Thoughts of Spring – Planning Prepper Projects
The spring equinox is around the corner and as winter wanes, this is a good time for Preppers to be thinking of spring projects. We covered heating projects in our recent article Winter is Coming so I am going to focus on projects that are weather dependent and you should be starting in the spring.
1-Planting perennials: The spring is a great time to plant some new perennials that will bear fruit (literally) for years to come. Check with the nurseries in your area but you should be looking to get several fruit trees and even some different varieties of each fruit with different maturity dates so you can harvest fruit throughout the season. A small seedling should be less than $20. Plant fruit trees this year and you should have fruit by next year. Perennials are nice as they don’t require a lot of care – just prune them to keep the size manageable. Don’t forget to consider some fruit bushes or vines. During the last weeks of winter, spend a little time doing some research and planning for what types of fruit you would like to plant and then after the last frost you are ready to plant.
2-Start that vegetable garden: TheGreatCourses.com have some great classes on gardening including their How to Grow Anything Series. I liked the lecture in the Fundamentals of Sustainable Living on gardening which talked about sheet mulching (also called no till or lasagna gardening). Basically you build a 4’ x 8’ foot garden bed laying down about an inch of compost or manure on the ground (even on top of grass or weeds), cover with the cardboard, add another layer of compost or manure on top of the cardboard, then a layer of mulch. A four by eight area permits you to walk around it and get at the plants as needed and you can scale it up based on your preference (do as many beds as you want to mess with). No till means no digging and the layering prevents most weeds. Again, the last weeks of winter are a good time to plan out what you would like to plant and gather materials and maybe even start some seedlings inside in containers for transplanting to your garden beds once the weather permits.
Carbs: A potato plant can yield 3-5 lbs of potatoes per plant and you can get more than one crop grown in a year. A 4x10 plot permits two rows of ten plants and since the average American eats about 110 pounds of potatoes a year – this small plot could provide you with potatoes for two family members. See our article on Potatoes for more information. Of course you also plant corn and even try your hand at wheat.
Greens and Reds: I recommend you try to grow your own salads (lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, peas, cucumbers, etc). Fresh produce tastes so much better than store bought. Dip your toe in gardening this year and refine how much effort you are willing to put into your garden and what you will grow next year.
3-Honey Bees: Spring is the time to start a honey bee hive. We have some separate articles on this but the hive needs the spring and summer to establish enough honey for the hive to survive the winter. After that, you can harvest honey and have a source of sweet stuff if the SHTF or there is no sugar at the local Piggily Wiggily. There are different types of hives and you can get one and start to get familiar with raising honey bees. Bonus, they will pollinate your fruit trees, bushes and the garden! You might have to invest $300-500 in getting started for the hive, the swarm, and some basic protective clothing and tools.
And here are some additional projects you might consider that are not restricted to a spring start:
4-Embrace your Carnivore Heritage: The easiest animals you can raise to are going to be rabbits. A buck and two does should give you enough rabbit meat to pretty much satisfy all of your meat needs for the year. One rabbit is about the right size to feed a family so you kill it, clean it, cook it and there is little to nothing left over after dinner to preserve or refrigerate afterwards. All that is required is several rabbit hutches. They eat grass cuttings, clover, alfafa hay, leafy vegetables. Yep, they like carrots too. Water and feed them daily, remove what they don’t eat. Rake up their droppings and add it to your garden. We have a separate article on raising rabbits for your reference. Rabbits do well in most weather as long as you keep them out of the rain so this is not necessarily a spring project but certainly one that is easy to get started.
5-The Chicken or the Egg: You have meat covered with rabbits so you should definitely consider building a chicken coop and chicken run and keep about a dozen hens for eggs. With a dozen hens, you should be able to feed a family of four. We have several articles on Chickens and Ducks and I am leaning towards ducks right now and will probably keep both. The only difference with ducks is they continue to lay through the winter months. If you don’t have a pond on your property, you should get a kiddie pool so they can indulge their ducky water games. Install a drain in the bottom so you can easily clean it out, the dirty water is nutrient rich for water your garden. The (chicken) hens lay based on the amount of day light so they will not lay as much in the winter (unless you install artificial lighting) so while this is not necessarily a spring project, you will enjoy the eggs throughout the spring summer and fall. You don’t need a rooster for the hens to lay eggs if them crowing in the morning is something that you want to avoid.
6-Goats for Milk and Cheese: Goats would round out your food supply with milk and the ability to make cheese and butter but they require a little more care, particularly if you are going to milk them daily (which you will need to do) and if you are going to bottle feed the kids (which you probably should). But since they are wonderful garbage disposals, you can set them loose on your yard and you might not have to ever mow again. Then once you are ready to incorporate them into your food plan, you just have to let the billy goat at the nanny goat and after the kid is weaned, continue to milk for the next ten months.
Ok, fruit trees, garden plots, bee hives, rabbit hutches, the chicken coop and run, and your goat pen and milking station take a little planning – figure out where to locate everything and then figure out how much time and effort you can commit to each project. But as we head towards spring, this is the time to plan it out so you can take advantage of the season and start building your sustainable food supply.
Keep on Prepping!
De Oppresso Liber