Yanasa Ama Ventures is a video company run by a ranching couple, focusing on agricultural, wildlife, and conservation videography. Besides offering such services, they also have a wide variety of ranch tutorial, tips, news and opinion pieces on their Youtube channel. Below they talk about a variety of food problems occurring across the globe, and what they may portend for the future. The novel coronavirus and its effect on global supply chains is pretty well known at this point, but there are a host of other issues as well. If you’re not keeping track, China is dealing with droughts, pestilence, and historic flooding, parts of Africa are dealing with droughts and locust plagues, and Russia has been limiting their exports of grains whether to protect domestic supply or for political power. Yanasa Ama talks about some of these topics in the video, as well as the effects of a solar minimum. You can also find articles like this one from NPR, saying there is no need to worry about food shortages, but it relies on computer models which say that because food supply has increased for many years, it will continue to increase for many years. While that may be true over time (much like holding stocks), it doesn’t account for bad years, or deny that there could be famine in some years.
“Chinese Chairman Xi Jinping’s call for an end to food waste is a sign that the communist country is facing a shortage of grains and pork after months of flooding, insect infestations, the African swine fever (ASF), and the impact of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).” – Taiwan News
“In 2020, locusts have swarmed in large numbers in dozens of countries, including Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, Eritrea, India, Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, Oman and Saudi Arabia. When swarms affect several countries at once in very large numbers, it is known as a plague.” – BBC
“Southern Africa is suffering through its worst drought in several decades and perhaps a century. Drought and its associated impacts have been causing critical problems for agriculture, vulnerable communities and overall development for many years in South Africa. This year they need to import more than 100,000 tones of cereal to survive famine. “ – Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital
“The coronavirus has revealed how risky it can be to rely on Russia for grain imports. Despite warnings from the WHO and WTO, Russia imposed an export quota on critical grains such as wheat, barley, and maize as the virus swept across the globe…Whether for domestic food security or international hybrid warfare, Russia’s behavior in 2010 and now during the coronavirus foreshadows new dangers in a warming world. ” – National Interest
Tuesday was rain, ice pellets, winds and sun. Wednesday was ice pellets, rain, wind and sun. Welcome, Spring. Despite the less than delightful weather, thoughts turn to gardens. We already had lettuce and pea seeds in the earth. Kale and rhubarb are already doing fairly well, and the berry plants are leafing. In these difficult times, more people are thinking about growing a garden or at least trying to raise some sort of food of their own because of supply chain grocery fears. Lovely Greens has a nice article on Growing a Rapid Response Victory Garden, focused on food that will mature relatively quickly – 30, 60 and 90 days.
You’ve just decided that it’s time to grow a vegetable garden, and not just any garden, a rapid response victory garden. Here’s how to begin and a guide to crops that will mature in 30, 60, and 90 days. Full video at the bottom.
It was just after five am and I was lying in bed, scrolling the news, Facebook, Twitter, everything. I’m not usually awake this early, but we live in different times. Seemingly overnight, our way of life has changed, and a lot of us are feeling anxious for ourselves, our loved ones, and the future. Then I came across a call for help: “…I wish someone would write an article about plants one could sow NOW that could produce food in the next 30, 45, 60 days.”
I could do that, so I’m up now and answering the call. It’s an entirely understandable question since folks are putting two and two together. Even if you have a healthy supply of food now, what will happen this summer? Will there be food shortages? Will my family go hungry? Maybe it’s time to revive the Victory Garden – to plan for the future, just in case.
For the moment, supermarkets are not out of food, but I have seen a couple of worrying signs. A health-food shop that I frequent is out of dried foods “for the foreseeable.” I’ve also seen one person reporting that crops are being abandoned in Kenya, though at the time, the country had only a single confirmed case of Coronavirus. It makes me wonder how less-developed places will cope with the virus, and with food production. Could we see imported food quietly disappear from our supermarket shelves? At least for part of this year?
I’m not an alarmist, but I’m sure I’m voicing a thought that many of us share. That’s why starting a vegetable garden now, even if you have zero experience, is something to consider. Even if a cure or vaccine is developed next week, or next month, having those plants in the ground will benefit your health and your table. Growing your own food is good for your physical health, nutrition, and mental clarity. From a psychological perspective, I believe that it will help you feel more secure. It does for me.
Before we get to what you can grow, I need to announce something else that is worrying. You’re not alone in wanting to grow your own food for the first time – online seed companies and seed suppliers have been inundated with orders. So much so, that many have closed because they are overwhelmed or sold out of seeds.
If you’re finding it challenging to source seeds online, you should try to get to a physical shop, if you can do so. I’ve not seen any local garden centers sold out of seeds yet, but that may change in the coming weeks. Hardware stores, and sometimes supermarkets will also have a small selection of seeds. You can also ask friends if they have any seeds or plants to share or organize a virtual seed swap. Seeds and plants can be posted or left on door-steps if people are self-isolating…
here are probably hundreds of books sharing how to grow vegetables, and I can’t fit it all into just a couple of paragraphs. Just remember that they are living things and will need light, warmth, nutrients, water, shelter, growing supports, and protection from predators and disease. Fruit and vegetables are just like animals – some grow in the tropics, and others live in temperate regions. You can fake those environments by growing crops in greenhouses or hydroponically. Pretty much all the details of gardening fit into these themes.
You should also familiarize yourself with your gardening zone, and which crops grow best in it. I go over zones and the earliest seeds you can sow every year over here.
As for getting seeds if you don’t have them… Some online resellers are out of stock because of the volume of people planting gardens for the first time. In some areas, seeds are considered a “non-essential item” that physical stores are not allowed to sell in person. Territorial Seed Company still has seeds in stock, but they are having shipping delays because of high demand. Seeds of Change appears to still have seeds and be taking orders. Burpee appears to have seeds. Wild Garden Seed appears to have stock Filaree Garlic Farm is still open; they’re a small farm specializing in garlic, shallots, asparagus crowns, seed potatoes, and sweet potato slips. Seed Savers Exchange is not taking new orders, but if you join the exchange you may be able to get seeds from other members. And, of course, if you live in an area where seeds are not considered a non-essential item, you may still be able to pick up seeds at a local store.
Cold frames have been used for hundred of years to extend food growing into the colder parts of the year. The Romans used cold frames of straw or stone and used sheets of mica for lids. A greenhouse may be heated, but a cold frame typically warms up only with the sun. If you end up in a situation where you need to rely more heavily on the food that you can grow yourself, cold frames allow you to harvest more food into the winter when you would normally have to rely on food you were able to story during the summer and fall.
Toward the end of summer or early fall, it may seem too early to start thinking about winter. And it may be too late to start thinking about a solid harvest. But when it comes to survival, you’ll need to consider the importance of surviving through winter and what you can do now to survive long-term.
Sure, hunting or fishing might get you by if you’re skilled enough. And food stores might help to supplement any fresh kill or frozen meats. But the real challenge is providing yourself and your family with access to fresh food in the dead of winter that can not only get you through winter, but also springboard your garden next summer.
This is where the cold frame comes in.
What is a Cold Frame?
For the purposes of gardening, a cold frame is a transparent-roofed enclosure that is used to protect plants from cold weather. The transparent top of the enclosures allows sunlight into the box while preventing heat from escaping.
This simple device is a proven method for growing fresh food through winter and priming summer gardens earlier than weather permits. They take less space than a traditional garden, require less maintenance, and have the potential to provide far more food than the empty produce section at a supermarket.
The Benefits of Cold Frame Gardening and Food Growing
Cold frames are essential in every long-term survival skill set. These simple, yet effective exoskeletons help to extend the harvest timeline well beyond the first frost of the year. This means an early or late winter doesn’t impact your food supply as much as it does other people. During times when food is scarce and access is limited, a cold frame can provide fresh produce essential to survival. Valuable spices and herbs aid in adding flavor to otherwise bland foods. They can be dehydrated or serve as barter items. Plus, you and your family can have access to natural fiber, vitamins, and minerals essential to a healthy diet.
Cold frames help to promote an early growing period. Regions that have late frosts have to delay planting much longer, which creates a much shorter growing season. But with cold frames, starts can begin much earlier without the need for a giant greenhouse. Transplants from a cold frame have a greater potential to produce than if you were to wait until the last freeze of the year.
Beyond the dangers of early or late frosts, some of the benefits of a cold frame include less stress on plants, protection from wind, less erosion, fewer weeds, and easy access. If properly oriented and built with care, these units can keep plants alive longer, allow sowing sooner, and generate food during the darkest days…
The frame itself is dirt simple. The concept centers around retaining heat in the soil to allow plants to grow despite snow, frost, or even frozen ground nearby. Frames retain heat by absorbing sunlight in an enclosed space, much like a greenhouse. It can be as basic as a 2-liter bottle over a plant, or as complex as a conservatory. The most effective form for small-scale home gardens is a rectangular box about 2’ wide by 3-4’ long.
To create a cold frame, first locate a piece of un-tinted, single-pane glass such as an old wooden window or aluminum storm window. Anything before the era of vinyl windows will work well. Double-paned windows often contain Argonne gas or tinting that may interfere with natural sunlight, heat gain, or heat loss. If you’re handy in the shop, you may be able to build your frame out of wood and order up the glass to fit from a glass shop in your area. Clear corrugated plastic also serves the same purpose – let light in and keep the cold out.
If you are looking for something that will hold up better than glass, I suggest cheking out Lexan — this stuff can be shot with a .22lr bullet and not break!
The glass, Lexan, or clear plastic goes on top of an exterior framework. The framework consists of a simple, low-profile box that can be made of 2X6 studs or even plywood. Wood is joined and secured at the corners to provide a box that rests directly on the ground. Just remember – the thicker the wood, the better the insulation will be. Alternatives to wood frames might include brick, foam, or insulated metal siding. Regardless of the materials used to create the framework, you’ll want to build it to match the size of the window or glass frame you intend to use. You may be able to add hinges to lift the glass for access or install a repurposed sliding glass window.
You should have a rectangle of wood framework with a glass panel or frame on top that can be lifted or opened for access. Now, orient the glass to where the longest side runs parallel to the equator. You want to capture as much sunlight as possible and if snow or rainwater is an issue, adding a slope to the frame will make snow removal and access much easier. The orientation and a good slope will garner the best results possible.
Once the frame is built, oriented and set in place on the ground, you can remove dirt a few inches down and either direct-sow your plants or provide a layer of compost to help get the seedlings started. By starting in late summer or early fall, you’ll have better luck with a regular harvest in mid-winter. By sowing in late winter or early spring, you’ll have heartier plants to transplant into your survival garden during summer.
If extreme temperatures or limited sunlight prevents the cold frame from heating up, you can add a light, heat tape, a heating mat, or additional insulation around the frame to aid in heat retention. Zones 1 through 5 will likely need more insulation and lighting than zones 6-10. Additional insulation can be obtained through foam, additional wood, or even organic insulation like grass clippings or seedless yard waste.
Unlike a greenhouse, a cold frame allows for a heightened level of discretion. The low-profile design is easy to disguise with shrubs or debris to prevent theft in times of chaos. This means that even in an urban setting, with limited space and relatively high visibility, you could still maintain a solid level of security and still have access to fresh food…
“Hunger is not a problem of too many people on the planet, nor is hunger a problem of the planet’s inability to feed everyone that currently lives on it. Hunger is caused by human actions.
“The horrific fact is that from the 19th Century to the present time, most of the worst famines on the planet have been caused not by an apocalypse of nature, or a worldwide shortage of food, but by the hand of man. More often than not these famines were caused by the intentional, deliberate actions of those in positions of power and influence, for either political or economic reasons.
“One of the causes of famines has been the decisions and actions of a powerful elite few who decide that their personal wealth and power are more important than the lives of the ‘little people’.
“For those who think it can’t happen in the USA, because this country is a ‘bread basket’, think again. Many Americans today are descendants of those who fled one of the worst famines in European history. It was a deadly famine which occurred in the midst of plenty while living in a country which was a bread basket.
“Ireland, during a seven year period starting in 1845, in the very heart of the powerful and wealthy British Empire, lost almost a quarter of its entire population either through death or fleeing refugees, due to a famine triggered by a potato blight. A common name for this event was the great Irish Potato Famine. Many Irish call this event, An Gorta Mór, which means, The Great Hunger…
Venezuelans have been experiencing food shortages off and on for several years, but the shortages have been especially bad and getting worse over the last couple of years during the current economic crisis there. Roughly 90% of Venezuelan families cannot afford to feed their families as the inflation rate over the past twelve months reached over 4000%. The inflation rate for the month of January, alone, was 84% which would have prices doubling every 35 days.
…the sheer number of children being taken to orphanages and child-custody centers has increased so much that public institutions for vulnerable children are “collapsing,” and private organizations are struggling to take in the others. The number of children being abandoned on the streets is also increasing at alarming rates.
A Venezuelan social worker provided the Post with a heartbreaking quote that captured the desperation of the situation.
“They can’t feed their children,” said Magdelis Salazar in reference to poverty-stricken parents. “They are giving them up not because they don’t love them but because they do.”
…As this reality affects parents who struggle to provide for their children, placing them in the care of a foster organization is becoming an increasingly common decision. One mother told the Post that she hoped she would one day be able to collect her children from the agency she was forced to leave them at.
“You don’t know what it’s like to see your children go hungry,” she said. “You have no idea. I feel like I’m responsible, like I’ve failed them.”