How-To Be Your Own Source of Food
The best time to practice and learn skills to grow and preserve your own food is before you need them!
Learn How-To Grow Your Own Food-
1. Make sure you have a large supply of Non-Hybrid and Heirloom seed. (seed supplies are limited and it may become impossible to find when food shortages occur) Store in airtight jars in a cool, dark place. (Wash and save glass food jars for this purpose)
2. Start a garden, in whatever amount of space you can maintain. That lush green lawn make look great but won’t feed your family!
- Practice growing new varieties of vegetables and saving some seed from the healthiest plants.
- Learn to control pests with natural methods. (chemical sprays may also be hard to find since they are based on petro-chemical products)
- Plant some berry bushes, asparagus, and a few fruit trees. If space is a concern look for dwarf varieties. (bear in mind that it takes a year or two before trees will begin to bear fruit but the sooner you start the sooner you will have your own source of fruit)
- Learn how-to compost yard/garden waste to be used to enrich the soil without the use of artificial fertilizers.
- If you are new to gardening add some reference books on the subject of composting, growing organically, growing in a greenhouse, saving seed, etc. to your library.
3. Collect the supplies you will need before you need them.
- Look for small pots and trays for starting your seedlings.
- Have a supply of potting soil, natural fertilizers (such as worm castings and compost), and plant sprays on hand.
- Learn how-to make your own pest repellents and fungicides.
- Be sure you have all the tools you will need such as: an action hoe or regular hoe, garden spade, dirt rake, pruning shears, twine, wire, plant stakes, tomato cages, pea fencing, misc. lumber and nails for building other supports.
- If you can afford it invest in a small greenhouse. This will enable you to start seedlings much earlier in the spring and extend your season into the fall/early winter. Many vegetables can be grown to maturity in a greenhouse, if attention to temperature and timing of plantings and varieties are planned properly. (this will also be valuable if climate changes make it difficult to grow outdoors under adverse conditions) If a greenhouse isn’t an option for you one alternative would be a cold-frame structure which can be used to protect your seedlings from freezing temperatures in the spring or start an early crop of greens, beets, or peas, etc.. It can also be used to protect peppers and heat-loving plants from colder fall temperatures. Greenhouses are also useful for bringing slower maturing varieties to their seed bearing stage if you have a shorter growing season.
4. Learn how-to preserve your harvest.
- Invest in a food dehydrator and steam canner as well as the jars and other canning supplies. Include pickling salt , vinegar and spices in your pantry for pickling produce. Also include extra sugar and pectin if you have berries growing in your yard to make into jam or jelly. (if you don’t this may be a good time to plant some strawberries or blueberries, for next year’s season)
- Another important item to have on hand is a seed sprouter or you can use a jar with a piece of cheesecloth attached to the top with a rubber band. Seed and grain sprouting is another skill to add to your list of things to learn. During winter sprouting will provide valuable nutrients and enzymes to your diet when fresh foods may be difficult to obtain. Visit: www.sproutpeople.com for tips and supplies you may need.
5. Have a back-up plan in case of emergency to supplement your garden’s harvest. Begin building up your food pantry to provide a food supply for your family for at least 3-6 months. (There are many situations where a pantry can be a lifesaver such as a severe winter storm, hurricane, flood or other unexpected event such as long-term unemployment, etc..)
- Basic Supplies to have on hand include:
- Grain Group- bread mix, wheat flour, corn meal, oats, whole wheat berries, barley, popcorn kernels, white & brown rice, pasta, Ramen noodles, tortillas, corn flakes, shredded wheat, granola, Rice Krispies & cream of wheat or rice cereal (Tip: To preserve freshness invest in a vacuum sealer which can be used with Mason jars or bags)
- Legume Group- (A variety of beans such as: Black, Kidney, Pinto, Soy, Garbanzo, Lentils, Split peas and refried beans)
- Meats-(an assortment of canned meats & fish such as: chicken, ham, turkey, tuna, salmon, crab, spam as well as dried meats, jerky and TVP-Textured Vegetable Protein.)
- Nuts-(bulk raw nuts, peanut butter, canned roasted nuts)
- Milk & Cheese-(dehydrated & canned butter, parmesan, dried milk, canned milk, processed cheese, dehydrated cheeses & buttermilk)
- You may also want to include these additional items: Powdered eggs, soups, broths, juices, drink mixes, coffee, teas, hot cocoa, jello, pudding mix, cornstarch, dry yeast, baking powder, baking soda, lots of salt, seasonings, ketchup, mustard, mayo, salad dressing, olive oil, Crisco shortening, vegetable oil, sugar, honey, maple syrup, corn syrup, molasses, canned fruits & vegetables, crackers, cake, muffin & pancake mixes, chocolate & chocolate syrup, jams, lemon juice, vinegar, tomato sauce & paste, pickles & relish, packaged sauces, dried and fresh potatoes.
(A helpful book on the subject is: Preparing For Change by Holly Deyo. Visit Stan and Holly’s website: www.standeyo.com )
6. Learn to rotate your pantry items and practice cooking from scratch and preparing dehydrated foods in some of your meals. (dehydrated foods are also important to include in your emergency food supply since they have a much longer shelf life and may prove to be a life-saver if you experience partial crop failure due to pests or adverse weather conditions.)
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