A Long September

The Community Gardening season is wrapping up. I have to have my plot clear and mulched by October 26th. There is no winter gardening here. I get that they want a clear change of seasons so new people can apply for plots and plots aren’t neglected, but I kind of think that plots should go from January to December and you could just renew and keep going.

For a first-ish year gardener that knew nothing, I think it went very well and I learned a ton. I do want to try to bring my garden up to my home and see what I can do there. With the spared energy, I think I can do so much better.

September has been difficult. We had very poor air quality caused by massive wildfires for about two weeks. I could not safely go to the garden then. So, even though I got several ears of corn eventually, they were past ripe and did not taste the best. All of my other plants did ok during the wildfires, even though they did not get watered for two weeks. I was also hospitalized with a kidney infection and was on several different IV and oral antibiotics, so the rest of September was tough. I had to get the kids started in their routines in both virtual school and homeschool. I barely got through the days, and gardening fell into low priority.

If, under the same circumstances, my garden was up by the house, I could have participated much more with very limited treks out in the bad air, and some watering could have been done. We also started having (alleged) trouble with our HVAC, which is very bad when the air is making you cough when you are already sick on antibiotics and you are having to go to the hospital during a pandemic. It was a bad month.

This garden is tied directly in to my kidney disease in multiple ways. For awhile now, I have been trying to eat better to at least maintain my GFR (a kidney wellness number) and stave off dialysis or transplant. It also helps a lot to just feel better and more energetic day to day. When I have a kidney infection, I have to make a choice between infection ruining my kidneys, and taking antibiotics, which can ruin my kidneys. My GFR went down to 14, (out of 100, a rough estimate of percentage of kidney function) and that is the lowest it has been. I felt like I can’t win, and it has been depressing.

Along with unprocessed, low protein food and filtered water, exercise and sweating have been my other two tools to help combat the day to day fatigue and pain as well as try to maintain or raise GFR. Sweating can actually act as dialysis. I don’t naturally sweat a ton, so I was using steam rooms to help. But the steam rooms have all been shut down during the pandemic. Exercise helps with a bit of sweating as well as mental and physical health, but with the antibiotics I was on, I was not allowed to exercise or lift anything over 5 pounds. (And I eventually found I couldn’t lift anything much over 5 pounds. It was like all my coordination went to hell.) So, sometimes it feels like things are conspiring against me.

Other times, maybe I should give up and just go on dialysis or try to have a transplant. Maybe I would feel so much better. But it also feels like you are exchanging one disease for another.

Someday I will write about my experiences with nephrology and how I got here. Besides ordering blood tests to see where I am, I find nephrologists to have been almost useless for me, and I am finding that many other people have had that experience as well. Money comes from dialysis and for-profit dialysis centers that pay doctors more than they can get from other sources. It does seem to be a conflict of interest. But that is another story for another time.

But to look at the good side of things: I grew lots of squash, peas, beans, onions, corn, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, herbs and radishes. Of those, the corn was not so good, the radishes made lovely purple flowers but no radishes, and my carrots were pretty small (I think they needed thinning.) Everything else did very nicely.

I also fermented pickles and beats, canned salsa, made homemade bread, stored lots of frozen onions and put fresh beans and tomatoes and onions in countless recipes.

We also learned to buy some items at farmer’s markets and have a farmer’s market box delivered once a week. As well as having the milkman deliver once a week. When you decrease processed foods and grow your own food to supplement, buying organic and local is not that much more expensive.

I have gotten more organized about meal planning and storing food. Another goal I have is to store the recommended two weeks to a month’s worth of food. I still haven’t accomplished that, but I am much closer to knowing how to do that. We have cleaned out the garage, and put together a couple of metal shelves and have gotten more organized with what we have. Ideally, I would like to make a “working” storage pantry, rather than just having a bunch of canned or freeze dried food that sits for 20 years. In this case, you have a month of surplus or more, but you work out of it, replacing it as you go. I’m looking it to services like Azure Standard to create a “larder” of supplies. I didn’t really grow enough food to store this year, but I can more easily see how this can be done.

I have drawn up a plan for my backyard to support a garden next year. I need to hire some help to get it set up initially, but then I think I can be much more independent with it. I would have started it already, but we are now in the midst of figuring out our HVAC.

It was a long September, but I am hoping for a better October and most especially hope for some really good news in November.


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