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Square Foot Gardening For The Post Industrial World

If we are to expect some bad days ahead when the impact of the peak oil is finally felt then It's probably a good idea for people to start growing their own square foot gardens. Of course even if it doesn't turn out to be as bad as a lot of people are claiming it to be, having a garden in your back yard sure isn't going to do you any harm. Below you will find the basics of square foot gardening.

The first thing is figuring out the layout and where it's going to be. The place that you pick needs to get at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight on a daily basis. So, you need to make sure to stay away from trees as well as shrubs where the roots and shade might interfere with your garden. You should to have it as close to your house as you possibly can. It also should not be an area that tends to puddle after heavy rains. You will also want to make sure that you garden is arranged in squares and not in rows like a lot of people do. So, always think in squares like 4 x 4 planting areas for example and making sure there are walkways between the squares. You can have your planting squares all in one place or you can arrange them around your yard.

You will need to build boxes that will hold new soil above the ground. The box frames should be no wider than 4 feet and shouldn't be any deeper than six to eight inches. You can go smaller, just don't go any bigger. You can make the frames from just about any material except for treated wood because treated wood has toxic chemicals in it which will get into the soil.

Make sure that your boxes are spaced about 3 feet apart to form your walking aisles. This will make it easier for you to plant, work and harvest in the garden. It can be a little bit more or even a little bit less just as long as you give yourself plenty of room to move around. You can cover the walking area with grass or an attractive ground cover if you want.

You should take some soil that is 1/3 blended compost, 1/3 coarse vermiculite and 1/3 peat moss and put this in your boxes. It's better to make your own compost but if you don't have the time then the blended will do just fine. All of these ingredients are natural and will work well for your garden.

Put a permanent grid on top of each frame that will divide each box into one foot squares. This grid makes this kind of garden system work well. It can actually allow you to plant 16 different crops if you wanted to. It will also keep your garden plots nice and neat and organized. Also, if you don't have the grid you will be more tempted to plant in rows. You can make your grid from wood or even plastic strips to old blinds. Take some screws to attach them where they cross each other. You should leave your grid in place all season.

The most important thing to remember when you are gardening is to never ever walk on your growing soil. This is why you have garden boxes and paths to walk around them. This way you never have to do any heavy digging and the soil is going to always stay loose and useable forever.

When it's time to plant make sure to plant a different flower, fruit, herb or vegetable for each square foot. So if your grid was had 9 squares in the one garden box you would plant 9 different plants one in each square foot of the grid. If you had a grid of 16 you would plant 16 different ones.

After you have decided on the seeds then you can plant one or two seeds in each spot by making a very shallow hole with your fingers. Cover the seeds but try not to pack the soil down too hard. Planting this way eliminates thinning of plants and there are no seeds wasted. Your extra seeds can be stored in a cool dry place in your refrigerator. Never over plant only plant as much food you know you are going to use so you can conserve your seeds.

Always water your garden by hand from a bucket that has been warmed by the sun. Warm water will help to keep the soil warm and only water as much as each of the plants appear to need. Make sure to water often, especially right after you plant the seeds and then on very hot dry days as well.

Make sure to harvest on a continual basis and when you are finished with one harvest in a square foot just add a little compost and replant it with a new or different crop.

Some of the typical plants that do well in this type of garden are listed below:
  • Radishes, onions and carrots (plant 16 per square foot)
  • Bush beans and spinach (plant 9 per square foot)
  • Pole beans and peas (plant 8 per square foot)
  • Celery, chard, corn, garlic, lettuce and mustard (plant 4 per square foot)
  • Cucumbers (plant 2 per square foot in a row of 4 squares)
  • Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, peppers, potatoes, eggplant, okra, summer squash, tomatoes (plant one per square foot)
  • Winter squash (plant 1 per 2 square foot)



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Tips to Help you Prepare for Peak Oil

Seems like people forget very easily. Not long ago when the gas prices were really rising and prices for food were going up alarmingly fast, everyone seemed to be aware of peak oil and seemed concerned. Then it settled down. Then if you fast forward to right now and it seems to be happening again but no one seems to really be letting it bother them this time around. Peak oil, is peak oil, it's going to happen, there isn't much in ways of avoiding it and we can argue all we want about it, but it's not going to change things. Even if it's decades away doesn't mean that people can't prepare themselves for it. So, here are a few tips that might help you out for when or when it doesn't happen.

A really good thing to do is to start a garden. Not a rose garden but a true fruit and vegetable garden. You might even want to include a nut tree or two. You should know how to grow your food even if you don't live to see the true peak oil. It never hurts because in the end it's going to save you money and it's really good for you. Fruit trees, nut trees and asparagus may take a while to grow but it's the reward you reap after. You will continue to get production from these for years and years to come. So you will always have some kind of food growing in your yard.

Make sure that your home goes green. Make sure that your home is well insulated and this includes your roof. Make sure to switch out all the old light bulbs in your home to the smaller fluorescent ones that save a lot of money and don't use anything near as much watts of electricity. You might even want to install some solar panels so you can create some of your own independent energy from the sun. Best thing about this is that if you end up making more than you can use, you can sell the excess to the power company and make a little cash on the side.

Make sure to always live within your means. Learn to limit your spending. There could come a time when you will be forced to limit your spending and if you start now it will be a lot easier when you have no other choice but to do so. Also by buying less stuff you are also producing less pollution so you have a win win situation going on here. You save money and you help save the planet at the same time. Besides if you live within your means you aren't going to be in debt.

Cut back on your own person use of oil. Transportation is one of the biggest ways in which we use up oil so you should start thinking about how you can cut down on using it. Be creative in your thinking and don't always just go for the obvious of biking, carpooling or taking the bus, think out of the box. One way to really cut down is arrange to work from home and even when you do drive, make sure to drive a lot more careful. You'd be surprised how much gas and money this would save.

One of the last things you can do is take some action beyond your own personal consumption. Remember this is a societal problem not just your problem. So try to educate your friends, other family members, get your community involved, call them all to action and even get in the middle of the politics. You can call for stricter fuel economy standards or you can start your own community garden, all of these actions are going to help.


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Is Peak Oil Just Around the Corner?

Unfortunately the facts about peak oil aren't very pretty. The fact that oil has dominated this country and every aspect of life for the past 100 years is going to make it very hard when it the day comes when we really do run out. As it has been stated many times before the US supposedly hit peak oil back in the 70's and according to some people global peak oil already happened sometime back in 2006. So according to some experts what we are witnessing right now is exactly what you would expect in the earliest part of the aftermath and that is rapid rising prices on both oil and food.

Many call this inflation, but it's not regular inflation like in the past. For the first time in this quite brief industrialized society, the stuff that is suppose to keep the wheels on our society is never going to be cheap or easily available again.

What some think may happen is impending food shortages are going to cause chaos and what is lurking just around the corner for the human races has been called the “Great Panic” which is where there will be a futile scramble for all the basic necessities of life as it finally hits the people that they actually might be going to have to face starvation for real.

What caused this is that when oil was cheap the oil companies went only with the easy stuff, taking only the stuff that didn't take much work. This was of course the higher quality as well. Now with peak oil looming what is left behind is a poorer quality of oil that is going to be harder to refine, which is going to make it cost more money to produce and then it's going to again make the prices go up.

Because of the glut for so many years regarding the oil it could mean that this industrialized society is never going to see the possibility of cheap oil again and there is no easy or quick and readily available substitute at this time because the oil companies monopolized the fuel industry. Only outcome might be to return to a pre-industrialized way of life but, even in doing this, during this transition everyone who is unprepared are going to starve.

Even though there are other ways in which we can create energy none of these alternatives are going to be able to take the place of oil. Perhaps if the governments of the world had started many years ago it would be different. As it sits right now even if they do start stepping it up and switching over to other resources it's already too late to avert the disaster the world is heading for due to the peak oil situation.

In short, the ever growing shortage of oil will precipitate a massive and unprecedented complete and total economic meltdown of all industrialized countries.


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How To Prepare for a Post Oil Society

With all the chatter about peak oil and what life will be like once we no longer have any easy access to fossil fuels there doesn't seem to be too much information or advice on just how you should prepare for a post oil society. Plenty of information out there about what it will be like and so on, but what about getting prepared for it? Here are a few things that should be done before it happens.

People need to expand their views beyond just finding fuels other than gas to power their cars and trucks. People are obsessed with keeping their cars going no matter what it costs and this could be a fatal way of thinking. Cars really are not going to be part of the solution no matter how they are fueled. In fact everyone needs to understand that they basically are the root of the problem. So it's better if we all try to think beyond the car and not how to continue to make it run.

As a society we need to figure out how to produce food in a different manner. When the gas supplies really become depleted farmers will be left with sterile soil and farming will be at an unworkable scale. A lot of lives are going to depend upon the ability to solve this huge problem. Farming will have to become the center of American economic life again and will have to be done more on a local scale and will require more human labor than machine labor.

The population in America is going to have to be redistributed. Any place that is organized around the dependency of the car is simply going to fail. The country will have to return to a more traditional human ecology on a very much smaller scale such as villages, towns and small cities. Those small towns out there now are waiting to be re-inhabited and this is what will happen.

Things built in the future will need to be built with regional materials that are found in nature as opposed to the snap together manufactured type components used often now. Just like farming this is going to take the revival of skills we've not used for a very long time.

People and things are going to have to move differently and we will have to get used to that. Using water and the rail will be a lot more energy efficient. Electrify the railroads and use them to run things across the country. We will also need to learn how to use water again as a mode of transport and transportation of people. This means that more harbors and canal systems will need to be built for the inland rivers and include the cities and towns that are associated with these rivers. Harbor towns will no longer have condos for the rich but they will have to go back to how it once was with warehouses and places for the sailors to stay.

We will need to make our own goods in this country and stop relying upon the endless shopping frenzy that has occupied us in our daily lives. We are still going to need common household goods and clothes to wear, but no longer will we be able to be frivolous and go out and buy all kinds of new technological toys. Instead things will be simpler and we'll have to get use to it.

The educational system will have to be reorganized. Computers will not be as reliable as they are now since there will be electrical problems with it being on the fritz half of the time. This means that teachers are going to have to start teaching kids things like they use to be taught without the aide of all that technology. That means kids will again have to learn long division and how to really write a paragraph that is coherent. Teachers will be in big demand because teaching kids simply will not become obsolete.

Final Note: By preparing yourself to get use to going back to the basics, encouraging people to learn old skills, will be just a small step towards being able to survive, but at least it's a step in the right direction.


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Survival Ideas for Post Peak Oil Situations

If we are to believe that the world will change in an instant the minute the world realizes that it's truly hit peak oil, then there are some things that you might want to consider and try to take care of now if you can. It's best to always try and prepare for the worst even if it doesn't end up happening.

One thing that some survivalists claim you really should think of doing is make sure now that where you live is secure. If you have a home with a yard make sure to put a security fence around it and have a good dog to be your watchdog. The first thing going to be attacked by those who never were quite lawful in the first place, is going to be where you live. It's also said you should spend some of your savings on security bars for your windows.

You should consider having some sort of backup power source. During a crisis the power grid that you are use to living with will become unreliable and there could be power outages all over the place and worse yet you may be only to have power certain times of the day. Getting a diesel generator is a good idea because you can stock pile up on diesel fuel because it's easier to store than other fuel. Understand you are going to need about 5000 watts to run appliances you are use to running. A better solution though than a generator would be installing some sort of solar power system and then you can implement a smaller generator to use as a backup.

Get a wood stove installed in your home or if you have a fireplace start getting use to using it. Not only can wood be burned in it for heat but you can also burn waste as long as you have the door closed on the stove and a glass cover for your fireplace. Just make sure that you have your own flue cleaning kit to keep your smokestack cleaned on a regular basis.

You can take your gutters and use them by diverting them into a 1000 gallon fiberglass tank and then use a solar panel and a demand pump used in Rvs for the plumbing in case city water gets interrupted. This could happen if cities go bankrupt and can't continue to make city repairs.

Should your yard be big enough you should start replacing all of your plants with edible plants and even if it's not still do your best to have planters and containers where you can grow your own vegetables as well as fruit. Vegetables to consider should be mustard greens, collard and kale, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, onions, herbs, melons, etc. Make sure to include at least one fruit tree. You also should start storing canned foods and dried foods up so that you can have some staples to go with those fresh veggies. Things like corned beef, evaporated milk, white and brown rice, beans, dried soups and a variety of freeze dried and dehydrated foods would be good too.

Learn how to sew again and get a good sewing machine and start saving a supply of material and sew accessories for it. You also want to make sure that you have a solar powered radio because that might be all the entertainment you'll be able to afford. Have plenty of vitamins and OTC pain relief and topical antibacterials, bandages and so on. Also, make sure to get a hold of some long range hand held radios so you can keep in touch with family, friends and neighbors.

In the end it will all come down to how prepared you are, how adaptable you are and if you can keep one step ahead of those who may want to take what you have.


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Psychologically dealing with Peak Oil

The age of oil actually began back in 1856 and it marked a time for mankind where they could find and use what they thought was going to be a cheap energy source. It was the discovery and the use of oil that propelled us into the Industrial Age and expanded our global population at a very alarming rate. In 1805 we have just barely over a billion people world wide but by 2005 6.5 billion. We can't knock the use of oil for without we'd pretty much be living the same as we did in the 1850's. We can however knock ourselves for conning ourselves into believe that it was going to last forever and using it like it was something that was inexhaustible.

As it stands now, we have probably reached what is called the Peak Oil and this means plain and simple that we are coming to the end of the age of cheap fossil fuels and as we all should know by now that it means huge changes for everyone and huge changes in which we are going to have to live. It's going to be far more enormous of a change than just getting rid of your SUV and picking a Prius instead. We all need to understand that jumping in and trying to use solar and wind power to cover the losses isn't going to even replace one fraction of all the energy requirements we have now all because of our super over dependency upon fossil fuels. The evidence is overwhelming that we are nearly tapped out of fossil fuels and yet the world has yet to respond in the right way about it.

There are usually just two reactions to this overwhelming news and one would simply be denial and the other a sense of hopelessness and why try reaction. Most people will go with denial and think someone is bound to come up with a solution that's going to magically make all our fuel problems go away. Then on the other hand those who think there's no hope so why even try.

We can though respond in a third way. This way is to fully recognize the fact that we can use this Peak Oil to finally start taking an actual proactive role in how we shape our lives as well as our communities as our world starts to enter into what will be a power descent, instead of being passive victims of it all. With this kind of a reaction we as a people of this world will need to create a positive vision for the future and begin acting in ways we can implement that kind of reaction. We need to find ways to move off the grid so to speak and learn about renewable energies, how to become self sufficient, learn to build communities with ecological designs, learn permaculture and other ways in which we all are living sustainable lifestyles while the world begins to power down. You can't wait for the power down or you'll be left out in the cold.


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How To Store Food for Long Term Survival

If you believe that peak oil or post oil is going to bring about a dismal world and a chaotic society then you might want to start learning how you can store food for some long term survival. Knowing how to store food items for a long time is essential and something that a lot of people no longer know how to do like early Americans once did. As things progressed Americans eventually grew away from the need for storing their own food. Now, with things looking kind of uncertain with peak oil and all that going on it might be a good idea to learn now.

You should make up a pantry list that should have items on it with all that you already have and things that you will need for your basics. Look at what you have and what you need and do research on the different prices and how available the items are.

Go out and buy the items you need as well as containers that you will need for home storage. When you want to store things like grains and other bulk foods such as wheat berries, lentils, beans, rice for example you should use 5 or 6 gallon buckets that have lids. You can get these easy enough online. You will want the 1 to 3 gallon size containers to store things like sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and other items similar to this. Canned good can simply be kept in their original cans.

Make sure to compare all the prices with your different sources when you are shopping and note any changes you might want to make in your shopping list for your next rip. For instance say you purchased 35 pounds of peanut butter online for $2.25 a pound but then found it later at a local store for just $1.80 a pound, make sure to note this so you can go to that source next time.

You should make sure to buy a variety of things that can be saved for months and years a little at a time. You should try to include it in your budget to buy so much each month. For example you might want to start setting aside about $75 to $100 a month for these foods and then stock up on a variety of items each month instead of focusing on just one category at a time.

When it comes to water, you really aren't going to be able to store that because the shelf life of water is only about 6 to 12 months. You can though go ahead and try it by storing it in large containers with airtight lids or the large bottle water bottles. Just make sure that you store up on some heavy duty water filters or have a water treatment system that has a lot of extra filters on hand.

Make sure to choose plenty of grains, flour and beans for your storage. Items like these if stored correctly can actually last you for decades if not longer. You can find these often at food co-ops and health food stores in large quantities. Make sure to include barley, corn, oats, rye, popcorn, rice, whole, wild and brown. Don't forget to stock up on pasta like egg noodles, lasagna, spaghetti and wheat pastas.

Add some cereals as well like granola, oatmeal, grits as well as some processed ready to eat cereals as well. Don't forget to include legumes, lentils, pinto beans, navy beans and split peas. All of which have extremely long shelf lives and provide you with a source of protein as well.

Other things you are going to want to include are the following:
  • Frozen beef, chicken and fish
  • Jerky and canned meats
  • Powdered milk
  • Dehydrated butter and cheese
  • Hone
  • Molasses
  • Cane sugar, raw sugar, maple sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Olive, coconut, safflower and vegetable oils
  • Yeast, baking soda, baking powder
  • Dried fruits
  • Nuts
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Drink mixes
  • Tea
Final Note: When storing your food make sure to keep it in a cool and dry location free from pests.


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Reduce Your Own Dependence on Fossil Fuels

Most people by know more than likely know who Dr. Marion King Hubbert was. The Shell Oil geologist that predicted that the US production of oil would begin to peak in 1970's and if you lived in the 1970's you all know what happened, a gas shortage, which of course means that he was right. It was also predicted by Hubbert that the global supply would peak in 1995. Now it seems according to officials that the global oil reserves are getting harder to get to and it's of a lower grade now and the volume is not meeting the demand of the world. Well, with all of this going on, there is something you can do yourself to stop depending so much on those fossil fuels.

You can either buy yourself a diesel car since a diesel engine does not run on fossil fuels but uses biodiesel fuel which is made from a combo of fossil fuels and non-fossil fuel based items or is made completely out of non-fossil fuel based ingredients. If you already have diesel engine then you should already be able to use the biodiesel fuels being produced and you can now find this fuel in all gas stations all over the country now. You could also consider going hybrid if biodiesel doesn't interest you.

Try and go solar in your home and reduce your dependence of fossil fuel. Try and convert the power you use in your home from fossil fuels to solar power. Solar power of course can be expensive to install but as it starts to grow in popularity the price will lower. You can go step by step gradually converting your home until you have completely converted your home to a photovoltaic system that will run your entire home with solar power.

Consider trying to get a job where you can work from home. If you already have a job that it away from home, especially if it's an office job, see if you can't arrange with your employer for you to work from home. This will help you to use far less fuel by not needing to have to commute to work each day. If your boss is not too keen on the idea try asking him to let you try it part time and if he likes the way things go then move to full time telecommuting.

Grow your own organic garden if you have the room for it. If not, consider trying to grow your garden in containers. By growing your own garden you'll be cutting down on the use of fuel that is used to transport your produce from half a world away. You also might want to consider buying your produce from local producers like at fruits and vegetable stands instead of buying the produce from your local grocery store chain.

If you have a fireplace, take advantage of it and use it in the winter for the heat in your home. If you don't have one then consider having a wood burning stove or pellet stove installed in your home. Either one of these types of heating devices are going to help you cut down on your energy use in a big way. Make sure though to avoid buying a used wood stove. It's best to go with new ones that you know will be more energy efficient.

Final Note: If you do have a fireplace, make sure that you have the chimney cleaned by a professional at least one time a year before you use it.


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