Guest post written by Louise Jacobs
When you are in a crisis situation, your whole mindset changes, your priority list gets revised. And the worse the situation, the more basic your needs.
Right now, most of us are in the fortunate position of being able to prepare in many ways, because we have options. Sure some people will say things like “We can’t move out of the city because our kids are in a good school here with nice friends”, but if the tower next to your home collapses, you are going to grab your kids and head for the hills real fast, with nary a thought about the school or friends.
But since the tower seems to be pretty solid right now, at least prepare for the more likely scenario of food prices skyrocketing and incomes dropping. I don’t know if it’s happening where you are, but it is for my family.
Everything that I do may seem silly to some, but it is with an eye towards food self-sufficiency. For example, when I feed peanuts to the squirrels in the backyard bird feeder, it is not just because I am a sweet and silly old lady. That squirrel will let me come pretty close, and if it does well and raises a similarly tame family because of the extra treats that I give it, if the SHTF, they’re lunch.
The wild collared doves also know where to come for some seeds and grain on a cold and snowy day. I regularly see 8 of them now, whereas two years ago, there were only a couple. I’m sure that with a little stuffing, one would make a meal for the two of us. But only as a last resort.
As well, I consider compost to be the poor man’s gold, the more you have, the more you can grow. I won’t buy it anymore, because this past year, some herbicide contamination caused us more work than we needed. But we have risen above it, asparagus is already planted in the worst affected areas, and more garden beds have been made with no outside amendments. So actually, something that was meant to hurt us, has benefitted us in the long run.
A couple of pet rabbits got bred when we saw the way things were going, and now we have ten times the manure producers than we had before. How great is that?
It doesn’t bother me that there are a few chickens running around, producing no eggs. As long as they are still pooping, they are producing something. It’s all for the benefit of that precious compost pile. The contents of the vacuum cleaner, the lint from the dryer, even hair when I clean the hair brushes, it’s all put into the compost bucket.
The other thing that I consider very important in survival gardening, is to be flexible. For example, where we live now, rutabagas (which I love), just don’t do well. It might be the herbicide, might be something else in the soil, for sure it doesn’t bother the maggots. So I won’t waste the space any more. Instead Hubbard squashes will be substituted in soups and stews. They grow well for me and there are NO maggots.
Onions also don’t do well for us, although the ones we used to raise at our old home were fantastic. So we planted lots of perennial ones, tucked in here and there wherever there is a space. I like the greens better than chives, if you plant lots, some will grow a usable chunk on the bottom that will be just as tasty as a regular onion. In the fall, I watch for the prices of the bulk onions in the store to go down, buy a bag and keep that in the cool pantry. In February, when I notice a couple beginning to sprout and go soft, the whole works that is left gets sliced and dehydrated. Its good stuff. So far, onions cost be $15 a year. But my dried stash is growing, and so is the perennial onion patch, and I probably could skip buying it, if I had to.
Last, but not least, I am a seed saver. Not only does it save us a bundle every spring (my normal order was well over a hundred dollars every year, and now its about a third that), seeds can be eaten.
For example, I will harvest 2/3 of my beans and peas, and let the rest go to seed. That way, we have plenty for the following year’s planting, but also dried beans and peas can be cooked and eaten, just like the ones people buy in stores. It’s funny how some people don’t make that connection.
We will let kale plants stand in the garden over winter, to give us beautiful blossoms in the spring. The bees love us for it, and hang around to improve the pollination of the apple and cherry trees. There will be seeds for planting, but hey…..how about seeds for sprouting? We will try our own sprouting seeds this year from kale, arugula and radish plants.
So maybe my little odd ways will give folks something to think about and be of some benefit in an emergency.
Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.