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Sunday, April 3, 2022

Gardening in an Emergency

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 a skill, much like being able to shoot a gun accurately. 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.

Places to start:

  • Acquire some emergency seeds

  • Acquire some sprouting seeds. These will provide fast fresh food no matter what time of year it is.

  • Look for a space you can grow in

  • Ensure a source of water

Why it’s important to grow a garden, if possible, during emergency situations.

If an emergency occurs, you will be surviving on emergency foods. They are lacking in nutrients and you will quickly have nutrient deficiencies. If possible, you need to grow live foods that will provide those missing nutrients.

Starting on the day the power fails or the emergency occurs, let’s look at a timeline of what is possible, things to have in preparation and how every- thing can tie together to feed your family in the short and medium term 

  1. Emergency

  2. First day — Start sprouts in a jar. Will sprout in 4-6 days. Soak overnight then rinse and drain. Let sit in sunny window and rinse and drain 1-2 times per day.

  3. Day 3-7 — start more sprouts every other day. Start fast growing seeds outdoors (see list below)

  4. First week — should be able to 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

    Fast-growing crops to plant ASAP after an emergency:

    • Asian or Mustard greens – 21 days for baby, 45 days mature

    • Beets – 35 days for beet tops, 50 days mature

    • Broccoli Raab/Rapini or De Cicco – 40 – 45 days for first harvest, can harvest again and again

    • Carrots – 50 – 70 days depending on weather

    • Kale – 30 days for baby kale, 60 days mature

    • Lettuces – 30-45 days depending on variety. Leaf lettuce will grow to harvest quickly.

    • Radishes – Bulb radishes 25 – 35 days

    • Spinach – 30 days to baby, 45 days mature. Works best in cooler


    • Swiss chard – 30 days baby, 55 days mature

      Being able to use this fresh garden produce to supplement the dried, canned, freeze-dried and other foods in your short and long term food storage will make meals much more interesting, nutritious and tasty.

Make sure...  Only buy Non-Hybrid and Heirloom seeds! You collect and use the seeds from these plants for future planting, so you never have to buy seeds again. This is essential in an emergency when seeds may not be available for purchase. Hybrid Seeds are sterile and CANNOT be collected and reliably used for future planting. 

Growing Sprouts in a Jar

The easiest way to grow sprouts for eating is in a jar. Almost any seed can be sprouted in a jar, following these basic guidelines.

Instructions for sprouting in a jar 

1. Choose a jar and lid.

  • Any glass jar will do for sprouting, though one with a wide opening makes it easier to rinse, drain, and remove sprouts. Choose a jar large enough to contain the seeds and sprouts - which will fill up at least 10 times as much space as the seeds alone.

  • You need a mesh-like, breathable 

    covering. This can be cheesecloth, a tea towel or very fine-gauge plastic or wire mesh. You use this when draining the seeds. While sprouting, you want the sprouts to get air flow.

2. Rinse Seeds.

  • Rinse seeds well with cool water and drain. Remove any stones, loose fibers or broken seeds if large enough to see.

3. Soak Seeds.

  • Place a small amount of rinsed seeds (1-2 T) in a jar and fill about 3⁄4 full with cool water. Cover with a mesh lid or cloth, secured with a rubber band, to allow air flow.
  • A general rule- soak at least 8 hours. Soak until the seeds have doubled in size. Larger seeds like chickpeas or kidney beans may require a 24-hour soak.

  • In warmer temperatures, the soak time is shorter. In cooler tempera- tures, soak time is longer,

4. Drain Seeds

  • Drain the seeds well, for several hours, while allowing plenty of air circulation. This is why you need a secured mesh lid. You need to keep the bottle upside down and draining for some time.

5. Rinse, Drain, and Repeat 3 times per day

  • Rinse seeds with cool water and repeat draining. Usually 2-3 days of rinsing and draining about 3 times per day is sufficient.

  • If it’s very warm, rinse more frequently. If it’s cold, less frequent rinsing may be fine, but keep in mind that seeds may not sprout as well.

 6. Final Rinse and Drain

  • Once sprouts are ready to harvest, rinse one final time and remove un-sprouted seeds and seed hulls if you don’t want them with your finished sprouts. Drain thoroughly one final time before eating or storing.

Using sprouted seeds

Sprouts are ready to eat at any point after a sprout tail appears. Taste daily during the sprouting process and eat or refrigerate once they taste good to you. Many seeds will become spicier if sprouted too long.

Storing sprouts and sprouted seeds

Sprouts are easy to grow in small batches every few days so that there are fresh sprouts to eat daily. However if you want to store them, drain them completely and store in a sealed container in the fridge. Can store for a few days. 

To Do This Month:

Grow something. Anything. Sprout some seeds in a jar. Start some seeds in a pot on your patio or inside a warm window. You need to learn that growing things is possible anywhere, anytime!

Buy some heirloom seeds for the things you would most like to grow. Store them somewhere cool.

Start preparing your soil by adding organic matter. Save your kitchen scraps.

Look into one way you could grow food in the winter.
Learn what Zone you live in and when you should plant for your area. 

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