A Navy SEAL With a Green Thumb?
I've been very proud to work with my friends at 4Patriots and offer my survival knowledge and experiences to share with their amazing supporters.
That said, when I was asked to write an article about gardening... I thought it was a joke.
The only thing I've ever planted are a few aspen trees at my cabin. And only one of those survived. It did have me thinking about my food supplies and what a "worst case scenario" would look like...
But the current global pandemic has revealed how vulnerable our food system is in the US.
"We are extremely dependent on food grown thousands of miles away. When the supply and distribution systems are disrupted... we become vulnerable to food insecurity. Even if it's just a basil plant, by planting seeds, you are helping to strengthen our local food system, one small plant at a time." – NMU Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Sustainability Sarah Mittlefehldt
I have the ability to hunt and fish at my mountain property and live very comfortably on elk and trout. Additionally, I've prepared with several months of survival food.
But what is my food game plan regarding a long-term, self-reliant situation?
So, I have accepted this challenge – first stop YouTube.
1. Location: You can use a container, raised bed, or traditional gardening. For this article we will focus on traditional ground gardening. Pick a location that will have the most sunlight. There are great apps for your mobile phone that show where the sun will be in your yard.
2. Selecting Crops: This may be obvious but focus on things you can eat and preserve.
I just watched the movie "The Martian" with Matt Damon and was very motivated by the crop of potatoes he grew on Mars. Think he had a dire food shortage issue?
3. Seeds: Get your seeds early in the year. Again, think about the variety of fruits and vegetables you will want to eat and what will do best given your location and climate.
4. Starting Seeds: Some seeds need to be started inside vs. direct in ground planting. On the seed packet anything that has a harvest time of 90 days or more will need to be started inside first (hot weather plants like peppers, tomatoes, melons). Also, colder climates will need to be started early.
5. Prepare Garden Space: For traditional gardening till up the soil and amend (add) it with a compost mix. This can be made using one-part sand, one-part peat moss, and two-parts manure.
6. Start a Compost Pile: Start saving kitchen scraps, yard waste, leaves which will supply nutrients to your crop. Designate a location in your yard where you start building your compost pile.
7. Planting: Follow the detailed directions on the seed packet. For taller plants like corn or sunflowers plant them on the north side of your garden. This will prevent these taller crops from casting shade over the smaller plants.
Additionally, stagger planting of plants that grow quickly vise slower to maximize your harvest.
8. Caring for Your Garden: Your work has just begun. Stay ahead of the weeds. You can use wood chips as mulch and place it in between plants to reduce the weed growth.
9. Water, Water, Water: Get in a good all metal fan sprinkler. They are easy to move and very gentle on the plants. As your plants grow larger they will not need as much water.
10. Harvesting & Preserving: The reward! But make sure you are prepared with canning and vacuum sealing for freezing. You don't want to waste any of the products of your hard work. Especially if you are doing this during a crisis situation. Colder climates will have a later harvest.
11. Prepare For Winter: Although it is a little early for "winter talk," it's still important to be aware. You must cover the ground to protect it for next year. Use leaf mulchers & wood chips to keep the ground moist and allow worms and bacteria to keep nutrients in the soil.
In summary, I want to thank my friends at 4Patriots for asking me to dig into this subject. This is one more tool in my survival tool kit today that was not in there yesterday.