Prepper Gardening: Sustainable Food Production [Prepping Today #4]

Well, hello world! This must be Thursday, August 20th of 2020. Welcome back to Prepping Today Thanks for being here! I’m your host, Prepper Jay. Let’s get this show underway! Today, I’m here to help you become more self-reliant with your food supply by establishing or improving your own resilient garden You can grow at least some kind of food almost anywhere you might live, even in a studio apartment with no balcony in the middle of a big city You don’t need to spend a lot of money and you don’t need a lot of fancy gear There is a bit more to it than just sticking a seed in some dirt, though We’ll cover everything from the ground up, going back to our roots with old wisdom and the absolute basics, and then we’ll branch out into several kinds of fancy modern systems We’ll dig into the composition of healthy soil, we’ll weed out the bad insects from the good ones, we’ll pile in some tips for composting your kitchen scraps, and we’ll learn why, for a dedicated prepper, having a lawn of turf grass just doesn’t cut it. There are many different approaches to gardening, and many common methods rely on unsustainable practices such as purchasing new hybrid seeds every year and using industrial chemical fertilizers. While these options should remain on the table, especially if you’re establishing a new garden or are simply new to the practice, the focus of a prepper garden should ultimately be on self-sustainability, not needing any additional inputs from a supply chain that might no longer be available. As a bonus, these sustainable practices are less expensive and produce less waste, taking nutrients you’d otherwise just throw away and instead turning them into delicious, healthy food It’s better for the environment, better for your finances, better for your body, and you might come to realize, better for your peace of mind let’s see how we’re doing on the chat if you have any questions or if there’s anything else you’d like to bring up or talk about feel free to bring it up in the live chat either on twitch or youtube or send me a tweet or a direct message on twitter it’s at prepping underscore today otherwise you can email me at prepping today at all right now the elements of plant needs to grow are light soil water and air you need adequate lighting so plants can perform photosynthesis where they produce their own food using the energy from the light you need nutrient-rich soil and sufficient airflow so your plants have access to the building blocks they need both from their roots below the surfaces and from the leaves above they need the right amount of water so they can transport these nutrients through their bodies and perform the chemical reactions necessary for life if you can provide your plants with these elements they will reward you with an abundance of nutritious food we’ll talk about many different lighting options as well as soil composition and what you can do to improve it and the many options to consider for watering your plants as for air you should ensure your plants have a good flow of air with both oxygen and carbon dioxide in general when it comes to air you can think of plants as being the balance of us plants take in carbon dioxide or co2 the c is the carbon and there are two oxygens which is the o2 plants break apart the co2 and then keep the carbon for themselves and they release the oxygen as o2 back into the air now animals such as humans breathe in the o2 oxygen attach a carbon to it and breathe it back out as carbon dioxide co2 if your plants are outdoors you don’t need to worry too much about providing them with good air flow there isn’t much you could do to control it anyway but if your plants are indoors depending on your space you may want to

have a fan for airflow or periodically open your windows to allow for a gentle breeze making your plants jiggle in the wind can also help them grow stronger stems now some indoor growing spaces especially if they’re enclosed with no airflow from outside may benefit from carbon dioxide supplementation you can make a simple apparatus for this with a couple of two liter soda bottles and some plastic tubing such as aquarium tubing in one bottle you put in three quarters of a cup of sugar one teaspoon of yeast and six cups of warm water the yeast will consume the sugar and release carbon dioxide gas poke a hole in the bottle cap to put one end of a plastic tube in and glue it into place put the other end through the cap of the second bottle this second bottle doesn’t actually need to be two liters it can be quite a bit smaller if you’d like but fill the second bottle about half full with water and submerge the end of the tube all the way to the bottom of the bottle after your yeast starts producing co2 in the first bottle you will see bubbles coming up through the water at the end of the tube in the second bottle once this gets going it should bubble roughly every five seconds or so this acts as a filter for alcohol vapors that the yeast can also produce you then want a second tube coming out from the top cap of the second bottle and leading to a small fan that can distribute the co2 to your plants this is a simple apparatus you can build with common materials you might that might otherwise go to waste and it can be replenished with new yeast sugar and water many many times this is not exactly a high volume system so if you have a larger space you may want to make more than one there are of course other designs you might consider as well and of course several commercial products if you have the money to spend are we looking on chat here hello thanks for joining us all right good good all right so let’s start growing some food we’ll start very very simply and work our way up this first tip might only barely qualify as gardening but it is about growing food saving money and getting the most out of what you have there are some items of fresh produce you can buy that you could just that you can use just as you normally would but then keep a part that you would usually throw away and instead grow more as a bonus a common example is celery if you buy a bunch of celery with all the stocks connected at the base and you cut the bottom two or three inches off you can use all the stocks as you would anyway but save the base put the base in a shallow container with water and set it on a sunny windowsill you may need to top up the water every day or two as it evaporates the celery base will start to regrow new routes and at the heart of the base it should start to grow new stocks in just a few weeks with no more work than periodically topping up the water you’ll have a bunch of new celery stocks they may not be as big as the originals but they’re essentially free after the roots have developed a bit some people even have success replanting the celery into soil and this can help the new stocks grow bigger and stronger as they actually get the nutrients they need from the soil now your best bet for this kind of trick to work is produce that’s labeled as organic but it’s worth trying on anything just understand that it might not always work if you buy a head of lettuce with the root base still attached you should have luck with the same trick cabbage can also work you can even coax stems or leaves to regrow roots sometimes this is easiest with herbs of many different kinds just save a couple of the stems or leaves use the rest as normal but you set the bottom of the stems or the leaves in some water keep it topped up over a few days once the roots start coming in transplant them into soil and they should grow into vigorous full-size plants you can even try this with the stump of a carrot where the leaves grow out from the top if you can get the green part to regrow the root should also start to come back and you can replant it in soil to grow a whole new carrot and of course if you have some older potatoes that have started to send out shoots just plant those right into soil and you can grow plenty more how we looking here well hello thanks for joining us good good again uh if you have any questions at any point or if there’s anything else you’d want to talk about prepping related feel free to bring it up in the chat or on twitter or email me looking good all right so the next step up from regrowing scraps would be growing sprouts from seeds i mentioned sprouting back in episode 2 on food

storage because it’s a really quick and easy way to get something fresh and nutritious especially if you’re living out of your long-term food storage supply sprouts are a really great substitute for greens like lettuce you can use them on sandwiches or in tacos or mixed with other ingredients for a salad you can even just pick them out one at a time and eat them as a snack i think they’re great very common sprouting seeds are alfalfa or broccoli and mung bean sprouts are common for dishes like chow mein you don’t actually need seeds meant for sprouting though almost any bag of dried beans that you buy at the store should sprout and i particularly recommend lentils and garbanzos for this lentils are really great all around really you should store a whole bunch of those you can go back and check out episode 2 for why also i mentioned back then with regard to food storage if you have wheat berries you can sprout those for wheat grass as well now the process of sprouting is very simple you start with a small quantity of seeds perhaps a tablespoon or two or three depending on the size of the seeds and the sprouting method you’re using you soak them in water for between four to twelve hours then drain them and put them in your sprouting vessel many people use a mason jar with cheesecloth over the lid or you can get specially designed sprouting lids or standalone sprouting trays or just improvise with whatever you have that might work i’ve successfully used the lids from disposable plastic containers as trays without any modification so i could still use them on the containers again later you just water and drain the seeds two or three times a day so they’re dampened but not soaking in standing water and after a couple days they’ll pop open and start sending out shoots after about five days you’ll have some proper sprouts you can eat a good trick is to give them some sunlight on their last day which can prompt a little extra nutrient development you can do this any time of year right on your kitchen counter you can even let the sprouts go well past five days as long as you keep watering them consistently and they’ll end up developing a set of leaves or two at this stage they’re actually what are called micro greens you’d most likely want to cut the stems at the base and not eat the roots at this point they can turn brown and start to get a little bitter now regular micro greens are usually grown in soil or a hydroponic media with a special nutrient mix and those micro greens can end up larger and more nutritious that way you could do that as well if that’s your interest but without any nutrients in addition to your light and water you certainly aren’t going to get healthy full-sized adult plants but that isn’t really the goal with sprouts or micro greens you’re eating them before that before that would become a problem now of course because you’re not growing full-sized plants you’re not going to end up producing any new seeds to replace the ones you’ve used that means this method is not sustainable in and of itself this is just a way to produce some fresh food fairly quickly if you have a larger proper garden and you practice seed saving and you end up with an abundance of seeds you could use some of those for sprouting all right do mung sprouts smell bad i don’t think so i’ve done both mung sprouts and adzuki beans honestly i eat them straight but i know a lot of people have to cook those types of beans they just they won’t eat them straight they can seem a little bitter i don’t mind it i don’t think they smell bad at all if your sprouts smell bad that could be indicative of some kind of extra growth that you don’t actually want you might even have some kind of rotting like your roots have soaked in standing water for too long uh if you do start to see some fuzzy growth in your sprouts that may actually be part of the plant uh but if you look closely you should be able to tell whether the hairs are coming from the roots or if they are actually mold or other growth if you do have a bad smell or you see what is clearly not root growth just get rid of that batch of sprouts it doesn’t happen often i actually haven’t ever had an issue with it but i do know what happens so it is something to keep in mind looking good here okay now going another step up from regrowing scraps and sprouting seeds you can also grow proper full-size plants for food indoors the easiest and most common kinds of plants to grow this way are kitchen herbs like basil oregano mint cilantro parsley sage rosemary and thyme if you have a window with adequate sunlight you could grow herbs from seeds or cuttings fairly easily if you live toward the north then during winter you may need to have your plants a little farther away from the window

as being right up against the glass can become too cold for them if you don’t have a good window space you could get a grow light which i’ll talk about momentarily or you could get a dedicated herb growing unit these are countertop devices with a built-in grow light as well as a container and a simple watering system there are several varieties available at different price points but most of them are an easy way to get a successful herb garden going right in your kitchen of course if electrical power is a concern one of these devices may not be ideal that said it is an option and it’s good to have options it’s great to have fresh herbs for cooking that you can just pick right off the plant if you end up with an abundance which is fairly likely with most herbs you can always dry or dehydrate the excess crush it up and store it for later use how we look in here good good so when you think of gardening often you’ll think of plants growing outdoors of course this is the default and arguably ideal state but many of those garden plants growing outside were actually started indoors under grow lights before being transplanted outside and there are some plants that can be grown indoors throughout their entire life cycle so long as you can provide them with the light they need grow lights are typically used for starting seedlings indoors a few weeks early for the season to be transplanted outside when the weather warms up in the spring of course with the right lighting situation you can grow plants indoors throughout their entire life cycle different plants do have different needs but in general more lighting is always better you’re trying to make up for a lack of sunlight which is a white light containing every color of the rainbow many indoor lights especially the ones that are energy efficient don’t offer the full spectrum of light frequencies and don’t offer the sheer amount of power of natural sunlight sunlight is the ideal and if you have windows with good sun exposure try to make use of that that said any light is better than no light you can also try to make use of whatever spare bulbs you happen to have around you will want to place them fairly close to your plants only a couple inches away if you can especially for younger plants but don’t put them too close if the bulbs get very hot this is most likely to work for seed starting but may not be enough to support most fully grown plants for that you’re probably going to want to buy a dedicated grow light there are many options on the market for a whole range of prices but you really don’t need to make a huge investment if you’re just getting started a simple and inexpensive fluorescent tube shop light is often good enough to do the job depending what and how much you’re trying to grow with it more expensive grow lights often use the same type of bulbs but have reflectors designed to maximize the amount of light your plants will get however this can require several hundred or even thousands of watts of power there are more modern energy efficient grow lights with patterns of red and blue leds that give plants just the frequencies of light they really need without wasting energy on parts of the spectrum the plants can’t make direct use of anyway this means the lights use only a fraction of the electricity and also don’t run nearly as hot as the more traditional lighting options i’ve got a another design of led light here that i actually like quite a lot it’s just a flat panel and we’ve got some metal shelving uh with open slats and i mount this under one shelf and use zip ties through these holes to mount it to the underside of one shelf so it shines down to the shelf below it oh yeah that looks great for the green screen but anyway these leds are red and blue there are also some white leds often with these led lights you get a very pink color in the room or the area where you’re going growing the plants and it can actually be hard on your eyes the longer you’re in it with the addition of the white light leds that kind of softens that effect and gives it a slightly more natural light so i love these panels and they were pretty cheap i got them on sale so all right led grow lights tend to work very well for seed starting as well as cut and come again lettuce and other greens where you keep the plant trimmed down there are companies that grow a steady rotation of crops in indoor vertical farms several stories tall using shelving lined with led grow lights however for larger plants leds may not offer the sheer amount of power the plants will need unless you’re willing to spend several hundred dollars on a large array of course since led lights are more energy efficient

that may also make them more desirable if you’re looking at generating your own electricity an arguably even more energy efficient option that seriously puts out the light that plants need is a high pressure sodium or hps light you can also get metal halide or ceramic metal halide lamps which aren’t quite as efficient as high pressure sodium but these options require what’s called a ballast which is often a separate device but it’s sometimes integrated into a light fixture these types of lights require quite a kick of electrical power so you’re definitely going to want to pay attention to their wattage if you’re looking at setting up your own power system for them overall though high pressure sodium will give you the most bang for your energy buck regardless of whatever lighting system you go with you can help get the most out of it by surrounding at least part of the growing area with metallic semi-reflective material this helps capture and redirect some of the light that would otherwise miss your plants covering sheets of cardboard with aluminum foil can work this is also a good use for those cheap mylar emergency space blankets you might have if you have extra of those you can cover a whole wall with one there are also full-sized growing tents available commercially if you want to spend some money on a less improvised space good good looking good all right so you’ve got some kind of lighting situation and you want to start growing some plants indoors when you’re starting seeds you have several options but perhaps surprisingly your best bet is not to use soil do not just dig up some dirt from outside it’s likely to have weed seeds insect eggs fungal spores and other undesirable inclusions your growing medium for seed starting does not need to be packed with nutrients and in fact can be actually sterile you can buy a bag of seed starting mix or you can make your own pretty easily most use sphagnum peat moss or coconut core as their primary or even only ingredient and you can get compressed discs of peat moss that expand when you add water you could also use small chunks of a material called rock wool these are especially popular for seed starting plants intended for hydroponic systems we’ll come back to hydroponics in a bit now whatever seed starting medium you choose you need some kind of container for it you can buy commercially produced plastic trays with individual cells for each plant or you can improvise with a similar container you have on hand i’ve reused yogurt cups and other small food containers like that in any case you fill the container with your chosen medium pack it down so it’s fairly firm then simply place your seeds down into it how deep should you bury them in most cases as a rule of thumb you should aim for about two to four times the size of the seed for some small seeds you can actually just sprinkle them on the surface and then sprinkle a little more of your seed starting mix on top to help ensure that each hole or cell produces a plant you can put two or three seeds in each one after they start to grow you can gently pluck out the smaller ones so they don’t crowd together this is called thinning i know it can feel bad to kill these plants that you worked hard to try to grow in the first place but if you crowd too many together none of them will do well so once you’ve got the seeds planted you’ll want to make sure your growing medium medium is thoroughly damp so give it a good watering but not so much that there’s standing water at the level of the seeds after this first watering you should keep them consistently damp but don’t water from above you want to water into the container below and let the water soak up into your growing medium this will help to avoid issues with algae growth and rotting stems you can help retain moisture by covering the seed container but be sure it isn’t sealed airtight many commercial seed trays have a clear plastic lid just for this purpose before the seeds start to grow they don’t actually need any light they don’t have any leaves yet that could make use of it many seeds however do like just a bit of heat to get going it’s common to use an electric heat mat for seed starting you set this under your tray and plug it in and it heats up just enough to warm up the seeds to where they would need to germinate well but once most of the young plants have come up it’s usually a good idea to stop using the mat to avoid overheating the developing roots there are some types of seeds especially tomatoes and peppers and eggplants that can do well with an extra step at the beginning

rather than planting these seeds directly into your growing medium you can dampen a paper towel with water squeeze it out and open it flat again then put the flat towel into a plastic sandwich bag place the seeds onto this towel spaced a bit apart from one another lay this whole packet somewhere relatively warm the top of a fridge often actually works pretty well or you can place it on a heat mat or under some warm lighting after a few days the seeds should start to sprout you can then carefully transfer them one by one into your growing medium this technique tends to offer better germination it’s often a little quicker and it reduces the need for thinning so you waste fewer seeds how we look in here good good all right so you’ve got your seeds started indoors now what well you’ve got several options depending on the types of plants you’re growing some would do well in containers perhaps you have a greenhouse or a similar structure perhaps you’re planting outside in garden beds or rows we’ll get to all that shortly but wait don’t just bring your plants outside and leave them there they are almost certain to die that way you need to go through a process called hardening off this gradually exposes the young seedlings to the harsh light of the sun as well as the wind to strengthen their stems ideally you start this process on a cloudy day perhaps in the morning or the evening to avoid the stronger midday sun you would take your seedlings and set them outside for no more than 15 minutes much more than that on their first exposure is in my opinion too much of a risk of damage i have scorched so many seedlings that way taking advice that they can go out for an hour on their first day don’t believe it 15 minutes at most on your first day so you bring them after they’ve been outside you bring them back inside and let them recuperate until the next day each day you can have them outside a little longer gradually letting them adapt to more sunlight after about 10 to 14 days or so they should be hardened off and ready to transplant how we’re looking here all right so you’ve got your seedlings hardened off and you’re ready for them to live outside but maybe you don’t have a space you can dig up or you want to expand the space you have maybe all you have is a balcony or a concrete patio concrete piano awesome or even the edge of a driveway or the stairs outside your door all of these places can be great for growing in containers container gardening does work a bit differently than growing in the ground but for any drawbacks it may have it also has benefits depending on the particular design containers generally need watering more frequently and can be susceptible to overheating roots in the high heat of summer that said if you let they let you utilize those spaces you otherwise couldn’t they can also be portable so you can bring them inside temporarily if you’re expecting a cold snap for example an easily accessible and popular container option is the classic five gallon bucket there are many approaches to setting one up but i personally would recommend drilling a hole up the side from the bottom of the bucket about three inches up then cover the hole from the inside with window screen glue that into place you can then fill the bucket with good quality soil and when you when you water it or get a heavy rain the bottom will fill up as a reservoir but it won’t overflow and end up drowning your plant as i said there are many different designs for using five gallon buckets as container gardens so if it’s something that interests you i would encourage you to seek out the many variations online and see what you’d want to try there are also of course container options besides buckets grow bags are fairly popular and more stable and durable than you might expect you can also reuse other containers that you have available but just remember that bigger plants will have bigger root systems that will need more space in bigger containers good good so of course lighting is essential and so is water and air but the majority of plant problems are usually the result of inadequate soil one of the very best things you can do to ensure the success of your garden is to get a soil test your local university extension office probably offers this service for a modest fee they will instruct you on the proper way to sample your soil and send it in to them and then you will get a report back detailing your nutrient composition and offering suggestions for improvements the three major nutrients in good soil

are nitrogen phosphorus and potassium or npk from their elemental symbols fertilizers are generally labeled with an npk number reflecting the proportion of these elements in that particular product for example a mix labeled 2 5 3 offers more phosphorous than potassium or nitrogen if your soil test report recommends adding or amending with a certain element this can help you choose which product would be best there are other nutrients that matter as well particularly calcium magnesium and sulfur but also various trace minerals that plants can make use of you can amend these with products as well and your soil test report should show you what you need the test results can also tell you the ph of your soil which is how acidic or alkaline your soil is some plants such as blueberries prefer a slightly more acidic soil than most other plants you can adjust your ph up and down with available materials like wood ash or pine needles or products like elemental sulfur from a prepping perspective you may end up growing food in a situation where getting a soil test is no longer an option in that case it would be wise to have some physical reference materials on hand listing the sort of symptoms that plants can show when they’re deficient in one particular nutrient or another and what you can add to your soil to help the fertilizer company espoma that’s m e-s-p-o-m-a has a very useful pdf that you can download and print if you visit their website it’s in a section called understanding plant nutrition of course some of these suggested products may not be easy to acquire if the supply chain has been disrupted fortunately fertilizers generally have an indefinite shelf life so you can stock up now i should mention that weed and feed products which are fertilizers that also include a weed killing element will lose weed killing potency over time but the fertilization should remain cool okay so on the subject of soil i want to make one quick suggestion if you have a bit of money to invest in it you can build a supremely excellent soil from a particular mix of ingredients suggested by mel bartholomew he had a show on pbs back in the 80s and wrote a popular book detailing a technique he called square foot gardening i’ll come back to that in a bit specifically right now though i want to talk about mel’s mix the idea is essentially this you take one-third sphagnum peat moss one-third vermiculite and one-third a blend of different composts preferably from four or five different sources you mix all this together and you have an amazing all-purpose grow anything kind of soil it can be a bit pricey especially for the vermiculite but if you have the means to invest in it i’d absolutely highly recommend it what i’d suggest doing is getting a tarp and spreading it flat outside dump your ingredients into the middle of the tarp probably less than you think because it will get heavy and then walk around the tarp lifting up each corner as you go to mix the ingredients together you can then slide the tarp over to where you want to deposit the mix and then lift up on one end to pour it off now some people prefer to use coconut coir or some other product besides peat moss because peat moss is technically not renewable that said coconut core has some ethical considerations because the workers that produce it often end up with respiratory issues due to their working conditions from my understanding canadian peat moss is in no danger of being exhausted if these things concern you i would suggest choosing sphagnum peat moss from canada another substitution some people make is using perlite instead of vermiculite for example if perlite is cheaper where they are this can work fine though perlite will dry out faster so you may need to water more frequently as for the compo compost blend it’s ideal to mix together several different kinds i’m a particular fan of worm castings as well as mushroom compost which i’ll mix with a composted goat and or cow manure you can include your own compost from lawn clippings and leaves and kitchen scraps i’ll come back to that in a bit as well now this blend of ingredients will give you a great start for your first season and then each season after you just want to add in some more compost to replace the nutrients your plants have used up to be clear mel’s mix is absolutely not necessary and if you don’t have the budget for it that’s fine

but if you do it’s a great way to start off with fantastic soil right out of the gate rather than building up better and better soil over the course of years and years now how we looking good good so one thing you should consider before you start putting plants into the ground is whether each type of plant is an annual a biennial or a perennial annual plants live for just one year they grow from a seed mature produce new seed and die off many of these crops many of the crops grown in a typical garden are annuals or at least are treated that way biennials have a two year cycle garlic would be a good example if you were to grow it from seed most of the time though garlic is grown from a bulb and this basically skips one year of the cycle so it can be treated like an annual carrots are also a biennial and if they are not harvested in their first year they will produce new seed in their second perennials are plants that live for several years these are great because once they’ve established they can provide food over and over again often with minimal maintenance that said you must carefully consider where you place these plants because they’re going to be taking up that spot for a while of course there are some plants that work as perennials in warmer climates climates but can’t survive cold winters farther north and so they must be treated as annuals if they’re grown at all i’ve got some particular favorite perennials that i’ll get to near the end when i give my personal plant recommendations now at this point i would just like to express my opinion that turf grass is evil it’s a holdover from a time when wealthy people would use lawns to show off how they could afford to waste the land they owned spending resources for maintenance but absolutely no food production i understand the appeal of a yard if it’s a space that’s actually used but many lawns barely get used at all even when they are there are better ground covers than turf grass requiring much less maintenance and little or no chemical fertilizers or weed killers and much less watering so much money and so many resources are wasted on turf grass lawns contributing to runoff pollution and depriving pollinating insects of the food they need to help make the food we need if you have a turf grass lawn please consider converting as much of it as you can into a productive garden space during both world wars so far resources had to be rationed for the war efforts and citizens around the world converted their lawns into victory gardens governments initiated programs to distribute helpful information for their populations to grow their own food many of these resources are available online and much of the information is still entirely valid victory gardens were generally done as traditional row gardens a model adapted from larger scale farming where you plant long rows with spaces between them for access an alternative is gardening in beds which are large dedicated areas that you access from around the outside in particular raised beds are popular where you construct a frame around the bed and fill it with good soil to a height above the surrounding area this has many advantages growing in raised beds is a more efficient use of space and often requires less weeding most beds are no more than four feet wide allowing a two foot reach from the edge of the bed they can be any practical length although eight feet is popular due to the common lengths of lumber that the beds are usually built from raised beds can also be built from concrete blocks or other materials now i mentioned mel bartholomew and square foot gardening this method is great for raised beds the idea is that you take your space and divide it into a grid of one foot squares each square is its own little garden depending on the plant you want to grow you might only put one plant right in the middle of the square or you might divide the square into four smaller squares and put one plant in the middle of each of those four or you might divide the square into three plants by three plants for a total of nine in the square foot or four by four to have sixteen you get the idea this is a great way to plan out the optimal arrangement of plants to fill your raised bed cool now let’s look at what to plant and how and when first you should look up your hardiness zone the united states department of agriculture

or usda has defined different geographic areas of the country into numbered zones that reflect how cold your local weather can get this affects your growing season which is how many days you have available for growing you should also look up your last average frost date and your first average frost date these are used to time your plantings for example some plants can be started indoors six or eight weeks before your last average frost date this is the date in the spring when you can on average be confident that you will no longer get a frost overnight starting your plants indoors a few weeks before this date extends your growing season allowing you for more of the year and to start harvesting sooner some plants don’t really handle transplanting very well and need to be started from seed directly in their final location greens such as lettuce kale and spinach can generally be started directly outdoors several weeks before the last average frost date these are cool weather crops and can tolerate a light breeze light freeze and a breeze as spring gives way to summer and the weather heats up these cool weather crops may not handle it well and can start to become bitter shading these crops with other types of plants can help you can also plant these crops again later in the season as the weather starts to cool off and move into fall your first average frost date is when you can be confident you will start to get freezing weather overnight again this will determine the end of your general growing season though again some cool weather crops can endure perhaps with a little protection for example if you have a plot of carrots you can cover them with a thick layer of straw and continue harvesting them fresh out of the ground well into the winter you can also build cold frames which are enclosed boxes with a glass cover that you place over your plants in early spring or late fall this keeps them a little warmer than their surroundings in a pinch if you already have your plants out in the spring and the weather changes and gets too cold again you can use glass flower vases turned upside down yeah turned upside down to cover individual plants overnight you can often find vases like these at a local thrift store for very little money if you have more resources to work with you can consider building a low tunnel a poly tunnel or a hoop house these are essentially curves of metal or pvc pipe supporting a clear plastic covering over your plants creating an enclosed space that can stay warmer than the outside you can build low tunnels that just cover each garden bed or you can build a hoop house large enough to walk into of course a more permanent structure would be a greenhouse these are generally ideal as they not only extend your growing season but they also give you a greater measure of control over possible pests getting to your plants especially animals like squirrels rabbits or birds never knew about the vases great idea yeah it’s they’re called cloches and there are some that are meant specifically for that purpose but why spend the money on a named cloche when you can just get a used vase and it’ll do the same job so good good now one good practice to follow is crop rotation that means you’re not growing the same crop in the same space year after year instead you rotate which crops you grow in each area this gives several benefits first different types of plants have different nutrient needs growing the same crop in the same spot will quickly diminish those specific nutrients while others remain largely unused rotating a different crop into that space can put less strain on those nutrients some crops can also improve certain nutrients for example beans are a nitrogen fixing crop which means they actually contribute to building up usable nitrogen in the soil that can then be used by other plants putting beans into the rotation for an area every three or four years can help restore nitrogen that’s been depleted crop rotation can also help with pests if you grow the same crop in the same space repeatedly it’s more likely to be found by insects who will inhabit that space and return year after year this is especially true of potatoes rotating crops can help alleviate this problem another good practice to adopt is mulching this is covering the ground around your plants with a layer of organic material such as wood chips straw or leaves you

should make this blanket of material at least an inch thick even two or three inches but keep it an inch or so away from the stems of your plants to avoid rot and disease this blanket of mulch reduces weeds and helps retain water and also provides an environment for beneficial microbes to grow they will break down the mulch over time and these nutrients will gradually become available in your garden soil all right so wherever and whatever you’re growing you’ve got good air flow good lighting and good soil now let’s talk water of course a gardener’s lung necked watering can is a classic image these are very easy to fill up to bring water wherever you need it and pour it out in a gentle sprinkle imitating rain you can also get spray nozzle attachments for garden hoses but be careful not to use a strong jet setting or can dig into your soil and damage your plants you can also hook up sprinklers to shower your plants from above however depending on your situation the area your sprinkler will cover may not give your garden even watering with some corners going relatively dry while other spots get absolutely soaked especially as the wind blows sprinklers may also water areas outside your garden perhaps encouraging the growth of other plants that you may not want to have around all of these options water plants from above much like rain however this can be less than ideal especially at the height of the day bacteria and mold can grow on damp leaves and also beads of water on leaves have the potential to act as small lenses focusing sunlight and burning spots in the leaves you can consider installing a drip irrigation system this can be done easily and inexpensively with a soaker hose and some u-shaped metal stakes to hold it in place you lay the soaker hose on the ground of your garden winding it around your plants to give good coverage and then when you turn the water on the soaker hose fills up and begins dripping water from lots of tiny holes along its length you can let this hose run for an hour or so and it will deliver water directly to all of your plants without getting on their leaves or blowing out of your garden entirely with a bit more work you can install a similar system made from pvc pipe and this can be more durable and give you more detailed control over the design one other option is a water reservoir in the garden itself that slowly releases water into the surrounding soil some designs hold the reservoir above ground while others are buried down into the soil these need to be refilled as they empty out though they are a good way to give your plants a slower more consistent water supply the optimal time to water plants is generally before dawn this allows them to take up the water and make use of it during the day however you may not want to get up before dawn just to water your garden in that case you can install a timer on your garden hose and set it to start watering at say 4 am that’s what i do a good timer will let you set an interval of multiple days between waterings so you could set it to water every two or three days depending on the type of plants you’re watering and the time of year often it is best to give a thorough deep soaking less frequently instead of lighter but more frequent watering this encourages the plants to develop deeper root structures that are both more stable and can give them better access to nutrients deeper in the soil most municipal water systems treat their water with chlorine or more recently chloramine you can buy water filters meant for rvs that will attach directly to your garden hose to help filter out chlorine though chloramine and fluoride are harder to filter chlorine may not have much of a direct effect on plants though there is the potential for stunting growth and it can affect the microbiology of your garden killing off certain beneficial bacteria you can also fill a bucket or a barrel with water from a municipal supply and allow it to sit for 24 hours this will give time for the chlorine to evaporate away rather than relying on a municipal water supply you might consider using a rain catchment system to store rainwater in barrels odd as it may seem this is actually illegal in some places so check your local laws all right so you’ve done all this work you’ve planned out your space you’ve got good soil you’ve set up your watering system you’ve got seeds or transplants in the ground and they start growing and you’re feeling great and then one morning disaster something has eaten away your beautiful lettuce or dug up and eaten your sunflower seeds or knocked over your pepper plants all of these have happened to me

let’s talk about pest control for larger animals you’re going to need physical barriers you can build a simple low fence to keep out rabbits or a much taller fence if deer are an issue squirrels and birds are much harder to control though if you are growing in an enclosed hoop house or greenhouse that can help there are also insects that would just love to chow down on your plants aphids slugs beetles caterpillars moths whatever you’re growing there’s probably some kind of bug that wants to eat it fortunately there are other insects that would just love to chow down on those bugs mantises ladybugs and lacewings are the good guys if you have insect pests you can actually buy these beneficial bugs and release them into your garden there are also of course different sprays you can use though i would caution you against using harsh chemicals unless you feel you really need to you can try to prevent insect infestations in the first place with different kinds of netting as well as good practices like crop rotation also rather than growing large blocks of one kind of plant you can mix different kinds of plants growing near each other which can make it harder for pests to find the kind of plant they’re after this is called a polyculture you might also consider growing some plants that don’t directly give you food but can help repel insect pests for example there are some insects that like to eat nightshade plants like tomatoes peppers and eggplants these bugs can sometimes be repelled by marigolds and basil plant these near your nightshades or at the corners or around the edges of your beds wherever you can make space for them now basil is an herb and marigolds are actually edible as well so not only do these help repel pests but they can give you additional food check twitter here quick good good all right mixing different kinds of plants together particularly for some kind of benefit is called companion planting there are many suggestions for pears or groups of plants that are purported to support each other in some way though there isn’t actually a lot of strong evidence for most companion planting suggestions you should of course feel free to do your own research if this is something that interests you try out some of the suggestions and see if they work for you there is one classic example of companion planting that does seem to actually work well it was historically used by native americans and it’s called the three sisters they are corn beet beans and squash or pumpkins the idea is that you make a mound or a small hill about two feet in diameter you might bury some discarded fish remains underneath this mound to provide some extra fertility that was a traditional technique on this mound you plant a small patch of corn when the corn is a few inches tall you plant beans and squash or pumpkins around and between them the corn grows up and this gives a scaffolding to support the beans as they climb up the beans fix nitrogen into the soil and the squash or pumpkins provide shade for the ground helping retain water and inhibiting weeds from growing nearby so you have this system of three different types of plants three sisters that support each other and all provide food together these three foods contain complex carbohydrates essential fatty acids and all nine essential amino acids this makes them a pretty great ideal situation from a prepping perspective you might also consider adding a fourth plant to help attract pollinators traditionally some native american tribes used the rocky mountain bee plant for this purpose this plant was also used for food as well as traditional medicine and cloth dye all right so three sisters is a traditional garden technique let’s look at something a bit more modern you can actually grow plants without any soil at all so long as you’re able to provide them with the nutrients they need this can be done with water and the technique is called hydroponics most hydroponic systems involve pumps powered by electricity circulating a supply of nutrient enriched water through a system of tubes often pvc pipes a hydroponic system can be very clean since there is no soil involved and because these systems are indoors they are generally no issues with pests as long as the nutrient balance is maintained

as well as power to the circulating pumps and of course there are usually grow lights as well you can have a high-tech efficient plan plant growing system operating at full capacity any time of year even in a desert or a frozen tundra you can extend the idea of hydroponics even farther and incorporate tanks of fish into the system this is called aquaponics the idea is that the fish produce some of the nutrients the plants need or rather they produce nutrients for bacteria that then convert them into the nutrients the plants can use so the water from the fish tank is cycled into the plant beds where it filters through the growing medium and is cleaned up before being cycled back into the fish tank this is not a perfectly closed system as you will still need to feed the fish though you can grow certain plants within the system specifically to provide some of your own fish food you will also need to maintain a proper ph balance and check your nutrient levels from time to time so while this isn’t a set it and forget it low maintenance option aquaponics not only provides you with plant material it also grows fish you can eat it’s a futuristic soil free circulating system that replicates a part of nature if you ever wanted to live in a space colony this might be as close as you can get again though it does require electrical power as well as some external inputs all right so going all the way back down the technology scale we end up right back where we began when you’ve grown your plants and eaten the parts you can eat you can still use the rest of the plant you’ll want to compost it so you can reuse the nutrients inside to feed new plants composting can be dead simple you can literally just start piling things up kitchen scraps and yard waste and eventually it’ll break down bacteria and fungi and small insects will feed on the organic material and produce a nutrient-rich compost you can mix into your soil however there are a few things you can do to speed up the process and also keep it contained and keep it from smelling bad first you may want some kind of container many people build compost bins out of old pallets you can also buy large thick plastic sheets that are filled with holes it comes rolled up but you unroll it and then link the two ends together and it makes a large barrel shape with no top or bottom you fill this with your compost material there are also sideways barrel bins with a hatch that you can close and this bin is supported on two legs which allow you to spin it to mix the materials inside these spinning composters can work fine but composting tends to work best at a certain volume of about one cubic yard or more this size of pile is when it can really heat up with bacterial activity breaking things down inside a good hot compost pile will actually give off steam on a cold day and you can buy thermometers that you stick down into your compost heap so you can see how hot it’s getting you can optimize your mix by watching your ratio of nitrogen to carbon commonly called your greens and browns your greens are things like grass clippings and your browns are things like autumn leaves keeping a good mix of these will help the pile break down faster and you can mix in your kitchen scraps or other yard waste as well some of the best kitchen scraps to compost are coffee grounds banana peels and egg shells these are excellent nutrient sources but you can compost any plant-based kitchen scraps eggshells are the only animal product you want to include though dairy products like cheese or yogurt or the skin or bones from animals will cause your pile to start to stink and can promote the growth of undesirable bacteria if you want to compost if you want your compost to break down even faster you can chop up your kitchen scraps as small as possible before you throw them in the pile some people visit their local thrift store to pick up a cheap used food processor which they dedicate specifically to composting kitchen scraps i would also like to mention egg eggshells if you have a dedicated eggshell container that you put them in after you crack them open and then allow them to dry out crush those eggshells into a powder before you put them in your compost ideally you don’t have to but this is a suggestion if you put eggshells large pieces of eggshells in your compost directly they will take forever to break down they are a good source of calcium but really if you just have a dedicated eggshell container crush them up before you put them in your compost they will break down a lot faster make that calcium available to your plants much sooner so another really excellent method of composting is with a worm bin or a worm farm you can build your own

there are many designs online or you can buy one pre-made the idea is you keep a colony of worms usually a variety called red wigglers and feed them kitchen scraps and cardboard and newspaper and they will break it down and excrete worm castings which are absolutely fantastic for your garden this is called vermicomposting some models of worm bin even have a feature that lets you collect liquid droppings from the bottom of the bin this is called worm casting tea and it’s great to pour on your garden as well what do we have here what kind of fish there are many different kinds of fish you can grow in an aquaponics system there is well there are a couple but one particular youtube channel i’d recommend is rob bob i can’t remember if it’s called bits out the back i believe he’s either in australia or new zealand uh he his personality is great too he’s just fun to watch but he has done many aquaponics systems he’s grown several kinds of fish if you check out his channel rob bob bits out the back uh he will give you all the information you could possibly want on aquaponic systems so uh you don’t have to go back and discuss the fish no problem oh sorry i i was on a roll all right how are we looking over here that is good okay all right so we’re nearing the end of what i have for you today uh so i’d like to give you my personal recommendations for some of my favorite types of plants to grow so first and foremost whatever type of plant you want to grow i recommend using what are called heirloom varieties rather than hybrid varieties heirlooms produce seeds you can use to regrow the same type of plant consistently year after year whereas seeds you might save from a hybrid variety could produce a very different type of plant the next year for a self-sustaining garden you are definitely going to want to save seeds you are definitely going to want heirloom varieties now for a prepper garden i particularly like the idea of perennials once you have them established they can keep coming back over and over one of my absolute favorites is technically a type of sunflower though its flower head doesn’t get very big and you don’t grow it for the seeds anyway it’s called a sunchoke or a jerusalem artichoke though it isn’t from jerusalem and it isn’t an artichoke like i said it’s technically a sunflower but its roots grow into thick tubers that are very much like potatoes and you can use them in many of the same ways the really beautiful thing about sunchokes is if you leave one of these tubers in the ground it will grow into a new plant and it will grow many more tubers they are very resilient to the point of being potentially invasive even a small chunk of tuber can start a whole cluster of sunchoke plants so if you decide you don’t want them in a particular spot anymore you’d better be very thorough to make sure you’ve removed every last piece of tuber now from a prepping perspective this kind of resilience is absolutely a positive so long as you leave some of your tubers in the ground it can be you can be pretty well assured of a new crop the next year sunchokes are actually sweetest if you leave them in the ground until after your first autumn frost so try not to harvest them too soon one other word of warning though sunchokes are high in a substance called inulin which can cause gas and bloating just don’t eat too many at once or you’re risking intestinal distress another favorite of mine used to be much more popular but is now barely known it’s called skirt s-k-i-r-r-e-t it grows pale white fingery tubers in tangled little bunches which you can use very much like carrots if you peel apart the tubers you can replant some and they will grow whole new skirt plants this can be a little they can be a little tricky to start from seed i’ve done it a couple times though they definitely prefer somewhat wetter ground than some other plants though once they’re established they can be quite resilient even through hot and dry weather another more common recommendation would be what i’ve heard called either winter onions or walking onions they may go by other names i actually got these from a neighbor years ago so i never got like an official greenhouse name or anything but this is an example they grow small bundles of bulbs that when you plant these they’ll grow tall green shoots you can cut these shoots and use them in cooking as green onions for an onion flavor and of course the green screen it’s green anyway it once these get established they will come back year after year with absolutely no maintenance whatsoever

these super easy relatedly a very easy crop to grow abundantly is garlic just plant your garlic cloves in the autumn and let them overwinter and they’ll start growing in the spring at the end of the season when the stalks and leaves dry out and turn brown pull them up and let them air dry for a couple weeks then you can trim off the roots and all but an inch or two of the stem wipe off all the soil with your hands or a dry cloth and store them in a brown paper bag they’ll keep for months or even a couple years you can break open a bulb and replant the cloves for new bulbs the next year of course some of the best perennial plants to grow for food are fruit and nut trees if you have the space you should start your own small orchard research the varieties that do well in your area and whether you need to plant multiple varieties for cross pollination all right we are looking good there so i’ve got a bit of news to hit here once again thousands of californians have had to evacuate their homes due to wildfires spreading across more than 137 000 acres as of this afternoon this has led to power outages in many areas across the state the national hurricane center is tracking two tropical depressions that are expected to strengthen into tropical storms in the coming days the 2020 atlantic hurricane season is the first on record in which nine tropical storms formed before august 1st the increasing frequency and severity of wildfires and hurricanes as well as other severe weather events are attributed to ongoing climate change in world news iran has unveiled two new missile designs with greater distance and accuracy than any they have had previously israel has bombed gaza for an eighth consecutive day amid rising tensions with the palestinians and in china the three gorges dam which is the largest hydroelectric dam in the world is currently gushing water and threatening widespread flooding leading to the evacuations of thousands lots of evacuations lately are your evacuation plans up to date all right so let’s get to the gear in the book for this week for the gear it’s down there there are a lot of different tools that gardeners use but i think the single most important and generally useful is a good solid trowel this one was advertised as indestructible which of course isn’t strictly true but it has held up to quite a bit of abuse for many years you definitely get what you pay for though you can get cheap trowels that might be called hand shovels or spades but if they are cheaply made they are likely to break sooner or later either by chipping at the end or coming loose from the handle they’re also more likely to rust between seasons unless they’re coated of course you can buy 20 of these at the dollar store instead of just one really good one for 20 dollars that’s your call to make there is also a very similar tool called a hori hori which is a bit more slender than this and it has an edge meant for cutting obviously i don’t have one yet but i’ve known several gardeners who love theirs and i do intend to get one someday i may even replace this as my main go-to but again the idea is pretty much the same now for the book there are many many books on gardening and a lot of them are aimed at the beginner or are meant to be fairly comprehensive i have several excellent books like this and i’d absolutely recommend them in general that said there are some books that approach gardening from more of a prepper sort of perspective bearing in mind self-reliance and sustainability not taking electrical power or industrial chemical fertilizers or commercial seed catalogs as a given i’ve got a few of these more specific types of books as well but the one i would recommend most is the resilient gardener by carol depp and of course the green screen hits that one but this is the book that i recommend it’s it’s green uh it’s subtitled food production and self-reliance in uncertain times and that’s exactly what this is all about and there’s much more in this book than i could get to in just this one episode this particular book focuses on five basic crops namely potatoes corn beans squash and eggs yes it calls eggs a crop just go with it anyway the book suggests that these are good crops to build a

survival sub subsistence garden around and goes into a deep dive on how to get the best results with each one it also has a lot of excellent information on watering techniques soil fertility tools and usage and much more that’s useful with any kind of crop i don’t necessarily actually think that this is the ideal book for an absolute beginner it starts off with a bit more of an abstract philosophical angle which i definitely appreciate and relate to but it might be a bit overwhelming to someone who’s never even put a seed into soil before that said if you have at least a bit of experience this is an excellent resource for developing a sustainable self-reliant resilient garden alright last call good good so that’s our show i hope you all found it useful or at least entertaining if you did please consider joining our patreon to support the show that’s prepping today i’ve got some rewards posted there now but let me know if you have any ideas for others you can email me at prepping today at or find me on twitter that’s at prepping underscore today i’ll be back next week i have been your host prepper jay and now more than ever get prepping today thank you very much for watching stay safe and healthy out there and keep the lights on