Friday, June 10, 2016

Preppers Garden

For millions of years, humans were nomadic, surviving as hunters and gatherers. Once we learned to domesticate animals and plant gardens, we could settle down, stay longer in one area and sustain larger populations. Our ability to raise livestock and garden are essential to our survival today no matter how good you are at Wilderness Survival.

So how do you plant the ideal Prepper Garden?  Here are some thoughts on what it would include.
  1. First and foremost is ample land with good rich soil.  Long growing seasons with lots of sunshine and rainfall are all important, but also a creek for potential irrigation (and a good back up water supply).  In the Prepper Handbook on Amazon, it calculates that seven (7) acres per person is required for sustainable food supply which includes growing grains and pasture for livestock. 
  2. Nutrition, including protein as meat may be scarce.  To me this also means diet diversity. Greens are easy during the warmer weather, but winter time means things like cabbage, kale, turnips, broccoli.... what else? But you can eat only so much greens.
  3. Year-round food supply - must have crops available at all times of year, or that can be easily preserved like dried beans & corn.  Wheat, rice & oats also preserve well but are much more difficult to harvest.  Sorghum is good to eat and can be used to feed chickens. A huge help to have a small greenhouse or cold frame planter. See our blog on building a greenhouse
  4. Continuous long term producing foods where available. Most modern vegetables are a climax variety, meaning the entire crop ripens at the same time, and then it is gone. These are designed to be harvested all at once and preserved, which takes time, resources and energy.  An ever-bearing type, that theoretically produces a food serving for a family of four every other day of the year would be ideal.  Imagine going out to your garden each day and harvesting what you will be eating for the day.  Fruit trees, blue and black berries near the fence line reproduce each year without replanting. Citrus trees or vegetables producing in a greenhouse year-round is good.  Strawberries given some room and manure will do well year after year.
  5. Preservable foods that can be dried are good, like beans, peas and corn or those that store for long periods like nuts, potatoes and onions. Others that can be canned are good, but imagine how many canning jars would be required to store a winters worth of food for your family.  For two vegetables per day for 270 days or 9 months out of the year, you need at least 540 quart jars.
  6. Select heirloom varieties that are hardy and can produce usable seeds which are a top 10 barter item which also helps others. I would envision providing seeds and tools to neighbors for a share of their crop.
  7. A supply of organic fertilizer is essential for long term gardening. The American Indians would include a fish head with each corn seed when they planted it. A more modern source would be composting, manure from horses, cows, goats and chickens.  The Prepper Handbook also talks about the importance of rotating your crops. 
  8. Gardening tools and books are important too.  Essential tools include good quality shovels, garden rakes, hoes, an old fashion push mower (that doesn't require gasoline), a High Wheel CultivatorLehmans has some good tools to consider.  Wood handles are recommended as they can be replaced.
  9. When it comes to books, they need to be bound books, not electronic books. Some good ones to consider might include the followin:  MiniFarming, The Encyclopedia of Country Living, and The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals. Remember you must have manure for fertilizer.  Again, Lehmans has some good books and many other things too.
  10. Last but not least, start a garden NOW. Successful gardening takes years to learn so don't wait until it is too late.  Start small and grow it larger each year. Even if it is small, a few potted plants on the patio or in the condo flower beds, get started.  Try to grow a few winter crops each year too.  They are easier in that you don't have to contend with the summer heat, drought, weeds & pests as much. Broccoli, cabbage & cauliflower do well but require a lot of space which is okay if you are not growing a lot of other things.
These are my thoughts, what are yours?
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