn’t have a distinct reason why.

Amaranth will be planted here.


As I harvested the carrots and cleared up the area between the tomatoes, Frank asked what I was going to plant there. My response? Nothing, we don’t need anything else. Then we harvested the beets. Again, same response, we don’t need anything else. As the amaranth has grown well and started to produce large seed heads I have been reading about harvesting and winnowing the seeds for use in our bread, reviewing the nutritive value and how it can benefit both us and our chickens and goats.


Then, in just the last week, I have had this need to grow more food. Densely nutritious food. Just this morning at breakfast I asked Frank what shorter season crop we can grow once the pinto bean crop is finished. I plan to plant some carrots for winter eating in a portion of that area, but there will be a lot of room left over. Cow peas are a 75-85 day crop, high in protein and other good nutrients, good for animals and humans. That’s why I planted some yesterday after I tilled the space where the beets and winter squash had been. This is what lead me to pull up the winter squash before it was fully finished with it’s production.

And instead of leaving the winter squash to cure so we can bake one every now and then, or bake and freeze some if the need arises, I am going to can them all. We can add a jar to soup and it will be ready on the shelf for another food option as desired or needed. Why? I’m not sure. It’s just another one of those food options I have been impressed to change from my original plan.

The areas I showed you between the rows of corn and between the tomato trellises will be planted with amaranth as soon as the new seedlings come up. I have two trays planted and more pot maker pots made up today for planting. And if there is time once the corn is harvested, the rest of this area will be planted with amaranth.

Wire cat protectors for the seedlings as they grow.

Just like Frank and the water project. I don’t know why, but I need to grow more food. We have lived our lives listening to that little voice of warning and instruction and it has served us well. So, it’s time to plant, tend, harvest and preserve. The why can take care of itself in it’s own time. Heed the warnings you are given. Listen. Act. 

Until next time – Fern

35 thoughts on “Hmmm….. I need to grow more food

  1. The Ice Age Farmer had another YouTube out yesterday. Looks like the data the USDA is putting out about crop viability is being questioned. There is no way to really know the impact this season's weather will have on the food supply – availability or prices.\”Having canned food in your pantry is an insurance policy…\” Absolutely. No doubt about it, Bluesman. The more jars we put in there on the shelf, the better we feel. We hope to have way too many for two people to eat in a year, or two, or three. Great insurance against a rainy day, crop failure, weather phenomena, failing health and any number of other unforeseen circumstances.Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Fern

  2. Interesting method of conversion. Thank you for giving us something to review and consider. We can all use as many ideas as possible to determine what works best. Thank you for sharing. Fern

  3. Very interesting sites, Red. Thank you. I looked for potato seeds a number of years ago and couldn't find a source. You can never have too many seeds.Thanks again, Fern

  4. Vicki, I suggest that you occasionally pick up a box of ammo in whatever caliber firearm(s) you own. What you have isn't yours unless you can defend it._revjen45

  5. Hi Frank & Fern I am envious of your garden harvesting. Our spring,now summer, is cool and our plants are growing slowly. We are hoping the weather warms up into the 80's& 90's soon as we feel we have been lacking in heat to get things growing well. We have been blessed with radishes ,lettuce,chard ,beet greens and strawberries. Everything else just seems slow this year.I have seen some info on the grand solar minimum and if that does happen it will be devastating on crops worldwide. There would be food shortages as well as high prices on all foods. It would be chaotic. Having canned food in your pantry is an insurance policy, just like auto or home insurance. It is a safety net.We have always had a small garden and canned food our 48 years together but we began sensing the urgency to set aside things in case of hard times, about 10-11 years ago. We do not know what the trigger event will be or when it will happen. It may also be a slow steady decline down the drain that we are now circling. Things simply cannot continue the way they are going.Blessings to all,Bluesman

  6. Preparing areas ahead of time and then using cover crops to keep them on standby is an excellent idea!Tim(fromOhio)

  7. If SHTF, while eating into the stored food, you'll need to produce enough food to get you through the end of the next growing season. Even in a good year our garden size couldn't support us for long. So we expanded it. It's bigger than we can easily manage, but for the non-productive portion we at least put in cover crops and re-till annually. It'll be ready when/if needed. (We store seeds, and canning jars & plenty of lids.) And we've tilled yet another big section. It sits fallow. But if SHTF I don't want to be trying to expand our planting into never-loosened ground. My kids think I'm a little nutty, but two of the four admit they'll flee to our place if SHTF. And at age 69, spouse and I will need their help.

  8. Like your column a lot. Same voice here. Having good results converting more \”lawn\” into garden using modified Ruth Stoudt method. For two years I have been amending my clay heavy soil with chicken manure compost and bio char. Great results. Then last year I heard that voice chiding me because I hadn't expanded my growing space. I then got a nudge when seeing a sign for cheap mulch hay bales. Boom. Process is thus for me: 1. Activate the bio char \”en masse\” (55 gallon poly barrel). 2. Spread a layer of composted manure maybe 1/2 inch thick accross surface of the new bed directly over the grass/existing sod. 3. Spread healthy portion of activated bio char accross that layer. 4. Cover with hay loosened up. Cover that with bale squares. Ruth Stoudt was a gardening savant and her methods when combined with things like composted manure and bio char is a force multiplier. Sorry to hear about your rains. CO got a foot or so of snow the other day. Not sure about the \”maunder\” and grand but am convinced that Al Gore was/is a huge shyster.

  9. Hello. Canning lids are just one of those items that can't be replaced with something else. That might be one of those products that you have a few extra around, or maybe many extras around. There are a lot of things we can substitute in life, but not canning lids.Good for you on the soup. There are many days I take for granted opening a jar that was put on the shelf a year or two earlier. It's kind of like eating fresh food out of the garden. Doesn't everybody eat this way? Before I eat, Fern and I hold hands, I bow my head and close my eyes, and thank God for the food in front of me, for my good wife, and the hands that prepared this loving, caring meal.Today we canned green beans that came from the seeds we harvested two years back. That is so cool.Good luck on your endeavors and keep canning. Frank

  10. Hi, Tim. This morning Fern and I were discussing how personal debt exploded when we went off of the gold standard. Then there was no limit to credit available. This didn't just include large businesses, it included Mom and Pop also. When I was much younger, a credit card was somewhat of a status symbol. Then in the mid 70's they started passing them out like candy. Many people have many credit cards and most of them are maxed out. This is has now become the normalcy bias you referenced. So has the number of vehicles you have in your driveway.Debt is another name for a large bubble, a form of financial slavery. All bubbles eventually pop. This one will also.Did you ever think about people paying maximum interest on a credit card for food they ate and passed months earlier? Interesting idea, isn't it? Paying on a pair of tennis shoes that you wore out six months ago, but you're still paying for, with interest.Tim, I've given up on government. I read the news a couple of times a day when I sit down to take a break, but it's all lies.Mylar bags. A number of years back, Fern and a group of ladies from church stored food in mylar bags with desiccants, using a hot iron and a brown paper bag to seal the top. Using an ironing board, make sure the inside of the bag you're going to seal is clear of food debris. Cover the area you want to seal with the brown paper bag and press it like you would a shirt. Try it. You have to hold it on there a while until the mylar melts together, but it will. Not to the point where the mylar vaporizes or the paper catches on fire. It did not work well for powdery type items, but did for dry products like pasta and beans.I would still recommend taking the General at the same time as the Technician. As you know, you can get the Romanchik Technician manual free, KB6NU. I think the General manual from him costs about $10. If you pass the Technician, then the General test will cost you nothing. It's just a little more information on the same intellectual level. Take the practice tests on QRZ under the Resources tab. They are free. Food for thought. This technique has worked for many, many people. I know your kids will pass.73, Frank

  11. No rutabaga for us, SJ, or cucumbers either. Interesting how people's taste preferences differ. But I do find the dehydrated pickle idea very interesting.We have the canner running again today – first green beans, now turnip greens. Sure feels good to put our own food on the shelf, even if it's tiring and my back protests. Let us know how your canning experience goes. I can always learn something from how other folks do things.Good to hear from you, Fern

  12. Hi, Pete. Besides the water project, which is coming along nicely, I'm also working on a single solar panel project for my garage, with a couple of AGM batteries powering some radios. A VHF/UHF, scanner and regular CB radio. Never know when the power might be off for a while.A question. You stated you have been fixing your HF antenna. Any particular bands that you like the best? Can you give me a general idea what part of the country you're in? If you would like, we can discuss it via email. You will find our email address on the right hand side of the blog under About Us.I seldom talk on HF. I seldom talk on any radio period, but I do listen. There's not much to listen to right now, but I've been experimenting with NVIS. Local folks can hear me, but I still can't hear them, because they are not NVIS. Basically, I listen to 80, 40 & 20. If you're interested, send me an email.You're correct, we do need to be on frequency and listening. Nice parable.73, Frank

  13. Hi, CW. Thank you again for the update. We also received 4+ inches of rain this past week, but fortunately our garden is in and producing well. Weather can be cruel sometimes. We normally think of hurricanes and tornadoes, but short term and long term flooding can be just as devastating. You mentioned fuel prices in a separate comment. We follow crude oil prices daily and you're right, it's gone up a little bit recently. I don't think most realize how much our economy is based on the cost of fuel. It affects everything.Fern and I have lived for years with the idea that two is one and one is none. Recently I tried to get rid of some extra, new cast iron cookware. Nobody wants it, even if it's free. Most don't cook and the ones that do don't care for durable, sustainable cast iron. Imagine that.Thank you for your comments, Frank

  14. For decades I've often thought about making and canning home made soup. Just a couple of weeks ago, I actually did it. And am planning more tomorrow. I, too, feel \”unsettled\”, the way the weather feels before a big storm. I've canned our small crop of green beans, something I haven't done for years – on top of working my 45 to 50 hour work week. I feel the urge to stock up – on the shelves, not in my freezer. Just purchased a bunch of lids for the jars, another thing I haven't done in quite some time. Two men who work where I do suddenly mentioned they have bug out bags for each of their family members – and one said it was stupid to rely on other people…. I think many of us feel the urge to \”make hay while the sun shine.\”

  15. Frank and Fern, I forgot to add another point to my reply above. One other huge concern for ALL farmers is fuel costs. Less than two weeks ago price/barrel of oil was around $51….by Friday of last week it was a little over $57. I didn't have time to check current price. With the serious Iranian issues things could get dicey very quickly and farmers must have fuel to operate their machinery. No fuel, no crops. It is a simple concept but the environmentalists don't seem to be able to grasp hold of it. Maybe the \”Green New Deal\” will solve everything.\” Pray hard and pray often, CWfromIowa

  16. Strange, but even prior to your \”prove me wrong\” post I was feeling the need to stock up even more on food. Ordered several more packs of Mylar bags with desiccant packs for long-term food buckets and did another big Costco run this past Friday. Planted more beans and beats this past weekend and trying out a new broadfork. At least I'm not the only one who feels the need to accelerate on the stocking up! Regarding the overwhelming majority of the populace – I believe that \”normalcy bias\” is the fancy term used to describe what I consider their condition to be. Just keep going with the flow, never really stopping to analyze the changes taking place and thinking to oneself, \”this is the way it has always been\”. Not the case! No, we didn't used to murder several thousand children a day in this country, we didn't selectively enforce law as we seem to be doing now (or at least not to the extent we do now), and stocking up on food was what folks did so that they wouldn't starve in late winter/early spring. Carry on!Tim(fromOhio)

  17. I just ordered a pressure canner this morning. It should be here Friday.Have you tried Rutabaga? It's supposed to store well.Are you eating the amaranth leaves? I read they were quite nutritious. I took over another inside plot, with permission, and planted pumpkin and more tomatillos. The tomatillos are in the night shade family but do better here then tomatoes. I also got a great book from the library: The Pickled Pantry by Andrea Chesman. One of my big take-aways was to dehydrate cucumber in 1/4 inch 'coins'. Re-hydrate the coins in brine and it's supposed to make a tasty pickle. Perhaps that's why I've already got 3 cucumber plants producing. I'll have enough to experiment with.Keep up all the work.SJ in Vancouver BC

  18. Vicki, your shopping and canning adventures are truly an inspiration and proof that no matter where you live, apartment or farm, food can be stored for the inevitable collapse.Let your family know that hoarding is considered an activity done with food is scarce. Now, with abundant food on the shelf to choose from, you are just stocking up. You can be the stocking up Granny instead of a 'hoarder'. Please keep sharing your example and encouragement for us all. Fern

  19. Good choice on a canner, Nano. We really like our All Americans.You know, it would make me feel better, kinda, if all of you would say, don't worry, be happy. All is well. Instead, I am not the only one out there with this discomfort, this foreboding. Thank you for the encouragement to keep replanting new crops to take the place of the old. I was looking at the trillion gazillion squash bugs on the yellow squash today, knowing those plants would soon be done. It's a good place to put in more cowpeas. Hope your harvest overwhelms your shelves. Fern

  20. Hi, Mary. Time is always in issue. Not just do you have the time to complete tasks, or there is not enough time in the day, or what time is this thing going to happen? Nobody knows the time or the place. Nobody that I know anyway.Don't forget to take time to have fun. Frank

  21. Red, we in this house agree with you whole heartedly. Most of my so-called friends and relatives think we have some loose screws. I don't even like to mention it to people anymore. Are the local authorities going to show up at my house and deem me and/or Fern mentally unstable because we can see what's coming? It wouldn't be the first time people have been locked up for having different views. I do believe we will see it again.Don't get on the bus. Frank

  22. Hi, Leigh. A couple of times these past few years I have felt that things couldn't get much worse, but they have. Much worse. I don't have my finger on exactly what's going to happen, but everyday I expect 'it' to be here. I'm not talking about Biblical proportion here. There are so many fronts where things appear to just be terrible. Fern and I use the term unbelievable everyday. I expect 'it' to happen any day.This upcoming election? We can't put this genie back in the can. It's going to have to run it's course. Things are crazy.Thanks for sharing. Frank

  23. \”The scary part is he doesn't have a distinct reason why.\” 'Tis the Holy Spirit, Fern…Yeah; I've been moving ahead with self-reliance projects that have been on the shelf for several years as well. I've also done smaller things like fixing the HF antenna on the ham radio that has been down for about six months due to lack of time, topping off on fuel stores, and the like.God leads us… We just need to be on-frequency and listening…

  24. Hi Fern Thanks for all you both share with us. My question is any special procedure to can squash? Clemson U says not to because of no fed guidelines. We have a AA pressure canner. Any help grateful. Allan

  25. I think there are quite a few of us who have that little voice whispering in our ear, \”Don't just sit there – do something – Now.\” As you know, I can't have a garden, but each week I either can something or dehydrate something. And in between I am making up various mixes to stash away for emergencies or adding to the bags of staples. We all know it is coming, whatever it is. There are a couple of family members who are on board, but sadly, the rest just think I am being silly for 'hoarding' food. I can't convince them, so I will just continue to do what I can to get ready. And pray.

  26. Fern, it seems like many of us are on the same page concerning the need for more food. It cannot hurt and is a form of \”life\” insurance. We generally have two years worth on the shelves, and this year we may be using some of the extra. We still remain unable to finish planting our garden. In the past week our rain totaled 4.7 inches. Our fields of corn and soybeans are looking wonderful. We worked hard to get the seed in the ground as soon as the ground would tolerate our \”invasion\” of man and machine. We knew we could not afford to wait for ideal conditions, and it was a good choice. There are farmers in our county still unable to plant some of their fields. Generally speaking, farmers are quite familiar with the stress of weather issues, government regulations, and price fluctuations. This year could push some farmers and their bankers to rethink their financial position and future in farming. I would encourage everyone to garden and preserve their harvest. If that is not possible, consider purchasing additional canned goods and meat for the freezer. I forsee prices going up considerably. As Ayn Rand said, \”You can ignore reality, but you cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.\” My reality tells me to stock up on food while prices are still reasonable.Very happy to see that your new tiller and mower are working out so well for you. Your research and willingness to adapt to your changing needs will serve you in many years to come. And Frank, \”Two is one, one is none\” will serve you well with your new water project too.Blessings to you both, CWfromIowa

  27. I am with you Fern. When one crop is just about done, I am pulling them up and planting something else where it was. I usually put up about 300 ears of corn on the cob. Because of all the rain, no one around here planted any. Last week I planted 7 rows of sweet corn that should be ready in 85 days. Today I will get 3 gallons of green beans from my newest plants. The old 3 rows will be pulled up and something planted. Okra, black-eyed peas, cucumbers, squash are coming in now or soon. Tons of green tomatoes that have not starting ripening yet. I bought a new AA canner last year and haven't opened it yet but I will today. For the last few years with 3 freezers I have frozen most of my veggies but this year I am canning most of it. I feel like I am nesting or something. I really feel time is short. Thanks for your blog and your thoughts.

  28. Fern, Amaranth sounds like an excellent idea to grow! Wow, I hadn't even thought of that. And from the link you provided, it is hardy, nutritious, versatile, and requires very little care. Now I need to get some seeds to plant. Any additional plant source of protein is always a plus. You know, I also feel that sense of urgency to get more done. The unpredictable weather changes, economic uncertainty, social chaos, etc all leave me with that \”what if it happened today\” kind of feeling. I know we are not ready, but we are a lot more ready than most. Hopefully, in our country town, more people will be ready, too. We still have so much to do here on our homestead; we have so many more plans to put in place; what if we don't have the time? God bless us.

  29. Fern I have the same feeling. I spoke with my Mother and one of my sisters yesterday. I asked both about their food storage. My Mom remembers the Cuban Missile Crisis as do I. My sisters do not. Mom had gone to the store to buy extra food. The shelves were bare except for some canned chicken. After things calmed down, she started stocking up. Between canning and food storage we had several years worth of food. These days she has her special meal items for her food allergy stocked and one pantry for the rest. None of my sisters have more than a weeks worth. They think I'm nuts. Mom said it's because I'm like my Dad's Mom. I know things are going to happen. May every one be in God's Safekeeping.Red

  30. I have a renewed sense of urgency as well. Things have gotten so crazy, and ugly, politically, spiritually, morally, emotionally. . . No matter who wins 2020, I can't help but feel the ideological divide will not only become worse, but will split everything we know two.

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