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Tips For Sustaining A Survival Garden

February 27th, 2012

There are never any guarantees that our grocery stores will continue to be stocked full of food, or that a natural disaster will allow us safe roads to drive to the store on. Many emergencies are such that there is no time to start growing a garden, or just begin gaining experience at growing food. Perhaps that knowing this, you have already started a survival garden of your own.  But the only question remaining is, “how do I keep a survival garden thriving all year long?” Growing your own survival garden is similar to any other garden in terms of chores and maintenance, but do keep these points in mind:

Sustainable Plant Choices: A survival garden should include plants that are both nutritious and perennial.  It is also advantageous to choose plants with a long, repeated harvest. A survival garden that only requires daily and weekly tasks like fertilizing, mulching, pruning, weeding and watering is a far less daunting than starting a garden from scratch each season.  Also, while perennial plants need nurturing, they are also fairly forgiving for new gardeners, and when temporarily neglected. Good choices to include in your garden are: asparagus, root vegetables, beans, artichokes, horseradish and a variety of herbs.

Become An Expert! Do your research about each fruit, vegetable and herb you grow in your garden. Buy a few books or search online for instructions on the best techniques for proper planting, maintenance and harvesting in your garden.  There is no substitute to knowledge and experience to ensure your garden will thrive when you need it most.

Proper Planning: When including more plants in your survival garden, space should be optimized the best way possible.  Stagger and plant close together, and pay special attention to plants that have deep root systems. Plants that have deep roots (like tomatoes,) should be grown next to plants with less intrusive roots (like lettuce).  Take a look at our post on Companion Planting for more information on plants that grow well together.

Many survival gardeners also like to create designated areas for the variety of plants growing in their garden.  Separating and labeling medicinal herbs, vine vegetables and culinary plants may prove very helpful and accessible when in an emergency situation.

Seed Saving:  In an emergency, no one can afford to waste money or allow a garden to fail. In fact, some emergencies can last for more than one season or year.  Saving seeds from plants that are vigorous and thriving can ensure well-grown food years in the future.  To get the most out of your seeds, first be sure to never use hybrid or genetically modified seeds, as these will not be able to reproduce. Using non-hybrid seeds, also known as open-pollinated, allow you to reproduce the same plant and yield seeds every year.  Keep watch for vegetables and fruit in your garden that are free of disease, yield a high number of produce, and are the best looking (also – resist the urge to eat them!).  Mark that plant with a stake or ribbon. Allow the seeds to fully ripen before harvesting, and carefully place them indoors for drying.  A paper bag or clean newspaper will work just fine.  Once dried, store seeds in a labeled, airtight container or clearly marked envelope. Seed saving can only occur when non-hybrid seeds are planted. You can find a wide variety of non-hybrid seeds within Humble Seed’s The Producer- which makes the perfect survival seed bank.

Canning and Preserving: Preparing early and not waiting for an emergency to arrive is the key to survival. After each harvest, begin storing an emergency supply of food by canning your bounty and storing them in a dark room, food pantry or cellar.  Freezing food is not the best option for disaster preparedness, as there are never any guarantees that electricity will work.  Never canned before?  See our Canning And Preserving 101 post for an easy step-by-step guide to canning your produce.

Be sure to read our original post on Disaster Preparedness for more information and tips on survival gardening!

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Survival Gardening: How To Boost Your Disaster Preparedness

December 28th, 2011

It is as good a time as ever to begin your own survival garden for you and your family.  This year, increased food prices, economic uncertainty and recent record natural disasters have undoubtedly heightened our concern about the safety and availability of food. A desire for a survival garden may also be rooted in the fact that you crave fresh, organic and non-GMO vegetables, fruit and herbs year round. Or like our parents and grandparents during World War Two, “victory gardens” save money, while allowing commercially grown food to be directed to areas that need it.  Whatever the reasoning, survival gardens are easy to construct and following these additional suggestions can allow your family to eat healthfully from home.

How To Start A Survival Garden:  First, decide what your gardening goals are.  Are you looking to add a few more fresh fruits and vegetables to your weekly meals? Perhaps you want an emergency food supply? Or, maybe take it a step further and completely live off the grid? Whatever you decide, it’s best practice to begin by planning a 4-foot wide space for your garden.  You do not want it any wider or you’ll have some trouble planting, harvesting and weeding in the center.  You may make the length as long as you prefer, yet many like to begin with 4×12 feet and the opportunity to grow larger as need be. Pick a location that’s relatively flat and receives sunlight with some shade at certain parts of the day.

After you have found the perfect location, dig an area about 1 foot deep.  You may dip deeper to add more vitality to your garden, but keep in mind that you’ll need more soil to compensate.  Using sized pieces of wood, form an “L” at one end of the garden and use a power drill to set each screw in.  Do the same for all four corners until you have a sturdy rectangular shape. Fill in the hole with nutrient-rich, organic soil, leaving some space a few inches at the top.  Use compost periodically to boost the soil’s needs.

Deciding What To Plant:

Grow any type of fruits, vegetables and herbs you prefer, but do keep in mind that some plants are advantageous to grow together while others will literally steal nutrients from the plant next door.  Check our Companion Gardening blog post to see a complete list of companion plants.

Planting medicinal herbs and plants is a good practice for those who aspire to grow a garden for emergency purposes. Garlic, onions, aloe, cloves, anise seed and other herbs have proven medicinal qualities that could be helpful for injuries and other ailments in a crisis.

Emergency Seed Banks: Many of us want to be prepared in any type of natural or economic disaster, and creating your own emergency seed bank is one way to ensure your seeds are viable when you need them most.  Begin by selecting a wide variety of seeds that are non-hybrid heirloom and non-genetically modified.  Next, make sure your seeds are completely dry and place them in a vacuum-sealed bag.  A Mylar® bag may also be used to ensure tight sealing.  Then, place bags in an airtight, waterproof container or a compact storage case.  Carefully label your seeds and keep planting guides in the container as well. These simple steps will increase the lifespan of your seeds, while giving you more control and self-sufficiency over your food supply in a worst-case scenario.

Storing Fruits and Vegetables: Canning your leftover fruits, vegetables and herbs from your survival garden can prevent waste and can prepare you and your family for most unexpected emergencies.  Using mason jars and two-piece lids will suit you just fine for canning foods.  Make sure the food, cans and lids are sterilized before you label and place the jars in storage for later use.  Freezing food in air tight bags will also retain most of the nutritional value, while blanching vegetables before freezing can stop enzymatic activity that slowly causes the quality of the food to dissipate. Remember that freezing is better for short-term consumption, as a loss of power could mean the loss of your food if you do not have a backup generator.

Do you have a prepared food source for your family in an emergency? 

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Jerry’s Garden: Freedom is Growing Your Own Food

March 31st, 2011

 

I am a strong believer that just because you may not have land to garden, it doesn’t mean you can’t garden!  I am fortunate enough to have a couple acres, but many of us are not so fortunate.  Just because you live in the city doesn’t mean you can’t do some good old fashioned survival gardening!  You just need to adjust to your surroundings!

If you have a patio or balcony, container gardening is the way to go.  If you live on a city lot and you have, let’s say, 5 feet between you and your neighbor, hanging gutters on the side of your house and planting in them is the latest thing.  Stacked and layered raised bed gardens help save room.  Rooftop gardens are becoming a new form of community gardens.  And, of course, hydroponics is certainly becoming a favorite amongst gardeners with limited space and sunlight.

Now it’s true, there are some types of plants you can’t grow in these limited spaces and under these conditions—some plants need plenty of “leg room”, and any form of container gardening may not be enough–but the reality is, you can grow many varieties of plants this way.  And in my opinion, anything is better than nothing, right?

I mean, after all, it’s called “survival gardening”, not “plentiful gardening”, or “flourishing gardening”, or “too much to possibly eat gardening”.  The whole point is to grow enough to feed you and supply you with enough nutrients if your regular food supply were cut-off for any reason.

I often encounter friends/family and readers of mine who say, “Hmph, I just don’t have the space to grow”, and I say nonsense.  Human beings are amazing at adapting and learning to work with our circumstances.  And if you really want something hard enough, you’ll find a way to make it work.  If you want to grow your own foods, then grow your own foods—it’s as simple as that!

And the time to begin is now!  No point in putting it off.  Take a look around you, establish a plan, and implement it!  No more excuses!

About the Author

Jerry Greenfield

My number one focus is growing my own food. I don’t think that really counts as a hobby.  For some people it is, but for me, growing my own fruits and vegetables and saving my own seed is the key to survival. The only person you can count on is yourself, if you ask me. The government is trying to help us all with GMOs and welfare, but it’s all a crock. I also like to build things and read Transcendentalist authors from the 1860s.

Connect with Jerry via his blog and Facebook page: Grow Like Crazy

 

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Guest Blog: Jerry’s Garden

January 20th, 2011

One of Humble Seed’s primary objectives is to inform, educate, and inspire positive change in the world. With today’s technology, it has never been easier to convey a message or an idea. Social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and internet blogs are becoming more influential by the day.  Here at Humble Seed, we feel very fortunate that this technology has enabled us to connect with and grow such a knowledgeable and diverse community.

Nothing highlights that more than the spectrum of  guest bloggers we have featured in the last few months. We have had Master Gardner ‘Gardening Jone’s‘ timely piece about food safety.  Dorren Pollack, Chairperson of the Phoenix Permaculture Guild, excellent article “Garden to Table in 60 Days“.  Nutritional coach, whole foods chef, speaker and author Adam Hart’s fun and informative video blog.  And Brendan Cook, Director of Sustainability for EcoAid, support for “Big Garden-Small Carbon“.

So today, we’re happy to introduce to you, Jerry Greenfield. He will be doing a once-a-month guest blog for Humble Seed. He will bring his passion, experience, and unique gardening perspective. Look for his blog post every third Thursday of the month. Now, here’s Jerry….

Hello Everybody!  It’s nice to “meet” you!  My name is Jerry Greenfield and I am the newest guest blogger for Humble Seed.  I can’t even remember at this point how Jim Mitchell (co-owner of Humble Seed) and I got to know each other, but somehow we became friends on Facebook and we’ve continued to grow our friendship over the past several months.

It seems that Jim and I share very similar views when it comes to gardening and living a green, sustainable lifestyle.  I like what he has to say, and he likes what I have to say, so I started thinking that his readers might like what I have to say too!

When I approached Jim about writing guest blogs for his site, he was more than happy to have me!  So here I am, writing my first guest blog for Humble Seed!  My bio should tell you a little about me, but I can elaborate a bit here.

I’m an old man—approaching my 57th year—and have been gardening for decades.  Okay, maybe I’m not that old, but I certainly feel it some days!  I’ve always gardened organically because I started gardening before it was even possible NOT to garden organically!  I think it’s crazy that gardening with nature and by natural means was good enough for our ancestors for thousands of years, but now most of us are in such a hurry to find new ways to garden that we’ve forgotten the fact that we couldn’t have gotten this far without the help nature has provided us.

I’m a strong believer that things are the way they are for a reason.  For example, if plants were meant to have chemicals inside of them that killed or repelled pests, then the plants would naturally have these chemicals—we wouldn’t have to genetically modify the seeds to produce these chemicals.  Another example, if plants were meant to grow faster than they do…ah…then they would, simple as that.  But plants are programmed to grow at a certain rate for a reason and messing around with their natural growth rate can be detrimental to the plant.

I think we’ve been messing around with nature for long enough and it’s time to go back to our roots.  It’s time that we start working with nature again and not against it.  It’s time that we embrace our humility and once again become humble to the seed and all of its natural wonder.

So, I hope you’ll all enjoy my guest blogs!  I plan to offer you advice, share opinions, and discuss current events pertaining to our environment, food industry, and governmental procedures concerning our health and rights to grow and consume natural and organic foods.  Above all, I will promote organic gardening as our means to survival.  Once again, thanks to Jim for allowing me to reach out to all of you, and I’ll catch-up with all of you soon!

Jerry Greenfield Expert Author-EzineArticles.com

Connect with Jerry via his blog and Facebook page: Grow Like Crazy

About Jerry Greenfield

My number one focus is growing my own food. I don’t think that really counts as a hobby. For some people it is, but for me, growing my own fruits and vegetables and saving my own seed is the key to survival. The only person you can count on is yourself, if you ask me. The government is trying to “help” us all with GMOs and welfare, but it’s all a crock. I also like to build things and read Transcendentalist authors from the 1860s.

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