Garden Like Your Life Depends on It!

The following article has been generously contributed to our community by Holly Deyo, the author of the widely popular Dare to Prepare reference guide, now in its 5th edition. She and her husband Stan Deyo are also the developers ofPrudent Places USA, which provides an insightful handbook on how to relocate and where to go in times of crisis. 

WHY ARE FOOD PRICES SO HIGH?

Everyone is complaining about sky high food prices. Why are they going nuts? The fault is mostly due to harsh weather conditions of drought, vicious storms, floods, soggy soil, hail, frost and ice, and ferocious winds. Escalating extremes have beaten fruits, vegetables and farm animals to death around the world and we’re paying for it – literally. In the last 3 years, America was slammed with 32 multi-billion dollar disasters that for the most part, hit during crop-growing seasons. The 2012 Drought / Heatwave alone took a $ 30 billion bite out of peoples’ pockets.

weather extremes

For the past three years drought has decimated Texas cattle herds by over 2 million head. Now California’s cattle are getting smacked. This is small potatoes by comparison, but last year South Dakota lost 30,000 head – frozen in a single November blizzard. Our neighbor to the south, Mexico, lost 1.7 million head in 2011 due to drought. There are other cattle losses as well, but there’s not time to document them all.

It used to be that cattle herds took about 3 years to replenish. Experts stated this week it could take the rest of this decade – 6 years – to rebuild America’s beef and dairy livestock. That’s double the norm. Meanwhile, food prices continue to ramp up. That’s ifno more catastrophes descend. How much do you want to bet on a lucky break? In the first 3 months of this year, 1/3 of the U.S. is in USDA-declared crop disaster areas.

Gas prices are moving up again with Brent Crude kissing a $ 100/barrel yesterday. It costs more money to move produce, dairy and meat from farmer to fork. Also, more countries are eating better so farmers ship more food to other nations. This puts a squeeze on our supply. Then there’s the idiocy of bio-fuels, which takes another bite from food stocks. However, the most direct and dire cause of rising food prices is unquestionably weather disasters.

MITIGATION

Having your own garden helps counteract rocketing food prices. All you need is a bit of space, some know-how and a little time. Frankly, I’d rather be outside messing in the garden, soaking up the Sun, doing what we can to provide in the face of Nature’s fury, and helping plants spring to life than read depressing news. It’s like my girlfriend’s phone recording: “Hey, I’m out playing in the dirt. Leave a message!”

You don’t need to have this much space dedicated to veggies. Generally speaking, all that is needed is one 4×4 bed for salad greens and one 4×4 bed for vegetables for each adult. See? It requires little space for the basics. However, in light of ever-darkening current events, worsening weather and escalating grocery prices, we’re taking out our own food insurance for pennies on the dollar. Since the world is now a global food store, everyone’s pain is our pain and we all feel it at the grocery store. If you’re a newbie gardener or are bleary-eyed from reading news, here’s a look at our layout for this year’s crops.

DESIGNING YOUR GARDEN GOLD

Stan and I practice what we preach and have greatly expanded our veggie gardens this year. In fact, from 8 years ago, they’ve doubled in size. Some of the harvest will be canned, some frozen, some eaten fresh, some given to friends and some taken to the homeless shelter. Nothing will go to waste. We see hard times coming this year and having an ample garden is one way to fight back.

garden map

Image: This year we really concentrated on what we like to eat and grow just that. Figures 1, 2 and 3 show the layout of this year’s gardens. We’ve expanded them considerably in light of much higher food prices. It will save money in the long run. See the first article in this series, How to Beat Coming Killer Food Shortages. Since we grow organically, we won’t fall victim to repeated fruit and veggie recalls due to E. Coli, listeria and salmonella contamination. Numbers in red are the weeks that successive crops will be planted.

For example, the first lettuce, carrot, radish and spinach seeds were sown on March 29. Second crop will be planted April 12 and the 3rd crop on April 26. For radishes, since they only take about a month to harvest, the 4th planting on May 10 will go where the March 29 seeds were and so on. For peas and other lettuces, we’ll plant for Fall crops.
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calendar

THINK WITH THE BRAIN, NOT THE BELLY

Last year, we had tons too many tomatoes, summer squash and zucchini and ended up giving away more than half of everything. Neighbors were happy to help us with this!

We still have plenty of Jalapeños, Serranos and Big Jim/Nu Mex in the freezer from 2013, so this year, the garden will just grow Santa Fe chilies.

Bell Peppers have a ton of uses whether they’re eaten fresh or grilled or included in salads, omelettes and kabobs. Extras at the end of season can be Ziplocked and frozen to make colorful tasty additions to soups and stews.

Zucchinis over-produce for our use, so there will be just a couple of seedlings planted. Since we adore baked Acorn and Butternut squash we’ve allowed for plenty. They store for months and are super versatile.

My favorite method is to slice them in half lengthwise, scoop out the seed goo, add a bit of butter, white wine and seasoning like Lawry’s or even better, Red Robin. The flavor of a little sweet wine mixed with a hint of Red Robin zing? Yum. Bake them in water about 1/3 of the way up the squash until fork-tender. Baste occasionally. A clone for Red Robin Seasoning goes like this:

Red Robin Seasoning

3 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon instant tomato soup mix (Knorr tomato with basil works great)
2 teaspoons chili powder
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and stir well. Store in a covered container. Makes 1/3 cup.

Stan is a major fan of small watermelons, so we’re planting a bunch of Sugar Babies. Ditto for Holly on cantaloupe. The best ever is grown just a few miles away – Rocky Ford. Yes, this is the same ‘loupe involved in the 2011 listeria outbreak. Regardless, they are the sweetest cantaloupes on the planet. To be clear, Jensen Farms in Holly, Colorado that was responsible for the listeria drama is not the same as Rocky Ford Grower’s Assn. They are 100 miles apart. To further confuse things, Rocky Ford is both a place and the name of these luscious ‘loupes.

Image: The dotted line represents two different growing areas. The two ‘old beds’ on the left are out by the orchard and the two ‘new beds’ are about 50 feet off the back deck.

We love Snap and Snow Peas and Green Beans and have been known to munch them straight off the vine. :-) Plus, they freeze well. Since beans and peas are something we consume regularly, we’re planting a bunch.

And then there’s Pinto Beans. Stan and I must have Hispanic roots somewhere “in another life” because Tex-Mex is our favorite food bar none. Nothing beats a hair-raising, nosebleed-bitingly flavorful bit of really southern tucker. This brings us to that weird patch of cilantro in Figure 1. It is integral to many Tex-Mex meals. This stuff simply won’t die out. It grew throughout winter with no water in sub-freezing temps. So for its faithfulness, we let it live, otherwise I’d dig up this herb and replace it with a veggie.

TIP: Spices can take up as much room as veggies. Economically speaking, it’s more cost-effective to buy them in bulk from Tone’s and save your space for fruits and vegetables. Besides Tone’s for dried bulk buys, check McCormickFrontier Natural Products Co-opMonterey Bay Spice Company and My Spice Sage. We’ve purchased most of ours from the first three, not the last two. However, nothing beats the fragrance and flavor of fresh herbs and spices.

KNOW WHEN TO FOLD ‘EM

Four years ago, we put in an asparagus bed with 47 crowns. You’d think that’d be plenty and then some. Mistakenly we thought multiple varieties would be clever. Not so. The Martha Washington, Jersey Giant and Jersey Knights were ready at different times. Some were thicker and some thinner, which meant they steamed at different times. There wasn’t a single instance when more than 4 or 5 stalks were ready to harvest simultaneously. Not exactly a side dish for 2. It was a nice stalk here, 2 more there. Since we live in the high desert, it was a perpetual uphill fight to get them going productively, like pushing a boulder along with a toothpick. Plus, you’re not supposed to harvest the first year’s crop. More waiting. Florence, a town just 30 minutes west of us, has them growing wild by the Arkansas River. When our neighbor lived there his mom sent Jerry nightly to pick all they needed – for free. Lucky dog!

If in having a practical, usable garden, some things are just too difficult and expensive to cultivate, yell calf rope! Enough already! This year, the asparagus patch now holds melons, cucumbers, broccoli and celery.

CHANGE FOR THE BETTER, NOT OBAMA’S “HOPE & CHANGE”

Don’t be surprised if, over the years, your garden beds morph. This is what we started with in 2007: 6 – 4×4-foot beds. The strawberry bed is history. They didn’t produce enough at the same time (like the asparagus) to warrant the space. Unless you have time every week to cut off runners, the bed soon becomes an overgrown, tangled mess. For fruit, these plants were replaced by raspberry, blueberry, grape and elderberry bushes on a berm not pictured. Also in the fruit department are 15 trees consisting of varieties of apple, peach, plum, pear and cherry.

Photo: In eight years our gardens have changed considerably and doubled in size.

The cedar beds (pictured above) didn’t weather well in Colorado’s high altitude and strong UV. Gone are the chicken wire walls and cages. Where the 4 – 4×4 beds were on the left are now 2 – 4×4′s and 1 – 4×8. The two decorative brick beds on the right have morphed into two more 4×8′s. Our total bed space is this: 4 – 4×4′s, 4 – 4×8′s and one goofy-sized 6×7. We use recycled plastic and natural fiber board raised beds from Frame-It-All with nifty animal barriers. They also sell very cool attachable greenhouse tops and trellises.

The image below of a Frame-It-All 4×8 bed is their older model for the animal barrier. Now where “A” is, it has a cap like on “B”. This allows for multiple 2-foot additions of animal barriers – in case you have tall invaders! Numerous other companies manufacture similar raised bed kits. We just happened to land on Frame It All and stuck with them for continuity. You can also build your own as detailed in Garden Gold.

All of our beds are 12″ deep, which makes rotating crops no problem. If you use only a 4″ or 6″ high board, which holds just 3-5 inches of Super Soil, it makes growing potatoes, carrots and some other root veggies nearly impossible, so it greatly cuts down on the ability to rotate crops. With extra depth, there is always flexibility. It’s vital that crops are rotated yearly to naturally prevent bug infestations. Not every bug likes the same veggie so if they’ve visited cauliflower one year, next year’s crop of cauliflower needs to go in a different area. This is one of the main natural preventative techniques used by organic farmers.

SIDEBAR TIP: Also changed is the 500 gallon propane tank pictured above. No, it’s not gone. When natural gas was made available to our area, we chose to go with it. However, we’ve kept the propane tank – always filled – for back-up fuel. In the event of a prolonged power outage – as in months – gas appliances can be switched back to propane. You can’t believe how much less expensive it is to refill your BBQ canisters from this big tank. It’s always available so if you’re cooking and the 20-gallon BBQ tank is unexpectedly empty, it’s easy-peasy-cheapy to fill up.

Back to gardening.

Areas around the beds are now grassed in. That, combined with the Chinese bio-intensive growing method of planting everything close together keeps weeds at bay as there’s no place for them to take root. In case you’ve read our accounts and saw this video of massive tumbleweed issues in southern Colorado, it’s best not to give their seeds a place to land. It’s also easier on the feet and knees than surrounding beds with sharp, decorative rock. All it takes is a quick go with the Weedeater to keep grass in line.

All that’s left is for you to enjoy!

Also by Holly Deyo: How to Beat Coming Killer Food Shortages

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Holly Drennan Deyo is the author of three books: bestseller Dare To Prepare (4th ed.), Prudent Places USA (3rd ed.) and Garden Gold (2nd ed.) Please visit she and her husband’s website: standeyo.com and their FREE Preparedness site: DareToPrepare.com.

Other articles by Holly Deyo


SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

Garden Rebels: 10 Ways to Sow Revolution In Your Own Back Yard

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Sometimes I think that the next Revolutionary War will take place in a vegetable garden.

Instead of bullets, there will be seeds.  Instead of chemical warfare, there will be rainwater, carefully collected from the gutters of the house. Instead of soldiers in body armor and helmets, there will be back yard rebels, with bare feet, cut-off jean shorts, and wide-brimmed hats.  Instead of death, there will be life, sustained by a harvest of home-grown produce.  Children will be witness to these battles, but instead of being traumatized, they will be happy, grimy, and healthy, as they learn about the miracles that take place in a little plot of land or pot of dirt.

Every day, the United Nations and the Powers That Be take steps towards food totalitarianism.  They do so flying a standard of “sustainability” but what they are actually trying to sustain is NOT our natural resources, but their control.

This morning I came across one of the most inspiring, beautifully written articles that I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a long time.  Julian Rose, a farmer, actor, activist, and writer, wrote an article called Civil Disobedience or Death by Design and it is a “must read” for anyone who believes in the importance of natural food sources:

“From now on, unless we cut free of obeisance to the centralised, totalitarian regimes whose takeover of our planet is almost complete, we will have only ourselves to blame. For we are complicit in allowing ourselves to become slaves of the Corporate State and its cyborg enforcement army. That is, if we continue to remain hypnotized by their antics instead of taking our destinies into our own hands and blocking or refusing to comply with their death warrants. This ‘refusal’ is possible. But it will only have the desired effect when, and if, it is contemporaneous with the birthing of the Divine warrior who sleeps in us all. The warrior who sleeps-on, like the besotted Rip Van Winkle in the Catskill mountains.”

Does it sound dramatic to state that if things continue on their current path of “sustainability” that we are all going to die?  If you think I’m overstating this, read on.  The case is clear that we are going to soon be “sustained” right into starvation via Agenda 21.

  • The European Union is in the process of criminalizing all seeds that are not “registered”.  This means that the centuries-old practice of saving seeds from one year to the next may soon be illegal.
  • Collecting rainwater is illegal in many states, and regulated in other states.  The United Nations, waving their overworked banner of “sustainability” is scheming to take over control of every drop of water on the globe.  In some countries people who own wells are now being taxed and billed on the water coming from those sources.  Nestle has admitted that they believe all water should be privatized so that everyone has to pay for the life-giving liquid.
  •  Codex Alimentarius (Latin for “food code”) is a global set of standards created by the CA Commission, a body established by a branch or the United Nations back in 1963. As with all globally stated agendas, however, CA’s darker purpose is shielded by the feel-good words.  As the US begins to fall in line with the “standards” laid out by CA, healthful, nutritious food will be something that can only be purchased via some kind of black market of organically produced food.
  • Regulations abound in the 1200 page Food Safety Modernization Act that will put many small farmers out of business, while leaving us reliant on irradiated, chemically treated, genetically-modified “food”.

In the face of this attack on the agrarian way of life, the single, most meaningful act of resistance that any individual can perform is to use the old methods and grow his or her own food.

Growing your own food wields many weapons.

  • You are preserving your intelligence by refusing to ingest toxic ingredients.  Many of these ingredients (and the pesticides sprayed on them) have been proven to lop off IQ points.
  • You are nourishing your body by feeding yourself real food.  Real food, unpasteurized, un-irradiated, with all of the nutrients intact, will provide you with a strong immune system and lower your risk of many chronic diseases.  As well, you won’t be eating the toxic additives that affect your body detrimentally.
  • You are not participating in funding Big Food, Big Agri, and Big Pharma when you grow your own food.  Every bite of food that is NOT purchased via the grocery store is representative of money that does NOT go into the pockets of these companies who are interested only in their bottom lines.  Those industries would be delighted if everyone was completely reliant on them.
  • You are not susceptible to the control mechanisms and threats.  If you are able to provide for yourself, you need give no quarter to those who would hold the specter of hunger over your head.  You don’t have to rely on anyone else to feed your family.

Consider every bite of food that you grow for your family to be an act of rebellion.

  1. If you live in the suburbs, plant every square inch of your yard.  Grow things vertically.  Use square foot gardening methods.  Make lovely beds of vegetables in the front yard.  Extend your growing seasons by using greenhouses and coldframes.  This way you can grow more than one crop per year in a limited amount of space.   Use raised bed gardening techniques like lasagna gardening to create rich soil.  If you have problems with your local government or HOA, go to the alternative media and plead your case in front of millions of readers.  We’ve got your back!
  2. If you live in the city or in an apartment, look into ways to adapt to your situation.  Grow a container garden on a sunny balcony, and don’t forget hanging baskets.  Grow herbs and lettuce in a bright window.  Set up a hydroponics system in a spare room (but look out for the SWAT team – they like to come after indoor tomato growers!)  Go even further and look into aquaponics. Create a little greenhouse with a grow light for year round veggies.  Sprout seeds and legumes for a healthy addition to salads.
  3. If you live in the country, go crazy.  Don’t just plant a garden – plant fields!  Grow vegetables and grains.  Grow herbs, both culinary and medicinal.  Learn to forage if you have forests nearby.  Learn to use old-fashioned methods of composting, cover crops and natural amendments to create a thriving system.
  4. Raise micro-livestock.  This option may not work for everyone, but if you can, provide for some of your protein needs this way.  Raise chickens, small goats, and rabbits, for meat, eggs and dairy.  If you are not a vegetarian, this is one of the most humane and ethical ways to provide these things for your family.  Be sure to care well for your animals and allow them freedom and natural food sources – this is far better than the horrible, nightmare-inducing lives that they live on factory farms.
  5. Save your seeds.  Learn the art of saving seeds from one season to the next.  Different seeds have different harvesting and storage requirements.
  6. Go organic.  Learn to use natural soil enhancers and non-toxic methods of getting rid of pests.  Plan it so that your garden is inviting to natural pollinators like bees and butterflies.  If you wouldn’t apply poison to your food while cooking it, don’t apply it to your food while growing it.
  7. Be prepared for backlash.  The day may come when you face some issues from your municipal government.  Be prepared for this by understanding your local laws and doing your best to work within that framework. If you cannot work within the framework, know what your rights are and refuse to be bullied.  Call up on those in the alternative media who will sound the alarm.  Every single garden that comes under siege is worth defending.
  8. Learn about permaculture.  Instead of buying pretty flowering plants for your yard, landscape with fruit trees (espalliering is a technique that works will in small spaces), berry bushes, and nut trees.  These can provide long-term food sources for your family.
  9. For the things you can’t grow yourself, buy local.  Especially if space is limited, you may not be able to grow every bite you eat by yourself.  For everything else, buy local!  Buy shares in a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Visit your farmer’s market.  Shop at roadside stands.  Join a farming co-op.  Support the agriculture in your region to help keep local farms in business.  (One note about farmer’s markets:  Some farmers markets allow people to sell produce that originates at the same wholesalers from which the grocery stores buy their produce.  I always try to develop a relationship with the farmers from whom I buy, and I like to know that what I’m buying actually came from their fields and not a warehouse.)  Find a local market or farm HERE.
  10. Learn to preserve your food.  Again, go back to the old ways and learn to save your harvest for the winter.  Water bath canningpressure canningdehydrating, and root cellaring are all low-tech methods of feeding your family year round. Not only can you preserve your own harvest, but you can buy bushels of produce at the farmer’s market for a reduced price and preserve that too.

There is a food revolution brewing.  People who are educating themselves about Big Food, Big Agri, and the food safety sell-outs at the FDA are disgusted by what is going on. We are refusing to tolerate these attacks on our health and our lifestyles. We are refusing to be held subect to Agenda 21′s version of “sustainability”.

Firing a volley in this war doesn’t have to be bloody.  Resistance can begin as easily a planting one seed in a pot.

tomatoes growing


Please feel free to share any information from this site in part or in full, giving credit to the author and including a link to this website and the following bio.

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca


SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You