Planning Your Prepper Garden

starting seedsWhile spring is still a couple of months away for most people, it is the time of year you need to start planning your prepper garden. Growing your own food is an essential part of the food pantry process. You will not only save money by growing your own food and preserving it, but you will also have an established food supply source if and when things do get crazy.

It is important you spend some time planning your garden so you can take advantage of every inch of space. This is especially important if you have limited space. Many gardeners make the mistake of picking up a bunch of seeds and planting them simply because it seems like the thing to do. Those gardeners usually end up with a bunch of food they won’t eat and either give it away or let it go to waste. You can’t afford to do that when your garden is what feeds your family.

You need to learn about companion planning. One common method that has been around for centuries is planting corn with pea plants in between stalks. The corn shades the peas (which like cooler temps) and provides the pea vines with a trellis. This is an excellent way to maximize your space. Another option is to plant a root crop with a shallow-rooted crop on top. Herbs are excellent for planting over a root crop. Both plants will get the sun they need and will not fight for nutrients. Read up on this because some herbs should not be planted near certain plants. Garlic for one is not a plant you want next to your peas.seeds

Another trick you will want to learn is succession planning. Depending on where you live and your growing season, you may be able to get several crops of potatoes, corn and other veggies. If you start early enough, you can typically get at least 2 crops of vegetables with short growing cycles.

Lastly, invest in heirloom seeds. These seeds produce fruit and vegetables with seeds that can be saved and used for the next season. This is absolutely essential to your prepper garden. You want to be self-sustainable. In a SHTF scenario, you won’t be able to run to the store and buy new seeds every year. You have to produce your own. In many areas, you will need to order your heirloom seeds. They are not usually readily available in most stores. Order now so they are in your hands when it is time to start your plants indoors in preparation for the spring.

10 Crucial First Steps to Prepping

healthy freeze dried foodIf you have just learned about the prepping movement and decided it is something you want to be a part of, there are some things you need to do first. Prepping in general is a big job. It isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes a lot of time, patience, dedication and investment. You don’t want to just jump in with both feet and randomly put things on your shelves. This is a job that takes careful planning.

The following are the first things you need to do to get your food storage off on the right foot.

1-Start saving your empty 2-liter pop bottles, water bottles and juice bottles to store water in. Water is a priority. You can also buy water containers, but you need to start somewhere and recycling used plastic containers is perfect. Don’t use old milk jugs. They are not durable enough.

2-Determine how much food you need for 30 days. Make an effort to get 30 days of food on hand and then build up from there.

3-Decide how much money you can put aside each month to building up your food supply. Cutting out a night of dining out, skipping a fancy coffee one day a week and other little things will help you find money in your budget to put towards your food storage.

4-Do some research and learn more about prepping and what things you should be stocking up on. There are plenty of eBooks, blogs and websites that have a ton of information for you to browse through.

5-Identify an area in your home where you will store the bulk of your supplies. Do what you need to make it an ideal food storage space, i.e. covering windows, adding shelves, clearing out clutter and so on.food pantry-1

6-Talk about what you are doing with your family. You need everybody on board. This is a job that is too big for you to take on alone. Get your family involved with storing water and putting food on the shelves.

7-Create a plan of action for when things do get crazy. You don’t want the family diving into your food storage and having a feast. Talk about what you will do when it is time to rely on your emergency food supply. Rationing will be necessary.

8-Add a few things from the attic, your garage or your storage to your emergency storage. You probably have extra blankets, winter gear and tarps lying around. Put those things into your emergency storage and you will already be on your way. It is a good way to see just what you have by keeping it in one place.

9-Plan a weekend or a day to head out into nature with some of the survival gear you have been picking up. Practice using your gear. This is absolutely crucial. You must know how to use the various tools that are going to save your life.

10-Come up with a backup plan or a bug out plan. If your home is compromised, you will need to leave it and retreat to a secondary location. If you have a secure secondary location, you will want to divide your preps. The old saying, “don’t put all your eggs into one basket” applies here. Don’t put all your preps into one spot—just in case you have to bug out!

Prepping Isn’t Just for Doomsdayers

Prepping has gotten a bit of a bad reputation. When certain people hear the term, they automatically think of country folk wearing tinfoil hats and running around hiding in underground bunkers waiting for the sky to fall. It is a stigma that true preppers have been stuck with for decades. Most don’t care, but it is only right that anybody who believes that silly story knows the truth. Prepping isn’t about preparing for outrageous events that can never happen. Prepping isn’t about dressing up in camo and hiding in the trees. It is about preparing to keep your family alive through any scenario—including every day life. Outrageous events happen all the time!thunderstorm-567678_640

For those who are convinced nothing bad ever happens, including war, natural disasters or just bad luck in general, it is them who should take a look in the mirror and adjust their tin foil hats. Bad stuff happens. It is a fact of life. It doesn’t matter if you are in the midwest, the northeast or the northwest. Things happen in life.

The following are some of the reasons people prep. You will notice foil hats have nothing to do with these scenarios.

*Natural disasters—it doesn’t matter where you live, Mother Nature is there and sometimes she gets a little testy and throws a heck of a storm just for fun. It could be torrential rains that cause flooding and leave people stuck in their homes for a day or two or it could be violent snowstorms, major tornadoes and hurricanes or even a wild thunderstorm. It doesn’t matter where you live. A storm can leave you cooped up in your house for days.

*Civil unrest or rioting. Yes, we have seen this happening more and more. Sure, you can take your chances and head on down to the 7-11 to buy that loaf of bread where angry folks are rioting or you can stay home and watch it all on the news while you enjoy your canned food and other munchies from your emergency supply.

*Act of war or terrorism—you never know. While this one is thankfully rare in places like the UK and the US, you never know. That is why people prep because it has happened and it is unpredictable.

emergency*Medical emergency leaves you unable to work. What if you or your spouse or your child gets extremely sick and you cannot work. Sure, you may be able to scrape by and pay the mortgage and utilities, but buying food and other supplies could be tough. Having a backup supply ensures you will be able to feed your family even when times are tough.

*The loss of a job. Nobody has guaranteed job security. Even if you find another one, there is going to be a few weeks without pay. A few weeks where money is going to be short. Having an emergency food supply provides you a cushion that allows you to fall back on it when things are tough.

If you are not convinced, know this; it is always better to have and not need than to need and not have.

Supplementing Your Food Supply After SHTF

dandelionYou have been busy stockpiling food and are probably pretty comfortable with what you have amassed thus far. Maybe you are one of those who has calculated your food stores right down to the serving and the amount of days you have on hand. Or you may be one of those who just kind of eyeballs your shelves and guesstimates how many days you have on hand. Both methods are really estimates because you never know who is going to be home when it hits the fan. What if you happen to have relatives visiting or a portion of your food supply is damaged? You need to have a backup plan to supplement your food supply after disaster strikes.
Foraging

Foraging is going to be your best option. You may envision yourself as the great white hunter, but hunting large game is not easy. It is time-consuming and zaps your energy. Energy is not something you can afford to waste when you are low on food. You need to learn what plants you can eat that will help sustain you while you set traps or go fishing for a bigger source of food. There are literally thousands of plants you can munch on. However, nearly every edible plant has a doppelganger that just happens to be poisonous or will cause some nasty side effects. You need to spend some time learning what is safe and what to avoid. It doesn’t hurt to have a manual with your food stores to use as a reference tool. Going through the testing process to determine what is safe to eat and what isn’t can take a full day. You don’t have that kind of time.

Trapping

You may be short on ammunition and unless you have spent time learning how to use a bow and arrow, you are going to have to rely on setting traps. Traps are best used for small game, but you can certainly attempt to trap deer, bear and wild hogs. Small game is easier and more prolific than the large beasts we are used to putting on our dinner tables. Every little bit helps. Along with your book about edible plants, download and print a few instructional guides about how to build various traps with the items you find in your surroundings.fishing

It doesn’t matter if you have enough food to last a year. You have to be prepared to supplement your existing food supply just in case things go wrong or the disaster completely turns the world upside down and you will be forced to survive on your wit and skills for longer than a year. Prepare and practice today to make your uncertain tomorrow a little easier.

Preventing Hypothermia

stuckWith temperatures plummeting and parts of the world dealing with unprecedented cold, it is is a good idea to brush up on your survival skills and what it takes to prevent hypothermia. Hypothermia is the condition you suffer when your core body temperature has lost a few degrees and is hovering around the 96 degrees and below mark. It may not seem like a lot, but your body is a fine-tuned machine that must maintain its pre-programmed body heat setting in order to be healthy. The slightest fluctuation can result in some pretty serious problems.

The Law of 3s is something many survivalists take to heart. One of the most important laws is the fact you only have about 3 hours to get your body temperature regulated. That means, if you rush out into a snowstorm, you only have a couple of hours to find shelter and hopefully start a fire to stay warm. Three hours is not a long time! You can’t put off finding a shelter, especially if it is raining or snowing—two things that will make you wet, which will zap your body heat faster than you can blink.blizzard-15850_150

You have to stay dry and as warm as possible. Snuggling up with somebody else is one way to take advantage of body heat. Hiding in a cave, a debris hut or any other shelter will help as well. The smaller the area the better. Your body heat will produce some heat and will warm your humble abode.

Cover your body with dried leaves, pine needles and other dry debris you find in your surroundings. Put a layer down on the ground to act as a barrier between your warm body and the cold ground. You would be amazed at how much heat your body will generate when it is trapped close to your body by the debris. You may not get toasty warm, but you will certainly have a better shot at maintaining your core body temperature which is the most important thing.

Hypothermia is a serious, life-threatening condition that you must avoid at all costs. It doesn’t take long for hypothermia to set in and zap you of all your energy. Plan accordingly before you ever head out into the weather, even if it is just to the store for a gallon of milk. You never know what could happen and you don’t want to get stranded on the side of your road in a snowstorm wearing nothing more than your pajamas and slippers. Dress accordingly!

Personal Safety in a Survival Situation

gunWhen you think about surviving a disaster, you probably have this image in your head of you and your family surviving off the land in the middle of a deserted forest or maybe you have been lucky enough to be able to hang out at home. The neighborhood is silent and it is just you and your family. Unfortunately, this is one of those fantasies we cook up because we have seen a lot of movies. In reality, it is very unlikely you will be the only survivors in your area. It is also very unlikely that every survivor was prepared to live through the aftermath of a catastrophe and that every survivor is an upstanding citizen who will leave you and yours alone.

Alas, we must talk about personal safety in a survival situation. It is more important than food, water or shelter. If you are not safe, you are not going to have a need for the other three things. How you stay safe and keep your family safe is totally up to you. The following are some options you have and the pros and cons to those options.

Knives—These are common weapons because of their multiple uses. You can use them to hunt, make shelters, cut wood and as a security device. They are lightweight and you won’t have to worry about a knife running out of bullets. However, if you are planning on using a knife as your security weapon, you need to consider the possibility of getting injured in hand-to-hand combat. To wield a knife, you will have to be within inches of your opponent, which is extremely risky.community

Guns—This is often the weapon of choice for preppers because it allows them to keep their distance from an attacker. The gun can also be used as a threat. Most people will stay away from anybody who is flashing a gun with the threat of using it. Unfortunately, guns are only effective if they have bullets. You will need a supply of ammunition and if you are on the run, boxes of ammo can be awful heavy. Guns are also loud and may draw attention when you don’t want it.

Tasers—Tasers are pretty effective and allow you to take down an attacker without getting close. However, you will need batteries to keep your taser operational. You also only get one shot to hit your target. You will need additional cartridges to fire another shot. In the grand scheme of things, tasers should be your last resort.

Other people—Animals already know this; there is safety in numbers. Take the time to research and find a group of people you trust that you can band together with in an emergency. This may be your neighbors, your family or people you have met through various survival interest groups. Take the time to get to know these people to see if you would feel comfortable putting your life in their hands. A ragtag group of bandits is less likely to attack a group of armed or unarmed people than they would a single family holed up in their house.

Personal safety is often the last thing people think of when they go about prepping for survival. It should be a top priority. You have to be able to protect all that food, water and the other supplies you are stockpiling and you certainly have to keep your family safe.

Can You Start a Fire in Survival Mode?

mountain-man-205306_640One of the basics in survival is starting a fire. Most people have this image in their head that if they ever find themselves lost in the woods or stranded for whatever reason, the first thing they are going to do is start a fire. A fire will make everything better. Well, it probably will, but how do you plan on starting that fire? Have you ever practiced starting a fire in the wild without a stack of newspaper, lighter fluid or even a lighter? If you haven’t, you have some work to do.

A fire is one of the very basic tools of survival. It should be something you learn in the very beginning and practice often. Starting a fire is not as easy as you would think. If you remember that Tom Hanks movie, “Castaway,” you remember the sheer torture the man went through to get a fire and then the extreme joy he felt when he finally got a spark. You don’t want to rub your hands raw to the point they are bleeding. You are smart enough to prepare for anything and therefore, you are going to store several different fire starting methods so you don’t ever have to make a hand drill. While the hand drill, sometimes called a bow drill, will get a fire going, it is an absolutely brutal way to go about it. It is absolutely taxing and frustrating and you are more likely to give up before you ever see the tiniest little spark.

Prepare yourself to survive by carrying various fire starting tools with you in your car, in your locker, in your bug out bag and in your pocket if you are heading out for a walk into the woods. The following items are extremely handy for getting the first leg of the fire starting triangle—ignition. match-268526_640

Lighter
Matches—waterproof or matches in waterproof container are best
Ferro rod/Firesteel
Magnesium stick

Those are four things that are extremely inexpensive and lightweight. Buy a lot so you are never without! Before you go traipsing off into the forest, spend some time learning how to make the ferro rods or magnesium stick work. While the method is fairly basic, it does take some practice. The firesteel will come with a handy rod to slide down the steel to create a spark. However, you have to know how much pressure to apply, how fast to slide the rod and how close you need to hold it to your tinder bundle to catch the spark. The same applies to the magnesium stick.

Never assume you can start a fire in the wild unless you have practiced it. Practice gathering tinder bundle material in wet and dry conditions and then practice lighting the fire. This is a skill that is too valuable not to practice. Don’t forget to teach the rest of the family as well.

Home Food Preservation in Winter for Emergency Food Storage

dried_fruits (2)Food is expensive and it doesn’t appear to be getting any cheaper. You still need to do what you can to buy extra food to put in your emergency food storage, but how can you possibly manage when you are barely getting by? The key is to make use of every bit you have. Home preservation is one way you can store food without spending a lot of money.

There is some equipment you will need to buy up front, but once you make the initial investment, the rest of the equipment you need is very minor. The following is a list of things you will want to keep your eye out for. When you see the items go on sale, snatch them up. Don’t be afraid to buy used. You can get some pretty good deals in the off season. Typically winter and early spring are when canning and home preservation are in a bit of a lull. This is when you can look for the items at thrift stores and on clearance in big box stores.

What You Need

Dehydrator
Pressure canner
Smoker
Jars, bands, lids
Jar tongs
Funnels
Strainers
Sharp knives
Pectin (optional) check expiration dates
Pickling spices
Jerky spices
Wood chips for smoker

With the items listed above, you can make anything and everything you need to stock up your food storage. Your garden is probably not producing in the middle of winter, but there are still plenty of things you can preserve.

If you are a hunter, maybe you have taken a deer or other animal. Make jerky out of the meat in your smoker or dehydrator. You can also can some of the meat to make stews.
Did you make a big turkey for Thanksgiving? Don’t throw out the bones without making a delicious, flavorful stock. The stock can be canned and will make an excellent additive to stews and soups in a survival situation.

canning
Are your root crops from fall looking a little old and beginning to soften up. Act quickly and preserve the food before it rots. Dehydrate or can carrots and beets. Potatoes are very difficult and extremely risk to can, so your best bet is to either freeze them or dehydrate them. There are plenty of potato dishes you can make and pop in the freezer for a quick dinner option in the future.

Keep the idea of saving every bit top of mind and the next time you are looking at tossing extra food out, you will think twice. Get creative and you can surely come up with a way to combine a few leftovers to create a stew that can be canned. If canning isn’t an option, toss the leftovers in the freezer for a quick meal. Every penny you save by preserving leftovers can be put towards your emergency food storage goal.

What Food Should You be Stockpiling in Case of Emergency

food pantry-1If you have wandered into the grocery store and stood in the canned food aisle staring at all the different foods and contemplated what to put in your cart—you are doing it wrong. Stockpiling food is a must. Stockpiling food you don’t like, have never tried or have never heard of is a huge mistake. Preppers need to follow one rule of thumb;

Only store what you eat today!

Every prepper pantry is going to look a little different or at least it should. Mine won’t look like yours because we live in a house full of picky eaters. If you are a “go with the flow” kind of person, you can pretty much stock whatever you find on sale. You may love spinach and buy it buy the caseloads. That is great, but if you loathe spinach, don’t waste your money on it regardless of how cheap it is.

The key is to buy foods that are going to give you that homey feeling that will be taken away from you in a post-apocalyptic world. You want your comfort foods and the foods you are familiar with. How scary is it to open a can of split pea soup when you have never tried it before? That stuff does not look appealing. While many people love it, you may not be one of them and the looks alone may have you tossing it out before you even give it a try. You will have wasted precious storage space and money storing food you can’t bring yourself to eat. Sure, you may be able to gag it down if there was nothing else available, but that sure isn’t going to help you feel any better. Survival is as much mental as it is physical. Gagging down cold split pea soup could be pretty tough and will leave you in a foul mood with thoughts of giving up.

Here is a fairly generic list of items you should be storing. Pick and choose the things you and your family like. Don’t waste your money on wheat flour if your family has an allergy to wheat or you really don’t like it. Stock up on white flour instead. Don’t buy things simply because you read some prepper list that said this is what you should have.cans

• Canned fruit
• Canned vegetables
• Freeze-dried meals that actually like
• Baking ingredients, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cooking oil, shortening
• Rice
• Oats
• Cereals
• Crackers and various snacks
• Jerky
• Canned meat—only what you eat; if you hate sardines skip them
• Protein bars
• Peanut butter
• Soups
• Chili, ravioli, canned spaghetti and so on
• Mac and cheese
• Dehydrated fruits and veggies
• Dehydrated or freeze-dried dairy products i.e. milk, butter, cheese
• Spices, salt and pepper

This is a fairly basic, generic list. Take a look at your pantry right now. What do you see? Those are the things you eat every day. Those items are what you want to start stockpiling.

Preparing for a Severe Winter Storm

Winter has come roaring in and it is proving to be fierce and we have only just begun. Storms that have ravaged the east coast have proven why it is absolutely crucial people prepare for severe storms that will leave them trapped inside their home for days at a time. If you have ever lived through a severe storm like the one plaguing the eastern seaboard, you know power outages are inevitable. Without power and the ability to heat your home, your life is at risk.

snow WVDo yourself a favor and prepare for the next storm by getting these items in your home today. The time to prepare is now. Waiting until the snow starts to fall will be too late. There will be a rush on these items and you will be left without.

• Bottled water—enough for at least 3 days, just in case pipes freeze
• Canned food
• Freeze-dried food—store extra water for preparing the meals
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• Emergency candles and matches
• Extra personal hygiene items i.e. soap, feminine hygiene, toilet paper
• Solar charger for the cell phone in case power goes out
• Extra diapers, formula and baby wipes if there is a baby in the house
• Prescription meds should be filled with at least a week’s supply on hand at all times
• Winter gear i.e. coats, hats, gloves, scarves
• Alternative heat source—fireplace, woodstove and fuel to burn
• Space heaters in case furnace breaks
• Crank radio to hear current weather conditions
• Books, magazines and board games to keep you entertained
• Extra pet fooddog food

You can also help your home stay warm by winterizing it. Put on storm windows or put plastic over the windows to block the cold air from coming in. Hang heavy blankets or invest in heavy curtains to help block the cold drafts. Roll up towels and place under the doors to block the drafts that come in from underneath. Keep doors closed to rooms you don’t use to keep the heat in one area. If your heater has failed, gather the family in a single room, the smaller the better and huddle together to maximize body heat.

Do what you can to be prepared for the next winter storm. It is far too dangerous to try and leave your house just to get some toilet paper. Stay home and stay safe!