By Alec Sharp (Palmetto Prepper)
Before you turn even the first grain of dirt in your backyard garden you have to start with a plan. What are you going to grow? How are you going to arrange your plants? How are you going to combat the pest that will try to eat your garden before your first harvest?
The most important part of planning is deciding what kind of seeds you are going to plant. There are two varieties to choose from, either the modern hybrid varieties or heirlooms. Hybrids are created by crossing two selected varieties, sometimes resulting in vigorous plants that yield more that there heirloom kin. Heirloom vegetables are old-time varieties that are handed down through multiple generations. Heirloom seeds usually cost less than hybrids, but that is not the only reason to choose them.
Lots of breeding programs for modern hybrid seeds have sacrificed taste for production. I have grown modern tomatoes that have produced pound after pound of tasteless fruit that has left me sadly disappointed. But the next year I planted the same heirloom tomato that my grandmother has been planting for years with much better results. The heirloom did not produce the same quantity of fruit but the superior taste more than made up for the loss of production.
It is also believed that the newer hybrid seeds have lost some, if not much, of the nutritional value that the older heirloom vegetables have been providing us for years. It would appear that the breeders of the modern hybrid seeds have been more concerned with production than nutritional value.
As a prepper I prefer heirloom vegetables because they are open-pollinated, which means you can save your seeds. If you save seeds from heirloom vegetables you can replant them next year and be assured that next year’s plant will be just like this year’s plant. However, if you plant seeds saved from hybrid plants you never know what you might get. They may be like their parent plant or they may be quite different.
Another quality is that heirlooms don’t all ripen at the same time. Many commercial growers like hybrids because they all ripen in one fail swoop, however this is not optimum for back yard gardens. As a back yard grower I prefer to have ripened vegetables stretched over a period of time so I can enjoy my fresh harvest over several weeks.
Lastly, I can save seeds from only the best plants and use those to grow next year’s garden. I can then share those seeds with my family and friends. I can get my grandchildren involved in my backyard garden and teach them how to save only seeds from the strongest most productive plants for the next year. We can make memories together growing tasty and nutritious vegetables. When the grand kids get older I can then share my heirloom seeds with them and they will have lots of fun stories to share with their kids as they plant our family heirloom seeds in a garden of their own.
There are several ways to get high quality heirlooms seeds. One of my favorite ways is by trading seeds with other local gardeners. However, if I have to order seeds I usually get them from Bakers Creek Seed Company or the Seed Savers Exchange. Good luck and happy gardening!
By: Alec Sharp (Palmetto Prepper)
Yesterday while at work I had to attend training on a new time clock system that is being implemented at my job. The new time clock will consist of a biometric scan of your finger along with a fingerprint scan. Of course none of this made me happy. At the end of the training we had to enroll in the system by completing both scans.
Of course I was not happy and voiced my opinion when it was my turn to submit my finger for scans. There was talk about how no matter how many times we were told that the information submitted was secure; we all knew that before we left the training session the NSA along with countless other government agencies would be in custody of the newly scanned information.
Afterwards one of my coworkers asked me … “How can you tell others about the need to prepare without making yourself a target for unwanted visitors in the future if we really have one of those SHTF situations?” He continued to give me a hard time because I have both my Palmetto Prepper Facebook page and this Blog. I did my best to ignore him and went about my business.
Later in the day I really started thinking about what my coworker said. I decided there were really only two types of preppers; the first type being like my coworker, a Paranoid Prepper and the other like myself which is a Pragmatic or Logical Prepper.
A paranoid prepper is someone who is preparing for an event but is scared to let anyone know about it. The paranoid prepper is terrified that his preps will be stolen from him when he needs them most.
However, a pragmatic/logical prepper knows that in a SHTF situation that they will have to share what they have with others and prepares for this situation. I am sure that this is causing many of you to think I am crazy but just take a second and hear me out.
If I am at the local Wal-Mart and talk to some random stranger in line about why I have 25 cans of corn in my buggy and he seems interested in what I have to say, then of course I am going to tell him about his need to be prepared. And if in six months or a year from now we have a SHTF situation; I doubt he is going to say to himself, “I remember talking to this brown-haired man in Wal-Mart and he had lots of extra food. I think he said he lived in the next town over so I am going to go get his food.” That just is not going to happen. And if he did happen to find me some twenty miles away then he would also need to know that I have also bought some extra guns and ammo. There is actually a greater chance that he might buy a few extra cans of food for himself and his family.
What is most likely going to happen is that my son, who thinks I am crazy and is not preparing, is going to show up at my house with his family and need some supplies. What am I to do? Turn down my son and his family or am I going to know this is likely to happen and prepare for that situation.
Another likely situation that will probably occur is that one of my neighbors will need some supplies. How safe would it be for me to turn them down or get into a gun battle with someone from my immediate community who likely has close friends in the area? In that situation we should ban together and help one another; there is safety in numbers. I might be able to give him some needed sugar and he could help me fix my car or assist with hunting and fishing in the area.
I agree that we need to be careful of who knows that we are preppers and limit their ability to find us; but we need to remember that we cannot keep it secret from everyone. We need to be selective who we tell all while we encourage others to prepare for themselves.
So what kind of prepper are you?
By Alec Sharp (Palmetto Prepper)
I was visiting a friend the other week, who claims to be a fellow prepper, and he wanted to show off his preps; which is something I do not encourage any prepper to do. So out to his man cave, located in the back of his garage, we went so he could show off all his preps. The way he was talking I was expecting to see tons of food, gallons upon gallons of water, go bags and some guns. But what I saw were guns and more guns. Along with the guns there was box after box after box of ammo. This guy had so many guns and so much ammo that he could open his own store. What I did not see was much in the way of water storage or food.
Guns and ammo are an important part of most people’s preps but by no means would I ever suggest to anyone that guns and ammo be the most important prep you have; just like I would not recommend that anyone only prep water or food or junk silver. We must have a balanced approach to prepping.
All this got me thinking about my guns and ammo and the approach I took to picking out the guns I have and just how much ammo was really needed. After giving the subject a lot of thought this is what I came up with.
There are basically four types of guns and each has its own place in your preps. I strongly believe that each household should have a shotgun, a centerfire rifle, a handgun and a .22 rifle.
A good shotgun can be used for both hunting and home defense. I started out with a good 12 gage shotgun that my grandfather left to me many years ago. This shotgun, a Browning A5, is great for bird hunting and can be used to hunt squirrels and other small game. However it really is too big to be a good home defense weapon but in a pinch it will get the job done. Later in my prepping I did add a good pump shot gun to my preps for home defense.
The centerfire is for hunting bigger game and stopping people out at longer ranges. I only get to go deer hunting about three or four times a year and did not want to invest lots of money into a centerfire rifle but I wanted one that would not fail. I found a Remington 770 at a local store for under $200 and it came with a scope. I quickly found that the scope was a cheaper make and the optics were not good for long distance shots so I upgraded to some decent optics for under $200. I have been very happy with this rifle and it is very capable of taking down Whitetail Deer and wild hogs.
A hand gun is to stop bad people at close range. My wife, my oldest son, oldest daughter and I all have our Concealed Weapons Permits (CWP) and carry just about everywhere we go. However I did not start out with a handgun for everyone. To start out I went to a local pawn store and bought a good used .38 caliber revolver; this is gun my daughter currently carries. I would suggest that what every you decide to purchase I would get it in 9mm or .40 caliber. The reason for this is that these are the calibers that are most often carried by local police departments; which means that when you are stocking up on ammo these will be easier to find.
Lastly the .22 rifle is for hunting small game and keeping your shooting skills sharp because the ammunition is less expensive. I have a Ruger 10/22 and I mounted the cheap scope that came with my centerfire rifle on it. It is a great gun. I use it for hunting rabbits, squirrels, turtles and other small game. My kids love to take it to the range to practice with because it is so easy to shoot. In addition the Ruger is probably the most popular 22 rifle made and there are tons of accessories manufactured for it. I have purchased some of the 25 round magazines for it which I have found increases my odds of taking down a fast moving squirrel.
Now how much ammo do you really need? Only you can answer is that question but I will share with you what I have done. I try to keep 500 rounds of ammo for each gun I own, except .22 which I keep about 1000 rounds of. Now this number is not for each caliber gun but for each gun you own. If you had two 9mm pistols (one for you and one for your wife) then you would need to have 1000 rounds of 9 mm ammo on hand. When purchasing shotgun shells you need to be aware that there are many different types. I keep some target loads, turkey loads, small game loads and buck shot. That way I have the type of shells that I need when I need them.
I would not get all these guns at one time. Maybe after you have a good amount of water stored up then you could buy your shotgun. Then add some food to your preps and get a pistol and so on.
I would suggest that your first gun be a good 12 gage shotgun because it is dual purposed. You can protect yourself and family with it as well as hunt. Then I would get a pistol and I would encourage you to get your CWP.
It is important to remind ourselves that we did not always have the peace and courage that comes from living the prepper lifestyle. We didn’t always know that “life as we know it” is not stable and that it can change overnight. The inner peace that we, as preppers, have realized comes from slowly taking the steps to insure that our families will have a roof over their heads, water to drink and food for them to eat.
The average person is just rocking along with life and my have had limited exposure to people like us. They might have a flashlight, some batteries and possibly a portable radio socked away for when the lights go out, but they are not prepared for any real life changing events. Then they meet someone like us and they think we are strangle and might even treat us differently. Our family will tolerate us preppers because they have to, after all they are family.
However then we have contact with that average person that was just rocking along and they have suddenly had the “First Exposure” with the need to be prepared. They may have just lost their job or knows someone who has. They might have just lived through a natural disaster that made life scary for a few days or a week and now they realize that their family is vulnerable. Or like most people they have discovered that our country cannot keep plugging along spending more money than it takes in every year and they have noticed that the cost of everyday living has risen very fast and it all gives them some concern. Whatever the reason is, they have started seeking out advice and are looking for justification to start spending a pile of money on things that they think they need so they can have the same peace and courage we have when we take on whatever life throws our way.
What we have to remember is that “First Exposure” sucks. Not only does it suck but the person that was recently exposed feels alone and knows that they cannot talk to most people or their family because they know that their friends and family will think they are crazy, just as they would have thought about us before their exposure. Now they are seeking out someone who does not think they are crazy!
Hopefully they find someone who is a level-headed prepper that will steer them in the right direction. Someone that gives them good solid advice and helps them think of thing logically and points them to reliable resources so they can educate themselves before they waste lots of money. I also hope that they find someone who will direct them to more like-minded people so they can start building community and a support group.
I have a feeling that 2014 will produce many new people who experience their “First Exposure” and there is a good chance that you will be placed in a position to be that SOMEONE I mentioned earlier. I ask you to remember what it was like when you had your “First Exposure” and that you help your new friend down the path of preparedness with understanding and patience.
Help them get started and help them to feel normal. Living a prepping/preparedness lifestyle is nothing new. People until recent history lived this way. Remember you grandparents, their generation lived this way. They always saved and put supplies up for later use. People all over the world live a preparedness lifestyle. It was not until recent times that people were taught that we can just run to the store whenever they needed something. Well I believe that is a false security and that 2014 will show us all just how false it is.
Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/PalmettoPrepper
Twitter – https://twitter.com/SCPrepper
My prepping goals for 2014 include personal, family and farm goals … all of which will impact the safety, security and well-being of my family. The reason for me sharing my goals with everyone is that by letting others know your goals then you have someone to hold you accountable.
– Get my 1100 gallon water barrel contacted to new gutters on the rear of the house
– Grow and can 50% more food to increase our food storage and improve the quality of food that is consumed by my family
– Build a new larger chicken coop (20 bird minimum)
– New roof on old pump house to increase storage and safety on farm
– Get current goat-herd registered
– Finish 40 foot high radio tower (for Ham Radio antennas)
– Continue Debt snowball (get all current doctor bills paid off)
– Build readership on blog by creating at least one new blog post a week
– Research how to start a podcast and launch Palmetto Prepper Network
Goals are important for every aspect of life. I would encourage you to make goals, short-term and long-term. Without goals it you are less likely to achieve the things you seek in life.
The two goals that excite me the most is building a larger better egg producing factory (chicken coop) and starting a podcast. Actually the podcast is the one that intrigues me the most. I am actually curious how many of my Facebook followers and blog readers would actually listen or be interested in this endeavor.
Good luck and happy prepping in 2014.
Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/PalmettoPrepper
Twitter – https://twitter.com/SCPrepper
By: Alec Sharp (Palmetto Prepper)
Prepping is an important activity that everyone should make sure that they are participating in. You never know when a winter storm will close down your city or truckers will go on strike, keeping the much needed food supply from being delivered to your community.
I have been asked by both friends and family this one question: What is prepping? This question often confuses me because prepping is such a natural activity. It is what American’s have done since the beginning of our great county. Prepping is preparing for the future. It is just that simple. You decide what you are preparing for and do it. But for most of us, the acts of prepping consist of storing up basics for the future (food, water and supplies). For more information about what our grandparents did check out this blog entry: https://ki4idb.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/our-grandparents-had-it-right/
Once you decide that you need to start prepping and then you look around at all the things you need to purchase and store, you can become easily overwhelmed. That is when most people start to get discouraged. Then after the first trip to the store and you find yourself spending $100’s of dollars on food, water, water purification devices and medical supplies you find yourself wanting to run for the hills. At least I did!
Then I decided that I was going to have to take the slow and steady approach. That is how I was able to prep without being overwhelmed. My slow and steady approach is very simple … I just do one small prep a day. If I don’t have any extra money to purchase a prep for the day, then I work on a new skill like “Knife Sharpening” or “Gardening”. Each thing you do makes you more prepared then you were before and that is what is important. However, you also have to a goal in mind and continue to strive to obtain that goal. Good beginner goals to have would be to store up a month supply of food and water. After that maybe have an extra 10 gallons of gas on hand or extra LP gas for your propane grill, both of those things are important preps.
If you were to look back at my prepping activities for the last 5 days you would see the following:
Day 1 – Stored an extra gallon of water in an empty Arizona gallon tea jug.
Day 2 – Bought a few extra can goods while grocery shopping.
Day 3 – Cleaned and oiled guns.
Day 4 – Bought an extra bag of food for the chickens.
Day 5 – Bought extra dental floss and some large needles (you would be surprised at all the uses for dental floss).
You can follow along on my Facebook page, where I ask the daily question, “What was your prep for the day?”; you will be surprised at some of the answers. https://www.facebook.com/PalmettoPrepper
By: Alec Sharp (Palmetto Prepper)
For over 5000 years people have been keeping domesticated chickens and there must be a good reason for that. I would say that the reasons are quite simple; the chicken provides food security along with food safety and quality, putting it at the top of any preppers list.
If you are planning to keep chickens to provide food for your family after an economic collapse then you have made a great choice. Chickens are small in size, have low maintenance and the ability to provide you with both eggs and meat. The average chicken will lay 260 eggs a year, so if you have a small flock of just four hens you should have over 1,000 eggs to feed your family. If you add a rooster to the mix and make sure you have a breed of chicken that is known for being broody, then you can leave some of those eggs in with the hens and your flock will continue to thrive. In addition to providing direct food for you and your family they also produce fertilizer and eat pest that could ruin your survival garden.
If you are not worried about an economic collapse or the end of the world there are other fine reasons why chickens are a bargain and a must have. One of the most economic and politically compelling reasons to raise chickens is to recycle food and yard waste, keeping it out of the land fill and becoming a valuable organic soil builder for your garden. Chickens provide natural insect control by eating protein packed insect, which will cut down on their feed bill. But, for me and my family, we are more concerned with food production.
If you have chickens, then you need to make sure you can provide for them while they continue to produce for you and your family. Like mentioned above chickens love to eat bugs and scratch at the ground to dig up other tiny morsels of food, helping to provide for themselves. But they can only do this if you allow them to free range. My current flock of eight hens and a rooster get about 60% of their food from grain and the other 40% from forging around the yard. They could get by on less gain but if you want them to produce more eggs for you I honestly believe the grain is an important part of there up keep. However, I know people that just let them forage for their food, giving them just enough grain to come back to the coop every night. After TSHTF and you run low on grain you can always feed them kitchen scraps and you should be fine. I included kitchen scraps in the above estimate of the grain I feed them.
One last note for the prepper with chickens in their survival plan like anything else there is a learning curve, so I encourage you to start your flock now. You will be glad you do not have to learn another skill when all hell breaks loose, in addition to trying to figure out where your starter flock is going to come from.
For more information on prepping please visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PalmettoPrepper .
By: Alec Sharp (Palmetto Prepper)
Several years ago I was minding my own business watching TV and a crazy show called “Doomsday Preppers” came on the screen. I watch about a half an hour of those weird people before turning it off. But the concept of the show sparked an interest in the back of my mind and got me thinking about the safety of my own family. I really started wondering if they would be taken care of or if they would be safe if anything (SHTF) bad happened. I concluded that we were grossly unprepared and our family’s journey began.
I am a list maker so the first thing I did was make a list of what I needed for my family to have just two month’s worth of supplies (food, water, soap, toothpaste …). Once finished I looked at my list and then at my checkbook, I am a father of six with a stay at home wife, and I quickly got over whelmed and then I panicked. After a few days I got brave enough to broach the subject with my wife and we figured out where the disposable income needed would come from. Like most of you, the economy has not been good to me. I have not had a real raise in years and the price of everything keeps going up, even while the government is telling us there is no noticeable appreciation.
My wife came up with the idea of prepping in little bits and watching it all add up. We spent one evening going over our budget and found ways to save money. I cut out my bi-weekly trip to Starbucks, started taking lunch to work a few day a week. We even cut out some of our soda habit and we realized we could easily find $10 a week to put towards our preps, and that is what we did.
You will not believe what $10 can buy until you really start paying attention. Here are just a few things you can get from a discount store like Family Dollar or Dollar General:
Rice (3 lb. bag) $1.69 – you can store 5 bags for $8.45
Dried beans (1.5 lb. bag) $1.99 – 5 bags = $9.95
Sugar (4 lb. bag) $2.39 – 4 bags = $9.95
Toothpaste $1.79 a tube – 5 tubes = $8.95
Kraft Easy Mac (2.05 oz. container) $1.00 – 10 containers = $10
The list goes on and on. Again I can’t say it enough that you can quickly store lots of supplies for as little as $10 a week. When we found a big item we wanted we would just save our $10 weekly prepping money until we could afford to buy the item. I think the first big item we got was a propane burner. In just a few weeks we had the money needed.
The key is to be consistent and disciplined and make that $10 purchase every week. In just a few months into your prepping journey you will be amazed at what you’re accomplishing. Then at the end of the first year you will look into your prepper closet and feel a lot better about your preparedness.
Once you get the basics of prepping started, you will quickly start doing things like gardening, canning your own food, seed saving and other inexpensive prepping activities that will quickly increase your safety and preparedness.
For more information on prepping please visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PalmettoPrepper
By Alec Sharp (Palmetto Prepper)
By the time garden season gets into full swing most back yard gardeners have more cucumbers, peppers and onions then they know what to do with.
Every summer I take several quart jars and make up some Cool Cucumber Salad for my family and friends …. Enjoying a few for myself along the way. The recipe is easy and will last two months, as long as it is kept refrigerated.
– 7 cups pickling Cucumbers sliced thin (about 7 large cucumbers)
– 1 cup sliced Onions
– 1 cup sliced Bell Pepper
– 1 tablespoon salt
– 1 cup white vinegar
– 2 cups sugar
– 1 teaspoon celery seed
– 1 teaspoon mustard seed
Place the vinegar, sugar, celery seed and mustard seed in a sauce pan and bring to a boil, remove from heat and cool for one hour. While your vinegar mixture cools place your cucumber, onion and bell pepper in a large bowl and sprinkle salt on top. Mix all the vegetables together and place them into two quart jars (wide mouth jars work best). Once the vinegar mix has cool for an hour, pour over the vegetables and place in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day enjoy your Cool Cucumber Salad!
By Alec Sharp (Palmetto Prepper)
I have had many people ask me over the last year or so, “why do I need to can my dried beans? They should last for years in the bags they came in from the grocery store.” Well this is just not true. There are two reasons why I can dry beans instead of keeping them in dry form.
First, according to the US Bean Council ( http://www.usdrybeans.com ) dry beans keep up to a year in an airtight container in a cool, dry environment, away from direct sunlight. During storage, beans may either absorb or lose moisture, which will affect the soaking and cook time. If stored longer that 12 months, or exposed to unfavorable storage conditions, beans may never soften sufficiently, no matter how long they’re soaked or cooked.
The other reason I can my dry beans is because when you need them they are already cooked. All you have to do is heat and eat. Canning turns your favorite foods into the ultimate fast food! If you can them, they will last for years.
Supplies Needed for Canning Dried Beans
– Pressure Canner
– 4 pounds of dried beans (your choice of variety)
– Canning Salt
– 2 gallon stock pot
– Long handled spoon
– Small sauce pan
– 7 quart canning jars or 14 to 16 pint canning jars
– Jar lifter
– Magnetic lid wand
– Canning funnel
– Measuring spoon
– A few old towels
Preparing for Canning
– Wash beans and remove any dirt, foreign debris and bad (broken) beans
– Place beans in two gallon stock pot and cover the beans with two to three times the volume of water as beans
– Bring the beans to a boil and simmer for one hour
– Stir occasionally and add water if needed
– Wash jars, lids and rings
Filling and Closing Jars
– Put 2” water in small sauce pan and bring to boil
– Remove from heat and place lids in water
– Fill sterilized jars with drained beans to about 1 ¼ inches from the top
– Add ½ teaspoon canning salt per pint or 1 teaspoon per quart
– Top off each jar with juice (from cooking beans) leaving ¼ inch of head space
– Wipe rims of jars with wet dish cloth or paper towel (I use a paper towel)
– Assemble lids and rings and apply to jars
– Tighten lids to hand tight
Canning Dried Beans
– Put 3” water in canner and bring to boil (don’t put cold jars in hot water)
– Place jars in canner and lock down the lid
– Vent the canner for 7 to 10 minutes
– Process at 10 PSI for 45 minutes for pints or 55 minutes for quarts (Check you canner directions for proper PSI if you live at high altitudes)
– When done allow pressure to drop off naturally
– Remove jars and place them on counter to cool (I usually place them on a towel on the counter)
Jars may take up to an hour to seal, but wait until they have cooled to room temperature to be sure. Remove the bands before you store them.
If a jar does not seal, which is uncommon, your beans will need to be eaten right away or placed in the refrigerator.