How does Y2K make gardening different? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

On another thread, I introduced some ways that I think gardening could be different next year (beyond the issue of hybrid v. nonhybrid seeds).

For instance, there may be a greater need to hide the garden from public view.

An alternative water source (e.g., rain barrels or a hand-operated well pump) should be arranged.

My unresolved dilemma is that my general preps for Y2K do not include an alternative light source to compensate for a dearth of shoplights to start seedlings. (Without enough light they will grow too spindly. A generator wouldn't do it - I run the lights 14/10. Reflecting the light with foil can help.)

This summer/fall is the time to order whatever supplies may be needed. (I have enjoyed Y2K as an excuse to order those gardening toys I have wistfully avoided to date.) Catalog orders for seeds should perhaps be placed really early this fall.

It might also mean renting a tiller this year to prepare garden beds in case gasoline (or equipment) is in short supply. And collecting or preparing as much mulch or ingredients for compost as possible this fall.

Wondering what other thoughts folks have.

-- Brooks (, July 27, 1999


Planting extra papaya trees on the border of my property, to feed neighbors...they grow quick and are cheap as seedlings. Key fruit trees are in several areas, up in the jungle. Clear more jungle for more trees!

Making sure that I have enough of the right hand tools.

Making sure that I have an extra 50# of fertilizer stashed away (not expensive!).

-- Mad Monk (, July 27, 1999.

Brooks, I don't know what part of the country you live in, but here in my part of Missouri the growing season is long enough where I think that I could get away with planting early varieties of plants such as tomatoes and peppers outdoors and still get a crop in before a freeze.

I also think that I could get some heat-loving plants started in a cold frame and gain about two or three weeks. Not as good as a six week gain by starting indoors but probably better than nothing.

-- Alexi (, July 27, 1999.

If you have some south facing windows you can make an indoor small greenhouse. Hardier crops can go in a coldframe or small greenhouse. Lots of plans for these if you have the space using old windows or plastic and PVC pipe or scrap wood. Use solar as much as possible.

Our test garden this year made all the mistakes possible (haven't gardened for 20 years) so we will have to move part of it to a sunnier location. We plan on covering it with straw and hay for the winter ala Ruth Stout, so we won't have any tilling next year. Only problem with that is that you have to move most of it in the spring to let the ground warm up in this cold climate.

Hiding would be good if you have a sunny location.We don't so will have to think about fencing, hay bales or parking vehicles to make it less noticeable.

As well as your seeds, tools, compost and fertilizer, don't forget any safe herbicides and bug killers you may need.

-- sue (, July 28, 1999.

One of our Y2K gardening preps was to buy a broad fork for breaking up the soil, in case gasoline for the tiller / tractor is expensive or unavailable next year. This is a garden 'fork' with long curved tines and two long handles a few feet apart. You push it into the ground, then grasp the handles and pull back, pulling the tines through the soil.

Start seeds in any south facing windows you have. propping up the flats or trays at an angle toward the window lessens the seedlings' tendency to bend over toward the light. Cold frames will also extend the season in both spring and fall.

-- Bingo (, July 28, 1999.

Starting tomatoes early can be a problem without growlights, especially in western Wisconsin where I live, but in years past we have grown tomatoes in the house in a south-facing bedroom window in large pots, and gotten some tomatoes throughout the winter. We clip cuttings from good healthy plants late in the fall, root them in water, then plant them inside in pots. Come spring, cuttings can be taken from these plants that have overwintered in the house, potted, and later planted outside. This would be a method of propagating any favorite hybrid tomato plants so that you wouldn't use up your purchased seeds. I haven't had any luck rooting cuttings of peppers, although they can also be overwintered inside. The pepper plants we plan to bring into the house, though, we grow all summer in pots, as we have had lots of insect problems with plants that we have dug up and potted, which we avoid by growing a few peppers in large pots all summer, keeping them on the deck or near the garage instead of in the garden. Hope that this helps.

-- Jim (, July 28, 1999.

Here are the ways I think it can be different:

fertilizer herbicide water location - may have to hide it collecting and saving seeds using non hybrid seeds growing plants that you're not familiar with i.e. herbs, medicinal plants. Having to actually live off your garden makes you want to spend more time in the garden. I am so surprized at folks who think they can get in the garden once a week and work like crazy....Then they wonder why they can't grow anything....


-- sylvia (, July 28, 1999.

I start all of our seedlings in the greenhouse- no artificial light- just heat. and we're pretty darn far north! A south facing window will do it for your size scale- don't plant too early- and pot them up- when the tomatoes, peppers, etc have several sets of real leaves- pot them up into a larger container- makes better growth. also- don't start them too soon- 6 weeks is plenty for tomatoes, eight weeks for peppers and eggplant. three weeks for cukes, squash and melons. Put those into individual containers so the root system doesn't get disturbed.

As for doing things differently- I've ordered extra seed just in case UPS/snail mail has problems. I've stocked up on greenhouse plastic, black plastic mulch and stuff like that. I till in the Fall anyway- will have some gas available though anyway-will have Bt and rotenone- my pest disaster aids available in advance. also- compost in quantity.

am redoing the seedling greenhouse to put a wood stove in- to suplement propane- has been the plan before y2k though- will fill propane tank for greenhouse early though

as for visibility- well- I'm a commercial grower- large visible field- every bit visible from the road- farmstand too- do Farmer's markets etc- will feed thieves to the fish though.......:)

-- farmer (, July 28, 1999.

Am storing some gas for the rototiller. Trying to get new garden areas prepared now....lots of work. Would like to to actually do maintainance on my garden tools ...have at least gotten to starting to read the book. Maintainance is one of those things I put off.

Have been trying to get to the things that take the longest, like dividing chives ( three times so far this year, am starting to have a respectable amount of them.), pruning out trees ( so that the cut wood can season, and I can observe the new sun patterns), and stumping.

Clean up is also a concern, since trash pickup may be questionable, and long trips to the dump a problem if gas is short. There always seems to be some big metal thing, or old sink, that needs to be dragged out and gotten rid of to make room.

-- seraphima (, July 28, 1999.

Soome of the things we are doing differently: Bought an extra 50# of buckwheat seed ($24 at the local feed mill) Bought extra seed oats- this and buckwheat are for green manure and cover crops Stocking up on spoiled hay and straw for mulch and in the chicken coop (in case it is not easy to transport this kind of thing next year due to fuel shortages, etc.) Making sure we have some Dipel, rotenone, insecticidal soap, and other pest and disease control measures on hand Got extra bags of perlite, peat moss, etc., that I sometimes use when starting plants in the greenhouse.

We have been saving seeds for over 15 years, and probably don't need to ever buy seeds again, but we did buy extras last spring, so if need be, we would be all set without any more seed purchases.

Got a good scythe for mowing necessary areas, and picked up another reel-type manual lawn mower at the dump. Getting more eavestrough set up on sheds to collect more rainwater in the big barrels and bulk tank that I picked up out of peoples junk. (All drinking water quality or food grade containers- it's amazing what people throw out!) There are other things we are doing that don't come to mind at the moment, but this may help.

-- Jim (, July 29, 1999.

I am trying to think ahead here, what would be different? For one thing, if come next February or March, it appears that because of shortages or elevated prices we will need to take our gardening a little more serious; I think we will all be breaking alot of bad gardening habits. :-) We will definitely all be less lazy in getting seeds in the ground early and caring for them properly.

Early crops of greens will be paramount for nutritional reasons. Likewise, we will want to concentrate more on staggered harvests and planting late seed to extend or double the harvest. Square foot Gardening Book is an excellant reference for this type of planting, even if you plant on a much larger scale. I think one of the worst bad habits I will have to break is planting all of any one type of seed at one time...a bonanza crop for a couple of weeks, involving all night canning sessions, then nothing for the reminder of the summer.

One thing I do, is too early in the season for commen sense, I start just a very few peppers, cabbage, tomatoes and other seed (this year I did Swiss Chard as an early green, it did very well) to be started in the windows. These are not my main crop, but mostly a challenge to myself to see "How soon I can get that first tomato!" I use a varity of small containers, not the 72 hole flats I use for the main crop. Smaller containers, in a south window are easier to move and rotate to conteract the seedling bending to the sun.

Using three sides and the bottom of a card board box covered with aluminum foil will deflect the suns rays more around the plants, keeping them straighter.

Once these seedlings get there first true leaves, they go outside daily on all days suitable temperature wise, and never take them out in windy conditions. Very early on, they just go to the back porch in semi-shaded conditions; even if just for 10 minutes to begin. In short, I give them very minute doses of stress all along...but being very careful not to push it too much (this year, as example, I lost my cabbage from lack of attention).

Do not over fertilize the seedlings, this will encourage faster growth and contribute to spindliness.

I then end up with 3 to 6 plants each of several varities, planted togather in a small plot. Much less difficult to care for than 12 or more transplants of several kinds. Using a wooded frame, heavy black plastic, or what have you for a nightly cover. Mulched well with hay or straw. Water the plants at ground level and in the morning not the evening, and not the whole mulch. I am not trying to conserve moisture here, giving these few plants careful attention, and I want to keep the mulch "fluffy" for protection from the cold. And on some nights just putting mulch over the plants will work, depends on your climate and late cold spells. I try to protect well for lower than 40 degrees. I have an old quilt, terribly beat up, that I put over the plastic on really cold nights.

A couple of weeks later, I start the bigger flats and follow more conventional gardening techniques.

Ah, all that work for the neighborhoods first tomatoe and bell pepper...but if tomatoes are not in the store, I am sure we would all appreciate it more.

-- Lilly (, July 31, 1999.

Mad Monk: Great idea to plant specifically with the thought of sharing the plenty with others. Another idea that a master gardener neighbor came up with is to give "pot luck" garden seminar events. He shared the basics with beginners in his garden.

I know, I know, this puts him at risk for being too high-profile during Y2K as a food source, but this man has another concept of how a community should work, and the attendees were all friends and neighbors.

Even with Y2K, there are many people who don't think they could possibly garden -- perhaps they are apartment-dwellers or just not physically up to the task. I want to encourage them to consider container gardening. I had my eyes opened to just how much yeild you can get from plants in containers, and I am in awe of the potential.

We grow peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, you name it, all grown in containers succesfully. No rototilling. Just store-bought soil or compost/mixes that are easy to weed, to move and to survive from, if you supplement with sprouting and a good stockpile of grains, beans and canned goods.

We also have a rapidly-expanding in-ground garden, which is out of view to anyone except someone looking out the back windows.

Consider a swimming pool as a water resevoir for garden water.

Also, use the "mess" of chickens and/or ducks to fertilize. We will keep birds away from the garden, but catch all of the nutrients and import them.

All Y2K planning should include a short-term and a long-term scenario strategy. The short-term is easy: just stock up a bit. The long-term means re-thinking how we garden... and how we live.

-- Sara Nealy (, July 31, 1999.

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