If we ever experience a collapse, those who are not prepared will be scrambling to come up with enough food. In fact, most will be scrambling to come up with enough food at some point! Some will turn to a life of crime. Others might try to build an emergency garden. But at that point, there might not be seeds at your local Home Depot or the ability to order from your favorite seed catalog.
What could people do or use to get something into the ground that could produce a crop. What follows is a guest post from Michael. He shared some insights into a “what-if” scenario. After reading his thoughts, what would you add? Be sure to leave some helpful tips in the comments.
An Emergency Garden Scenario
It’s spring 2022! Inflation and job loss have found you with extra family members living with you. Your stored foods once thought good for a year or so spread out over more mouths, looks grim. The grocery bill is going to be out of control soon as no employment for the unemployed guests seems available as food prices spiral out of control. You start see the emergency!
Your new guests brought little in the way of food assets but so far, they are listening to your leadership.
It’s June 1st 2021, you’ve looked over your assets. You have some potatoes with growing eyes available. They are no name, white store bought potatoes. You have a “Survival Garden in a Can” of unknown age, some Roma tomatoes, store bought garlic and some bok choy from the store.
Do You Have the Right Garden Plot?
Things you need to figure out NOW before you start.
Do you have decent soil? Roundup or Scotts Yard Lawns will kill your efforts shortly after you plant. How can you tell it’s a good place to plant? Dandelions!! Dandelions were BROUGHT over from Europe by settlers as a Spring Tonic after eating from ever depleting root cellars all winter. Roundup destroys them. That common weed will lead you to a good site.
What are your growing days? It’s found by looking up your Last Frost in the Spring and the First Frost of Fall. With extra effort, you can extend the season and should.
What is your rainfall pattern in your area? Most places have dry months that fall in the middle of growing season. What can you do to store up water for the dry days?
How am I going to get rid of all those weeds where I want to plant my garden?
Trust me, digging them up by hand is NOT the answer. Happily, your guests brought with them a couple of large tarps plus the ones you had. You can solar cook that weed plot into an emergency garden site. Just chop down the large-tall stuff, check to see how many layers of tarp is needed to block sunshine and cover your soon to be emergency garden plot.
Potatoes and Their Friends
While you are waiting the two weeks to severely stunt or kill off those weeds you need to be planting potatoes. Common white potatoes are generally a 3-4 month crop. Cut up the potatoes with eyes as so each eye has a good chunk of potato with it. Let it dry a day to form a scab. Then plant about 3 inches deep with as much well-rotted leaves you can find as fertilizer. They are more robust than weeds, but you do need to give them a head start and all season weed them while hilling them every week or so, so only about 20% of the foliage is showing. You cannot eat the leaves, but hilling and keeping them damp, those green leaves become part of the tuber growing roots. You will eat by the sweat of your brow here friends! You want as many potatoes plats as you can secure from your food ration at the grocery store.
Potatoes are not sexy, but they fill the belly and with the skin on, a fair bit of vitamin C to prevent scurvy.
You also want to plant around, but not where you’re going to hill those plants to plant garlic cloves. A garlic bulb should have several good-sized cloves per bulb. Do not remove the “paper” of the cloves. Plant pointy end up also about 2-3 inches deep. Garlic and potatoes do well together and garlic helps keep pests away from the potatoes. Garlic, spring planted, will give you small cloves but some left to overwinter will give you the large cloves the next fall. You can also get nice scapes for cooking in mid- spring unless you want more garlic “seeds.” But those seed pods will take two years to become garlic blubs.
Slimy Goop Tomatoes and Bok Choy?
Now the Roma tomatoes. Cut a few open, scrape out the inner slimy bits with the seeds. You get to eat the rest. Yay! Place the seedy goop into a jar with water. Let it sit near, but not in the sunshine. The idea is, a few days of gentle fermenting and you can remove the seeds from the goopy mess and start the planting. You look around and find you have a cardboard egg carton. You carefully put the eggs in something else so you can mix up a 50-50 mix of the best soil you have plus well rotten leaf mold, make extra for future potting soil. Place the egg carton on a sheet pan and fill each cell with soil. Plant two-three seeds into each cell as one or two should sprout. Water carefully as to keep the soil moist, but not wet. Keep in a window with a bit of clear plastic over it as a mini-green house. The container from the tomatoes will do here.
Find something that will allow drainage but hold soil for your Bok Choy. You can eat most of the leaves but the base, if not slimy or moldy will grow roots. Keep in damp, not wet potting soil and sunshine. This year you might get some leaves to eat, but the plan is to get it to produce seed pods that will become dry and leathery when ripe for a fall and spring planting.
It’s Not Over Till You Pull the Last Vegetable!
You have to protect your emergency garden! Most of your threats are from rodents, deer and such. You set a night guard to snooze in a tent in the garden as just your normal noise keeps most pests away.