Saturday, May 9, 2020

Bloom! Make Gardening Part of your Preparedness Plan

Preparedness is a popular past time and serious concern for a large number of people. With the currant COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a resurgent interest in getting back to basics.  While food storage, water, emergency preparedness, and fuel are usually the focus.  Have you thought about producing your own food?

This soup is all home grown produce.

 Historically food has been relatively inexpensive and extremely convenient.  Making gardening more a hobby than a necessity.

If a crop fails, we always have the grocery store to fall back on.  Want to eat something not in season? No problem, the grocery store can provide you with that option also.
Create a personal pantry of homegrown produce and herbs.

The reality is  the general public lacks basic gardening skills and wisdom. Today's gardeners are more often influenced by media and marketing than sound gardening principles. We are a pampered people. Lacking the most basic of survival skills:  the ability to produce food.

Even veteran gardeners have something to think about.

The vegetable cultivators we do plant lack the survival skills that wild plants have.  When we do garden we plant pampered plants.

Pampered People + Pampered Plants = Trouble in Hard Times
Super Typhoon Haiyan that hit the Philippeans

Trouble? What trouble?  Whether global, national, local, or just simple hard times individually how prepared are you to grow your own food if the situation arises?

Garden skills are personal insurance for hard time with so many benefits. Growing your own food has the following benefits:
  • Eliminates the uncertainty of what pesticides etc have been used on your produce
  • Growing your own food even in part puts you on the road to self reliance
  • Once the garden structure is in place it is cheaper to grow your own produce than to purchase it
  • Not effected by crop shortages due to harsh weather
  • Security against recessions, depressions, war, pandemics, and inflation
  • Not affected by commercial contamination or recalls
  • Security during a personal financial crisis

The majority of the nation does not have the skills or land to produce their own food.  A nation that cannot feed itself in time of peace and prosperity is going to be desperate in hard, difficult times.

  During bad times it is the producer that will be a valuable asset.  If you are a self-reliant grower you will be at peace, confident, hopeful, and in a position to help others.  Without the skills to grow food during hard times or disaster situations you will be desperate and stressed.  Essentially when your neighbors and community are self reliant and living providently your family benefits.  If the majority of you neighbors are dependent and helpless, it will be a liability to you.

This is why I enjoy helping and encouraging others to garden.  To be self reliant, I believe there are two important aspects concerning food.  Families need to have a well stocked pantry or food storage, and second they need to be able to garden and then preserve the harvest for later use.

Where to start?

Prepare and practice skills in good times.
Becoming a skilled gardener will change your life for the better whether or not you actually have to survive on it.

Organic gardening would be the only option in a survival situation.  You need to understand and implement these principles now so you are prepared and confident in your ability to feed your family.

 Garden Practices that Will Doom You to Failure

Most gardeners procrastinate planting times.  In a survival situation it is critical to plant as soon as the soil is warm enough.  Delaying, postpones the harvest and in some situations encourages pests. 

No protection for you crops.  Whether it is a greenhouse, low tunnel, hoop tunnel, or row covers you need to consider how to protect crops from unexpected frosts and freezes.

Not knowing how to start seeds and grow your own seedlings for transplant.
Some veggies do better as transplant such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.  In a survival situation you have to provide the transplants.  They must be started 6-8 weeks before you plan on transplanting them to the garden.  Learn now to grow your own seedlings.  
Some plants prefer to be seeded directly in the garden such as root crops, melons, cucumbers, and squash.

Not Knowing How to Save Seeds
Learn to save seeds.  Seeds in a survival garden should be open pollinated.  Heirlooms are a type of open pollinated seed that has a history and heritage.  Before growing your food is a necessity, you need to know which open pollinated and heirloom varieties will do well in your area.  This is why just purchasing a can of seeds or seed vault may doom you to disaster.  These seed vaults usually have heirloom varieties.  Since heirlooms usually are from a certain region they may not do well in your area.  Figure out what you can and can't grow before a crisis.

Not building your soil.
Work now to build your soil.  The most important aspect will be returning organic matter into the soil.  Start composting now so you are prepared to and able to maintain a fertile soil. Also learn to cover crop with green manures in order to build you soil.

Buckwheat a fast growing cover crop used as a green manure.

Best crops for a Survival Situation

Perhaps the determining factor on what you can and can't grow will be the amount of water available for gardening.  Certain crops are ideal to grow in a survival situation because they are calorie dense, high in protein, and are good long term storage crops.

There are hunger gaps that happen between harvest seasons  so that is the reason you would focus on calorie-dense storage crops. 


Water Issues

Consider setting up a rain water harvesting system now.  A 1000 square foot roof will yield 520 gallons of water from a 1 " rain storm.  Most rain harvesting systems are gravity fed or need a pump system to convey the water to the garden.  Also consider how to direct overflow during a storm so it does not god to waster.  Perhaps a melon or squash that needs lot of water could be planted near the rain barrels so overflow provides them with water.  Have hoses available to direct overflow to areas you want it.
Wood barrels expand and seal as they fill up.

You have seen the effects of rainwater on your garden especially if you live in an arid area like I do.  Rain water is so beneficial for you plants and a healthy soil.  Rainwater is highly oxygenated, free of salts, inorganic ions, and fluoride.  It helps dilute the effects of undesirable compounds in tap water and results in more drought tolerant , healthy plants.

These old pickle barrels come with the spigot.

My husband added the filters to the lids.

Other Considerations

  • Consider growing grains
  • Add livestock to your homestead.  Chickens, ducks, dairy goats, pigs.....
  • Be sure to store basic food supplies such as oil, sugar, flour, beans, rice, focus on foods your family will eat that you can survive on
  • Store herbs to season meals
  • Rotate your food storage
  • Have good garden tools
  • Store some organic pesticides and fertilizers
  • Learn to preserve your own food.
  •  Get to know like minded people

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