Thinking about what I could or should buy in the final days before I sealed “The Compact” on my 41st birthday was kind-of like a parlor game. What did I need that I could probably find used and what would I have to purchase new? One of my last “new” purchases was a 12-foot by 7-foot greenhouse where my son and I are trying our hands at organic gardening of vegetables and culinary herbs. We’re hoping to not only grow much of our own food, but to have enough to sell some at the farmer’s markets where we now shop. I plan to also give some away to family, friends and to soup kitchens or food pantries.
So far, we’re having a blast and learning a lot. I come from a long line of Midwestern farmers on both sides of my family, so it’s been enlightening reconnecting with the soil and the weather and the seasons in a way that is only possible through trying to make something grow.
I mentioned in a previous blog that books were my vice. I should have been more specific — reference books are my passion. I’ve been collecting reference books on every possibly topic since I was about 8 years old. I get really excited when I see that a book has 400, 500, 600 or even 700 pages!
So of course my last shopping gorge included about a dozen new reference books, namely, “Storey’s Basic Country Skills: A Practical Guide to Self-Reliance,” “Greenhouse Gardener’s Companion,” “Vegetable Gardening in Florida,” “The Old Farmer’s Almanac, 2011 Edition,” and “Rabbits for Dummies” (thinking about getting a pre-owned rabbit or two) and “The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook with CDRom” just in case. Also books on composting, garden planning, garden pests and diseases and on organic farming. These books and the internet will be my guides through this adventure.
My son needed a pair of rubber garden clogs for safety in the greenhouse and the yard and the thought of buying those after another 3-year-old had worn them, well, not! Found a pair that will see him through the year.
I also purchased a rechargeable battery system with some batteries, opted for Duracell instead of an off-brand. They work okay but get pretty fried in my digital camera.
A four-tray worm composter made from recycled plastic, and the worms to populate it.
A heavy-duty trash can that I’m re-purposing into a rain barrel.
A watering can and a new handle sprayer for the garden hose.
A rugged bird feeder as the squirrels had chewed through the old one and it’s beyond repair.
Seeds, potting soil, peat pots and trays, plastic bins, a grow light system and seed warming mat.
I invested in a solar-powered thermometer and humidity meter for the greenhouse which monitors indoor conditions with the main unit and outdoor conditions via remote sensor. It uses rechargeable batteries, which it recharges with the built-in solar panels — pretty cool, I thought.
The new cushion for my rocking chair was probably an indulgence I could have skipped, but the old cushion (in the picture above) was ripped and my son kept pulling the stuffing out and eating it.
I was tempted to purchase a new set of cookware as mine was totally shot. I’d dropped hints that this would be a good Christmas present, but no one bit. Then I received the set I wanted for my birthday, so no purchase needed there and this set should last many, many years.
Lastly, I bought an industrial-size bag of socks for myself and one for my son. We have socks, but they have a habit of disappearing. Though new underwear is definitely allowed, socks are debatable amongst The Compact community and I’m not putting my feet in anyone else’s socks.
So that’s it for a year! Everything else will be used, recycled, re-purposed, borrowed or rented.
If you think what I’m doing is a little extreme and you need a good laugh and have Netflix, watch “No Impact Man,” which can be found in the documentary section. I discovered this movie many weeks after deciding to do The Compact. This family is hard core, even going without electricity, giving up coffee and not using motorized transportation. They even did cloth diapers. Though my mom used them on me and used to tell me they were wonderful, resorting to cloth diapers would be like living in Medieval times for me. Fortunately, my son is about a year beyond the point of needing diapers.
“No Impact Man” makes what my son and I are doing seem pretty insignificant and easy.
Next up, dropping out of the online shopping trap, and some answers to reader questions . . .