Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Top Priority for Long-Term Survival

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 - war, economic collapse, political collapse, EMP attack, pandemics, or whatever.  The fact is our modern agricultural and just-in-time food distribution systems are precariously balanced, and the vast majority of Americans are not prepared for wide-spread or long-lasting disruptions.

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 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, etc and so forth...

Your most important long-term goal should be food production. Start this year. You may need it before the year is out, and even if things stay calm this year, at least you will be learning how to garden and raise food for when those skills are needed. Here are some resources you might find useful:

Gardening in Small Spaces

If you only have a small space in ehich to garden, you can still grow a lot of food. Check out these articles on this website for tips and ideas: 1) Small Plot Gardening, 2) More Small Plot Gardening, and 3) Lasagna Gardening.

If you have a typical small suburban lot, I recommend the book Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre. You'll be surprised how much you can grow on a small suburban plot. 

The Back To Eden Documentary

I've also 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 for free on their website if you give them your email address. It is also available on You Tube.

Improve Your Soil

Having healthy soils is critical to productive gardening and raising crops. Some excellent articles to read on the subject of improving your soil are:

Build Better Garden Soil - An article By Harvey Ussery from Mother Earth News.

2/26 Note: The Monday after I published this article, Countryside changed their website. The articles struck out below seem to be no longer available (at least not for free). Instead, I direct you to their Soil and Compost archives for more information. 

Soil Facts - The Soul of Soil - by the staff of Countryside & Small Stock Journal

Soil Health Is Important When Growing Crops - by John Hibma, Countryside & Small Stock Journal

You may also be interested in the No-till, permanent bed farming article, also from Countryside & Small Stock Journal (a really great magazine). The article covers using green manure and cover crops to improve and maintain the soil. 

See also the Plants for the Soil article on this website.

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.

Forest Gardening

Forest Gardening is a type of permaculture in which trees and other plants are grown together for food and other renewable resources in a method that mimics a woodland ecosystem or forest edge. Pioneered and popularized by the late Robert Hart in the UK, the idea has been further developed by Ken Fern and others. The concept is sometimes also called woodland gardening, edible landscaping or food forests. It has the potential to be very productive, and doesn't take as much land or time as you might assume. Some folks may want to consider this method. I've written an Introduction to Forest Gardening, along with a number of other forest gardening articles (click for an index to those articles).

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