Letter: Misadventures of a Green Thumb

Dear SurvivalBlog Readers:
I’d like to address the idea of “prepare for the unexpected” using a real life example that happened to me. I hope this humorous example leads you to take some steps, however small, to begin taking steps to fill the gaps in your preparedness planning; because for all the good intentions you may have, a totally unexpected event could take place that makes it all worthless.

So for me, I have never had what had been called a “green thumb”. I never have actually had a return from my spring and summer garden that I feel was worth the investment in seeds, tools, etc, let alone time spent in caretaking the darn thing. However, I recognize that if some event takes place then I need to have built some skills around this gardening thing, and not expect to wake up the day after and expect to make a garden to provide for my family.

Year after year, my practice garden has left me disappointed. Not that I have tried, and read some books, talked to the older generation in the neighborhood that can seemingly grow vegetables out of their cement driveway…but just no luck. Point one – it is important to practice and learn what works and what does not work before your life may depend on it. Get the tools, prepare the soil, and learn what works for when you “really need it”!

Now this brings me to point two. Even if you think you have it altogether, prepare to be able to go with alternate plan should you lose it on a sudden unexpected event. Remember, the topic of this article is intended to be preparing for the unexpected.

Two summers ago, I did actually to have one tomato plant that had some very large, beautiful tasty looking tomatoes. I watched them grow and turn from that green to ripe looking dark red. Secretly rejoicing that I finally produced something edible from the backyard, I was thinking of cutting that big slice of tomato for a hamburger that we were planning in the backyard barbecue that summer evening. Honestly, I was thinking of the big red slice on the hamburger bun more than once that morning after checking the garden before making a trip away that was going to take a few hours that afternoon.

Later that afternoon, we got home from whatever that errand was, I fired up the grill and started to gather things for the barbecue. As it got close the point where the burgers were ready, things were going along great, my daughters were laughing at me because they knew that dad’s one prize tomato was on my mind. Imagine my shock and horror when rounding the corner from the grill to the garden and coming upon my pitiful plant that had no tomatoes on the vine – but just a huge fat green caterpillar there, sitting in the sun and unable to move because he was so fat from eating my prize, and cleaning up a few smaller ones on the plant as well.

Needless to say I was furious. I probably acted like an idiot. My daughters would confirm that in fact I surely did act like an idiot based on what I did afterwards – but back to the topic. So while it is important to prepare and plan and practice skills, also be aware that your best plans can go bad and it’s always good to have a backup plan, or two, or three. If you are on the fence about whether you should begin prepping, be encouraged that you must start to strengthen any weak areas in your role as family provider; and furthermore, realize that inherent risk that even your best plan may not be enough, due to unforeseen circumstances. So, doing nothing simply is not an option.

We had a family of cardinal birds that constantly were flying back and forth between a tree in my yard and a tree in the neighbor’s yard directly across. I got my revenge on the caterpillar. I threw that fat little thing in the road directly in between the trees and watched as the birds made him their lunch. I know, pretty drastic–and very untypical of me. Being so upset that my plant I had been working with for weeks was ruined made me a little bit vengeful.

Use this example as a call to action to begin your prepping and remedy the weak links, but always be aware that your plans may go south and have an alternate plan. You cannot anticipate some things that will complicate your plans, just like I didn’t anticipate coming home to a missing tomato and fat caterpillar.  Regards, – T.B.