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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Gardening in an Emergency

I've often found it humorous when people say in an emergency, "I'll just grow some food in my yard."  There are many things that go into being able to grow food in your yard.  The good news is that none of these things are very difficult, but they do take some preparation and preferably, some practice. 

Where to start?

Most of us grow something - grass, bushes, trees, flowers, and even vegetables and fruit.  So we all know the basics of gardening: soil, water, a seed and sunshine.  Let's talk about each of these requirements and how you can better prepare to grow food in an emergency.

Soil - there are basics that must be followed for soil that will grow food.  First, that soil has to be aerated.  This means the soil has to have oxygen incorporated into the soil.  If it is soil that has been under grass, bark, weed cover fabric or other ground covers, that land will need to be what's called "Double digged".  This means the soil has to be loosened in two layers, and something added to amend the soil.  There's no way around it - this is back breaking work.  So it's better to plant in soil that has been loose and aerated already.

What is added?  Organic materials needed to be added.  The simple definition of this is things that have been alive.  Leaves, straw, hay, cuttings and clippings from other plants, manure, food scraps.  All of these things will bring nutrients to the soil that are essential to grow food.

One of my favorite stories is one of the native americans.  They would bury a dead fish below each of their hills of corn, beans and pumpkins to nourish the seeds above.

Water - This is simple while we are connected to ready-to-use city water, but more difficult in an emergency when those services may be lost.  Our most used watering methods are the most wasteful.  The most efficient water method is by hand, directly onto the area above the roots of the plants.  If water is scarce, you will want to water each plant directly by hand.

Seed - PLEASE READ THIS!  When choosing seeds to store, make sure you are buying Heirloom or Open Polinated seeds, NOT hybrid seeds.  The Hybrid seeds are gentically manipulated for desirable traits, however, they are also sterile seeds.  This means you can plant them once, and you will get a great plant, but that plant won't provide you with usable seeds to plant the next year.  And make sure to save easy-to grows seeds like radishes, spinach , lettuce and kale.  Those will be very desirable in an emergency, and grow quickly enough to get food within a few weeks time.  Also store seeds that you can sprout in 2-3 days like alfalfa, radish, broccoli and even your wheat.

Sunshine - Be on the lookout for the best location to grow in your yard.  South facing, direct sun is the most effective for most crops.  There are some plants that prefer part shade, like lettuce, but you can create that part shade by planting them between rows of larger plants.

And I'm always asked what is the best time to start a garden.  The answer is TODAY!  Literally, May is the best month to plant, but anytime of the year, you can plant something quick growing and reap the rewards of your efforts.  Make sure to check out the MM Stake Gardening video here:

If you need any gardening help, please email me at  Happy gardening!

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