Archive for the ‘Self-Sufficiency’ Category

The Trashcan Root Cellar

October 20, 2008

The comments on last week’s entry brought to mind a disturbing moment in my evolution as a bloger. A really nifty feature of my blog publishing service shows other sites linking to this blog. Imagine my delight, after only a few posts, to discover such an “incoming link.”

The Neo-Patriarch And Me

My delusions of grandeur faded as I read the title of the link: Wealthy Investors Hoard Bullion. I find myself resonating with many of the topics on the Neo-Patriarch’s home page: homesteading, gardening, cryptography, conspiracies — this is all right up my alley!  (I’m not so sure about his interest in Christian Polygamy, although I have to confess some fascination with another piece to which his site led me, this one about Orthodox Jewish Polygamy). My affinities with the Neo-Patriarch make it all the more painful that he believes my blog’s financial views to be directed towards “the wealthy.”

The mis-impression stems, no doubt, from my exclusive focus on money for the past several weeks. But of course, as Valorie and Crystal rightly observe, and as I’m sure the Neo-Patriarch would say, saving money does not tell the whole survival story. Material survival depends very simply on food, clothing, and shelter. Whether you view it as a medium of exchange or as a store of value, money does nothing more than enable you to procure these things. So why not just secure shelter and the means to produce food and clothing? Once you have those, your need for money diminishes significantly (especially if you have goods you can barter for the goods you can’t produce yourself).

Setting The Record Straight

But I just have to say a couple of things about money and “the wealthy.” The government’s fix for the credit crisis lets the wealthy who beneifted from and created the credit bubble get away with their misdeeds and places the enormous cost on the rest of us. Through inflation, it will penalize those of us who spend modestly and save diligently for the arrogance and greed of those who lend and borrow profligately. One of my intentions is to rectify this situation by offering information about sound money.

I also made it clear that Franklin Sanders’ Monthly Acquisition Program makes it possible for people of just about any means to invest regularly in silver bullion coins as a means of protecting some portion of their savings from the ravages of hyperinflation. The purchase of silver bullion coins through this program can help anyone, especially folks  with little money to save, protect their savings. This advice is not for The Wealthy — it is for you, Joe The Plumber!

Putting My Money Where My Trashcan Is

The great problems that face us today — peak oil, deflationary depression, monetary collapse, and climate change — point towards the same solution: self-sufficiency. The low-cost petroleum that has made it so cheap to buy food in grocery stores cannot last forever. But getting off the food production grid takes quite a bit of effort. You have to develop a number of long-forgotten skills to grow and store your own food.

Meaningful change of any sort must proceed in small, manageable, and measurable steps. That’s why I suggest moving some portion of your savings into precious metals in small increments. Baby steps towards self-sufficiency ought to follow the same pattern.

As a simple example, I offer the trashcan root cellar. Before the invention of the refrigerator just about everyone had a root cellar. A root cellar preserves food in the constant, below-ground temperature of 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Many foods can survive all winter long in this temperature range. A cursory google on the topic of root cellars will reveal a wealth of designs.. However, the drainage and ventilation mechanisms for a traditional root cellar made from a framed structure require quite a bit of forethought and knowledge about such matters. And the affair can become rather expensive.

The Joe-The-Plumber, trashcan root cellar, provides an inexpensive and simple alternative. The instructions go something like this:

  • Procure a 25- or 30-gallon galvanized steel trashcan;
  • Dig a hole;
  • Put four inches of gravel in the bottom of the hole for drainage;
  • Bury the trashcan, leaving about four inches of trashcan above the surface;
  • Cover the trashcan with straw or hay and a plastic cover;

Digging Our Root Cellar

Remember to place the trashcans somewhere that you can get to easily when there’s a lot of snow and ice on the ground. You’ll also need to understand which foods are compatible for root cellar storage (see Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Bubel for further details). You can make additional trashcan root cellars for different food varieties, such as apples and vegetables.

Positioning The Trashcans

In our case, the greatest expense turned out to be digging equipment — $50 after we split the rental six ways with neighbors who dug root cellars the same day. If that exceeds your budget, you could form a root cellar digging party with some neighbors and take turns on a series of weekends or weekday evenings digging each others’ holes. It can be a great opportunity to get to know your neighbors — a grand social affair. Or dig it yourself at your convenience.

The Root Cellars

The Root Cellars

The trashcan root cellar will take you far in your journey to self-sufficiency. Increasing your capacity to store food makes you less dependent on the grocery store and thus less dependent upon the petroleum-based transportation grid. Even if you don’t grow your own food, you can buy from local growers and store it for use throughout the winter. You will be in a better position to weather the economic storms that lie ahead. And it’s good for your carbon footprint, too!

© 2008 Philip Glaser