MESSAGE FROM TESS
Spring is here in full force, which always makes me think about digging in the garden. This week we continue discussing the subject of sustainability. We’ve spent most of the year getting preps in order for shorter-term emergencies, but what happens if those emergencies become long-term? There’s only so much food that you can store – eventually you may have to be self-sufficient to truly thrive. Therefore, consider setting up your homestead in such a way that different components can work synergistically with one another.
Stay tuned for next week’s topic on long-term investments. I will discuss some of the best investments you can make for long-term sustainability. As a special treat, I will have a fellow prepper and investment enthusiast, Mac Slavo of www.SHTFPlan.com providing some sound investment advice for shtf planning.
What’s the best piece of advice you can give a fellow prepper? Your preparedness story or advice could make a profound difference for someone just beginning to prepare or move into their next stage of preparedness. Why not take a moment and leave your story.
Be the change you wish to see in the world.
PREP OF THE WEEK
Week 43 of 52: Gardening and Livestock
Our survival homesteads will be our safe havens to protect us and help us thrive. Consequently, living through a long-term emergency will require our attention on many matters. Therefore, we want our land to work for us in the most productive manner possible.
The image above is a good example of a micro farm and should give you a good indication of how to make the most use out of the land you have. You want to plan on creating a relationship between your livestock and your gardens for the most efficient, healthy and cost-effective homestead. This is particularly important in a post-disaster world. The more food you can produce for yourself, the better your chances of survival in a long-term situation.
Especially on a smaller homestead, micro-livestock can be a vital element. The smaller animals, such as chickens, goats, ducks and rabbits, are a great addition because they require less space, less care and less food, but can still provide your family with meat, dairy and eggs. Manure from the livestock can be added as a rich fertilizer for your gardens. Bloodmeal and bonemeal can both be used to amend the soil, and can also be added to the compost pile. My favorite type of gardening is sheet mulching, or composting in place. This allows the compost to slowly decompose and be present for the plants that have been planted on top.
Microlivestock can also make helpful farmhands: you can press them into duty and use them to help clear areas of weeds, roots or cover crops; all the while fertilizing the land at the same time.
When planning your garden, it’s important to remember your furred and feathered friends. Be sure to stock up on seeds that will provide food for them as well. Poultry are fond of millet, sunflower seeds, certain types of corn and grains, sorghum and of course, left over garden clippings. If they are allowed to free-range they will eat grass, weeds, and wild seeds, as well as worms and insects. Click here to learn more about growing your own poultry food. Larger animals like goats are grazers, and rabbits thoroughly enjoy the scraps from your garden.
The most vital element for your garden is, of course, a selection of reliable heritage seeds. Stay away from anything GMO (Genetically Modified), as you won’t be able to save seeds for following years from these plants. When choosing your seeds, look for the most nutritional value in the least amount of garden space. The top 25 seeds to have for human consumption as well as there nutritional information can be viewed here. Further consider planting some perennial vegetables that come back year after year. This will make less work for you in the long run. Berry varieties, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, horseradish, garlic, perennial onions, and herbs of both culinary and medicinal.
Below are a list of easy to grow vegetable and fruit varieties that will be good seeds to begin practicing your gardening skills with. They are not only easy to grow, but will also provide lots of nutrition for your family.
- Nut/Fruit Trees – To learn more about essential nut and fruit trees for a survival homestead, click here.
- Berries – Blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc.
Seeds are the key to long-term survival, so it is vital that you carefully choose and collect seeds to be stored properly and protected from the elements.
For long-term sustainability, learn to understand the natural cycles of your small farm. The waste products from both plants and animals can be used to nourish the soil, which in turn helps the garden flourish, which in its own turn, feeds the animals. Understanding this symbiotic relationship can allow you to work smarter, not harder. Finding ways to use what most would consider waste is the ultimate form of recycling. Embrace the old ways of farming to enhance your long-term sustainability.
To conclude, I want to emphasize how important it is to practice your gardening skills before you need to rely on them. Learning from master gardeners, gardening groups or from those with more experience can help the learning curve we all seem to experience when starting something new. Marjory Wildcraft has created a DVD series on how to Grow Your Own Groceries. In the series, she shares all that she knows about gardening, companion planting, water catchment systems, as well as some handy tips she has learned along the way. This would be a great way for you to learn from the convenience of your own home.
Preps to Buy:
- Books or dvds on homesteading, gardening, permaculture and animal husbandry
- Heirloom or non-gmo seeds
- Garden tools
- Containers for long-term storage of seeds
- Research the available resources in your area. Are there plants growing wild that would be good grazing foods for your animals? Is there an abundance of organic material for compost?
- Learn about composting and how to reuse plant waste.
- Consider taking a vegetable gardening course at a local nursery, community center or gardening club.
WHAT WE’RE UP TO
In the Home:
It has been a mad dash this week from one activity to another. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see the weekend is finally here. Somehow through all the craziness, my kids and I found a some time to cold pack some dill pickles. I really enjoy having my kids get involved in helping me preserve food. It is such a joyful experience.
I love this pickle recipe, because I can make a jar as I pick the cucumbers instead of saving cucumbers until I have a lot and doing a mass canning. Here’s the recipe:
Cold Packed Pickles
- 4-inch cucumbers washed well with the ends cut off.
- 1-2 garlic cloves
- 2 dill heads
- 1 tbls. canning salt
- Sterilize the jars. This is important because you aren’t going to be applying heat to the process, so this is your chance to kill any bacteria on the surface of the jar. Bring the water to a boil, and boil them for 20 minutes. Leave the jars in the hot water until you’re ready to use them.
- Since we won’t be boiling the contents of the jar, we need to boil the garlic for one minute. This helps kill of any bacteria in the garlic that can causes spoilage in the pickles.
- Fill the sterilized jar with about 5 cucumbers.
- Add 1 tablespoon of rock salt or canning salt, 1 dill head and the garlic cloves.
- Fill jars with cold, filtered water and place another dill head in the top of the jar. Wipe the lip of the jar off with a clean cloth and put the lid and band on the jar. Tighten.
- Gently turn the jar up and down until the salt is dissolved and mixed in thoroughly.
- Store in a cool place. The pickles will be ready in about 2 or 3 months.
You may note some fermentation for a few days, which is natural for this method of pickling. If a jar runs over, wait until the fermentation is over, wipe the lip off with a clean cloth, and reseal.
This week, I have made the conscious decision to give most of my short-term emergency food supply to my family. As I mentioned in a few newsletters back, I wanted to make sure my immediate family members had some supplies in place in case an emergency occurred, and they were unable to get to our property. Since a lot of our short term food supply is bulky, it may be too cumbersome to transport. The canned goods, condiments and such we can leave with them to use for the next emergency to hit Houston.
In the Garden:
Each day after school, my youngest goes out with her little scissors and picks 2 or 3 ripe cucumbers. As luck would have it, the girl loves cucumbers. So I let her take one just so she can enjoy it.
My little lettuce plants are growing like crazy too. You gotta love Spring.
My peppers and tomatoes are ready to set blooms, but with the move coming up, I don’t believe I will be enjoying my fresh salsa. In the coming weeks, I am going to have to get rid of my last two garden beds. And that means, the veggies inside it.
STATS AND FACTS
Since we are on the subject of symbiotic relationships with the land, I wanted to bring up some facts about our soil. Our soil is an intricate system of organisms and plants, all interconnected and dependent upon the other to thrive.
According to the Soil Science Society of America, “Soil is not dirt. It is a complex mix of ingredients: minerals, air, water, and organic matter – countless organisms and the decaying remains of once living things. Soil is made of life. Soil makes life. And soil is life.”
7 Facts About Soil You Didn’t Know:
- Soil is living.
- There are more than 70,000 types of soil in the United States.
- One tablespoon of soil has more organisms in it than people on Earth.
- The very best China dishes are made from soil.
- It takes more than 500 years to form one inch of topsoil.
- Nearly all antibiotics used to fight our infections are obtained from fungus found in soil.
- In one gram of soil, there are over 5,000 different types of bacteria.
LETTERS TO TESS
Do you have a preparedness question? One of the perks of my job at Ready Nutrition is to address questions and/or concerns that you may have with your prepping endeavors. Feel free to ask anything that is on your mind because no question is too big or small. You can email questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
This week’s question addresses our food security:
I read somewhere that we are 9 meals away from anarchy? Seriously, is that true? Don’t our stores have a bunch of food in the back?
There is truth to that statement; and it should drive you to prepare for it. In perfect conditions, our store shelves are always perfectly stocked and ready for purchase. The system works in fair weather. However, in the preparatory stages of an emergency where masses need to prepare and stock food, your grocery store will be heavily inundated and run out of their reserves in the back rather quickly. Many have witnessed this when trying to prepare for a mass blizzard or a hurricane.
You have to understand that our food supplies typically travel 1,500 miles to get to our store shelves. If an emergency came along that disrupted the transportation lines, then the supplies will cease. This happened during Hurricane Katrina and the government had to come in and provide MRE’s to the unprepared hurricane victims.
Preppers are not the only ones concerned about this issue. In fact a report from the American Trucking Associations highlights just how critical our just-in-time inventory and delivery systems are, and assesses the impact on the general population in the event of an emergency or incident of national significance that disrupts the truck transportation systems which are responsible for carrying some ten billion tons of commodities and supplies across the United States each year.
An excerpt of the report can be viewed here.
This is a real concern and anyone who has gotten to the stores too late to prepare can attest to this fact. This is why Ready Nutrition and many preparedness organizations like it suggest that each household have an emergency supply of food to fall back on.
You can get a good idea of what short-term items you need by reading the earlier issues of 52-Weeks to Preparedness or for a concise list, click here.
Thanks for your question and I hope this helps you understand how crucial it is to prepare.