Wednesday, June 17, 2020

THE Number-One, Top Long-Term Priority For Survival

By Timothy Gamble

Remember the near empty shelves at American grocery stores just weeks ago? Even the big-box stores like Wal-mart, with all their money and clout, were nearly out of food.  The stores are still not fully restocked.

The biggest long-term threat to our survival is hunger & starvation. It doesn't matter what event or events lead to disruptions in our food supply - pandemic, war, economic or political chaos, or whatever. The fact is our modern agricultural and just-in-time food distribution systems are precariously balanced, and the most  Americans are not prepared for wide-spread or long-lasting disruptions. What if the empty shelves don't start filling up again after only a few weeks? What if they go empty, and stay empty, for months next time?

The long-term answer really isn't food storage, though that does help in the short-term. Few people will realistically be able to store all the food they, their household, and their extended circle of family & friends, will need for the several years it may take for society to completely rebuild the agricultural system & food distribution infrastructure after a major SHTF event. You MUST be able to provide at least some food for yourself - gardening, horticulture, fruit & nut orchards, chickens for eggs & meat, goats for milk, cheese, butter & meat...

Your most important long-term goal is food production. Yes, even if you live in the city, there are things you can do. Here are some ideas:

Learn small plot gardening techniques. For city folks and suburbanites lucky enough to have a small yard, the good news is that you don't need a huge garden to grow a lot of food. If you have even a little bit of land, you can have gardening success. Check out my articles Small Plot Gardening Tips and Lasagna Gardening on this website.

I also recommend the books Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre and The Mini Farming Bible: The Complete Guide to Self-Sufficiency on ¼ Acre, both by Brett Markham. You'll be surprised how much you can grow on a small plot of land, even if its less than a quarter acre!

Do you live in an apartment or condo, and literally have no yard for even a tiny garden? No worries. There are still ways you can produce some of your own food. Consider container gardening indoors, and on windowsills, porches, and balconies. A lot food can be grown in containers, including all herbs, all lettuce varieties, all greens (spinach, collards, turnip, mustard, Swiss chard, etc.), tomatoes (both regular size and the mini ones), carrots, beets, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, squash, and zucchini. In fact, almost everything can be grown in containers. The only drawbacks are that container gardens need more frequent watering than regular gardens, and plant size is limited by the size of the containers you are using.

For some ideas and inspiration, watch these two You Tube videos

There are a number of books available on container gardening. One that I think is particularly good is The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible: How to Grow a Bounty of Food in Pots, Tubs, and Other Containers. 

Another idea is to consider joining, or starting, a community garden. This is a good option for people who live where the communists running their home owners' association won't let them have a garden. Community gardens are plots of land that are gardened collectively by a group of people. Each person or family may be assigned a particular plot within the larger piece of land, or the whole garden may be worked collectively. Rules vary. You can find more information and locations of community gardens in your area on the American Community Gardening Association website. If there is not a community garden in your area, that would make a perfect project for your church, synagogue, YMCA, or other civic organization.

Try Rooftop Gardening. Like its name sounds, rooftop gardening is simply gardening on rooftops, using containers (which can be quite large if the structure can support the weight). Rooftop gardening has become quite popular in recent years. You can find out more by searching "Rooftop Gardening" in your favorite search engine (I like Duck-Duck-Go, which respects your privacy, unlike Google or Bing).

Need to improve the soil in your yard or community garden? Having healthy soil is critical to productive gardening and raising crops. An excellent article, Build Better Garden Soil, by Harvey Ussery, is available for free on Mother Earth News website. You may also be interested in my article, Plants That Build Healthy Soils. which is available on this website.

I recently watched, and was quite impressed by, the Back to Eden documentary. Here's the blurb from their website: "Back to Eden Film shares the story of one man’s lifelong journey, walking with God and learning how to get back to the simple, productive organic gardening methods of sustainable provision that were given to man in the garden of Eden. The food growing system that has resulted from Paul Gautschi’s incredible experiences has garnered the interest of visitors from around the world. Never, until now, have Paul’s organic gardening methods been documented and shared like this!" You can watch it on their website.
Another good gardening resource is Sunset Vegetable Gardening Illustrated.  Only 128 pages, this 1987 book is not currently in print, but you may be able to find one at a used book store. Heavily illustrated and easy-to-read, it covers all the basics, and then some. Beginners, especially, will find this book very useful. It also covers herbs and berries.

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