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Your home should be your castle. For all the talk in the preparedness community about bugging out and heading for the country, unless your home is under direct attack, it is a far better plan to attempt to stay at home. It’s where your food supply is, it’s where your clothes and your tools are, and hopefully you have a solid, dependable roof over your head.

The fall and winter is usually the last time that you’d think about your outdoor areas, but it’s the ideal time to start planning for what you can do this spring and summer to help improve your home’s preparedness plan. Here are some great features to consider when creating your plan:

Food & Water Storage

Your backyard might not be the first place you think of when you start considering food and water storage, but it’s actually quite convenient.

The ideal food storage idea you can have in your backyard is a root cellar. If you’re creating a big one, you simply need to dig a large hole, build supports for the wall, and set up some form of ceiling with an air flow, add an entrance, and you have a walk-in storage solution for many of your vegetables that will keep your produce cool for the season.

Smaller root cellars can be as simple as burying a cooler in a shady spot, or digging a hole and covering the area with something. These are not the greatest or largest solutions, but they’ll work in a pinch.

Putting a survival cache in your own tree is also an option. PVC pip can be used to create an airtight seal that can contain anything you think you might need in order to survive. What’s nice about the cache is that in case of a fire, flood, or home invasion, at least you’ll have something you can use to get you through a tough time.

For Water Storage, a cistern is an excellent solution. Cisterns are usually buried under your lawn, but could be free-standing. In either case, this is something you likely will want to have professionally installed, as mistakes could lead to thousands of gallons of water flooding your property. Either way, these large storage tanks take much of the guesswork out of storing water for an SHTF situation, and are made large enough that they will be useful as water for people, plants and cleanliness.

If not a large cistern, then how about a rain barrel connected to your gutter system. When well managed, rain barrels are a great method of securing a source of water for your survival garden at least, and for your family in a pinch.

You could also consider installing a pond or large fountain, which would be the most scenic water storage choice, although likely the least practical for usage, as the water would require a more significant filtering and cleaning process before use.

Living Space

This past summer, when considering my preparedness plan, I noted that one thing we really needed was a redundant way to cook our food. We have gas appliances in our home, and I have a propane tank attached to the grill outside, but otherwise, we had no dedicated space or method for cooking. We solved this by putting a firepit in our backyard, along with a simple firewood storage box to keep nearby. Now we have a dedicated cooking area that will last as long as we keep getting branches from our trees (in other words, forever).

We ended up using our firepit so much that I installed a pergola, a few garden trellis walls, and a patio stone floor, and now we have almost a “room” outside where we can cool off, warm up, or camp out quite easily with minimal equipment. I’d feel comfortable out there with just a blanket if the weather permits.

My wife and I also like to adapt the kid’s stuff towards preparedness in some way. Our daughter’s play area includes a triangular set of trellises, and during the summer months, we plant pole beans around them to create a kind of teepee. Her tire swing and treehouse are built into our sugar maple, which we tap annually for syrup. She also has a small playhouse with a few built-in planters outside and a living roof that has a few herbs growing on top.

If you have the space for a shed, you could easily build one of those as a guest house, useful for storage, and if it’s far enough away from your main home, an easy bug out location on the premises in case of fire, flood or other catastrophe.

Food Growth & Gardening

Of course, in an SHTF situation, your backyard will serve as your grocery store. Raised plant beds are easy to install in any grassy area, and are perfect for growing all manner of veggies. Simply purchase the wood or bricks you wish to use, and lay them out in the area you choose. Build the wall at least four to six inches deep, and you’ll have enough soil to grow a bunch of different veggies in. If you want to go the extra mile and put landscaping fabric underneath, that may help control weeds, but it’s not necessary, and many people (myself included) have had mixed results.

In addition to raised beds, you can consider creating miniature greenhouses. Build a box with a glass or plastic lid that can be easily raised or propped open so you can work in it, and ensure that that area gets plenty of light. During the winter months, you can plant a large number of vines or crops in these mini greenhouses that can provide fresh foods year round. This is also an ideal spot to start your seedlings in spring.

Once the end of the growing season hits, you’ll be very thankful if you created a compost pile where you can get free dirt and fertilizer. Enclosed three-bin systems are very easy to build, and provide the easiest long-term plan for gathering compost, but a simple garbage can purchased from the hardware store can function as a tumbler. Some people I know don’t even have bins, they simply have a pile covered with a tarp or wrapped in chicken wire. Compost is excellent for growing crops and a good way to reduce the amount of garbage you throw away every week.

In case you don’t have a lot of room, there’s still plenty you can do to garden. It’s possible to grow fruit trees in large pots, or if you have even a little room for planting in ground, you can maximize space by growing vine plants like cucumbers, pole beans and squash on trellises. Espalier is a method of growing a fruit tree next to a wall, and is ideal for creating a smaller fruit tree that actually makes very large and wholesome fruits in a small area. Arbors also work for maintaining a small tree in a controlled area. This method works best for pear plants and apples. It’s easy to grow many veggies in pots as well.

If you have the space and the equipment, there is no better “greenhouse” solution than a Walipini. A Walipini is a dug out section of earth that is enclosed with a clear plastic or glass roof. Underneath, you have a 12-month greenhouse that can help your plants endure in any climate. A traditional greenhouse is an option as well, but may not offer the 12-month guarantee of a Walipini.

We got most of our ideas for our backyard from two sources – Pinterest and our local botanic gardens. Both of these options offer a wide variety of alternative options for growing plants, and their hardscapes are not only beautiful, but often have tutorials attached.

Your home should be your castle. For all the talk in the preparedness community about bugging out and heading for the country, unless your home is under direct attack, it

As the temperatures begin to fall, now’s the perfect time to garden. Yes, you read that right. Winter gardening is feasible and simple to achieve!

In fact, most farms have their tractors running year-round. Keeping a garden in optimal shape during the winter season helps both gardeners and the surrounding environment.
If you’re not keen on the idea of sowing your land during the winter season, you might want to change your mind. Maintaining a functioning and productive garden throughout the year — winter included — gives your soil the attention it needs to flourish during the warmer spring and summer days.

How You Can Benefit From Harvesting Your Own Food

You don’t have to be a farmer to reap the benefits of harvesting your own food. In fact, any individual with a small plot of land can transform their soil into a haven full of greens and fauna. Preppers and survivalists will enjoy having easy access to fruits and vegetables they can pick straight from their garden. Plus, it saves a trip to the supermarket on extra cold days, too.

Throughout the winter season, you’re likely to find yourself wrapped up in your blanket in front of the television or computer. Gardening provides you with the incentive to get out and exercise without actually having to go to the gym. Best of all, the reward of growing your food makes the activity you put into your garden seem less like work and more like fun instead.

As the snow begins to pile up outside, you might long for warm and sun-filled days. Don’t forget to enjoy the natural world around you. Getting outdoors uplifts your mood and prevents you from feeling cabin-fever, too.

Kick Your Green-Thumb Up a Notch With a Few Simple Guidelines

Even though the temperature continues to drop, that doesn’t mean you have to wait until the summer season to enjoy a garden full of greens. In fact, there’s no better way to wrap up the year than with a few seeds sprouting outside your house that lay the foundation for the warmer days ahead.

You can transform any everyday plot of land into a thriving terrain bursting with fauna with a few of these winter gardening tips in mind.

1. Grow Winter Friendly Crops

You should never plant a vegetable or fruit that needs excessive sunlight and warmth during the winter season with the hopes that it will grow even with the proper TLC. Unfortunately, many plants must be planted within their relative season to thrive. You should use vegetable growing guidelines  as a reference for when to plant seeds for optimal results.

If you think only the best crops can grow in the summer, you’ll happily discover some of your favorite greens to enjoy throughout the winter season as well. Vegetables such as peas, garlic, and onions flourish even when planted on colder days.

2. Don’t Plant Too Early

You might be excited to plant your seeds early. In fact, it might seem that doing so allows you to enjoy your winter harvest sooner. Well, not exactly.

Planting crops too early during the fall season can actually be counter-intuitive to your desired outcome. This is especially true for crops you might plant to supplement your garden. Sowing oats earlier than necessary can result in an overgrowth of the crop which might deplete your garden’s nutrients and moisture prematurely.

For optimal results, always familiarize yourself with a crop’s planting guidelines before sowing.

3. Take Your Flora Indoors

If you’re not one for the cold and brisk air that defines the winter season, you can transfer your gardening indoors.

Many crops can benefit from the temperature-controlled conditions provided by your home. If you have supplemental UV lighting or a south-facing window, even better! When you transfer your greens and crops indoors, you can provide them extra protection against the unpredictable winter season.

Make sure to use artificial light to help your plants grow strong and healthy. Invest in lightbulbs that provide the optimal brightness for each of your plant species to help them receive the light they require.

4. Create a Mound for Added Protective

Farmers and avid gardeners alike watch the forecast with hopes of the weatherman not mentioning one dreaded word — snow. While snowfall doesn’t provide the ideal harvesting conditions, you don’t have to fear snowy conditions.

Use your garden’s surrounding leaves to create a mound on top of sturdier crops such as carrots and shallots. Even when flurries begin to trickle onto your land, the added layer of leaves offers your garden an insulated barrier against freezing conditions.

5. Enlist the Help of Machinery

While snow is a beautiful sight to see, it doesn’t last forever. When snow begins to melt, you might find yourself dealing with a watery mess in your garden. To produce the optimal results in your garden and to help your plants thrive, it’s essential to drain any excess water as it melts throughout the season.

Whenever you need a hand to help you lift massive plots or to transfer your fauna, you can turn to machinery for added assistance.

Whether you decide to make a raised bed or transfer your crops to another portion of your land, enlisting the assistance of forklifts prevents you from depleting your energy so you have more get-up-and-go power to give to your plants instead.

How You Can Become a Savvy Saver Through Gardening

Gardeners and farmers aren’t the only ones who benefit from gardening during the winter season. In fact, you can turn your plot into a haven full of savings.

Going to the supermarket can be expensive — especially during the winter season. It typically costs more to buy the very same fruit and vegetables you can purchase at a fraction of the cost in June or July. That’s because areas suffering from frost and blizzards rely more on imported crops to fulfill their vegetable and fruit demands.

You can save money by putting a little-added effort into the plot of land that lines your backyard. Not only that, but you will feel a greater sense of accomplishment knowing your food grew to perfection through the assistance of your very own hands.

Use Your Time Wisely for the Ultimate Outcome

Don’t wait until the first frost sets in to turn your soil into a lush array of veggies and greens — start your gardening today!

Familiarize yourself with the conditions and climate that defines your area. Nothing is quite as essential as planning when it comes to gardening. Plant your seeds before the first anticipated frost days to give your plants plenty of time to grow and mature.

Once you have a few of these basic and easy to follow tips in mind, you’ll find your garden full of beautiful fauna — even during the winter season.

As the temperatures begin to fall, now’s the perfect time to garden. Yes, you read that right. Winter gardening is feasible and simple to achieve! In fact, most farms have their