Food Shortages... Part 1
The Pandemic and Panic...Things I learned in 2020: Did you notice how quickly grocery shelves emptied out last March? We were just beginning our spring seminar trip in California when suddenly we had to postpone the remainder of the trip due to closings mandated by the state.
While still in California we received a call about something strange that was happening right then. We heard that toilet paper supplies were being grabbed up and stores were strictly limiting purchases! Toilet paper??
Next, we heard that there was panic buying elsewhere in grocery stores--canned goods, pasta, and most any basic food items that weren't perishable were being snapped up! We headed to a local grocery--it was true!
Within hours, most of the shelves had become almost bare! A fellow shopper overheard me saying that maybe we should go to a different grocery that was just a short distance away. This shopper looked at me and said, "That store already closed early--they ran out!"
It was past time to get back to our place so we headed home! And it was also the perfect time to get our garden going! And so it began...I hadn't yet ordered new seeds for 2020 from my usual source, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (www.rareseeds.com). They too were experiencing difficulties due to the pandemic. What to do? On our way home we stopped at a Home Depot where I found the seed rack (thankfully it was March and they still had some seeds).
Once home, I started preparing seed trays. I still had some potting soil left over from 2019, for which I was very thankful. I typically start some of my onions from seeds but I also purchase ready to go onion "sets" from local places each year, so we headed to town and purchased onion "sets", sold in bunches of 50.
I also was looking for seed potatoes, but since our local farm supply store didn't have the Yukon Golds I wanted, I procrastinated. Not good. I soon realized that the grocery store "panic" had spread to the garden supply "panic"! I called all kinds of places trying to find seed potatoes, and finally a lady at a nursery advised me to just purchase organic Yukon Golds at a health food store. She said that organic potatoes have not been treated to keep them from sprouting. Lisa found them in a regular grocery for a good price.
One other thing...I had no time to waste and no seeds to waste—if possible each seed I planted needed to actually grow and produce food! We'd heard about putting heat mats underneath the seed trays to help the seeds sprout quickly, and I was able to find and purchase one of these heat mats. Our seeds sprouted in just a few days! We also purchased a couple of grow lights to supplement the limited sunlight coming through our large south-facing window.
As the snow melted outside, our seedlings were growing inside. Our hardneck garlic, planted in the fall, had already started peeking through the last bits of snow, giving us a wonderful sense of anticipation for our 2020 garden. Soon the perennial strawberry patch started growing green and lush. Our fruit trees began blooming!
The new seedlings from our window sill soon found their place in the various garden rows and patches...and what a good garden it turned out to be! Since we didn't know what the future held, I'd carefully chosen vegetables not only for eating fresh but especially with preserving in mind, and I believe that of all the many gardens we've grown over the years, this years' garden and orchard produced the most food for preserving.
I don't know about your area, but here we experienced a huge shortage of canning jars. I own many canning jars of various sizes, but was looking for more half pints, and soon realized that canning supplies in the stores were basically gone! If you think you need more canning jars--keep your eyes open for any chance to buy some from neighbors, friends, or wherever you can find them.