There is nothing that makes me much happier than my garden in the spring. Everything is coming to life – tiny seeds are sprouting, trees are blooming, bulbs I planted last fall are flourishing. How can you feel anything but wonder when seeing the miracle of spring?
I also feel a sort of security when I see things growing. I picture all the delicious meals that will feed my family. That security is something that is worth digging in the dirt for. I have a thought provoking question for you – from former US Secretary of Agriculture and LDS Church President Ezra Taft Benson.
“Have you ever paused to realize what would happen to your community or nation if transportation were paralyzed or if we had a war or depression? How would you and your neighbors obtain food? How long would the corner grocery store or supermarket sustain the needs of the community? “ – Ezra Taft Benson
It is estimated that stores would be emptied in two days after any type of serious emergency situation. What type of emergency are we talking about?? Anything that disrupts the transportation system. You see, the food in stores no longer comes from the farm down the road. It comes from all over the world. If it can’t get to you, there is no more food available.
Emergencies around the corner
This could be an earthquake that makes roads impassable or a severe storm that shuts down power. This could be a family emergency if you lose your job for a few months or have a reduction in income for a time. In any type of emergency situation, the stress level is so high. Wouldn’t it be nice not to worry about food too?
So even if you don’t have a garden now, here are some essentials to have stored so you can be prepared to feed your family if the need ever arises:
Store some basic essentials for gardening so you are prepared to produce food for your family.
Non-Hybrid seeds (hybrid seeds are sterile)
Sprouting Seeds (for food in 3 days)
Fast-growing seeds (for food in 20 days)
Soil and a container (store bags of compost)
A small hand tool for gardening – Japanese Hori Hori knife is my favorite! (found on Amazon or other retailers)
Gardening and leather gloves
Things to Prepare NOW for gardening in an Emergency:
- Emergency seeds – Need to purchase and practice using seeds.
- Quick to grow seeds – What can be planted that will grow quickly enough to provide nutritious fresh edibles for a family, no matter what time of year it is or what the growing conditions are? Sprouts! Alfalfa seed, red clover seed, mung beans and radish seed.
- A space to grow a garden, even on a small scale- a 5 gallon bucket or Rubbermaid tote and some planting soil will grow something.
- A source of water – without access to fresh water, all of the preparations will do you no good.
Time line in an emergency
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 everything can tie together to feed yourself in the short and medium term.
- First day – Start sprouts in a jar. Will sprout in 4-6 days. Soak overnight then rinse and drain. Let sit in sunny window. Rinse and drain 1-2 times per day.
- Day 3-7 – start more sprouts every other day. Start fast growing seeds outdoors (see list below)
- 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:
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 repeat harvest
Carrots – 50 – 70 days depending on weather
Kale – 30 days for baby kale, 60 days mature
Lettuces – if seeds are started inside, lettuce can be ready in 30 days from transplanting.
Radishes – Some radishes are 25 – 35 days
Spinach – 30 days to baby, 45 days mature. Works best in cooler weather.
Swiss chard – 30 days baby, 55 days mature
Being able to use the fresh garden produce to supplement the dried, canned, freeze-dried and otherwise prepared foods will make meals much more interesting and tasty.
What type of seeds should I buy for my Emergency Supply?
Non-Hybrid and Heirloom seeds allow you to collect and use the seeds for future planting. Hybrid Seeds are sterile and CANNOT be collected and reliably used for future planting.
Try not to buy seeds off the racks in most stores. They are usually hybrids, along with higher prices for the quantity. Sources for heirloom seeds: Baker Seed Company, Johnny’s Select Seeds, Territorial Seed Company, Many more
Advantages of Growing Emergency Garden Foods NOW:
- Good economical choice for the long term.
- Your grown products ARE AVAILABLE in a crisis or food shortage emergency.
- Cost per meal with “your garden food” is less than the average grocery store meal.
- Don’t have to drive to purchase the food.
- Food can be grown totally organic.
Soil Preparation NOW and in an emergency:
What you want is full-flavored, nutrient-rich produce. That isn’t going to happen if your soil is depleted.
Not only that, but your plants will grow more slowly, giving the weeds a head start. Weeds further deplete the soil of nutrients and moisture, and also shade the plants you are trying to grow. Because of that, you will reap much smaller quantities of food. So the first thing you will want to do is build up your soil as much as you can.
Manure – This is probably the best thing to add to your garden. As a general rule, chicken manure is very “hot”, meaning very high in nitrogen. Spread it thinly. Horse and cow manure isn’t so strong, and doesn’t have as much chance of damaging the plants. Goat, moose, llama and other manures are also fine to use. It is best, though, not to use it while still “fresh”.
Leaves –Instead of bagging them and putting them out for the trash, use this valuable resource on your garden. Spread them out in the fall and leave them on top until spring. They will decompose over winter and be ready to feed your plants in the spring.
Grass clippings – These are great. The more plant material added to the garden, the better. It’s best to either compost them or put them on in the fall and let them sit over winter, especially if they are layered with manure.
Compost –Compost is basically pre-decomposed plant material, ready for garden use. This comes from your own compost pile, into which you have been tossing kitchen scraps, grass clippings, manure, garden waste, and other such materials. Let it sit and “cook”. One of the important things to remember in a compost pile is that the smaller the pieces, the faster the compost will be ready.
Kitchen scraps – Don’t throw away those vegetable peelings! Keep an ice cream bucket with a lid, or some other container, and save those scraps. Pretty much any fruit and vegetable matter is great. Some people put it all in the compost pile. Others just dig a trench somewhere and bury it.
Some things to avoid putting on the garden include meat scraps and bones (attracts mice), weeds (you don’t want more weed seeds there) and non-biodegradable items.
There are so many things that can be added to the garden soil to add nutrients and encourage strong growth. Start now to put all you can in there so that your plants grow vigorous and healthy. If they are healthier, then your family will be healthier too!
Go out and get your hands dirty – your family will thank you for it later!
Dr. Michelle Jorgensen
This information is not meant as medical advice. It is provided solely for education. Our American Fork dental office would be pleased to discuss your unique circumstances and needs as they relate to these topics.
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