Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How to Determine the Size of Your Garden

Whether you are growing a survival garden or simply want to source more of your own food at home, you may be wondering just how large of a garden you’ll need to support your family’s needs. In this blog, we’ll try to tackle that daunting question - just how much land does it take to feed a person?

A General Rule of Thumb

For most vegetables, you will need to get enough heirloom seeds to plant in a 10’-15’ row in order to feed a family of four. Of course, if your family consumes a certain crop at a high rate – such as the family favorite heritage sweet corn - you will want to plant more accordingly. And if you plan on eating a particular vegetable with far less frequency, you can plant less. In other words, the particular number of plants you will need for each vegetable will to some degree boil down to personal preference.  In general, however, if it is something you consume with reasonable regularity, 10’-15’ rows will do the trick and you can still get a general idea of the space you will need for a sustainable garden.

Creating a More Precise Survival Garden Space Plan

There are a vast number of variables that can impact on the amount of space you will require. The types of garden vegetables you like to eat, the length of the growing season, and whether or not you intend to preserve some of your supply for the winter months all come into play.

John Jeavons, an expert in the field of small-scale sustainable farming, has estimated the necessary land for a single person at about 200 square feet. For an entire year (meaning, growing so that you can store a large amount of food away for the non-growing season), you will need about 4,000 square feet per person. This sounds like a lot! And for many people, it is. But, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the average American lawn size is 0.225 acres, or 9801 square feet. So, for many people, growing for a year-round supply for themselves (and even a partner or trusted friend) is in reach!

Supplementing Your Garden

From the standpoint of a survivalist, though, you hopefully won’t need to grow enough food to sustain yourself for a long period of time. You can grow some food to protect yourself in the short term while preparing other means of sustenance over the long term (via canning foods at home, storing some long term storage food rations, raising livestock, cooperation with trusted neighbors, etc.) To grow food for a more realistic timeframe, for example, a week or month, you may be able to get buy on about 100 square feet of garden per person, which would let you prepare a garden to feed a family of four on a very manageable 400 square foot plot of land.

Of course, the size of the plot needed also varies based on how you set up your garden and what plants you choose to cultivate. To maximize the yield of your garden, plant in wide rows. Rather than planting in a single line, scatter seeds in 3-foot wide rows. Using wide rows is ideal for vegetables because the plants can quickly establish a leaf canopy to ward off weeds. This technique is particularly relevant for urban cultivation, where space is at a premium.

Your choice of vegetable also impacts on the amount of space you will need. Plants that grow on vines, like cucumbers and squash, typically need plenty of room to spread out (either horizontally or vertically). And some vegetables, like asparagus, are perennial, which means they will have to take up space in your garden for a longer period time, which decreases overall yield. Choosing vegetables with higher yields in denser spaces may help you maximize your garden’s returns.

Happy Growing!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Emergency Preparedness – Pet Considerations

For many, pets are a part of the family, which means they need to be considered when creating an emergency preparedness plan. Emergencies can strike when we least expect it, and you may only have minutes to make decisions and take action. Planning and preparing will ensure your pet has the best chance of survival during a disaster.

Pack an Animal Emergency Supply Kit

When packing an emergency supply kit for yourself or family, make sure to include a few crucial items for your pet. Keep survival basics in mind and make sure there’s enough to last 3 or more days.

  • Clean water
  • Canned dog or cat food & can opener (if required)
  • Feeding bowls
  • Harness and leash
  • A collapsible pet carrier, especially if your pet is small and/or excitable
  • Sanitary supplies like pee pads, litter box, newspaper, plastic bags and disinfectant
  • Pet’s medical records & prescription medicine (if applicable)

It is a best practice to create two different pet emergency kits – one for home and one for evacuation.
Identify a Pet Friendly Safe Haven

If you’re staying in your home...

  • Bring your pets inside ASAP
  • Find a protected area in the home that’s big enough for you and your pet
  • Keep newspapers and pee pads in good supply
  • Feed your pets canned food so they need less water

If you’re evacuating...

Contact your local pet shelter or animal control office for information on pet friendly evacuation centers and other options for you and your pets during an emergency. Other options include:

  • Staying with friends or relatives
  •  Nearby hotels/motels that are pet friendly
  • Pet boarding facilities both local and in nearby cities
  • Veterinary clinics
  • Animal shelters – Use this as a last resort if none of the options above are viable as shelters can harbor disease.
  • If you have large animals, such as a horse, ensure that you have proper transportation lined up and easily at your disposal.

No matter what never leave your pets home alone if you evacuate unless your life is immediately at stake. It may be days or even weeks before you are able to return home, and pets are unlikely to survive on their own for that long.

If you feel it’s absolutely necessary to leave your pet behind, leave them loose inside with a good supply of food and water. Also leave the bathroom door open with the toilet seat up and the tank lid off in case their water supply runs out. Leave a note in a visible place that explains there are animals inside the home and how to contact you.
If you are not at home during a disaster...

  • Put up a rescue alert sticker before hand – it will let rescue workers know there are pets inside the home.
  • Use the buddy system – find a friend, relative or neighbor that you can entrust with caring for your pet during an emergency if you’re unable to do so. They’ll need to know where the pet emergency supply kit is, where to meet you if you evacuate and how to access to your home.

Make Sure Your Pet’s Identification is Up-to-Date 
It’s easy to get separated from your pet during a disaster or emergency. There are steps you can take beforehand that increase the odds of reuniting with your pet if that happens.

  •  Collars with up-to-date identification attached - consider adding the number of a friend or family member that lives outside your immediate area in case they can’t get through to you.
  • Shots – your pet’s collar should also have tags that show your pet is up-to-date on all their shots.
  • Micro-chipping – if your pet’s collar comes off shelters and clinics can still get your contact information if the animal is chipped.
  • Current photo – it will help others ID your pet when you come looking for it.

Your pet can get lost or hurt at any time. The suggestions above are good advice in general that can help you keep your pet safe whether or not a disaster strikes.

About My Patriot Supply
My Patriot Supply offers a wide range of emergency preparedness supplies and tools.  Their Survival Seed Vault is the best selling collection of authentic heirloom seeds in North America.