Thursday, August 19, 2021

The Collapse LXXVI: Spring Equinox

 20 March 20XX +1

My Dear Lucilius:

Today, so my calendar tells me, is the  Spring Equinox.

The Equinoxes do not have the power that they did in days of eld, when calendars were largely a calculation of sun and stars. Even our modern society continued to at least denote the Solstices, as much for the traditions and traditional celebrations that went with them as much as actual event themselves. But the Equinoxes were calendar place holders, remnants of an older era where mystics stood in the early morning, calculating stars and sunlight.

I have written before of my question about how time will be calculated at some point going forward. Sure, my phone has a calendar embedded in it – as does my computer – and as long as those are charged or can be charged, I can know the date. But even those will fail at some point and even if they did not, do individual days matter as much?

We have hashed a lot of that out before of course, and so it is less of a matter for a letter and more of a note in passing. More importantly, it is the Equinox – for me, the traditional time to start really getting going on the outside garden.

The weather, as you may recall here, is just as prone to snow in late April and early May as it is to be warm, so starting things in the greenhouse is a must. This year is a little different of course, as more than ever before, I really need things to grow.

Leafy greens (because it is still cool, of course) – Lettuce and cabbage (the cabbage to make sauerkraut of course, although I will need to find a longer term supply of salt). Garlic and onions of course. The asparagus just grows outside of course, although I will need to trade something for a load of manure to put in the beds this year. Potatoes (I need the ground to thaw out a bit for these, of course). The tomatoes will be started early as well, as many as I can grow this year – although I will need to improve my drying technique some as the dehydrator is effectively a paperweight at this point. I have quite a collection of pepper seeds from over the year as well: red, green, jalapeno, Anaheim. I will plant them all.

I grow beets, although to be honest more because they are good for me than the fact that I really like them (borscht is a treat of course, but I will most likely be absent sour cream this year).

There are other vegetables I enjoy – like cucumbers, for example – that I will have to hope someone else is growing and will trade for.

My fruit trees have always been limited (I am a gardener, not an orchardist). I have managed to hold together a dwarf lemon and lime tree through years only by planting them in pots and moving them into the greenhouse, or even inside, during the winter. That I am aware of, I am the only one locally that has made an effort to do this and so these may be valuable; I can swap for apples and peaches and pears.

The wheat and rye will finish their second spurt of growing soon, so I will need to figure out what I will plant to regenerate the field. I have some clover but not enough – perhaps picking out clover seeds is in my future?

The overriding concern that haunts all of this is the one that I indicated earlier: this year, more than ever, I need things to grow. Really, we – the small community I am in and the slowly re-establishing connections with other local communities – need things to grow. It has been less than a year since everything shut down and there is still “food” in the old sense of the word, but it too will expire or be conserved for true need. This is the Year of Transition; by next year it will indeed be “Root, Hog, or Die”.

Sigh. I suppose I shall need to embrace beets all the more.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca


  1. This chapter really hits the heart of the matter. Well written.

    1. Thank you Leigh.

      Would it surprise you to know this was one of the installments I was least comfortable with, mostly because of my rather shocking ability to not grow a garden? It is easy enough to research growing things in other locations (authors write about things they have no experience with all the time), but always at the back of my head is that something like this will stick out as "that is not feasible at all" (not that I think of of these are; they are pretty safe bets given where Seneca is).

    2. TB, one of the reasons I write is because of how much I learn! I end up researching things I ordinarily wouldn't have, and never regret it. I suspect you learned a lot too.

    3. Why, I suppose you are right Leigh! I research things all the time - I just never applied it in this way. Thanks!

  2. Anonymous4:09 AM

    This points out the importance of researching and learning what native growth in your specific locale can be harvested for food and medicinal use. A person can store only so much food / supplies before they are exhausted.

    Some items like sodium chloride (salt) have many purposes as well as maintaining long term health. That would be an invaluable item to store and if properly stored, will last nearly forever.

    1. Anonymous - This is one of the bigger holes I think even those that are exponents of preparedness often overlook. We often communicate food storage - which is important in the short term - to the detriment of food provision, which is important in the long term.

      I cannot emphasize enough learning what grows in your area. When we moved in 2009, I tried growing what I grew before, to the sound of epic failure. In our case, the shift was enough that new food types such as sweet potatoes, okra, and black eyed peas became part of my garden because they are what I could grow.

      Salt is a miracle, and one we take for granted in the modern world to our peril.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Plastic buckets and planting bags/ burlap are your friend.
    May be outside the context of your story, but not reL world.

    Potatoes will grow in them. Just need to make sure water can drain from the plastic containers.

    1. Not at all Linda, not at all. I had forgotten about burlap backs - I need to try them next year; the plastic is not work out quite so well for the potatoes due to the drainage.

  4. bring in plastic in winter if frozen will crack

    1. Indeed Deb, as I have learned the hard way.


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