While none of us could have predicted 2020 last New Year’s Eve, today we are standing in another place. Most of us have survived not just one lockdown/quarantine but three. We’ll remember 2020 as the year the toilet paper disappeared, and in some places, meat, canned and frozen vegetables, rice, flour, yeast, beans, and eggs were rationed by the grocery stores.
Potato chips, Coke, and junk food were free-flowing though. Many of us gained the “Covid 20” (pounds, that is) as we stayed home, socially distanced, and couldn’t go to the gym or even for walks in nature (in some areas).
As we look back, there were some definite trends that we need to change for 2021 if we want to remain healthy and strong and enjoy a resilient, satisfying life.
1. Nature is essential. Going outside, breathing fresh air, getting sunshine (and vitamin D) and walking, running, or biking is essential to staying healthy. To support our emotional well being, and to keep our immune system working as it was meant to, prioritize time outside in nature every week. Studies on forest bathing show that spending 30 minutes in a forest once a month is enough to boost our immune system, emotional well being, and health for an entire month.
2. Eating healthy must be a priority. While it’s easier, to settle for prepared food and give up the responsibility to feed yourself, that can lead to long-term health consequences. Opt for healthier meals with a strong serving of vegetables, herbal tea, and meals with less starch and sugar going into 2021. If you gained the Covid 20, consider a detox in January to kick start your health in the New Year. (You can join me. I’ll be doing it, too).
But eating healthy can be hard when the grocery store is rationing fruits and vegetables, meat and eggs. Consider establishing a relationship with your local farmers now to secure the healthy food your family needs. Farm shares, produce boxes, and growing your own are all viable alternatives to dependence on the big box grocery stores. 2020 proved to us that the food conglomerates were not dependable. Self-reliance is even more important going into 2021.
3. Growing your own food and herbs needs to be a priority. Whether you have only the space of a kitchen counter, an apartment balcony, or a backyard garden put the space you have into food production. This will make you more resilient should we face food shortages again in 2021. Plus homegrown food is fresher and higher in nutrients including quercetin, a zinc ionophore that supports your own miraculous immune system.
Over Christmas, I read the book, “Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening, How to Grow Nutrient-Dense, Soil-Sprouted Greens in less than 10 Days“ by Peter Burke (Chelsea Green, 2015). In it Peter explains his method of growing sprouting seeds on soil, without supplemental lighting, using only a window for light. With his method, he harvests 6 pounds of soil sprouts for his family every day. And the method is foolproof. Seeds want to grow. (Check the book out of your local public library and see if this method would work for you).
Sprouts grown in jars are ready in 4 to 6 days. All you need for this is a couple of mason jars, a screened sprouting lid that fits the jar (about $4 each), and sprouting seeds. Regular garden seeds might be treated with fungicides so we recommend only using “sprouting seeds” or “microgreen seeds” for this. Both are just untreated garden seeds, but if they are sold commercially they will be tested against bacteria like e. Coli, listeria, etc. So you can use them confidently. You’ll need 1 to 2 tablespoons of sprouting seed for 2 to 4 cups of finished sprouts. Sprouting mixes are an economical way to get started and will give you a variety of flavours and textures.
Microgreens are another easy to grow and fast-growing salad green you can grow at home. Microgreens can be grown hydroponically on jute, hemp, or coir mats or in soil. They do require supplemental lighting after the fourth day, but if you already have a light set up for your tomato or pepper starts, you can get it going now for microgreens, while you wait. Microgreens will give you a larger harvest but take 10 to 14 days from seeding to harvest.
I’m experimenting with all three growing methods right now. I’ll let you know how they work in a few weeks, and which methods I prefer.
4. Plan your garden early in 2021 and get your seeds as soon as you know what you want to plant. In 2020 many seed sources stopped selling to home gardeners early, so they could meet the need of commercial growers with the seed they had left. Many varieties of seed sold out by March. If you lived in Texas or Florida you were golden, but those living in Northern parts might have faced the shortages.
I heard from one of my main seed sources, William Dam Seeds in Ontario, that the 2020 seed growing season was amazing and the seedsman is well stocked for seeds in 2021. There is a bit of a backlog here in January while the seed companies test their seed and package up their inventory for 2021, so if your favourite seed source is slow right now, give them a few weeks and try again.
Hopefully, in 2021 all the seed companies expanded their stock to accommodate the new gardeners that were “born” in 2020. But just in case, plan to get your seed earlier this year. If you buy more than you need, store your seed in a cold, dry place to extend its shelf life. You won’t have to buy as much for 2022.
If you’ve never gardened before we’ll be talking about growing your own food and medicine in 2021, and we’re here to help you succeed.
5. Keep your herbal pantry and apothecary stocked up, as you use your herbal remedies this year. Don’t wait till September to replenish your elderberry syrup, fire cider, or cold and flu teas. Since infusions take some time to prepare, start them as soon as you see you are running low. If you didn’t make herbal remedies last fall, it’s not too late to begin. Grab the recipes from my blog and get started right away.
If you are just getting started in herbal remedies, we’ll be talking more about this too in 2021. But if you are eager to find out more check out the posts here on my blog. Use the search bar on the right and you’ll get a number of articles to get started.
6. Other essential homestead items that were hard to find in 2020 include canning jar lids, canning jars, household cleaners, laundry detergents, antimicrobial wipes, hand sanitizer, and paper towels. Right now these are all back in stock in most areas.
Assess your personal circumstances and if you think you’ll need any of these items in 2021, order early or double up on your grocery order now so that you aren’t caught later without an essential. When I say double up, I mean exactly that. If you would normally buy 1 box, buy 2 each time you get your groceries. This way you aren’t the cause of a shortage. The store inventory sees the increase and will order accordingly. If you are a prepper, you are already doing this. If you are new to prepping, this is a good place to begin. 2020 taught us the preppers were wise. Long term resilience requires a plan for being prepared.
7. This is also a good time to take inventory of your food preservation equipment. For instance, if you have a pressure canner keep a new rubber gasket/seal on hand. The rubber ring breaks down over time and even if you haven’t used yours in a while, you won’t want to discover that you needed one, in the middle 200 pounds of tomato sauce. (2020 canning story. But I did have the extra seal I needed.)
We’ll be talking more in 2021 about cultivating resilience for your family, building your personal health naturally, and navigating safely in troubled waters.