PrepWise Wednesday: Heirloom Seeds and The Garden

Part of prepping and being self sustainable is learning to have a garden to grow foods for your family. One of the most important things you need to remember is that most seeds in the big box stores you purchase are hybrids or genetically modified (GM).

You want to know why to use heirloom and non-GM seed I am betting.  Some of the major seed companies want to control the seed market and force people to use them for their vegetable garden seeds. If this happens they then control the first stage of food production.  If they chose not to provide seeds, then you will have to purchase THEIR foods from the markets.
Hybrids and GMs are geared to modern agriculture’s mass production. They aim to produce higher yields and more uniform size and maturity times of fruits and plants. With this focus on breeding for specific characteristics, much has been lost in the flavor and nutrition department, with unhealthy side effects for us all as we have witnessed in our population over the past generation.
With the proper ground preparation, heirloom seeds produce vibrant, wonderfully tasting fruits and vegetables. Now they may not look the pretty because they haven’t been bred for looks, but the flavor compensates. Plus you can save the seeds and use them to grow next year’s crop.
In the past I have purchased my seeds from several places. One company I use is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. They have wonderful customer service and the plants and vegetables have been wonderful.

Another company I plan to use this year is St. Clare Heirloom Seeds.  It is run by a Catholic homeschooling family.  I want to support as many companies as I can which are providing us these seed options.  St. Clare’s has seed packs for a variety of needs: a beginning gardener, a large family, an herb garden, a children’s garden and so on.  Plus they have a large selection of books to help you get started.
During the late fall and early winter is the time to check with you local extension office for when you can safely plant in your area and the usual growing season length. Decide what you would like to plant for the coming year.  If this is your first time, maybe to a salad garden. Your would plant different types of lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and maybe onions and bell peppers.  Zucchini is always a good one to plant, and very hearty with decent yields.

Then look online and through the catalogs and see how much you would need to plant to feed your family.  The wonderful thing about a salad garden is you can have multiple plantings of lettuce through the growing season so you can always have fresh.  I love heading out to the garden and picking our salad for the night.

Once you know how much you need to feed your family, then you need to plan your garden.  You will need to figure out the best place to plant the garden in your yard.  Based on what you are planting, you will need to figure out the size you need for your garden.

Next you will need to decide are you going to do a Square Foot Garden, or a regular in the ground garden.  Once that is done, you will need to plan it.  There are several garden planning tools available on the Web or you can just take out some graph paper and go to town.

One book I love to share is The Backyard Homestead.  It shows you how to use the space you have to have a bountiful harvest.  It is amazing what even a quarter acre can provide for your family. It even shows how you can use your space to have things like dairy goats, make cheese or raise meat rabbits.
So check out The Backyard Homestead, as good starting point to learn about being self-sufficient.  Once you have the basics there are so many other books where you can go for details and further knowledge.
Now is the time to start thinking about a garden, so come on and join me as I plan mine.
Pax Christi!

A married woman must often leave God at the altar in order to find Him in her housework ~~St. Francis of Rome

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Garden is in!

We took time while the weather was nice over the past two weeks and got our garden started! We added some compost to each box and then planted either the seeds or the plants we started last month.

So far everything is looking good. It looks like most everything has taken so we should have an excellent harvest of tomatoes, beans, zucchini and lettuce.

The strawberries from last year have taken off so we should have an excellent harvest from those plants too!

Saving Money

I found a book today about square foot gardening. I will be reading that over the next couple of days to see what we need to get started. I am getting really excited now. Then I need to find out when to start planting things. I figure I will get some seed starters soon and start the process.

Over the next couple of days I am going to be baking a lot of breakfast goodies. My crew loves pop tarts considering that with our family we can go through a box a meal, I refuse to pay the price anymore! I am going to make a bunch of muffins (which they also love), homemade waffles, and pancakes. That way they will have something better and cheaper to eat. I will be making batches chocolate and peanut butter chip muffins, whole wheat muffin, and a streusal topped muffin. I will probably make 4 batches of each. That will give me about 12 dozen muffins in the freezer. That should last us a while.

When that is done (or while it they are baking) I will start on the pancakes and waffles. I figure I will make a couple of batches of each them too. That will give the children a wide variety of breakfast foods. Especially since we have cereal available too.

Menu for the week
Tuesday — Shepard’s Pie, Green Beans
Wednesday — Chicken quesadillas, salad, apple slices
Thursday — Pork chops, flavored rice, broccoli
Friday — Fish Sticks, Mac & Cheese, Applesauce
Saturday — Left Overs (Volleyball tournament so DH is in charge)
Sunday — Roast Chicken, Baked Potatoes, Spinach
Monday — Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, Salad

Household Plan
Tuesday — Errands, DH Chaparone field trip, DD Karate
Wednesday — Clean off buffet, pay bills, DD Volleyball practice
Thursday — Vacuum downstairs, bathrooms, master bedroom, DD Karate
Friday — Mop kitchen floor, wipe out fridge & freezer
Saturday — Volleyball Tournament in West VA
Sunday — Church, DS Cub scouts, DS Tennis

Monday I start the spring cleaning!

Gardens

Continuing with the feeling the pinch thread and reading another friends blog I am considering starting a garden this year. However, my backyard is basically in the shade most of the afternoon. So we are going to plant a small garden in the area that receives the most sun and also so some container gardens on the deck, which remains in the sun most of the day.

Now of course I am trying to figure out how the heck to garden. My family had a garden 1 year that I remember. Nothing grew well because they tried to grow it in red clay. So tomorrow I am heading off to the library to find a book on gardening and see what we need to do start one. I figure this year I will just start small. I will grow things like lettuce, green beans, a couple of tomato plants, squash and cucumbers. I might even try a row or two of corn.

I am hoping to grow enough to blanch and freeze a bunch for the winter. I will also scout out the local farmer’s market when it opens next month. Although the prices there aren’t always the best.

The next thing I want to do is see if I can find a local butcher and see if we can get a side of beef and a side of pork at decent prices. If not I will still keep searching the local stores for the best sales price. There are couple of websites that were posted on another board I am going to try and find. Basically you purchase a share in a local farm and get great prices on produce. The other one provides other farm options like milk, eggs and meats. When I find them I will post them here too. That way I don’t lose them again. 🙂