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How To Prep In An Apartment Or Small Living Space

September 25th, 2012

If you’ve ever watched the posted videos from the apartment dwellers who survived the 2011 Fukushima earthquake, you’ll understand the importance of prepping, even when in an apartment. Many of the dwellers had little to no food in their refrigerators (since they ate out much of the time), and found their water contaminated. Limited space in an apartment means you may have to be more selective and creative when prepping for a disaster. But remember, the steps you take now can mean all the difference in a survival situation. Here are a few tips to get your started:

How To Plan An Apartment Garden

Start by saving now for a small garden, and reserve money each week. Use recycled goods to keep costs at a minimum, and begin saving soda bottles, yogurt tubs, food jars, etc., for later use as containers. Garage sales and thrift stores may also have some useful items.

It’s wise to carefully plan out your space, and work with what you have. Most apartments have a balcony or patio – but also consider using the space near a sunny window, or on the rooftop if available. Need some guidance on how to garden in small spaces? Find websites or blogs that detail their successes with container gardening, and take notes on what practices they used. You’ll likely discover small tips, like growing plants vertically which can manage small spaces better, and yield a crop comparable to larger garden spaces.

Invest in seeds that are non-GMO and non-hybrid, and store them in waterproof and rodent proof re-sealable containers. This will ensure long-term food storage, leaving the option of growing seeds now or later.

How To Store Food When Space Is Tight

Getting creative is a must when storing food in an apartment. Consider any unused space as a potential place to store food – under the bed, linen closets, storage lockers, or shelving units can hold dozens of cans and survival items. If you truly have limited space, try living minimally (that is, without unneeded items or furniture that take up space). You may find it challenging to give up some possessions in your home, but remember that it may mean the difference between surviving and thriving if a disaster strikes.

When storing food, remember to:

1)    Keep dry food up high. Keep all dry food up high and away from the ground to prevent water damage or problems resulting from high trafficked areas.

2)    Keep food away from sunlight. Sunlight can destroy the nutrients in food and cause internal temperatures to rise and fall in a container.

3)    Keep food in a cool, dry location. Cool, dry places provide the optimal environment for food to stay well preserved.

How To Plan Emergency Gear In An Apartment

Since space is limited, it can get tricky finding ways to store different kinds of emergency gear. Instead, stick with gear that is necessary and has multiple uses, and check our list below.

A Multi-Tool - a multi-tool can provide a screwdriver, pliers and an assortment of knives all in one.

Can Opener(s)  – food is necessary for survival, store at least two of these.

Portable Water Filter – water must be filtered or boiled if you suspect it’s contaminated.

Solar Charger – small devices can become fully charged even in the absence of power.

Duct tape – with its dozens of uses, duct tape can repair tears, seal up windows, pack up boxes, and more.

Other useful items: flashlights, a weather radio, hiking shoes, USB flash drives, emergency preparedness books, first aid kit, rain gear, lighter or matches, self protection such as pepper spray, and small hygiene items.

To learn more, see our guide to canning, as well as our other emergency preparedness posts:

Canning 101

Five Tips For Prepping

Tips For Sustaining A Survival Garden

Survival Gardening: How To Boost Your Disaster Preparedness 

***Preppers and gardeners:  What are your favorite tips for prepping in a small space? We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

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How To Freeze Fresh Herbs And Pesto

September 18th, 2012

Many gardeners enjoy the early fall ritual of freezing annual herbs; especially basil, cilantro, chives, dill, parsley, as well as homemade pesto. This easy process requires minimal time and effort, and can make chilly weather soups, stews and sauces full of garden fresh flavor.

While freezing herbs can be done in bulk, the key to freezing pesto is to create serving size portions – perfect for drizzling over pasta or a homemade pizza. Pesto does not preserve well when it is re-heated and re-frozen. Therefore, creating individual portions allows the pesto to taste fresh with each use.

Ready to try?

How To Freeze Fresh Herbs

(Baking Sheet Method)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and carefully spread out the washed and dried herbs. Not allowing them to touch will prevent the herbs from freezing in a large mound. When frozen solid, place the herbs in lidded glass container back in the freezer. Once already frozen, the leaves will not clump together.

(Ice Tray Method)

After washing the herbs, place 2-3 individual leaves, or a spoonful of chopped herbs into ice cube trays. Fill the tray half full of water, gently ensuring that the leaves stay down. If a few leaves give you trouble, the next step should alleviate the problem.

Once frozen or mostly frozen, fill the remaining cubes with water, and freeze once more. When completely frozen, place the individual blocks of ice into a zip blog baggie, or a lidded glass container. When ready to use, remove from the freezer and drop the entire ice cube into soups, stews or sauces.

How To Freeze Fresh Pesto

Make your favorite pesto sauce (our favorite recipe is below), and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spoon out ¼ cup mounds of pesto onto the baking sheet and place it in the freezer. When they are frozen solid, wrap each portion with plastic wrap, and store them in a lidded glass container in the freezer.

 Fresh Basil-Chive Pesto

Recipe from The Happy Go Lucky Vegan

¼ cup pine nuts (almonds or walnuts will also work)

1-cup basil

2 tbsp chives, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic

½ lemon, squeezed

½ cup olive oil

½ cup water

Sea salt and pepper

Method: Add all ingredients except for the water into a blender or food processor. Slowly add the water to thin out as desired. Add salt and pepper to taste.

**Fellow gardeners: what is your favorite way to use frozen pesto and herbs?

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Guest Blog: My fight against GMOs-The Agtivists documentary

September 17th, 2012

My name is Zofia Hausman and I am a British film maker and human rights activist. I am in the process of producing a documentary that will take a critical look at the prevalence of genetically modified organisms and the bio-tech industries that have monopolized our food supply.

The film will delve into the work of The Agtivists, four American pioneers who have put their lives and reputations on the line to challenge the corporate control of our food supply. It will reveal groundbreaking new research, helping us to understand how GMOs, crops that have had their DNA altered in a laboratory by the addition of genes from other plants, animals, or bacteria, have an impact on every single human being on the planet. You probably aren’t aware that 70 percent of ingredients in our supermarkets contain genetically modified organisms – many countries have banned or severely restricted the production of GMOs, but here in the United States, the companies producing our food don’t even have to mention them on the label.

This type of genetic modification is experimental and largely untested, and over 80 percent of the transmuted crops are being designed to withstand direct application of herbicides and pesticides – chemicals that end up on your plate. What evidence we do have is not reassuring – take GMO corn, for example. Genetically modified Bt corn, which contain an EPA registered pesticide, is engineered so that when corn worms bite into the ear of corn, their stomachs explode. These Bt pesticide toxins have been linked to cell membrane death and leaky gut, as well as kidney cell damage in humans. They have recently been found in the blood of 93% of pregnant women tested, as well as 80% of their unborn babies. Other GMOs such as sugar, canola and soy have also been genetically engineered to tolerate high levels of a chemical called glyphosate, the active ingredient in RoundUp. This chemical is being linked to birth defects, inflammatory bowel disease, certain cancers, and organ damage as well as environmental problems.

We have a right to know what we are putting into our bodies, but right now we are ingesting these toxins without our consent and involuntarily participating in what some scientists believe to be the greatest human experiment in the history of mankind. My goal is to finish this film as soon as possible, so we can release this information to the world and give everyone an opportunity to become conscious consumers. In this war on GMOs, information is power.

I invite you to join me on this journey and become a sponsor of The Agtivists and an integral part of the larger solution. We can no longer rely on our governments to stand up against corporate agendas; it is we, the people, who must take action to ensure a just and cooperative world. It is up to us to bring an end to this human experiment and reclaim our food supply! Please help by spreading the word with your friends, family, and professional networks. We are all in this together, and what we need right now is each other.

Watch the trailer to the film here: www.indiegogo.com/agtivistsmovie

You can learn more about the film at our Facebook and Twitter pages: www.facebook.com/agtivists and www.twitter.com/agtivists

Sincerely,

Zofia Hausman, Director, The Agtivists

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Re-Grow Chives and Celery In 3 Easy Steps!

September 6th, 2012

Calling all thrifty gardeners! Did you know you can completely re-grow celery and chives by saving the bottom piece that is often thrown away? Take growing your own food to the next level and try this simple trick (and save money!).

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1: Remove the top edible portion of the celery or chives. It’s your choice whether you prefer to use the top portion as you need it, or to remove the top portion all at once after it’s harvested.

Step 2: Place the root end(s) in a shallow glass of room temperature water.

Step 3: If you are re-growing chives, leave the glass near a sunny window. Within a week, you will be able to harvest the flavorful green ends. Be sure to change the water every few days.

If you plan to re-grow celery, leave the celery in the shallow glass for only 2-4 days, or until you notice small leaves growing at the top. Transplant the celery to your garden. The celery will begin to grow stalks within a few weeks. If you find the celery needs further support as it grows, remove the top and bottom of a clean plastic soda bottle, and place it around the plant.

Get the Kiddos Involved!

On an uneventful weekend, this is a wonderful “experiment” to do with the kids. They’ll be fascinated by how fast both the celery and chives re-grow on their own! One blogger commented that she was amazed when her children would run out to the garden to “sneak” a celery stalk. Getting the kids involved not only sparks their imagination, but promotes healthy eating as well!

Looking to plant more vegetables and herbs this fall? Our Uncle Herb’s Favorites and Veggin’ Out seed kits have a variety of organic and heirloom seeds to get you started.

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