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First steps to getting back on your feet

The worst of winter has passed and you survived. Your basic preps kept you alive although they were not great and you were able to keep out of the aftermath and survive. That is a big win. By now your stores are depleted, perhaps seriously, and you have been thinking about getting out and replenishing your supplies. There are several things that need to be done at this point in time but I’m just going to look at one only here, restocking.

There are a couple of ways you can do this

  • Scavenging
  • Growing your own

You should do both. By now you will know which homes have been abandoned and which ones have already been emptied. In my view if there is anything there an extra few days won’t make any difference so we should get started on the growing your own first. When the initial planting and preparations are complete you can then go scavenging.

Depending on the time of year there are several tasks you can do. See the Gardening Task series, which I am half way through, for a list of what needs done when. Of course depending on your circumstances you will only do what you need to do.

This is all based on you having prepared for this. At the minimum you just need the seeds and your hands. You could even harvest the seeds from existing plants in a worst case situation. That will get you started. Ideally though you should have a good variety of seeds, different stocks and varieties. At best you will have some tools for planting and harvesting, spades, forks, trowels, etc.

Seeds are inexpensive and can last decades however they do degrade and thus to ensure we have sufficient we need to buy more than we need, store them correctly, dry, cool and in foil, and, more importantly, plant and grow them correctly. Although many seeds grow with little management some seeds just die for no apparent reason. Make sure you follow the instructions for planting, watering and where possible feeding. We will have the capability of feeding plants after a while but perhaps not with the first batch unless you have put aside some fertiliser and plant food with the seeds.

Depending on your situation you should hide the plants, disrupt the rows so they don’t look cultivated. Plant inbetween other plants to suit your situation.

There is an ongoing discussion of the differences between heirloom and hybrids. In a survival situation we all agree that heirloom are better for the long term as they grow true year after year from the seeds of the plant. However, I suggest that for year 1 and 2 you also have some hybrid seeds. These usually are tougher, more resilient and can require less water, sun and care. Your first years will be tough and you should maximise your output in your first steps to getting back on your feet.

When you then go scavenging bear in mind that people may have stored food like yourself behind walls and under stairs. Don’t just look in the pantry on shelves. Find and keep anything, labelled or not and you can ignore the use by dates, you will quickly learn to go on smell and taste.

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