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

Prep Wise Wednesday

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I know this is late, but I have 3 little girls all down with a cold. So my week has been a little nutty.

Last week we talked about BOBs. What happens when you can’t or don’t want to leave your house? I personally am thinking about this coming winter and illnesses. With all my children if this H1N1 flu really takes off I will be staying at home and not risking going out in public.

If are considering this too, now is the time to start laying out your plans. If things were to get bad and you didn’t want to leave your house for a month or two would you be able to stay in and not worry about it. Do you have the supplies in your house? What supplies do you need to make it happen?

First thing you need to do is take an inventory. Look in the pantry, cabinets, and medicine chest. What do you have in there right now. Think about everything your family uses. Toilet paper, paper towels, cold medicines, prescription medicines, food and drinks. Based on what you have in the house right now, how long until you would have to go to the store? Does it provide you peace of mind? If not, you have some work to do.

Next would be to determine how much you would need to have in your house so that you could avoid going out for a month. Based on what you have right now in the house how much and what would you need to purchase?

After you know what you need to purchase, make a plan. So you know you won’t be going out for a month to any store you will need to have canned or frozen fruits and veggies. How far will a can of fruit cocktail go for your family? Will you need one, two or three cans for a meal? How many times can you serve it before the family goes ICK! You need to plan for a variety too. You also need to start serving them now so the family can get used to it or you can find out that they REALLY won’t eat it and plan on other things to make sure the family gets all the nutrients they need. Plan out a month’s worth of meals. Start stocking now from sales.

Also you need to think about medicines. What do you need to keep the family comfortable if they are sick? Think fever reducers/pain killers like Tylenol and Motrin. What forms do you need them in? For my family I need pills, chewables and liquid. If I had everyone sick I would need a lot of them. So I have started purchasing it now. BJs has the huge bottles of the generic tablet forms so I have been purchasing a bottle a month. For the chewable form, I get the Equate brand at Walmart. I don’t need as many of those since I only two of my tweens have a hard time with swallowing pills. I also purchase the liquid Equate Brand. I wish they had it by the gallon. When all three of the girls are sick I can easily go through a bottle within 2 days, probably sooner now that they are older and larger.

How about other cold medicines like sudafed, zycam or occillium? Think about how much you would need and start to pick up them up now. What about prescriptions? How do you purchase them? Are you able to get them mail order, 90 days at a time? See if you have that option and start stocking up.

How about your paper supplies like TP, paper towels, or tissues? How much do you go through in a day? What if people were sick and using more? Would you have enough? Again if you are not brand loyal, start stocking now so you will have enough.

Cleaning supplies? Do you have enough cleaners in the house? Make sure you have enough cleaners in the house. Oh and don’t forget the trash bags too!

Do you know how to make homemade cleaners? Start doing some research on that, it tends to save money and better for everyone in the long run.

Once you have a month’s worth of supplies in the house you need to determine if it is enough for you and your family? If not decide how much you need and make a plan to accomplish it.

To learn more come join us on the PrepWise board.

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