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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Survival Food Series: Secret Survival Garden

 Those who have thought of long term emergency situations have thought long and hard on ways to secure their land, food and possessions.  There is no doubt they have also thought of how to grow food, yet keep it hidden at the same time.  Having a garden in an inconspicuous location will not only ensure OPSEC (operational security), but may also discourage others from seeing and wanting what someone else is growing.  The bottom line to having a survival garden is to ensure the health and prosperity of your group or family.

Achieving a Secret Survival Garden

Concealing Your Plants - Many have thought of the idea to conceal the garden with a sturdy barrier or fence using materials such as cement blocks (6 ft. or taller),  and then adding a locked gate that strangers cannot access easily or kick in.  The gate would be functional, yet protective at the the same time.  Adding additional security to this type of garden can be added by placing broken glass or nails on top of the walls.  The broken glass will not be easily seen and create a protective layer to the top of the garden.
Planting bushes or plants with thorns (bush or vining) on the outside of the wall would minimize invasions with their intimidating presence.  Some varieties are zone specific so do some research to find out which security plants grow in your area.  However, any type of thorning plant will ensure that  an outsider to the garden will not be able to access the inside of the garden.
The author of the Survivalist Blog gives some insight on how to get your home and your garden to “blend in” so that attention is not drawn to it.  Here are some of the tips that were mentioned:
“Concealing your plants can be achieved by covering the plants in some way, such as using the Three Sisters method or allowing tall weeds to grow around the garden.  Additionally, not drawing attention to gardens with pathways is another suggestion of keeping the garden out of sight.  The idea is to make your garden blend into it’s surroundings as much as possible.  This can be achieved by not leaving trash around, and covering any exposed soil with leaves, mulch, or whatever was covering the garden before you started working.”
Grow Indoors - If one is concerned with growing outdoors, growing indoors can be achieved by either growing plants near a sunny window or by creating an inconspicuous green house or “grow room”.  Grow rooms are a great way to hide what is on the inside of the building/room.  This method is best if windows are covered in plastic or there are no windows to begin with for people to look in.  The author of the Survivalist Blog provides some advice for building this type of room set up:
“Grow rooms can be made by “taking the roof off of an old shed, barn, garage or storage building and replacing it with corrugated fiberglass sheets used to build greenhouses.  You can get the fiberglass sheets at any good hardware store.  The walls and floor of the building should be painted white or covered with aluminum foil to reflect sun-light back onto the plants…Grow rooms should also have vents covered with screen cut into the walls to let air circulate.  The vents should be cut up high next to the roof to keep anyone from looking in.  Four 6×12 inch vents, will provide plenty of air circulation for a modest size room of 15×30.”

Items to Have For an Indoor Survival Garden

Having an indoor greenhouse is a great way to hide the plants so those passing by do not notice it.  However, depending on where the grow room is in the home, additional items may be needed to get plants to grow to their optimum growing capacity.  Mimicking mother nature is not an easy task.  For plants to grow, they need adequate sunlight, nutrients, a breeze and good amounts of water.
For example, if a person were to grow plants in their basement or a windlowless room to completely conceal their harvest, they may need items such as:
  • Self watering planters or planters of different sizes
  • Soil or growing mediums for hydroponic growing
  • Fertilizers
  • Fans or Ventilation Fans
  • Lights if there is not sufficient sunlight in the room
  • Thermometers
  • Additional shelving or tables
  • irrigation system or hoses
  • Trellises or support cages
  • Hydroponic gardening system
  • Books or sources on how to grow plants indoors or the hydroponic method
This small investment will pay itself back the first harvest.  Food can be harvested year round and stored for later use.  Additionally, having fresh foods in a survival situation will sustain the body with a constant supply of fresh vitamins and nutrients, as well as purifies the home with rich oxygen to reduce lung related illnesses and allergies.

POLL Results: How do you feel about your state of preparedness?

God help me if something happens now!
  15 (13%)
At least I've started....
  49 (44%)
I'm feeling pretty comfortable.
  40 (36%)
Bring it on! I'm ready!
  7 (6%)

Votes so far: 111
Poll closed

* Based on the poll results, it looks like the majority of my readers have at least started their preps.

Survival Food – 56 food supplies from the store

Picture of red kidney beansImage via Wikipedia
With the help of suggestions that have come in from our readers,  we have compiled a list of the top food items that you can buy at the grocery store. The list contains foods with long shelf life, items that have multiple uses, and items that can be bartered.
Survival Food that makes life easier: These four foods can be stored for over 10 years and can add some flavor to your cooking. If stored properly they can probably last indefinitely.
  1. Salt
  2. Sugar – Brown or White
  3. Honey
  4. Alcohol – Whiskey, Vodka, etc…
Hard Grains: Stored properly hard grains have a shelf life of around 10 – 12 years.
  1. Buckwheat
  2. Dry Corn
  3. Kamut
  4. Hard Red Wheat
  5. Soft White Wheat
  6. Millet
  7. Durum wheat
  8. Spelt
Soft grains: These soft grains will last around 8 years at 70 degrees sealed without oxygen.
  1. Barley,
  2. Oat Groats,
  3. Quinoa
  4. Rye
Beans: Sealed and kept away from oxygen the following beans can last for around 8 – 10 years.
  1. Pinto Beans
  2. Kidney Beans
  3. Lentils
  4. Lima Beans
  5. Adzuki Beans
  6. Garbanzo Beans
  7. Mung Beans
  8. Black Turtle Beans
  9. Blackeye Beans
Flours and Mixes and Pastas: 5 – 8 years

  1. All Purpose Flour
  2. White Flour
  3. Whole Wheat Flour
  4. Cornmeal
  5. Pasta
  6. White Rice ( up to 10 years)
  1. Coconut oil – Coconut oil has one of the longest shelf lives of any kind of oil. It can last for over 2 years and is a great item to add to your survival food supplies list.
Other good survival foods: 2 – 5 years of shelf life
  1. Canned Tuna
  2. Canned Meats
  3. Canned Vegetables & Fruits
  4. Peanut Butter
  5. Coffee
  6. Tea
  7. Ramen Noodles – not the greatest food in the world but they are very cheap so they made the survival food list.
  8. Hard Candy
  9. Powdered milk
  10. Dried herbs and spices
Items that can be used for more than cooking:
  1. Apple Cider Vinegar – Cleaning, cooking, and has antibiotic properties
  2. Baking Soda – Cleaning, cooking, etc…
  3. Honey – Mentioned again for it’s antibiotic properties and wound healing.
Non Food Items to stock up on at the grocery store:
  1. Bic Lighters
  2. Toilet Paper
  3. Soaps
  4. Bottled Water
  5. Vitamins
  6. Medicines
  7. Bandages
  8. Peroxide
  9. Lighter fluid
  10. Canning Supplies
  11. Charcoal

Hiking Tips: Failsafe GPS Navigation in the Wilderness

Garmin GPSmap 76CS, handheld GPS receiver, por...Image via Wikipedia
Image via Wikipedia
GPS has become ubiquitous in our complex, “civilized” lives. It’s in our cars, it’s in our cell phones, and now it’s out in the wilderness. So, what’s it doing out there, one might ask?
Well, there’s no right or wrong answer to that question. It’s there, and that’s it. Many people hiking or backpacking in the wilderness use a handheld GPS receiver for navigation. So, let’s take a look at this device and how you can better utilize it in the backcountry.
GPS is simple to learn. My dog could learn to use it. You just push a few buttons, and a sweet female voice tells you all the turns you need to take.
Well, using GPS (Global Positioning System) to navigate in the wilderness isn’t quite as simple as using one to navigate in your automobile on the freeways. There are a few things you need to learn to be truly competent and safe while attempting to navigate with one in the backcountry.

Within a system of a couple dozen satellites orbiting the earth, three or four satellites peer down at you wherever you are and fix your position through triangulation. Your position then, by way of an internal computer, is displayed with longitude and latitude on the screen of your handheld GPS device.
For the satellites to “see” you and communicate with your device, you must be in a place where the sky is unobstructed and visible. Their signals won’t reach your GPS if you’re in a cave or even in some deep canyons and valleys.
We have talked about how a GPS device can tell you where you are. But, even more important is its ability to tell you how to get where you want to go.
If and when you purchase a GPS receiver, read the instructions carefully and learn the following four navigational skills:
1. Marking a waypoint by storing your current position in the GPS memory;
2. Successfully returning to your stored waypoint by following a bearing;
3. Programming your ultimate and intermediate destinations (waypoints), with longitudes and latitudes, into your receiver;
4. Navigating from waypoint to waypoint to your final destination.
I recently had a chat with the copilot of the Boeing 737 aircraft on which I had been flying. I was exiting after landing and got a peek into the cockpit. I spotted on the instrument panel, positioned among other modern and sophisticated navigational instruments, a relatively ancient navigational device dating back to World War II. This instrument, an Automatic Direction Finder (ADF), had been a staple for my navigation in Central Africa during the 70s as a bush pilot.
I asked the copilot what it was doing in such a modern aircraft. He replied that it was a failsafe backup for the other navigational instruments. And all the pilots and copilots had to know how to use it.
Just as pilots of modern aircraft don’t rely solely on one instrument for navigation, safe hiking and backpacking requires you to have a backup failsafe system for your handheld GPS receiver. That system is simply a good  compass and a local and current topographical map.
For failsafe wilderness navigation, learn how to use a handheld GPS receiver. And also take with you a topographical map and a good compass along with the skills for using them competently.
You never know what you might drop into the creek.
By Richard Davidian, Ph.D.

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Fall Reminders

My kids have already headed back to school. My home is much more quiet and clean. You might find yourself with more time to address preparedness. Here are several suggestions for renewed efforts:

1) Keep working on your three-month supply.

You can use the iPrepared worksheet for a one-week supply or some other source. Resolve to at least make a menu this fall. It's so easy to drop a one-week supply menu into your purse or pocket to keep on hand for grocery trips.

2) Look for fall sales.

Here in Utah, the case lot sales are starting. Fellow preparedness blogger, Prepared LDS Family, has a fantastic comparison price sheet to help find the good buys. (I don't think that the Maceys sales have been added to her link yet.) Shopping sales is a great way to save a little money that you can then put towards your three-month supply.

3) Review backpack emergency kits.

My kids all have new bags, which means that their old pocket-sized emergency kits are either still in their old bags or have been thrown away. Back to school is a great time to refresh those supplies and make sure that your kids have a few necessities on hand.

4) Learn a new food preservation skill.
A lot of local produce is cheap right now as it is being harvested. It's also time to start picking fruit and vegetables from your own trees and gardens. A great self-reliance skill is to be able to provide and preserve your own fruits and vegetables year round. Local extension services often offer classes on food preservation techniques. Don't be overwhelmed by pressure cookers and canners. You can start by learning dehydrating and cold-storage techniques that can extend your harvest and don't even require special equipment, just a little knowledge.