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)
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!