Gardening is the gateway drug to prepping. Yes, I stole this phrase from Jack Spirko at The Survival Podcast. But isn’t it true? You always hear that marijuana is the gateway drug for other drugs like cocaine and heroin. It seems so innocent at first but, according to the experts, it often leads to harder drugs. I’m not going to debate whether or not that’s true. My point here is that gardening is the gateway drug for prepping. Before we discuss this point further, I want to explain what I mean by prepping.
Thanks to shows like Doomsday Preppers and what is put forth by mainstream media, prepping is looked upon as something that only freaks do. People who live in remote areas and live the life of a recluse. But in reality, prepping is preparing for everyday disasters. Those disasters can include your car breaking down, your spouse losing their job or a natural disaster. There is a much greater chance of these scenarios happening to you than there is a nuke being launched to wipe us all off the face of the Earth. To me, prepping is putting away food that you already eat so that you have backups. This used to be the norm in America…it’s still the norm in most other areas of the world. Why am I looked at as old-fashioned or backwards for making sure that my family has food to eat? My kids often go to “the store” to get food that we have run out of…that store is located in another room of our house. Prepping makes life so much easier too; it is a rare occasion that I have to run to the grocery store to make a meal. By having the most often used items in our “store” ready and waiting, there is little that I don’t have on hand. So how does this all relate back to gardening?
When you start a garden, chances are that you’ll have more produce ready at one time than you and your family can consume. What do you do with the extras? Sure, you give some to friends, family and co-workers but after awhile, they have taken all of the handouts that they can consume. What’s left can be preserved. By preserving the extras, you are ensuring that you have delicious, healthy vegetables available throughout the year. There are lots of ways to preserve food. Let’s take a quick look at some of the ways.
- Canning – this is probably what most people think of when they consider preserving food. I LOVE canning…it makes me feel like I am back in the olden days when canning was something that everyone did. And hearing the jars ping when the seal is successful…that’s music to my ears! Canning isn’t difficult to do but there are some guidelines that need to be followed. I can’t recommend the Ball Blue Book of Canning enough.
- Freezing – many people freeze their produce in convenient to use packages. If you can use the produce within a few months of freezing it, it is a viable option. You need to be certain that you have a means of backup power in case there is a power outage…otherwise your hard work will be ruined. One of my favorite things to freeze is shredded zucchini. If you freeze it in 2 cup portions, you can have delicious zucchini bread anytime you wish.
- Dehydrating – I first heard about the Excalibur dehydrator on The Survival Podcast. Jack and his listeners raved about how awesome they were. But with a price tag upwards of $200, I decided to use my brother’s dehydrator. After a failed attempt at dehydrating bananas, I decided to splurge on the Excalibur. What a difference! My dehydrator has nine racks that you can use and the fan is in the back of the unit instead of the bottom. I have dehydrated all sorts of things from the garden. I’ve also dehydrated frozen veggies from the grocer’s freezer…they take up a fraction of the space and I don’t have to worry if the power goes out. The best resource that I’ve found on dehydrating is Dehydrate2Store.
There are certainly other ways to preserve your harvest but these are the three that I use the most. It is such a gratifying feeling knowing that I have food put away for my family. No, it’s not enough to sustain us for an extended period of time but it is enough to allow me to rest easy. There have been times when the all of the vehicles break at once and our grocery money has to go to car bills. “The store” has helped us bridge the gap until we can get over that bump in the road. So my question to you is, do you think that gardening is the gateway drug to prepping? How has your garden helped you to be more prepared for the many bumps on the road of life? Who knew that a tiny seed planted in the ground could lead to a more sustainable lifestyle? It’s pretty fascinating if you ask me. Let me know what you think and if you have any tips for other Mid-Atlantic Gardening readers. Leave me a comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy gardening!