Thursday, March 19, 2015

Blog Series: Survival Gardening for Self-Reliance: Tips and Tricks

Part Three: Finding Balance With Your Survival Garden

We both know that fresh fruits and vegetables are among the best natural fuels. The way I see it, your emergency garden could someday be your main food source. Careful planning today will give your family a nutritional advantage in a crisis, so fill your emergency kit with the heirloom seeds that will yield the best nutritional balance.

1. Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Spinach and Kale

These four vegetables are the leaders in vitamin A, an essential nutrient for healthy vision and a strong immune system. It is also essential for cell growth, bone metabolism and reproductive health. Cantaloupe and leafy greens are also top sources for vitamin A.

2. Bell Peppers, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts and Strawberries

Serving for serving, all of the above provide your family with more vitamin C than an orange. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron and produce collagen, a protein that supports skin and bone health. Even your brain needs this essential vitamin to stay healthy and effective. Other good sources of vitamin C in your garden include green beans, leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, peas, cabbage, zucchini, cantaloupe, raspberries and watermelon.

3. Collards, Asparagus, Dried Beans, Potatoes

B vitamins relieve stress, boost your mood and reduce your risk of developing heart disease. All of these functions are especially critical when you are dealing with a crisis. Additional plants that yield big B benefits include chili peppers, beets, corn and broccoli.

4. Lima Beans, Swiss Chard, Kidney Beans, Beet Greens

Red meat is a good source of iron, but greens and dry beans provide plenty of this essential nutrient too. You need iron for healthy blood. Iron fuels your metabolism, helping it convert calories into energy. Include legumes and leafy greens in your emergency garden plan so your family has a renewable source of iron.

Of course, you also need minerals like calcium and potassium in your diet. The great thing about fresh fruit and vegetables is that they provide the minerals you need to stay strong. They are also the best sources of dietary fiber.

Now that you know what to grow for a balance of nutrients, you are ready to draw up a diagram for your emergency survival garden. I’ll walk you through it in my next blog. With seeds and plan at hand, you’ll be prepared to weather whatever crisis comes your way!

Pooling resources is an important part of getting prepared. We’d love to hear your ideas about garden planning. Please post your comments below!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Blog Series: Survival Gardening for Self-Reliance: Tips and Tricks

Part Two: Choosing Seeds for Your Survival Garden

As I pointed out in my last blog, planning for a survival garden takes a different mindset than planning a yearly pea patch. Selecting the right seeds could make the difference between feeding your family in a crisis and seeing them go hungry.

When you put seeds away in your emergency garden cache, you have to choose carefully. You want seeds you can depend on to produce a safe food supply, seeds packaged for long term storage and seeds that are easy to grow.

      1.      Heirloom or Engineered?

I recommend sticking with heirloom fruit and vegetable seeds, even though hybrid seeds developed in labs are far easier to find. The word “heirloom” on the seed package is one way to identify an older cultivar that is true to its heritage. In general, an heirloom variety predates the mid-20th century when hybrids began flooding the market. In the truest sense, an heirloom seed is one that gardeners have passed on through the generations because it is a reliable producer and a hearty strain. This is just the type of fruit or vegetable you can depend upon in an emergency.

      2.      Open-pollinated?

Open pollination is a trait that makes heirloom seeds the best choice for survival gardening. This means that wind, birds or insects fertilize them as nature intended. Open pollination produces viable seeds that you can save and replant year to year for an ongoing source of food. Most hybrid varieties do not produce viable seeds, and manufacturers do not recommend saving or replanting those seeds.

      3.      Shelf Life

Because you are purchasing seeds for your survival seed supply, longevity is a critical issue. Look at how the seeds are packaged and their expiration dates, if available. Heirloom seeds designed for getting prepared should not come in paper packets, and they should stay viable for several years. Look for specially packed, airtight foil seed pouches that keep the contents fresh over the long-term.

      4.      Are They Easy to Grow?

I like a challenge just as much as the next guy, but I don’t gamble with survival seed selection. Experimenting with exotic plants might be fun (?), but I want dependable, robust fruit and vegetable varieties I can count on in an emergency. I recommend choosing tried-and-true varieties that will work in your climate and with the type of soil you have. If in doubt, call the company for advice.

If you’re with me so far, check back soon for Part Three of this survival gardening series. We’ll talk about choosing plants that provide your family with the best balance of nutrients in an emergency.

Do you have any tips when it comes to choosing survival garden seeds? How about advice about the best varieties to grow? Please leave your comments below – we’d love to have your input!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Blog Series: Survival Gardening for Self-Reliance: Tips and Tricks

“The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.” Abraham Lincoln

Part One: How is a Survival Garden Different?

My favorite garden is the year almost everything went wild. The harvest was amazing – an abundance of greens, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, pumpkins and watermelon. We even managed to attract a fat toad who made the strawberry patch his temporary home.

Clearing the land, drawing up plans and planting seeds is an act of self-reliance. No other experience is quite as validating as picking and eating the food you grew yourself.

This is especially true during a crisis. It’s incredibly empowering to have tools to feed your family even when the grocery store shelves are bare. In the next few blog posts, I’ll discuss how to prepare, plan and care for your emergency garden, so when the time comes to deploy your heirloom seeds, you’ll be locked and loaded.

How Is a Survival Garden Different?
(Look for more details on the following topics in upcoming blogs)

You may think that all gardening is pretty much the same. You select the seeds, map out the beds, do the grunt work, and then sit back and enjoy the harvest. That’s true except in the case of survival gardening. You need a whole different mindset when it comes to:

1. Choosing seeds:

Hobby gardeners love to experiment with unfamiliar varieties, but in a survival garden, every square foot of growing space counts. You have to choose those fruit and vegetable seeds you can rely on to thrive in your climate and yield abundant harvests. Your family’s survival is at stake.

2. Balancing nutrients:

Normally, gardeners tend to select their favorite fruits and vegetables to grow. They know they can fill in the gaps with grocery store produce. As a survival gardener, you must assume that other produce will be unavailable, so nutrition plays a key role in deciding what to grow.

3. Planning the garden layout:

For many backyard gardeners, drawing up a garden is part of the fun. They might pencil in a bench, a koi pond or brightly hued flowerpots. In contrast, when you map out your survival garden, your prime directive is growing as much food as possible in the space you have. Efficiency, not aesthetics, is your focus.

4. Harvesting

Hobby gardeners can afford to be relaxed about harvesting. They may opt to cut a few lettuce leaves and grape tomatoes for a quick meal, neglecting to pick that monster zucchini that has already reached epic proportions. As a survival gardener, you must pick methodically to widen your harvesting window and make the most of every precious seed.

Many hobby gardeners hang up their gloves and trowels once the first frost of autumn arrives. In contrast, you will still be busy, harvesting and saving seeds for next year’s garden.

Post your own questions below, and we will try to answer them as the Survival Gardening series progresses!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Recipe: Patriot Pantry Hasty Rice Pudding

“I sing the sweets I know, the charms I feel, My morning incense, and my evening meal --The sweets of Hasty-Pudding. Come, dear bowl, Glide o'er my palate, and inspire my soul.” --Joel Barlow, American Poet and Diplomat, “The Hasty Pudding” 1793

Patriot Pantry Hasty Rice Pudding

This old-fashioned dessert dates to the 13th century in Europe and even earlier in Asia. Patriot Pantry Emergency Food Supply kits, ranging from a 4-Week supply to a 1-Year Emergency Food Supply, provide the majority of the ingredients you will need to make this delicious comfort dessert. It is easy, relatively quick and likely to become a family favorite during emergencies, campouts, hiking trips and at home.


2 teas. cinnamon
½ cup sugar
1 cup plus 1 T water
½ cup raisins


Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the rice pudding starts to boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook 5-7 minutes longer until the mixture is thickened. Remove from heat and divide into 4 serving dishes.

*If you are using water from a lake, stream or unfamiliar well, purify it prior to use with a filtering device from My Patriot Supply.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Franklin's Finest: More Than Just A Great Cup of Coffee

"Among the numerous luxuries of the may be considered as one of the most valuable. It excites cheerfulness without intoxication; and the pleasing flow of spirits which it never followed by sadness, languor, or debility." -          Benjamin Franklin

As the newest addition to the Patriot Pantry, Franklin’s Finest Coffee is collecting rave reviews. Packed to retain its rich flavor and enticing aroma for 25 years, it is nearly impossible to resist opening up a pouch for immediate enjoyment.

Franklin’s Finest is ideal for a cozy fireside coffee break, a backcountry ski expedition, hunting parties and snowmobile treks because it is designed to travel. All you need is a campfire or gas stove, some fresh water and a mug.

Our freeze-dried coffee is more than just a hearty hot beverage, however. You can use in iced drinks and in recipes that call for a flavor boost. Below are some simple ideas for putting a spectacular spin on some sweet treats:

  • Sprinkle a few pinches of Franklin’s Finest Coffee on top of an iced chocolate cake for a tasty twist
  • Top a hot fudge sundae with a sprinkling of Franklin’s Finest and some crushed oreo cookies to make an easy mud pie dessert
  • Add ½ teaspoon dry Franklin’s Finest to frozen vanilla yogurt and enough milk – use reconstituted Settler’s Whey Powdered Milk if desired -- to make a delicious mocha smoothie. Just blend well.
Try the following recipes for an instant pick-me-up on your winter ski or hunting trip:

Backcountry Iced Latte

1 - 2 teaspoons Franklin’s Finest freeze-dried coffee, to suit your taste
2 teaspoons Patriot Pantry sugar
1 T Settler’s Whey Powdered Milk, pre-mixed with 1/2 cup warm/hot water*
Fresh snow

In a sealable container, mix together Franklin’s Finest Coffee, sugar and the pre-mixed Settler’s Whey Powdered Milk. Snap on the lid and shake well. Stick the container in the snow to cool. Fill a coffee mug nearly full with fresh, clean snow. Shake the cooled coffee mixture and add to the mug. Enjoy!

Servings: 1
Calories: 100
Protein: 3 g
Fat: 2.6 g

Finest Sweet Coffee Biscuits

Yield: Approximately 40 cookies

2 cups unbleached flour
2 T Franklin’s Finest Coffee, dry
3/4 tea. baking powder
½ tea. salt
2/3 cup margarine
1/3 cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
½ tea rum extract

Mix the dry ingredients together and set aside. In a large bowl, cream margarine and white sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in brown sugar and mix well. Add the egg and rum extract and stir to combine them.

Add the dry ingredients. Mix just until combined to form a crumbly dough. Form the dough into two logs that are each about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in waxed paper and refrigerate for 8 hours.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray cookie sheets with non-stick coating. Unwrap the dough and slice each log into 1/8-inch rounds. Place each slice on the baking sheet approximately 1-inch apart. Press a pecan half into the center of each cookie. Bake 7-9 minutes, just until the cookie edges begin to brown. Remove them to a cooling rack.

Hints: These thin cookies bake quickly, so watch closely after 5 minutes or so. Cool the cookie sheet between batches. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Recipe: Patriot Pantry Emergency Energy Bars

The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” – Thomas Edison, 1947-1931

Patriot Pantry Emergency Energy Bars
Dried fruits and nuts supply the vitamins and protein essential for good health and quick energy. That’s why we have included several freeze-dried fruits in our Fruit, Veggie and Snack Mix tote.

Add some freshly cracked nuts, some instant Maple Grove Oatmeal from our Patriot Pantry Emergency Food Supplies and a few other staples to create yummy, high-energy snacks that will keep your crew going during an emergency, on your next camping trip or during the school day. Just follow the easy recipe below.


1 cup pitted dates
2 T clover honey
1 ½ cup Maple Grove Oatmeal
1 ½ cups unsalted nuts, any combination
¼ cup coarsely chopped dried Patriot Pantry pineapple
¼ cup coarsely chopped Patriot Pantry dried banana chips
¼ cup coarsely chopped Patriot Pantry dried blueberries
¼ cup coarsely chopped Patriot Pantry dried strawberries
4 T wheat germ
½ tea. cinnamon
½ tea. salt
Nonstick cooking spray


Place dates in a small pan and cover with water; bring the water to a simmer. Remove from heat and drain all but 1/2 cup water. Put dates, reserved water, and honey in a food processor and puree until smooth. Set aside.

Spray an 8 x 8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Combine oatmeal, pecans, peanuts, pineapple, banana chips, blueberries, strawberries, bran, flaxseed, wheat germ, cinnamon and salt in large bowl. Pour in the date puree and mix until well coated. Press the energy bar mixture into the prepared baking pan.

Bake at 350 degrees F. until firm and beginning to brown at the edges, approximately 20 minutes. Cool in pan. Cut into 16 servings.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Survival Strategies Part II: Emergency Food and Supplies Caching

“The best lightning rod for your protection is your own spine.”Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882, author of “Self-Reliance”

Most of us who are dedicated to getting prepared have already made a start on our survival food supplies, but where should we put them? Storage is a critical component of preparedness too. While it’s simpler to keep all your emergency supplies in one place, you should make sure they are accessible when disaster strikes. Having survival food in your closet or under the bed won’t do you any good if you can’t get to it. Below are some suggestions that we have come up with.

     Make a Tactical Plan
       Where will you and your family wait out the emergency? Organize your emergency food and supplies caches accordingly. For example, if your retreat will be an outbuilding or other remote location, make sure to store supplies nearby. 
     Outsmart the Weather
       Choose weatherproof containers with your climate in mind. If you have lots of rain, for instance, don’t use a metal storage locker that will rust. Heavy-duty plastic rain barrels with lids work well as buried cache containers. Emergency food supplies packed in stackable plastic totes are suitable for long-term caching too. Keep in mind that small creatures like mice can contaminate poorly stored supplies.

      Track Your Caches 
        If you’ve ever misplaced something, you know the value of keeping detailed records. Map out the locations of your supplies so you can find them even years in the future. Tell family members, too, so they can help locate your caches when needed.

      Safety Strategies
Dividing up your survival supplies into several caches helps keep intruders from wiping out your stores all at once. Take into account that canned and packaged foods from the grocery store do not stay fresh nearly as long as dehydrated and freeze-dried foods, which can last as long as 25 years. So do your homework, and choose your food stash with longevity in mind.

Your emergency food supplies and survival items are only as useful as they are accessible. Make sure that you are able to retrieve them in a crisis by caching your supplies near your emergency retreat or en route. What are your storage strategies? We’d love to hear about them!

Get prepared, stay safe and stick with us for more valuable information on planning for an emergency.