Project Prepper, Part 33: Focus On Food

It’s been some time since my last “Project Prepper” post (January 5), where I reaffirmed security is at the top of a list of six “innate survival needs” I’m working on meeting as part of this series of posts. That list, as you may recall, includes:

• Security
• Water
• Food
• Shelter
• Sanitation and Health
• Energy

Today, I’m focusing on survival need #3- food. In particular, starting a food garden.

Regular readers of these posts may remember me mentioning I’ve already socked away a couple of buckets of high-quality freeze-dried food at very attractive prices.

In addition to freeze-dried food, I’m planning on turning to copy canning soon to grow my emergency food supply.

For those readers not familiar with the term “copy canning,” from stockupfood.com:

1. Make a menu of meals for the week. Include the meals that you eat most often for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner… and don’t forget desert!
2. Now make a shopping list based off this menu.
3. After looking over your shopping list choose an item that you can buy multiples of easily- or inexpensively if it’s been a tight month. (ex. a can of cream of chicken soup, or 10.) This method of buying multiple cans at once is called copy canning.

Furthermore, I want to transform a basement closet into a pantry capable of storing this emergency food, among other things.

Finally, as I blogged back on November 6, 2014:

This coming winter, I look forward to planning with my girlfriend a future food garden located on our property. I think I know of a good spot for it as well…

Now, I’ve been wanting a food garden since I lived in the “concrete jungle” that is Chicago’s Northwest Side. So much so, if I didn’t end up living someplace where I had my own private plot to grow one, I figured I might utilize a community food garden. I started looking into them a few years back , and loved the concept. However, I was put off about the potential for theft. Which turns out is a real concern in the Chicagoland area…

Winter is finally starting to release its grasp on us here in the Chicago suburbs. As such, my girlfriend and I have been discussing the future food garden. Since the last thing I grew from seed to plant was a lima bean back when I was in the third grade, I figure it might be wise to proceed slowly-but-steadily with this venture. To start, we plan on utilizing two areas of our backyard to attempt to grow a small number of fruits, herbs, and vegetables (if possible- I still have a good deal of research to perform here). This space behind our garage gets a tremendous amount of sun:

Food Garden Area Garage

And this setup in the middle of our backyard has already seen a number of herbs planted and harvested there (courtesy of my girlfriend’s mom):

Food Garden Area Mid Yard

The other night, I studied a resource I originally wrote about back on May 29, 2012. From that post:

Here in Illinois, we’ve got the University of Illinois Extension, the flagship outreach effort of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that offers educational programs to residents of all of Illinois’ 102 counties. Under the “Horticulture” area of their website are 57 extension program sub-sections chock-full of free information on gardening and more. Examples include:

• “My First Garden”
• “Successful Container Gardens”
• “Common Vegetable Problems”
• “Herb Gardening”
• “Backyard Fruits”

One feature under “Horticulture” that may be of particular interest to Illinois residents who desire to grow food but don’t know where to start is the “Illinois Vegetable Garden Guide.” It looks fairly impressive in terms of the amount of information provided.

That’s me! “Illinois resident who desire to grow food but don’t know where to start.” And the Illinois Vegetable Garden Guide (found here) is “fairly impressive,” providing me basic information and inspiration (courage, really) to start, maintain, and (hopefully) harvest a food garden. Topics covered included:

• Step 1 – Make Good Use of Your Location
• Step 2 – Plan Your Garden Layout
• Step 3 – Grow Recommended Varieties
• Step 4 – Obtain Good Seed, Plants, Equipment, and Supplies
• Step 5 – Prepare and Care for the Soil Properly
• Step 6 – Plant Your Vegetables Right
• Step 7 – Keep Down Weeds
• Step 8 – Control Pests
• Step 9 – Water Properly
• Step 10 – Harvest at Peak Quality

I also have two books my girlfriend picked up for this project- Month-By-Month Gardening in Illinois: What to Do Each Month to Have a Beautiful Garden All Year and Guide to Illinois Vegetable Gardening (Vegetable Gardening Guides) by James A. Fizzell- that I’ll be studying carefully along with that guide.

I hope to achieve a number of things from this food garden:

• Better nutrition
• Better health
• Improved food security

Stay tuned.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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