SUBURBAN SELF RELIANCE

Don’t you just “love” how some survival and disaster preparedness “gurus” go on and on about the sky falling on our heads any minute…? This usually happens in conjunction with them trying to sell you some sort of survival gizmo that you absolutely must have in order to survive the next calamity.

THE PROBLEM

Often, people who are aware of the need for self-reliance, are frustrated when they look for direction on the internet for a solid starting point to a solid preparedness plan and find nothing more than someone trying to sell them things that they don’t need. This issue is compounded even more by the fact that they might have bought such items in the past only to realize that the item won’t serve them and now they look at many, possibly excellent preparedness resources with suspicion.

If you are a beginner prepper, then this article will help you find a solid direction in which to move to provide for yourself and your family in times of trouble. If you have been preparing for a while, this article might offer some new suggestions and ideas which to consider for the future and if you are a seasoned veteran preparedness expert, then we would love for you to leave some comments in the comment section below telling us what we got wrong or how we can improve. And no…were not selling anything.

GROWING YOUR OWN FOOD…GREAT PLACE TO START

In any emergency, there will be few basic things that will take priority over others. Clean air, drinking water, food and medical care will become some of the most important concerns, regardless of what catastrophe one might find themselves in. Although all of these topics could have volumes of books written about them, we are going to focus on one small part and that is growing your own food.

In the first twenty-four to seventy-two hours after an emergency, it will be relatively easy to sustain the human body with stored up canned food, military rations and even granola or energy bars. But in the long run, living off canned food alone will become monotonous in the least and depressing at most.

There are some excellent long term food storage companies that manufacture high quality freeze-dried and storable foods and those are always a good solution. Your long term food supply however should only be opened in the worst case scenario. Your best bet, whenever possible is to understand some basic gardening so that you can have fresh, organically raised fruits and vegetables on your table.

LEARNING NEW SKILLS

Applying gardening skills can not only provide you with a good supply of vitamins in a pro-longed emergency or economic collapse, these skills can also help you now. If you have a small yard, even if you live in a townhouse, you probably have enough real estate to grow something. Even if you live in an apartment and have at least some sun shining in through a window, you can set up a container with some potting soil in it and learn how to grow a few vegetables.

THIS IS WHAT WE DID

We have selected a small, unused part of the back yard. It had nothing but some gravel on it and was really not usable for anything. Once the space was designated a container for the dirt was assembled. The end products were two “bins” build from 2×4 studs and 1×6 planks. They measure 25 inches tall, 42 inches wide and 62 inches long. The first bin has two stepped layers.

This unused piece of the yard next to the driveway is what we selected for our garden

The bigger the bins the more dirt you will need. Ours are much taller than they have to be but that was done because we have dogs who love to bury their treats and bones in the softest part of the yard and that means in the garden. You can still get outstanding results even of your bin is half as tall as ours.

If you live on an acreage or closer to the wilderness, you will have to think about critters like deer and rabbit paying you visit and eating your crop. This is usually solved by building a chicken wire fence around your garden. This should keep any unwanted visitors out but keep in mind that post collapse, deer = steak!

CLEAR OFF THE SPACE, BUY THE LUMBER

First we cleared off the gravel where the bin was to be build and leveled the ground there as the whole yard is on a gentle incline. Then the base of the bin was laid out by cutting the proper length of 2×4 and then the proper width. For the corners, a 4×4 was cut down to the proper length and then cut lengthwise (corner to corner at 45 degree angle) to create a triangular piece. This piece was screwed to the corner of the length and width 2x4s. One stud in the center of the side and the whole box was sided with 1×6 planks from the bottom up.

This is the first phase. This first bin has two levels to it. This is purely for estheatic reasons and because the lady of the house wanted it that way.

All wood was left in its natural form. There is no paint, varnish or stain of any sort. This means that over time, the wood will rot and decay, which means that as the years go by, maintenance work will be required. Eventually the whole bin will have to be rebuild.

The bottom of the bin was lined with old cardboard. This is to prevent weeds from making their way into the garden. It might also be a good idea to line the inside of the bin with plastic vapor barrier which will help slow down the decomposition process of the wood used to build the bins.

The bottom of the bins were lined with cardboard to slow down the growth of weeds. It might also be advisable to use plastic vapor barrier on the inside of the bins to slow down the decay of the wood.

 

THE DIRT

We started a compost pile a year earlier and now had enough compost to fill the bins half-way with it. The remainder of the space was filled with organic potting soil bought at Costco. The cost was $12 for an 85L cube of soil.

It should be noted, that over time the soil in the bins will settle. If there is not enough soil, it will settle down to the point where the sides of the bin will actually cast shadow and your crop might not get enough sunlight to truly thrive. Therefore, fill your bin to even with, or slightly higher than the top edge of the bin. Water the dirt down to let it settle and add more if need be. Don’t try to pack the dirt down. That will most likely make it less than ideal for many crops.

This is the end result. In this space we’ll be able to grow any vegetable we want to. It is also pleasing to the eye.

THE SEEDS

Before buying seeds, research the following:

  • – Some plants are not compatible with others. Check and make sure that if you mix or pair up two or more different plants together on one space that they will tolerate each other.
  • – Ensure that you have enough space in your planting area. If you bunch up your seeds, or if your soil isn’t deep enough your crop will not grow to its full potential.
  • – Select non-genetically modified seeds. GMO seeds will produce seedless crop and you will have to buy new seeds every year. For best results look for untreated heirloom seeds. Heirloom seeds have been passed down from one generation of farmers to the next without any genetic modification and usually with only natural fertilizers used.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before you know it you will have small plants poking up through the dirt. Above is the first crop of radishes coming into the world. On the right, you can see a small tomato plant growing in a regular flower pot. This shows that you really don’t need a whole lot of space to get going. And you need even less space for learning. If you can follow a simple recipe or grow flowers, you probably have what it takes to build your own garden.

 

CONCLUSION

Growing your own food is not difficult and at the same time very rewarding. Your bins or gardens do not have to be the same size as ours and if pets or other animals are not a concern then you can probably use the large amount of good soil for a much wider area than we did. Remember that good, dark soil and lots of sun and water, are the basics to make the seeds sprout so don’t make things complicated.

Speaking with some veteran gardeners, I received one piece of interesting advice. Apparently, even if you get absolutely everything wrong, something will always grow. So I suppose if I was to break down everything into its most simple terms, all you need is seed, good dark soil, water and sunshine. Get it all together and see where you end up. Do more research and ask more questions as you progress.

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