It seems that it is becoming "fashionable" to be a prepper these days. TV shows, lot's of websites to buy supplies and canned goods and a ton of blogs.
I think one area that doesn't get as much attention as it should is gardening. In the Doomsday Preppers show on National Geographic Channel, some of the participants were serious gardners, but not enough.
Not everyone can garden. It takes space and some serious dedication. But almost anyone can put a few tomatoe plants in pots. And, if you like tomatoes, it could help you prep. Think about the price of those tasteless tomatoes you buy at the store and what you pay for them. If you were able to grow some beautiful, tasty tomatoes instead of buying them, you could put that money towards canned goods, or beans, or rice, or flour, or a million other things. Maybe the next year you could add a pepper plant or two. Your thinking that you're only saving a few bucks, I know. But when you are trying to prep on a budget, every dollar counts. Especially if you shop smart and plan ahead.
We try to increase the size of our garden a little bit every year. Ours is all raised beds. This year we kept the same number of beds, but we added 10 fruit trees, a half dozen blackberry bushes and about 30 strawberry plants. All of the fruit trees we picked up on sale either at Lowes or Sutherlands. The blackberries were sprouts from our existing plants that were relocated to a new area and the strawberries were given to us by a friend of my Bride.
If you have a little space, don't overlook fruit trees as a prep item. We are trying to grow things that can be dried or canned. If you don't know how to can, think about learning. It is a valuable skill and will become even more valuable if we find ourselves in a bad situation.
Here are some canning links if you would like more information...
But just imagine trying to live on a diet of beans and rice. Wouldn't it be nice to supplement that with some nice canned peaches or dried apple slices? Or maybe put some strawerry jam on that flat bread? Now imagine how many other people would be happy to have that too. So canned or dried fruits can also be an excellent barter item, should the need arise.
Our garden is currently 18 4x10 raised beds. We try to keep the variety of what we grow to minimum so we can maximize the harvest from our space. Either this fall or next spring, I will add another 3 or 6 beds of the same size. While I am working with 5 acres, I have a lot of trees, so optimal planting area is at a premium. We also have a LOT of deer around, so we try to use the space that we have fenced in to keep the critters out.
We grow a lot of tomatoes, peppers and beans. We also have a good amount of herbs. The herbs can be dried and stored in canning jars. Same with the peppers. The beans and tomatoes all get canned in one form or another. We are going to try salsa this year.
Another thing to keep in mind, when choosing your plant varieties, remember that saving seeds from most hybrid plants is useless. For that you need heirloom plants. In the tomatoes, we have both hybrid and heirloom. The hybrids grow big and fast, so we can enjoy them quicker, but the heirlooms will produce seeds that can be used next year or saved for later. But this is true of most garden vegetables. So unless you are stocking up on the hybrid seeds for the years ahead, keep heirlooms in mind.
Here are few links to heirloom seed sites...
A lot of the heirloom plants are more suceptible to disease and insects than their hybrid counterparts. But, if you keep that in mind going in to it, you can prepare properly in advance.
Something else to think about is companion gardening. There are certain plants that are beneficial to others. For example, lots of bugs don't like the smell of Marigolds. Planting them with your tomatoes should help to keep the pests down. Marigolds also have a substance in their root system that has a pesticide effect on some bugs.
Here are coupe of links on companion gardening...
If you don't have much space to work with, think about mixing a few vegetable plants in with your landscape. We even do a little of that here. A couple of jalapeno and habanero peppers in with the vinca and salvia. It works out great and doesn't take up much room. You probably wouldn't want to try that with cucumbers or watermelons though.
Next year, along with the bed expansion, I also want to put in a few more trees. I have a couple of additional fruit trees in mind, but I would like to add a couple of pecan trees and an english walnut or two.
We already have one nice sized pecan tree, but every year the squirrels get the nuts before we are able to. This year will be different. I plan to have squirrel and dumplings, and a pecan pie...