2020: My First Apocalypse

The global pandemic I’ve obsessed about for years finally hits… and I stopped writing.

I kicked up my garden game about a thousand percent, and kept a journal of that, but here I was with a website tailor-made for what happened this year, and just letting it sit. I guess maybe it boils down to the hypothetical is a lot more fun than the reality? Or that the reality is a lot less glamorous than the hypothetical. I guess I was busy doing a lot of the things that I could only write about before, and it made me not want to write about them?

We managed as well as anyone else this year. We don’t have acreage or solar power, but we never ran out of anything. The kids adjusted well to online learning, and so far, nobody in the immediate family has contracted COVID. In many ways, this has been a boring pandemic in that sense, and I’m grateful for that. But it doesn’t exactly make for exciting writing.

And now it’s fall. The pandemic garden that yielded over 120 pounds of watermelon, green beans blanched and waiting in the freezer, and more sweet peppers than I could handle, is over. The second fall garden is mostly over, down to a few okra and one grow bag of sweet potatoes. The beds are amended and prepped for a long winter’s nap. Canning and dehydrating all done. Maybe it’s the activity gap left by all that cessation, but now I feel like I should have been writing all along.

So how’s YOUR 2020 going? I leaned back into learning things, which I’ve always been big on, but which offers an important distraction this year in particular. I discovered the wonderful world of gardening YouTube channels such as Gardener Scott and Self-Sufficient Me. I tackled gardening in a way I have never done before in the 10 years I’ve had a garden (on and off; some years it just sat there abandoned). I learned volumes and saw greater success than ever before. I obsessed about gardening so I would have something to do.

I also started lacto-fermenting and canning again. The equipment was all still in the basement, and I also had the insight that canning jars were going to sell out in time to grab enough of them for my purposes.

I’ve already expanded, planned out and diagrammed next year’s garden, and purchased all the seeds. Plus, I started seed-saving for the first time. Mostly just nasturtiums, dill, and green beans, but next year I’ll plant a crop of green beans off seeds I didn’t have to buy.

But another new thing I’m learning is what a gardener feels facing the prospect of a long winter’s nap. There’s much less to DO all of a sudden. Which probably explains a lot about why I’ve got ghost pepper seedlings basking on a heat pad under a grow light. I’ve never had luck with indoor plants, and now seems like the perfect time to start improving those skills.

Two peach ghost pepper seedlings on the left, Dracula pepper just planted on the right, and a little herb garden with basil, cilantro, and bunching onions.

It’s not too late to start writing about the pandemic, I realized. As we head into fall, cases are spiking again. Grocery stores are seeing stock-up buying behaviors again. And who knows what’s going to happen in a couple weeks when the election takes place. The need for an apocalypse homestead, and the need to keep thinking about the “what-ifs” is alive and well.

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