ALERT - what does it mean for your garden?

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 - 7:48pm

What follows is some "sage advice" for your garden preps in case this is "the big one." If not, you needed to do these things anyhow.

First, make an inventory.

  1. Do you have enough seed? Make sure it's heirloom. While green beans are prolific and filling, get seeds for Jerusalem artichokes for starch and confectioners sunflowers for protein and oils
  2. Do you have all the tools you need? Two is one and one is none - have a spare of critical things if you can manage it.
  3. Everything to do with watering ready? We have an electric well, and a torpedo bucket in case the power fails.
  4. Do you have enough canning supplies?
  5. Do you need more compost or animal manures?

Late to the gardening thing? The fastest tree for food I have seen is the mulberry, but planting whatever perennials you can now will be appreciated later.

If this pans out as a SHTF event, are there things you can grow from produce in your supermarket? Sweet potatoes and potatoes (starch) and--in my region--green peanuts (fats and protein) are available in the produce aisle and can be used to make more plants.  If you're in an area where they might strip your garden, plant such things as part of your edible landscaping and they'll pass them by. Ginger will  grow in pots and overwinter indoors. Green bell peppers usually contain viable seeds for next year. Dried beans like lima beans can be planted: I've done it and you cannot beat the price.

Any other ideas from our community please add to this thread.



Poet's picture
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Bean Sprouts

Don't forget getting seeds for sprouting to get fresh greens, vitamins, fiber, etc. What you want are edible beans that are not coated with pesticides/preservatives.

Soy beans
Snow peas
Mung beans
Adzuki beans



pinecarr's picture
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Great post, Wendy!

I went looking on-line for mulberries, but have not come up with a place that will ship before fall.  Too bad, because on they talk about how mulberries are great for distracting birds from other fruiting trees (a problem I had last year with my first yield of apples, of all things!)

Instead, I have ordered some more honeyberries to fill in a couple of spots that need filling.  The ones I planted earlier this year took very well to my soil, and they are cold hardy and supposedly very resilient and easy to grow.  Like blueberries, but don't need acidic soil.  So I will "top off" my mini orchard as best I can now.

I also like your idea of getting soil amendments; maybe a bulk order of compost, as I am not producing enough on my own yet.

Stocking up on back-ups for the essential tools is great advice as well (2 is 1, 1 is none).  I can't even imagine how I'd get all the work done I do in my garden and mini-orchard without my wheel barrow.  Maybe time for a back-up.

Love the advice on beans for sprouting as well, Poet!


sand_puppy's picture
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Dump Truck Full of Compost and Mulch

We have a local producer of compost and mulch called Panorama Paydirt in the Charlottesville area.  A medium-sized dump truck full costs about $250 delivered.  Central Virginia's hard-packed clay soil just does not grow crops well unless mixed with compost/mulch.  I'm keeping a big pile on hand in case I find that some more lawn needs to be converted to food growing space quickly.

And they have beautiful picture on their website.

jandeligans's picture
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Don't forget foraging - wildcrafting

Great reminders. I bought 4 small mulberries this spring from a local nursery and planted them along with quite a few other fruit and nut trees. I need to get a seed cache set up though.

But one thing I have been concentrating on is learning my local wild foods. I met someone in my Northern NM area that is a true expert on local foraging and I have been amazed at the food that is there for the picking that is extremely nutrient dense and tasty. One of the most surprising discoveries is the ever abundant and considered a noxious weed - the Siberian Elm which comes up everywhere. The seed pods are delicious when green. They taste a little like green peas. They can be lightly coated with oil and salt and dehydrated to make a high protein storable snack - like chips. They are also great in salads just like they are. I had noticed that the squirrels and birds here go crazy over them - a good tip that they may also be edible for us. Then the leaves are edible through the whole summer. I am currently also experimenting with cutting some elms down and using them as mushroom logs. After the mushrooms finish with them in several years they should be fantastic compost material or hugelkultur beds.

Other wild foods I am now using include cattails, cactus pads and fruits, purslane, lambsquarters and lots more. A good resource of information is Katrina Blair's book "The Wild Wisdom of Weeds" which covers everything from the plants with recipes to the spiritual benefits of uniting yourself with the wild world of nature. She also has some really great videos on her website - She even has a restaurant that sells all wild food lunches! 

For me, the motivation of looking to learn about wild food harvesting was the thought that if the SHTF and grocery stores disappear - you can still eat. And if people who haven't prepared are running around stealing your food - they won't eat the wild foods. This takes a lot of study though to do it safely and time to experiment. I consider it an important prepping job but it is going to work for you only if you do the research ahead of time. I'm having fun with it. Any wild food that doesn't meet my taste test for yummy then I file that information away for use if ever needed to prevent starvation. I only use the wild foods if they are delicious. And many are.

Lots of strategies, Cheers, Jan 

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Watering in the suburbs

In the event of downed electrical grid (worst case SHTF scenario planning here) the biggest limitation to gardening in our location would be the availability of water during hot dry spells.  On the average, plenty  of rainwater falls here in central Virginia (47 inches/yr), but there can be an occasional week or two long stretches without any rainfall.  Most local farms are not irrigated.  But occasionally a crop is lost due to a dry spell.

We live in a suburban neighborhood.   A well is not really an option and no nearby lake or river is easily available.  Capturing rainwater is my next goal.

Rule of thumb:  1" rainfall on a 1,000 square foot roof gives 600 gallons of water. 

I'm considering one of these 1100 tanks in black.  The alternative is to get multiple smaller rain barrels, one for each down spout.

To preserve my marriage and neighborhood harmony, a trellis with a flowering plant, such as a bougainvillea, would be needed to screen it as I have been advised by those more esthetically sensitive than I that these tanks are pretty damn ugly.



pyranablade's picture
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Nothing and Everything too

In 2014 a lot of my garden was eaten by pests - pests that got through or over the elaborate fence that I built. This year I'm spending less time on building fences and more time on setting up traps for mice, rabbits and chipmunks. I'm not interested in getting a dog or cat to chase them off.

I'm going to a "small farms tour" and really giving some serious thought to getting some rural acres while keeping my steady job and house in town. Chris' Alert really didn't inspire any of this. I just want to take my food raising to the next level and I'm running out of space to do it in in town. Also there are stupid laws in town (and they are enforced) against raising chickens and other quiet, safe animals that people have lived amongst for centuries.



Michael_Rudmin's picture
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Where do you live? Perhaps I can ship you a mulberry

I have a lot of mulberry seed:  purple and white.  I have a few seedlings as well.  If you give me your address, I can perhaps ship you some.  Then, we can see about a return, though off hand I have no idea what at the moment.  Often, certain tree seeds or other interesting seeds are things that I find to be a good return. 

We eat our mulberries, and we like them.  Another good tree is the black cherry:  Although it can be infested with wax bugs, in general, you don't find worms in them because they are too small. 

Anyhow, if you are interested, email me your address at [email protected] ; I can only ship where it's legal. 

  - Mike Rudmin


robshepler's picture
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We put up a couple of high tunnels this year and as you can imagine they are a wonderful protected environment. Our big surprise was how well things are doing in our low tunnels. Much cheaper than a high tunnel and gives an environment that is bug free, wind free and retains more moisture, a really neat micro climate. Trials of veggies inside and out show about a 5 fold difference in growth, almost as good as a high tunnel.

Good luck!

sand_puppy's picture
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High tunnels and low tunnels

I hadn't ever heard of tunnels and googled Rob Shepler's name and high tunnels and got these pictures.  They appear to be a hoop green house type designs made with bent PVC pipe over a fixed raised bed ....

Later, things grew:

Low tunnels:  The outside.


herewego's picture
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Self seeders

Nice thread!  I've been noticing the many plants I pull as weeds, obviously good at reproducing, that are also edible.  In these parts, Lambsquarters, Purslane, Saskatoon berries, Popweed and Dandelion all seem to love open soil and are very edible, even tasty.  If I had no seed to plant I could still eat greens.

Also noticing which cultivated plants re-seed easily.  Mustard, Kale, Squash family, Beans, Nasturtiums (whole plant is edible),Dill, Fennel, Peas, Potatoes and Tomatoes all volunteer every year round about the garden or in the compost and make great food producing plants if I don't pull them out. 

Obviously learning to save seed and growing perennials makes sense but a lot of food grows without my help.  I find this reassuring.  Still high time to get more perennials going anyway. 




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