Preppers: Do You Have This Fundamental Skill?

A Fundamental Skill That Every Prepper Should Have

In most areas of the country, it’s time to put your garden in… or past time. But even, if you’re getting a late start, there’s till plenty of time to grow some of your own food this season.

This is Heather Robson, guest writing for Lee Bellinger’s Ready-for-Anything Report. Today, I’m going to give you a crash course in gardening.

First, I want to touch on why gardening is a great way to invest some of your time during the spring, summer, and even autumn months.

An Easy Way to Become More Self-Reliant

This year, I’ve discovered my new favorite advanced gardening technique: chickens.

Planting a garden is one of the most fundamental things you can do to increase your self-reliance. Producing your own food… well, it doesn’t get any more basic than that.

When you grow a garden, you’re learning a valuable and essential skill. One that will serve you especially well should food supplies ever be disrupted.

But gardening goes beyond that. It also is a wonderful way to add nutrient-rich foods to your diet. And it can help you save money on your grocery bills—money that you can put toward other preparations that will also improve your self-reliance.

The First Rule of Gardening

Few things are more frustrating to a new gardener than planting things that don’t grow.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to avoid that frustration. It really just takes four simple steps.

First find out what grows well in your area. You need to get the “right plant” in the “right place.” Not everything grows equally well in any climate. And some things will do well when planted at different times in different regions.

The Farmer’s Almanac site provides a handy chart for when to plant what based on when the last frost is for your area. And the USDA has a map to help you find your hardiness zone. Another resource I like is Burpee. This seed manufacturer lets you enter your zip code and then provides growing advice for each seed type you’re interested in based specifically on where you’re located.

Make sure you plant your seeds with adequate room to grow.

Second, make sure you plant your seeds with adequate room to grow. Plant crowding can stymie growth and lead to low crop yields. Most seeds and starts come with spacing instructions, so follow them.

Third, soak your seeds overnight before planting. This isn’t required. Your seeds will grow even you don’t soak them. But they’ll grow faster if you do, and you’ll get to enjoy the satisfaction of seeing you work pay off sooner.

Finally, set up a watering system. This can be a daily hand watering routine or an automatic sprinkler set up. Just make sure that your plants are getting adequate water, but be sure not to overwater them.

In my own neck of the woods, planting time begins early in May after the final spring frosts have passed. We have a family tradition of putting the garden in on Mother’s Day. I get to spend the day with my family doing something I enjoy, and my kids get to learn gardening basics.

Most things grow well here, as long as you plant them in an area where they can get plenty of sun. I plant small amounts of lots of different things that I know I’ll use and enjoy eating. On the roster this year: five types of tomatoes, 4 types of peppers, 1 zucchini plant, 2 cucumbers, and a row each of beans, peas, carrots, beets, radishes, and green onions. I also have two rows of full-sized onions and two beds with a variety of lettuces and leafy greens growing in them.

Outside of focusing on plants that will grow in your area, plant things that you like, that you’ll use, and that you’ll save to enjoy through the winter. These will give you the most enjoyment and the biggest return on your investment.

My Favorite Advanced Gardening Tip

There are lots of advanced gardening projects that you can try, from making your own compost, to learning what plants grow best next to each other, to building and using vertical gardening techniques.

This year, I’ve discovered my new favorite advanced gardening technique: chickens.

Chickens do two wonderful things for your garden:

  • They keep it thoroughly weeded throughout the winter. This year, my garden prep consisted of turning the soil. I didn’t have to pull a single weed!
  • They keep it well fertilized. Chicken manure is a wonderful fertilizer. When I turned my garden, I worked all the droppings into the soil, and this year, my plants are growing faster than ever!

As an added bonus, you get farm-fresh eggs, which beat the socks off of the stuff you buy at the store.

To keep chickens, you’ll need a small chicken coop where they can roost at night, safely locked away from predators like skunks and cats. And a small fenced area where you can keep them contained when they’re not needed to weed your garden—a chicken can’t tell a weed from a vegetable start, so if you let them have the run of your garden after planting, you won’t grow a thing.

Once your plants are well established, you can start letting the chickens back into the garden. They will leave most of your vegetables alone. Observe them, though, and put a chicken wire barrier around any plants they still insist on snacking on. My chickens, for example, really like zucchini.

For the most part, they’ll focus on the smallest plants. Once your garden is growing, those will be the weeds. Go, chickens! They also eat bugs that can harm your plants, so that’s another bonus.

When your garden starts producing, make use of the fruits of your labor.

  • Add fresh produce to your meals
  • Preserve the extra through canning, freezing, or even drying
  • Use your extra vegetables for bartering. You could barter with your neighbors for services or with other gardeners for vegetables you didn’t grow
  • Give extra vegetables away as gifts

Gardening can become a cornerstone of your preparedness efforts. So don’t wait. Get some seeds in the ground today.

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