This has been a season of challenges and trials, and we have all learned alot about who we are and what we are capable of. In his October 2020 General Conference address, Elder Bednar said,
The year 2020 has been marked, in part, by a global pandemic that has proved, examined, and tried us in many ways. I pray that we as individuals and families are learning the valuable lessons that only challenging experiences can teach us. I also hope that all of us will more fully acknowledge the “greatness of God” and the truth that “he shall consecrate [our] afflictions for [our] gain.”4 Two basic principles can guide and strengthen us as we face proving and trying circumstances in our lives, whatever they may be: (1) the principle of preparation and (2) the principle of pressing forward with a steadfastness in Christ." Elder Bednar
As a Mount Mahogany Stake Self-Reliance Committee, we would like to support and guide you in the principle of preparation. Elder Bednar goes on to say,
Some Church members opine that emergency plans and supplies, food storage, and 72-hour kits must not be important anymore because the Brethren have not spoken recently and extensively about these and related topics in general conference. But repeated admonitions to prepare have been proclaimed by leaders of the Church for decades. The consistency of prophetic counsel over time creates a powerful concert of clarity and a warning volume far louder than solo performances can ever produce.
We are going to work to get prepared in 12 Steps in 2022.
Please join us in the efforts.
Check out the resources found on this site and on the youtube channel for the 12 steps to Emergency Preparedness Youtube Playlist
You can also request a discounted copy of Be Prepared, Not Scared- 12 Steps to Emergency Preparedness by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and requesting copies for $7 each.
In December, please inventory your existing preparations and make goals for your efforts in 2022. Let's get prepared together!
Do you have stored food? That’s step one. The next step is knowing what
to do with it!
When preparing for an emergency, one of the first things you
need to do is determine how you’re going to cook and prepare food. Nearly
all stoves are electric, so if the power goes out, you’re forced to find alter-
native cooking methods
Some things to consider:
What foods to use first:
During the first week of an emergency, you should eat out of your
refrigerator and freezer. The refrigerator will keep things cool for 2 – 3
days. The freezer will become your fridge in 3 – 4 days as things thaw out
but stay cool. Try to conserve canned or dried goods for later.
Some simple meals you can make without cooking:
An emergency is not the time to make three course, multiple ingredient
meals. Make one-pot meals and use the fresh foods you have in the fridge
to stay nourished and use your time for other priorities.
How to quickly preserve your frozen foods:
If you have a freezer full of food and the electricity is out, if it’s in the
winter, move the freezer outside and use mother nature to help. If not,
you will need to preserve the food as quickly as possible. Some fast
methods of food preservation – drying in the sun for fruits and vegetables,
salting and curing for meats. Make sure to store plenty of salt for cooking
and for preservation.
What to do before the emergency:
Store foods that are easy to heat and eat, along with foods that take
time and know-how to prepare. Example - canned beans and dried
Have people powered tools instead of electric tools for cooking. Electric can openers do not work when the power is out.
Have pots and utensils that can be used with your cooking option of
choice. Fires and grills are very hot and you will need long handled utensils (found for next to nothing at thrift stores) and hot pads or over-gloves.
Practice with your cooking option of choice.
Practice cooking with minimal equipment.
Choose methods that conserve fuel
Plan to be able to cook indoors and out, in the home or evacuated, in
cold and hot weather
Remember, any flame can produce carbon monoxide — the cooking area
must be well ventilated
Options for cooking indoors without electricity
Even if it’s warm outside, it’s still more convenient to cook inside than
out, and if it’s cool, it may be nice to have the added warmth. Here are a
few ways that you can cook your food inside:
Wood-burning stove: This is the type of stove that you use to keep
warm. The tops of these get plenty hot enough to heat a skillet or a pot
of water; you can most certainly cook anything that you’d like on them.
All you need is wood or coal.
Fireplace: Use it like a campfire. Use grates to place your skillet on. You
can also wrap some foods, such as potatoes or veggie packs, in
aluminum foil and put it straight into the fire. Make sure to maintain the
Sterno stoves: Sterno stoves are small warming
stoves that run off of jars of a gel called Sterno.
Sterno stoves can be used indoors or out and get hot
enough to heat water or cook something small like a
can of soup.
Kerosene heaters: The tops of these heaters get hot
enough that you can heat soups, canned vegetables
Butane stoves: These are compact stoves that run
off of small canisters of butane. They are portable
and can cook most things. However, they must
have a supply of the butane canisters to run.
Options for Cooking outdoors Without Electricity
Cooking outdoors gives you several more options than cooking indoors.
You don’t have to worry about smoke, deadly carbon monoxide or burning
your house down. There are many ways to cook outdoors as long as the
weather is good.
Gas or charcoal grill: You can use the gas until it’s gone then continue
to use the grill burning wood inside. A grill traps heat inside of it so
your food will cook faster and more evenly.
Camp stove: These are handy for short term use. The disadvantage is
that they require gas to run. DO NOT use them inside!
Open fire: Build a good cooking pit by stacking blocks or stone stacked
a couple of feet high around the rim and digging a pit at least a foot
deep in the center. Set a grate over the top. This allows room for your
wood below the cooking area. Iron skillets and dutch ovens are great
for cooking over a fire.
Solar ovens: Solar ovens work well when it’s warm and
clear out. They cook using only the power of the sun.
Rocket stoves: Rocket stoves are compact, efficient
stoves that use small pieces of wood in a combustion
chamber. You put the small pieces of wood in, light it,
then the heat travels up a chamber and out the top. Since
they use small pieces of wood extremely efficiently, they’ll
save your wood supply while quickly cooking your food.
Volcano stove: A volcano stove is a collapsible stove that
can use wood, charcoal or propane as the heat source. You
can heat relatively large amounts of food with it. It folds
right into itself and is fairly lightweight.
Wonder Oven/Hay Box/Insulated Cooker: To use this cooker, you bring food up to temperature,
put it in an insulated cooker, and it continues to cook
without any fuel. You still have to have a way to bring
food up to temp before putting it in, but these are easy
to make at home. It is like an electricity-free slow cooker.
Cube Stove, Stove in a Can: These are small,
lightweight, single use options for heating food. They cannot be used inside and will only last as long as
your stove in a can stores last.
Earth or Cob Oven: This is
a clay oven that is made out of earth and straw and sand. After curing, it is heated with wood and can cook everything from bread to grains to full meals. Must have this made before your emergency!
How to get the most nutrition out of your stored foods
Most of our long term stored foods is grains and beans and other
seeds, along with things to make those grains and beans taste good.
These are great storage foods because they won’t sprout because of a
coating on the outside that keeps them from sprouting. I am grateful
that they don’t sprout in my storage, but this same coating can also cause
these foods to be less nutritious than they should be if you don’t handle
them correctly before cooking.
This sprouting inhibitor is called phytic acid. This phytic acid holds
tightly to the phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc in these
foods. As long as the phytic acid is still coating the grain, the nutrients in
the grain are not available for you.
Why is it so important to remove/reduce phytic acid (phytates)?
Phytic acid not only grabs on to, or chelates, important minerals, it
also also inhibits enzymes that we need to digest our food. These include
pepsin needed for the breakdown of proteins in the stomach, amylase
needed for the breakdown of starch into sugar, and trypsin needed for
protein digestion in the small intestine.
The presence of phytic acid in so many of the foods we are told are
“healthy” for us–seeds, nuts and whole grain–makes it crucial that we
know how to prepare these foods. The phytic acid needs to be neutralized
as much as possible, and these foods should be eaten in a complete diet
that helps to counteract the effects of phytic acid.
Consumption of high levels of phytic acid leads to:
Mineral deficiencies, leading to poor bone health and tooth decay
Blocked absorption of zinc, iron, phosphorous and magnesium
Leeching of calcium from the body
Make the nutrients in grains available for your body
People living in traditional cultures throughout the world had lives filled
with time-consuming daily activities. Yet they soaked, fermented, and
ground their grains before using them. They often removed the hull of the
grain before use as well. Why did they take the time? Because they knew it
was the only way to get all the nutrients out of the grain.
What are these traditional ways of handling grains and legumes?
You must pre-treat the grains, seeds and nuts in one of two ways:
Soaking grains/flour in an acid medium at a warm temperature–helps
to reduce, or even eliminate phytic acid.
Souring—think sourdough bread with natural yeast. This is the preferred
method for reducing phytic acid in breads and bread-products.
In general, the best means of significantly reducing phytic acid in grains
and legumes is a combination of acidic soaking for a long time, followed by
One important thing to note is that not all grains contain enough
phytase to eliminate the phytic acid, even when they are soaked. Oats and
corn are two of these. So when soaking, if you add a small amount of a
high phytase flour (rye, wheat, spelt and kamut) to the soaking water for
corn and oats, it will help reduce the high phytase in these two grains
Bottom line...If you want to eat grains and/or legumes, you must soak or
ferment them before eating!
How to Soak
Soaking isn’t hard, in fact, it’s really easy. The hard part is that you have
to plan ahead, which is difficult in today’s fast paced world.
Here is what you need to soak grains, seeds, nuts, flour & legumes:
Filtered water ~ warm water is necessary to properly break down
the phytic acid and other minerals.
Some kind of acid – yogurt*, buttermilk*, lemon juice, apple cider
vinegar, whey, milk kefir* and coconut kefir. *If using dairy it needs
to be cultured.
Baking soda for legumes
Put grain into a glass bowl and
cover completely with filtered water.
For every 1 cup of liquid you will need
1 tbsp of acid. (Most grains: soak for
12-24 hours. Buckwheat, brown rice
and millet: soak for 7 hours).
Rinse in a colander after soaking.
Use in the recipe (may take less time to cook after they are soaked)
You can grind these grains wet in a Food Processor
If soaking flour, you start making the recipe the night before, adding
the flours and the water, oil and sweetener. Mix in a glass bowl and cover
Add the other ingredients in the morning and continue making the
recipe (eggs, milk, etc). Remember this includes nut flours, like almond
flour, that are high in phytic acid as well.
For kidney shaped beans, add enough water to cover the beans and a
pinch of baking soda. Cover and allow to sit in a warm kitchen for
12-24 hours, changing the water and baking soda once or twice.
For non-kidney-shaped beans such as northern beans or black beans, place beans into pot and add enough “hot to the touch”water to cover the beans.For every one cup of beans you can add 1 tbsp of acid like vinegar or lemon juice, however it does slightly change the flavor and texture of the cooked bean. Soak for 12-24 hours and change the
soaking water at least once.
After soaking is done, rinse the beans, replace the water and cook for
4-8 hours on low heat or for 6-8 hour on high in the crockpot until
beans are tender.
Rice—Use partially milled white rice or brown rice that has been soaked
overnight and up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse rice, then cook as normal.
Corn—Maize, or corn, has been a staple food in central America for thou-
sands of years, with indigenous peoples soaking the dried corn kernels in alkaline lye or quicklime before cooking. This is called “nixtamalization,”
and it increases the bioavailability of bound niacin (Vitamin B3) in the corn
by converting it into a water-soluble free compound, allowing it to be
absorbed by the gut.
Making Lime water
Pickling Lime or Cal Mexicana (calcium hydroxide) (Can be found in the
canning section of a store, in a Hispanic Market, or online.)
Place about a 1/2 cup of the pickling lime into a 1 quart Mason jar. Fill
the jar with water, screw on the lid and shake. Let the jar stand on the
counter for a few hours until the lime settles, leaving you with a mildly
Use the cloudy liquid at the top as your lime water. Save the rest for use
later – it does not go bad when stored at room temperature.
2 C dried corn
1T pickling lime
8 C water
Rinse the corn, then add to a non-reactive pan. Cover with the water
and add the lime. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 30 min.
Remove from the heat and allow to sit overnight. After soaking, rinse in
water with a strainer and rub the kernels between your fingers to remove
some of the skins.
If using cornmeal
If soaking cornmeal, use 1 cup of the lime water for every 2 cups of
cornmeal. Allow the mixture to stand at room temperature for 12 hours
then proceed as needed for your desired recipe.
1 cup oat groats or flakes
Warm filtered water to cover the oats 1 T apple cider vinegar or lemon
1 T spelt or wheat flour, rye flour or rolled rye flakes -or- ground buck-
wheat groats for a gluten-free version
Soak for a full 24 hours, drain and rinse in a fine mesh strainer and cook
These are all things that can and SHOULD be practiced before an emergency happens! Practice, and you will be prepared!
Preparing for Light and Fuel Needs in an Emergency
There is a lot of talk on the news about rolling blackouts, fire danger, and of course record heat and drought conditions. These things are a bad combination! If a fire comes through your area you will most likely lose power and will be handling that in the middle of an extremely hot and dry time.
You need to:
1. Store items to provide light in a power outage
2. Store fuel for a power outage
3. Learn how to heat and cool your home without power
4. Safety with an open flame in your home
In a power outage, hopefully you have stored items that will work without power. The main one we will miss is light. Some options for light:
Solar Powered Lamps
It is wise to store a variety of options that you can use if you lose power.
Fuel to store:
Many of these alternate light and heat sources use fuel. Fuel is an
expendable resource, meaning once it’s gone, it’s gone. You need to store
fuel if you plan to use it for your heating and lighting needs. Most fuel
pumps require electricity to run, so you will not be pumping fuel in a power
outage situation. This is often forgotten on preparedness lists, but will be
sorely missed if you have a lighting or heating need and no fuel.
What needs do you have for fuel?
There are many reasons you might need fuel in an emergency. Here are
Run a generator.
Use a chainsaw to cut wood or downed limbs.
In your car in case of evacuation.
To heat your home
To have light during power outages.
Options to store:
Gasoline - with a stabilizer
Again, store multiple options and make sure you know how to store these items safely.
During these kinds of record heat days, we are not thinking about heating our home, but if a power outage occurs in the winter, it could be a life or death situation. Staying cool in high heat is as well.
Eliminate Heat Loss
Avoid opening and closing outside doors. If you need to go outside, go
through a porch or garage that can act as an airlock to prevent colder air
from entering the home.
Close all the inside doors in the house. This keeps unused rooms from
cooling your main living/survival area.
Block drafts – Place rolled up towels at the base of outside doors to
keep heat in or cold out. Hang blankets over windows and doorways.
Insulate windows – Close your blinds/curtains to reduce heat loss.
Consider moving to the basement. – Even though basements are
normally colder, they can be “warmer” because the ground below a certain level never freezes. It stays at around 45 degrees, and that may
be warmer than your air temperature.
Cool your home
Move to the coolest room in the home.
Don't cook indoors to avoid heating the house more
Hang a wet sheet or towels from an open doorway that has air movement. The air moving through the wet sheet will cool down.
Three very important rules when using an open flame in your home:
Never leave a candle, lamp, or anything with a flame unattended,
especially if you have children! If you have small children, DO NOT
purchase glass-based lamps. They are too dangerous and the fire
danger is high.
Blow out lamps if you are going to fall asleep. Use a battery-powered
flashlight for light in the night.
Remember that all flames need oxygen! If you have an air-tight insu-
lated house (many of our modern homes are built this way), you MUST
crack open a window or two if you are burning ANY flame in your
home. Otherwise, you risk carbon-monoxide poisoning. If you must
use light in an airtight space, use a battery or chemical light source.
Get ready for what may be a problem very soon this year. Let's get prepared!
Sanitation is a hidden, deadly disaster that many people don’t recognize,
understand or respect. In fact, dysentery is the #1 killer after a disaster.
Normally we flush our toilets, and our trash is taken out every week. Our
waste just disappears. In a major disaster, we will lose utilities, including
sewer. What is going to happen when we have to deal with our own waste?
Health and life expectancy improved during the 20th century. Antibiotics generally get the credit, but credit largely goes to improved sanitation.
Watch videos below for information on a sanitation kit and how to handle waste.
Handling Human waste
Our city sewage plants operate on electricity. We can lose our sewage
services because of storm damage, power outages and natural disasters that
move the earth. Anytime the earth moves, in an earthquake for example,
the pipes under the earth will break, leaving us without sewer services.
You can make your home toilet into a port-a-potty or dry toilet. Fecal
matter is very dangerous. You must be prepared in advance. Practice and
know how to handle the fecal matter and keep urine from mixing in. Keeping
the solid and liquid wastes separate is important for disposal reasons, and
because they can both be used as a resource if handled properly.
Convert your regular toilet to a dry system. It is already stable and
comfortable and easy to convert back to a wet system.
Process- turn off water, close valve and empty the water from the bowl
(force it down the pipe with a toilet brush).
Wash and sanitize your toilet bowl with tank water. Bowl and tank
need to be clean and dry.
Plug hole for health reasons (gasses and critters) with a rubber ball,
lacross or racquetball in a sock, or cotton rag coated in shortening.
Put a heavy duty trash bag in the toilet and secure it with duct tape all
around the rim. Then put the seat down.
When using, only use the toilet for fecal matter, not for urine. See
below for how to handle the urine.
Separate, Cover Carry and Bury
Separate– Separate urine from fecal matter to reduce odor, weight and
mass, reducing the number of trash bags needed.
For ladies and children, this is not convenient. Do your best.
Females can use a urine diverter called Feminette or Go-Girl.
Men make a urinal with a large container and a long funnel.
Keep the urine collection container right next to the dry toilet.
Urine is a valuable resource. High in nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Urea is a major component of urine and can be used as
fertilizer in your soil. Available when commercial fertilizer is not.
Dilute with grey (dirty but not waste) water. Don’t put too much
urine in one spot or it will burn. Urine is not toxic and it is sterile
unless a person has an infection. UTI bacteria die quickly in the soil.
There is no human to human disease transmission from urine.
Cover— If you put dirt, sand, clay, sawdust, peat moss, etc. over the
fecal matter in the toilet, it will help with the odor and break it down.
Have a bucket of dry organic material next to the toilet, with a scoop
and stick to stir. After every use, spread a light layer or organic matter
over top of fecal matter. Lay a piece of cardboard over the toilet when
not in use.
Carry— lift bag out of toilet and out in bucket to carry outside.
Bury— somewhere away from the garden. Put where it will erode and
is protected from animals. Dig a hole about 2.5 feet deep and 1 foot
diameter. Place bag of waste beside the hole. Take bag by the bottom
and empty contents so that it can be in contact with the soil to break it
down. Don’t leave it in the bag! Drop the bag in on top of it and add 2
inches of dirt
Cover— Cover the hole with a board that is even with the ground and
put bricks on top of it to keep rodents, insects and dogs out. Keep
layering. When it’s time to cap it off (6-8 inches from the top) lay
newspaper and lime, then newspaper again. Then cover with dirt.
Lime will keep dogs away. In 2-3 years the waste will break down and
this is an ideal place for a garden.
Options for Handling Waste
Portable Bucket— You can get sanitation buckets with
a plastic toilet seat included. Store the items listed
above in the bucket and you can take your potty with
Portable Toilet box— Use a plywood box (without a bottom)
that is about the height of a regular toilet.
How to build: Cut a hole in the top, a little to
one side. Hook a regular toilet seat with a lid
over the hole.
Cut a piece of masonite cut a little bigger than the
hole to slide under the toilet seat so no flies can get into
the hole when it is not in use.
Can use over a hole dug in the ground or a bucket with
a bag in it.
Every time you add waste to the hole or bucket, add
1/2 cup kitty litter, sand, clay, sawdust, dirt, etc.
Fill until 6-8 inches from the top then dispose of as listed above.
Portable options for your family’s 72 hour kit— This should be highly
portable, should seal well, and should be tested so you know FOR
SURE that yes, it will work for YOU in YOUR family situation, and how
long it will work for.
Portable camp style liquid chemical toilet,
some use a bit of water to flush the waste
into an out-of-sight container, others are
simple plop-n-drop models. Know how yours
works and what its limitations are by practicing with it.
Camp style dry chemical toilet, most of these
use a dry powder to gel the waste, significantly reducing moisture content and thus,
bacterial growth. Again, know how yours
works and what its limitations are by practicing with it.
Short-term sanitation kit:
Trash compactor type plastic bags (line your bucket or toilet with
Heavy 13-gallon plastic trash bags (inside liner for your bucket or toilet)
Twist ties to secure bags after use
Rubber gloves to use for transport
Wet wipes rather than toilet paper because they are more effective
and take up less space
Bucket with a handle to carry full bags outside in
Peri bottle to irrigate backsides with water
Crystal type kitty litter
Soap for hand washing (alcohol based hand sanitizers do not work in
the presence of organic matter such as urine and feces, they just give
you a false sense of security)
5- or 6-gallon bucket with a Gamma Seal lid
Wood toilet seat with L brackets to stabilize it on your bucket (optional)
Chemical camp toilet with lots of extra chemical and dedicated water
It's been a little over a year since the last big earthquake in Utah. I can remember exactly where I was when it occurred. That earthquake and the ensuing pandemic taught us a lot about preparedness and it's wise to sit up and pay attention to what we learned.
When preparing your home for a disaster, there are some things that will help in any situation:
What to do BEFORE an emergency
Safeguard your home. Check for potential hazards around your home
and make sure everything is going to be stable and safe. Your home needs
to be your place of refuge.
The physical structure:
Bolt or strap down top-heavy objects, like bookshelves, water heaters
and gas appliances, to prevent them from tipping over.
Check electrical connections and gas pipes for faulty joints and connections.
Be sure your home is anchored firmly to its foundation and structurally
Locate potential fire hazards and reduce their likelihood.
Install smoke, propane, natural gas, and/or carbon monoxide detectors
and test them regularly.
Items in your home:
Place heavy objects on lower shelves.
Securely fasten shelves to walls.
Store bottled goods, glass, vases, china, and other breakables in low or
closed cabinets or drawers.
Store essential and/or unreplaceable items in waterproof unbreakable
Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
Remove hazardous objects (ie. mirrors, bookshelves, heavy pots,
hanging plants, etc.) from sleeping areas.
Properly store flammable liquids and gases and other combustible
Be prepared at home:
Keep properly rated and tagged fire extinguishers on hand and teach
your family how to use them properly.
Store copies of important documents, such as insurance policies, deeds,
and property records, in a safe place away from your home.
Keep a flashlight and or light stick, “jump-in” clothes, an extra pair of
shoes and prescription glasses by your bed.
Acquire tools such as an ax, shovels, brooms, rope, chain saws, plastic
sheeting & tape, heavy-duty to use in an emergency
You need to prepare your home and your family. Just because you have
a safe home doesn’t mean your family will automatically know how to use
the safety measures you’ve put into place. These are great family activities
that everyone can participate in.
Know where and how to shut off the gas or propane, electricity, and
water at main switches and valves. Teach all responsible members
how to do this. Instructions HERE. Tape the
instructions to the appropriate areas for shut off.
Attach a valve wrench to the water line with a zip tie.
Write out instructions for turning off water & gas or propane lines.
Write out instructions for how to turn off electricity and what to
leave on (fridge and refrigerator) if you have a choice.
Work out a plan detailing how you will get back together if you are
separated during a disaster.
Discuss with your family what each person will do in case of a
Remember this plan should be flexible regarding time and location of
each individual during any time of the day, week, or year.
Have an out-of-state contact telephone number that everyone can
call to check-in with.
Hold occasional drills so that your family knows what to do during
and after a disaster.
Find out what to do and where to go in the case of an evacuation of
Learn the shortest and safest routes from your home, work, church,
etc., to possible evacuation areas or centers. Take into account that
you may not be able to travel in vehicles and may need to travel on
foot or bicycle.
Learn the warning signals given by government and local authorities,
what they mean, and how to respond to them.
What to do AFTER an emergency
While preparing, we always hope that we won’t have to use our preps!
But the mind is a funny thing. If we are always thinking about it not
happening, when it does our mind will have a difficult time switching into
the gear you need to react appropriately. Think about these scenarios as
very real possibilities and go through what you will do after an emergency
has occurred. This is the second level of preparation.
Perform first aid for immediate injuries in your own home.
Check for safety hazards such as gas leaks & water line breaks.
Do not use matches, lighters, appliances, or even electrical switches
until you’re sure there are no gas leaks. *Do not shut off gas to the
house unless you have reason to believe there is a leak. You have to
have the gas company come to turn it back on.
If home is unsafe, leave! Take your 72-hour kits with you.
If home is safe, clean up messes that pose further threats (broken
glass, exposed nails, etc.)
Check on your family, neighbors and friends
Prepare for aftershocks or further emergency situations
Take remaining wall hangings off walls – store up-side-down
under couches or beds
Tie kitchen cupboards together, tape doors shut, or remove
Remember: stuff can be replaced. Focus on what really matters!
Get on your emergency communication systems for news about the
Start working on your basic needs - safe air, protection from the
elements, water and food.
Here in Utah there is a Great Shakeout Event on April 15th, 2021 at 10:15 am. If you would like to participate, here is more info:
DID YOU KNOW>>The time to start preparing to grow your own food in an emergency is TODAY, not when the power goes out or fuel shortages have stopped the trucks from delivering food.
Gardening is much more than simply scattering some seeds, watering them a bit, waiting a few days and then harvesting some food. It takes time to prepare the land, nourish the soil, purchase or save seeds and grow the seeds!
You also need to do things that work, make some mistakes, realize the good and the bad, and learn from them to become a better gardener.
Goals for this month:
Acquire some emergency seeds and sprouting seeds.
Look for a space you can grow in
Make sure you have a source of water
Advantages of Growing Emergency Garden Foods NOW before an emergency:
Saves money now that you can use for other storage foods.
Your grown products ARE stored and AVAILABLE in a crisis or food shortage emergency
Don't have to go to the store or depend on the food supply chain.
Food can be grown totally organic.
Steps you can take now to prepare to garden:
Find a place to garden - needs 6-8 hrs of sun/day. Can be a container, raised bed, flower bed or garden spot.
Make sure you have a good source of water.
Buy seeds - only non-hybrid/heirloom seeds!Buy from a catalog like Rareseeds.com
Prepare you soil.Add compost to increase nutrients.You only need to add 1-2 inches and don't till or mix in.
Start tomatoes and peppers indoors if desired.
Plant seeds based on planting calendar (see side bar)
Water every day until the seeds sprout, then drop back to 2-3 times per week, 45 minutes per time.
Maintain garden.Weekly light weeding is all it takes.
Watch these short videos for more info:
Tips For Gardening in an Emergency:
If you don't have garden space, talk with others about putting together a neighborhood or community garden.
Keep enough seed so that you never plant ALL of what you have. Save some of each harvested seed variety so that you always have extra garden seed on hand to plant and replace with the next season's harvest.
Frequently asked gardening questions:
Q: What tools do I need to store to garden in an emergency?
A: I use two things every day in my garden - a Japanese gardening knife and some garden gloves. They are easy to store and indispensable for any garden. You can also store a shovel and rake for larger areas.
Q: Where should I put my garden?
A: My first rule is close to your home- out of sight, out of mind is true! You also need to make sure your area gets enough sun. Most vegetables need a minimum of 6 hours of sun, and if possible, have your garden facing the south for the strongest sun. Watch for trees overhead and the potential shade they will give. Also make sure to keep the garden 20 feet away from shallow rooted trees like maples and elms. For good drainage, make sure the land is fairly level.
Q: How should I prepare the soil?
A: One of my favorite quotes says, “If you treat the soil well – as a living thing – in return, it becomes unconditionally generous.” How do you treat the soil well? By feeding it well, by not disturbing the very active fungal network that is the underground food chain for the plants, and by treading lightly.
For a new garden:
Till or turn over the soil 12 inches deep. If it is the original soil, add compost, and mix in.
Soak 1-2 days before planting
For an established garden
Clean garden up completely at the end of the year.
Add organic materials (leaves, straw, compost) 2 inches deep on top of the soil. Do not mix it. Don’t till or turn over your soil. This disrupts the fungal networks, depletes carbon and makes your soil have to start over building its food networks every year.
Once you have prepared the soil, place walking paths. NEVER walk on your garden soil, only on paths.
Q: When can I plant?
A: The USDA has designated “hardiness” zones across the US. These zones give you guidelines for when you should expect a frost, and the lowest and highest average temperatures in your area (see map below). I live in Zone 5, so I have freezing temperatures until around the first of May every year, and starting again in mid-October. Figure out your zone on the map, then there are a lot of interactive sites online that will guide you on when to plant for your zone. You can also ask at a garden center (not a big-box store - a real garden center). They can give you guidance on when they recommend you plant for your area as well.
Q: How do I plant?
A: There are many ways to plant, and they are related to how you are going to grow. If you are using a measured system like the “Square Foot’ system, there are specific guidelines for each foot of garden space. This is great for a small space. For larger row systems, you need other methods. I’ve used all of these with great success.
1.Square foot - Poke your finger in soil to create a hole
2.Row – Use a Japanese Gardening Knife and make a line
3.Place seed in hole and Cover with thin layer of soil equal to 3 times the thickness of the seed
4.Water gently every day until sprouts
Q: How far apart should I plant the seeds and transplants?
A: That depends on your seed and plant.
Small plants like carrots, onions, radishes, greens, lettuce - spread across the soil thinly
bush beans and spinach- 1 inch apart
pole beans, peas, beets, turnips, parsnips- 2 inches apart
eaf lettuce and herbs- 4 inches apart
cucumbers (2 seeds per spot), corn, celery- 6 inches apart
Tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, melons (all two seeds per spot)- 18 inches apart
8. How should I water?
A: Water daily until the seed sprouts. Then leaf and root vegetables(lettuce, carrots, etc) need water twice weekly while fruit and seed vegetables( peas, tomatoes) need water once weekly. Each time you water you need to water for at least an hour. Watering deeply and less often grows stronger plants.
Q: What is crop rotation?
A: Crops should not be planted in the same place two years in a row and crops of the same family should not be planted in the same place.
Never plant the mustard family (cabbage and broccoli) or the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes and peppers) in the same place two years in a row.
Beans and Peas are nitrogen fixers and will improve the soil. Follow them with heavy feeders such as tomatoes and peppers.
Q: How do I control pests?
A: The most efficient form of organic pest control is healthy plants. A strong, resilient plant is far better at resisting the effects of an aphid attack than a weak plant. Spread plants of the same type throughout the garden. If you plant all of one type together, the insect can find them easier and will be a bigger problem. And make sure to remove diseased plants quickly, but don’t put in your composter.