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November 30, 2018 26 min read

Living Off the Grid

When SHTF, the last thing you want is to be scrambling for food at the last minute. You want your assurance ahead of time that you will be able to provide for yourself and your loved ones. Know ahead of time that you’ll have enough food to create a supply that will not only last you for a season, but for a lifetime. With Arma’Garden Heirloom Survival Vegetable Seeds, you’re creating that insurance you need. Each pack comes with 20,000 seeds, which is enough to grow 15,000 pounds of food and feed 6-8 people forever. Over 32 varieties of vegetables come in this pack, and each is non-GMO, non-hybrid, and 100% heirloom. We guarantee an 85% germination rate! Here are some of the reasons the Arma’Garden Heirloom Survival Vegetable Seeds are the best bet for your survivalist homestead.

Packaged to Last

You probably won’t have much control over what’s happening around you when it all goes down, but you will have comfort knowing that your food supply is secured in an air-tight mylar bag that will be impervious to moisture. The bag the seeds comes in is resealable, as are the individual seed packets.

Grow a Variety of Plants

With 32 varieties of vegetables, you won’t find yourself getting tired of the same food all the time. Second, each vegetable is packed with nutrients, and each vegetable is individually unique for its nutritional quality. Get the vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients your body needs to sustain itself healthfully over several years.

Save Money on Seeds

Creating a garden that allows you to live off the grid for years to come is expensive. When you go out and buy all the seeds yourself separately, you can expect to spend hundreds of dollars on what we’ve put together for the Arma’Garden pack. Our survivalist garden kit is only $22.99.

Know What You’re Doing

Right now, you might live in a city. Or you might already know you’re the last person people look to when they need a green thumb. When you buy our heirloom survival seeds, you get a 400-page book that teaches you what you need to go to make your garden grow and flourish. Learn more about sowing, growing, harvesting, preparing, and conserving your seeds, as well as how to make food and medicine, and natural pest control methods. In the following guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about living off the grid when it comes to planting a garden, harvesting, reusing seeds for next year’s supply, and so much more. As our gift to you, we’ve included a free gift: The Heirloom: Vegetable Gardening Bible. It’s our exclusive 400-word guide to planting your survival garden. Keep reading to learn how you can claim this gift from us! The Atomic Bear is fiercely dedicated to preparing you for life when SHTF. Our products are the culmination of our team’s personal experiences, and each has been field tested for durability, reliability, and survivability. Shop our survival seeds, as well as our prepper gear today! 

How to Choose Survival Supplies

When many think of survival and prepping, they might believe that they should hoard every possible item possible just in case SHTF. In truth, it’s not that simple. Or impractical. There is also no one-size-fits-all option—whether you’re an urban prepper or have your own homestead, you’re going to have needs that are unique to you. The survival supplies you have on hand will depend greatly on numerous factors, so you will need to put quite a bit of thought into the materials and tools you gather. You will want to be incredibly organized as you start putting together your list. In fact, we recommend dedicating a notebook to this so that you can easily assemble and check off all the items you need. Why do we say notebook? Because if you put everything on your phone and computer and you lose power for an extended amount of time after an emergency situation, you’re pretty much hosed. Be smart. Be prepared with lists you can actually use. Here are some questions you should ask yourself when coming up with your prepper checklist.

How Many People Will You be Taking Care of?

This question is critical and should be the foundation of everything else you do going forward. Most practically because you want to ensure that you have enough supplies to increase your entire party’s chances of survival. So start with yourself. Are you living with anybody? Do you have children or other people you take care of? Also think of people you will be responsible for who don’t live with you (older parents, for example).

What are Your Party’s Special Needs?

Think of the people in your party and what special needs they might have. For example, your spouse who has asthma or your toddler who can’t fend for herself. Take into consideration all the essential supplies your party will need to survive, such as extra medications, dietary needs, service animals, etc. And, of course, don’t forget your pets!

What Type of Climate Do You Live in?

One of the problems with ready-made prepper checklists is that they’re one-size-fits-all, and that’s simply not a smart way to approach things. You might live in the arid deserts of Nevada or the oceanic climate of northern Washington or the tropical climate of Florida—the plants, bugs, predators, and food you can hunt and gather are all going to be completely different for the most part. So while you would need a fantastic amount of heat and sun protection in the deserts of Nevada, you would probably not need quite the same arsenal in northern Washington. And where Florida has large predators such as alligators to be on the lookout for, Washington has grizzly bears. Make sure you have the right clothing, medical supplies, and weapons to accommodate the types of threats you will encounter. More than that, when it’s time to start planting your homestead for long-term survival, you will want to purchase seeds that will actually survive where you live over time.

What Kind of Transportation Will You Have?

You never know what you’ll be up against, but you can at least plan scenarios for the possibilities. If you’re an urban prepper living in San Francisco and you rely mostly on public transportation to get around, you’ll want to plan how you can make your escape to safety. Urban preppers will have more of a challenge getting out of the city, but with quite a bit of planning and foresight, it can be done. Those who live in smaller cities and rural areas likely won’t have as much of an issue if they have to travel, but it’s still important for them to take into consideration every scenario.

Where Do You Plan to Go? …If Anywhere?

You will need to plan for two types of scenarios. One in which you stay hunkered down in your existing home to wait out whatever has happened. And the second in which you have to leave for a safer location. Plan for both. You never know what can happen and you may or may not have a safe home to go back to. Think practically. If you stay at home, you will have everything you’ve prepped up to this point and should be pretty set for the most part. If you leave, you could be without your prepper essentials and might have to start over.

If You’re Mobile

Say you do have to leave. Come up with a place that is accessible and that your family will know to go to if you’re separated. You will also want to keep a small go bag in each of your cars so that if going home just isn’t an option, you’ll at least have a few essentials to tide you over. If it’s practical, you can keep a stash of survival supplies at your meeting spot. We’ll go more into detail regarding specific items and skills you will need to live off the grid below. For now, we wanted to acquaint you with the foundation for pulling together these items and how to make living off the grid possible (even if you don’t have much in your survival skills arsenal at the moment). One way to ensure you’re ready to feed your family is with the Arma’Garden Heirloom Survival Vegetable Seeds. It’s a pack of more than 20,000 seeds of all the varieties you will need to keep your family nourished for years to come. Get yours now!

 

Preparing Your Survivalist Food Supply

A large part of survival preparedness is your survivalist food supply. While most of us aren’t living off the grid right now—but we are preparing for the possibility—knowing how to get food is going to be one of the top skills you’re going to need to learn. We’ll go over some of the basics here. Here’s how to get started.

Know Your Climate

You might see climate brought up a few times on this page, and that’s because it’s going to weigh heavily into your preparations. First, let’s talk storage. Hot, humid environments aren’t terribly kind to perishable foods, so you will need to plan for how you’re going to store your food to keep it cool and not become damaged. If you’re living in a cold climate, you’ll have fewer months out of the year to grow a garden. Think of everything that can go wrong when it comes to the foods in your climate and prepare solutions that will counteract the issue.

Learn to Can Foods

If you’re living off the grid, especially after a large-scale disaster, you’ll need to learn to preserve your foods. Canning is an excellent way to prepare your fruits and veggies, and even some meats, so they’re safe to eat for several months or even years. The supplies you need to start canning are simple and easy to put together, and for the most part, the supplies can be reused over and over for years to come. You can start by learning stovetop canning, and then teach yourself to can over an open flame. Keep in mind that some acidic foods like tomatoes require a pressure cooker—you’re not likely going to lug your Instant Pot to your homestead, so find an old-fashioned one. Jellies require sugar and pectin, which could be on short supply after a disaster, so you’ll need to learn to work around that.

Learn to Dehydrate Foods

Dehydrating meats to make jerky, as well as fruits and vegetables, is going to be essential. Learn how to make an outdoor smoker (or buy one that doesn’t require electricity, if it’s practical) and you can cut strips of meat and dehydrate them over the low heat over several hours. Drying fruits and veggies can be done under the heat of the sun for a few days. Herbs and medicinal flowers can be hung to dry, or you can make an herb-drying box.

Learn Survival Preparedness

Part of survival preparedness is knowing the types of foods you can hunt, as well as the plants that grow naturally in the area where you are living off the grid. You can easily make a makeshift fishing pole out of a long stick, twine, and safety pins to catch fish. Taking down a large animal like an elk takes more than a safety pin, so you will want to have a rifle or bow and arrow set if you have your sight set on large game. And, of course, it’s either eat or be eaten in many places, so you’ll want to learn to defend yourself and your food supply from predators. Learn how to field dress the animals you could potentially catch so that you can ensure food safety. 

Learn to Build a Root Cellar

Building a root cellar is a lot of manual labor, but it will keep your foods fresh and cool and protected. That said, there are multiple ways to create your own root cellar, whether you’re using your own basement, a hole dug in the ground, or the full meal deal with the walk-in underground space. Do your research now—print out the plans for a few types and put them in your notebook for later use.

Learn to Garden

Your survival food supply relies in large part on your ability to sustain your garden. While not everybody has a green thumb, everybody does have the ability to grow and maintain a garden that can feed their family. Having high-quality seeds of non-hybrid heirloom varieties is part of the trick—much like our Arma’Garden Heirloom Survival Vegetable Seeds. And when you purchase the seed pack, you will get a free book on how to grow each of the vegetables so that they come back year after year.

What You Can Do Now

You’ve probably noticed that we haven’t mentioned much about stocking up on foods right now. Preparing your survivalist food supply now is certainly important, but keep in mind that if you have a massive stockpile of foods in your basement or apartment pantry and aren’t able to get back to your place—or have to abandon it—that food isn’t going to do you a whole lot of good. It’s a lot to travel with if you have to move on foot, too, and you might have to grudgingly leave your food stash behind. What’s important is to know how to sustain yourself after the SHTF over the long term. 

Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living

Living off the grid requires certain strategies for self-sufficient living. We will cover the most important of those here, and you can fill in the skills you need for the specifics that you need for your situation. Whether you have a prepper bunker or an urban homestead or even a lean-to in the middle of nowhere, you need to have a few core skills to live self-sufficiently. We’ve already covered food and supplies, as well as how to put together your survival supplies. Now we’re going to go more into the infrastructure you will need to keep your living space going.

Power

Generators have their place, but if you don’t have access to gasoline to keep them going, things could fizzle out pretty quickly. Look to your natural resources: wind, solar, and water. You will have to consider where you’re going to be living—hello, climate!—to determine the best way to generate your power. Or you could look at a combination of these resources. And again, learn how to build and design your power resources now. Print plans out and stash them in your notebook.

Shelter

There are a number of ways you can seek shelter, but the goal—and it should be met fairly quickly—is long-term sustainability. While you might get by in a shelter you’ve built out of pine trees and tarps for a while, that likely won’t be enough shelter for winter blizzards. If the world has gone through an event that has left buildings abandoned, you can take shelter in abandoned homes and businesses, too. You want a shelter that is built to withstand the elements and keep you and your possessions safe and secure.

Water

Life is impossible without water. If you don’t have safe, drinkable water to drink, you won’t survive long. Learn how to create water collection devices, and how to purify the water you will be drinking. You will also need to create water collections for your garden and any livestock you keep.

Community

Living off the grid doesn’t have to be a solitary experience. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Survival preparedness is also about building a community, and not staying holed up in your prepper bunker. Creating a network of bartering is going to be beneficial for you and all the people in your community, and it takes pressure off of you when it comes to providing the resources you need. Additionally, it can help increase security when people look out for their neighbors.

Economy

What are you good at? What are your spouse and children good at? Are these skills bankable when SHTF? If you’re particularly good at growing, your partner has medical skills, and your children raise chickens, you’ve already got a good thing going. You can work with your neighbors to create a trade system.

Skip the Luxuries

It doesn’t matter how much you love your satellite TV, long soaks in the tub, and gourmet foods. They just aren’t sustainable when you’re embarking on self-sufficient living. You’ll use up resources far too quickly and probably end up wasting a lot. Your goal is survival. Your entertainment comes second. 

Survival Guide to Medicinal Herbs for Preppers

One of the skills you or one of your family members should definitely learn is how to grow, cultivate, and use medicinal herbs. When SHTF and pharmacies are plucked clean of medicine and hospitals are no longer operating, you’re on your own. You need to know how to make do with what you’ve got. Growing herbs in your survivalist garden is something that you should begin collecting information on now, as well as learning the skills you’ll need to use them. Here are some of the herbs you should begin collecting and how to use them.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a plant that’s used for the skin because of its healing power. Simply break off a piece of the leaf, open it up, and apply it to a rash, burn, sunburn, or scratch. It’s easy to grow inside or outside and can grow even in poor conditions.

Chamomile

Chamomile is known for its soothing properties, whether you’re having an anxious day or having troubles winding down to sleep at night. It’s also wonderful for comforting an upset stomach for adults and babies.

Lavender

Lavender adds a splash of color to your garden and smells amazing, but it also has some great medicinal properties. You can create a tincture in a carrier oil or water to apply to the skin when it’s inflamed, and its natural antibacterial properties make it a good option for acne and irritated skin.

Echinacea

Echinacea is another purple flower that has powerful properties. People have used it in recent years as a tea or supplement to help ward off and fight illness. Additionally, it’s been used for centuries to treat insect bites, wounds, snake bites, and burns.

Sage

Sage is a wonderful way to spice up bland foods, but it’s also great for a number of other issues. Women can use it to help with PMS and menopause symptoms, and it works well for asthma and colds. Some studies have found it effective for depression. Feeling gassy? It can help with that, too!

Rosemary

Sprinkle rosemary leaves over your food for a delicious pick-me-up, but don’t forget its powerful effects on health. Studies have found it to be a memory booster, and even has been found effective on Alzheimer’s and brain aging.

Thyme

Toothpaste might not be easy to come by, and thyme is the answer. Make a mouthwash or rub crushed leaves on the teeth to freshen things up. It can also relieve sores on the mouth, as well as a sore throat and respiratory infections.

Peppermint

Peppermint has long been used as a stomach soother and to get rid of gas. Use it as a mouthwash and to freshen the breath, or apply it to the skin to help reduce inflammation. Some have found it effective in helping headaches, too!

Ginger

Ginger is another one that’s fantastic for nausea, vomiting, and stomach upset. But it’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory that works well for relieving pain—give it a try for menstrual cramps, migraines and headaches, and achy joints. It has also been linked to helping cancer and infections.

Garlic

Garlic is naturally anti-bacterial, and reduces inflammation and other infections. Take it for colds, arthritis, and everything in between. It’s also been shown to reduce blood lipids, which is great for those with high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Studies have also linked it to fighting cancer--and fighting high amounts of radiation.

Evening Primrose

Evening primrose is very helpful in fighting the symptoms associated with PMS and menopause, as well as regulating estrogen and testosterone. It can lower cholesterol, prevent atherosclerosis, and reduce blood pressure. Studies have linked it to helping cirrhosis, skin inflammations like eczema, MS, and GI and respiratory issues.

Honorable Mentions

There are so many other medicinal herbs and we wish we could list them all here. In addition to the ones above, you will also want to include ginseng, gingko biloba, violet, dandelion, arnica, and yarrow. Health begins from within, and eating a healthy diet packed with nutrients is key. Get the best start possible when you grow your survivalist garden from Arma’Garden seeds. Preppers will be able to get a lush, full garden full of heirloom vegetables that grow year after year. And to help you further, The Atomic Bear has included an invaluable survival guide to growing the best garden possible. Shop for yours now! 

Homestead Survival: Setting up Defenses

A large part of homestead survival is your defense system. You can’t just pick up the phone and call 911 when there’s an emergency, and help won’t arrive until it’s too late anyway. You’re on your own. You will need to learn how to be self-sufficient when it comes to prepping and survival, and that comes down to multiple objectives, which we will go over in this section.

Personal Protection Tactics

Start with yourself. If you think of defense starting with how you will personally defend yourself when attacked, you’re already laying a smart foundation for the rest. Learning to use a gun and weapons isn’t enough. What happens when they’re taken from you in a fight? Or if you’re gardening and are nowhere near your firearm? You must learn the skills of hand-to-hand combat and other defensive maneuvers, and the time to start training yourself and your family is now. Even small children should know how to defend themselves and how to escape to safety. Make time on a regular basis to train, improve skills, and work on your self-defense plan.

Consider Your Weapons

If you own guns, you’re going to need to practice using them regularly and knowing how to handle tactical situations—it’s not as simple as standing in front of a row of cans on the fence and hitting the target. You’re also going to have to learn to reload your shells—hopping in the car to buy bullets simply might not be an option. You should also procure a collection of tactical blades to use for practical things as well as self-defense. But take it a step further—what tools and implements do you have around your homestead? Look at everything from garden tools to bottles to rope and consider how you would use them when you need to defend yourself. Practice using them so that when an emergency arises you will know exactly what to do.

Set up Your Alarms

How will you know when somebody has breached your defenses? When they’re holding a knife to your throat? Don’t take chances. You will need to install an alarm system so that you have advance warning. You can use a surprising amount of modern technology depending on your infrastructure. If you have solar power, you can integrate sirens, lights, and even cameras—but keep in mind you will be the one who has to service it when something goes wrong, so be sure it’s not outside the scope of your expertise. That said, it’s more likely that you will have to rig something more primitive for homestead survival. Cans on a string might seem a bit cliché, but they are effective when done correctly. Just be sure that the cans are concealed by brush or something else, or intruders will see them a mile away. Guard dogs are very effective, and can be trained to stay on premises and perform other duties. They also provide much-needed companionship.

Set up Your Boundaries

One way to keep people out—or to at least make it harder for them to get to you—is to set up a perimeter. You can set up a fence with barbed wire, which sends a clear message and is easy to maintain. Wooden fences will require more upkeep, and aren’t terribly hard to do away with if somebody is determined. Stone walls are definitely sturdy, but can take quite a long time to put up. In addition to the type of barrier you erect, you can add natural options such as prickly bushes that grow high as an extra layer of security. Your gates and entryways will need to be heavy duty, with locking mechanisms and alarms.

Set up Traps

This is a tricky one because there are still laws to abide by. You will need to check with your local and state laws prior to setting up any traps. That said, when you’re in a SHTF situation and living in a world where there aren’t the same law systems we have now, you’re going to need to set up traps. Use your natural terrain and features as much as possible because they will be less likely to arouse suspicion. You can set up snares to catch people, but also to catch small animals that can be used as food. Traps such as bear traps and the like can also be set up. The obvious caution here is that you, your family, pets, and livestock can also be caught in these, so extreme caution will need to be taken.

Additional Considerations

Homestead survival relies on your ability to anticipate the worst-case scenario in everything you own, and in the world around you. For example, if your home has glass windows, look at ways to reinforce them so they can’t be easily broken. If you have a root cellar, how will you protect it from intruders…if they’re able to make it that far? If you have livestock, how will you keep them safe from predators? Will you have a safe room for you and your loved ones? No detail is too small to overlook—in a world where life depends on your ability to outsmart everyone else and your ability to be self-sufficient, there is no detail too small. Your prepping and survival won’t be complete without a food source that grows year after year. Arma’Garden Heirloom Survival Vegetable Seeds are pure authentic American seeds designed with the nutrients you need to stay alive. Get yours now

How to Start Seeds Indoors

No matter where in the world you live, knowing how to start seeds indoors is an invaluable skill. It is especially helpful when you live in cooler and temperate climates where the growing seasons are shorter than in warmer climates. You will get more out of your plants, and that will give you the edge year-round. Starting seeds isn’t just for those interested in doomsday food prepping, however—it’s a skill everyone should know how to do! Here’s how to do it.

Choose the Right Soil

You might be wondering why the right soil is important, and why you can’t just go out back and dig up the dirt that you need. The type of soil you use is critical—if it’s too heavy, too sticky, or too wet, for example, the seeds won’t find them optimal for new growth. You need a medium that is light and fluffy, and packed with nutrients that promote germination. Depending on your climate, you can add peat moss, coarse sand, and coconut husk to the soil to make it optimal. And if you do live in a climate with lots of moisture, you can bake the soil to sterilize it to protect your seedlings from mold and other infections.

Prepare the Containers

The containers you choose can be a number of items. You can use trays, buckets, plastic dishes, and even egg shells. We personally lean toward the egg shells because you can label the seed type right on the shell, and they’re biodegradable so they can be placed right in the soil when it’s time to plant the seedlings. Make sure that what ever material you use, it’s clean and has holes in the bottom to ensure proper drainage.

Plant the Seeds

Add the soil to your containers, making sure it’s packed loosely. If it’s too tight, the delicate roots won’t be able to grow. If it’s too loose, the seeds will fall too far into the soil when you water. Pay attention to the depth at which each seed should be planted, and use your fingertip to poke the soil to the right depth. Put a few seeds in the hole you’ve just created, then gently cover them with soil.

Water

Water is the foundation of life, and your seeds—and eventual plants—will need it on a regular basis. In the very beginning, the seeds and tiny plants are delicate, and can be ruined by water being directly poured on top. We recommend buying a spray bottle and using that to cover your indoor garden with a nice mist. Once the plants are outside and can handle more rugged conditions, you can water them with your irrigation system with no problem. Research each plant individually to understand how much water it requires, and how often—too much water can kill your food supply!

Light/Shade

To ensure the best possible growth, make sure your plants are getting just the right amount of light. Too much light can scorch your plants, where not enough light will cause them to wilt. In the spring months when you’re starting your garden, temperatures outside will be too cool for the plants, but they can still benefit from the natural light you let into your home. Place the containers as close to the window as possible and be sure to turn it every few days to expose the plants equally.

Prepare for Planting

Being a survivalist takes patience, and if you rush the planting process, you could lose your prepper garden. You will need to harden your plants gradually before planting them so you don’t put them in a state of shock. As the outdoor temperatures become warmer in the daytime, you can cover your plants with clear plastic and set them outside during the warmest hours of the day—just be sure to bring them inside when the sun sets. Start with an hour, then gradually increase this time as the days pass. The process can take up to a week or two, but this patience is well worth it!

Plant Outdoors

As a survivalist, especially if it’s after a large-scale event, you won’t have access to a home improvement store to buy manure, fertilizer, and top soil. You’re on your own. Prepare your soil first by clearing your garden of debris and weeds. Next, give the top layers of soil a thorough rake to loosed the soil and give it good drainage. If you have compost (and you should—we will go into that in the next section), now is the time to add that to your soil and rake it in gently. Now add your plants. Make sure that you dig a hole just deep enough to add the egg shell—if you plant too deep you’re going to kill your plants. When you place the shell in the soil, pinch the shell just enough to break it. This will allow the roots to grow, and the nutrients from the shell will serve as natural fertilizer. Your garden is well on its way to sustaining you and your family for years to come. To learn more about how to grow your prepper garden, The Atomic Bear has provided a free 400-page PDF book with each Arma’Garden seed pack. In it, you will find invaluable information to teach you every aspect of growing your heirloom vegetable seeds. Print it out and put it in your survivalist notebook so you have all the information you need ready to go when you need it. Whether you’re a doomsday prepper or just want a kickass garden for your urban homestead, get your Arma’Garden Heirloom Survival Vegetable Seeds today! 

How to Start Composting

There is so much that you need to know about survival prepping, and we hope our preppers’ guide to living off the grid has been helpful. We’ve covered quite a few topics up to this point to help prepare you for self-reliant living, and in this section, we’ll cover how to start composting. Composting is a very sustainable practice that not only allows you to recycle organic materials, but also allows you to use them to feed your garden. There are a number of ways you can compost, so look for the most beneficial for you needs, as well as the most practical for your homestead. You can compost in a pile, a container, or even with worms. You can build a composting container from scratch or use found materials—the possibilities are pretty much endless!

Materials You Can Compost

First, composting the right materials is critical to ensuring the process works correctly and that they are actually beneficial to the plants you’re growing. Some organic materials can actually be harmful, so you’ll want to find another way to dispose of those. You want to strive for a healthy carbon and nitro ratio, which means you’ll have more nitro than carbon —about 1/3 green material to 2/3 brown material. Here are a few of the most common carbon and nitrogen materials. Carbon
  • Dead leaves and plants
  • Paper, shredded cardboard, newsprint
  • Corn cobs and stalks
  • Sticks, pruned trees/shrubs
  • Wood chips, sawdust, and ash (from untreated woods ONLY)
  • Straw
Nitrogen
  • Grass clippings
  • Green stalks and peels from veggies
  • Fruit rinds and cores
  • Tea leaves and coffee grounds
  • Flowers and cuttings
  • Egg shells
  • Manure from herbivores (cows, chickens)
What Not to Use
  • Manure from carnivores: people, dogs, cats, etc.
  • Meat, as well as fat and grease from meats
  • Dairy products such as milk, cream, yogurt
  • Weeds
  • Onions, garlic, and citrus peels (they can kill worms and slow down the decomposition process)
  • Coated papers, as in magazines, printed cardboard, etc.
  • Plastic, glass, and other non-biodegradable materials

Choose and Build Your Composter

Self-reliant living means you’ll likely have to build your own composting bins. You can do this a number of ways! Some like to repurpose pallets to build a box, where others use garbage bins to make a tumbler. If wildlife is an issue, you will want to be able to close it to avoid bears and raccoons helping themselves (tumblers are an excellent choice in this case). If you choose a bin design, your composter should be designed so that it allows you to turn the materials often to increase the rate at which the decomposition happens. Tumblers can easily be turned year-round and tend to decompose materials much quicker than bins.

Save Your Scraps

If you’re cooking and eating throughout the day, you can put a small bucket on your countertop to put your scraps in. Then, after dinner, you can walk everything out to your composter at once and dump it in. Because you want to watch your carbon to nitrogen ratio, you might want to keep your clippings, leaves, grass, etc. in a pile next to the composter so you can add it when needed. Adding too much at once can really slow down the process, and make the bin smelly. If you notice the contents are starting to smell, hold off on the nitro matter and give it a good dose of carbon matter.

How to Use Compost

Some like to have a few composters so they can cycle between levels of “doneness”. It can take a few months for it to be ready if you’re using a tumbler (much longer for a bin) and this way you have a bin that’s ready to go all the time, while filling the other composter with new scraps. You want to be sure to only use material that is completely decomposed for the best results—a few small pieces of twigs or straw is fine, though. It’ll be a rich, dark brown and smell earthy and sweet. Here’s how you can use compost.
  • Garden bed preparation –After you’ve raked the soil in your garden to loosen it up, you can apply compost to the top of it. Very gently rake it to integrate it, and the earthworms will do the rest!
  • Mulch – Wood chips are commonly used for mulch, and compost can be used in the same manner. It will help the soil underneath retain moisture, reducing the amount of watering you have to do. It will attract earthworms and ensure that the trees growing nearby are healthy and nourished.
  • Fertilizer – Apply compost throughout the growing seasons to your garden’s plants. The compost will release powerful nutrients in the soil, nourishing your plants’ roots and encouraging lots of healthy growth.
Survival prepping wouldn’t be complete without knowing how to compost. You’re engaging in a sustainable practice that’s beneficial on so many fronts, and creating a long-term solution to waste and to growing the best garden possible. To start with the best seeds possible, use the Arma’Garden Heirloom Survival Seed Pack by The Atomic Bear. This seed pack comes with over 20,000 seeds that have a 95% guaranteed germination rate. All 32 seed varieties are non-GMO heirloom seeds from the United States, and include all the veggies you need to sustain your family for years to come. Each purchase comes with a 400-page book that explains how to grow and care for your seeds—an essential preppers’ guide all on its own! Get yours today. 

How to Harvest Seeds From Vegetables

When it comes to survival skills everyone should know, harvesting seeds from fruits and vegetables should be near the top of that list. Without seeds, there is no food. And without food, there is basically no you. Whether you’re gathering your prepper essentials for what could happen, or you’re living off the grid already, harvesting seeds the right way will help you survive for the long haul. Here’s what you need to know.

Annuals, Biennials, Perennials

To start, you should know whether the plants you’re working with are annuals, biennials, or perennials. Annuals –These are plants that only live for one growing season. They will not come back every year. Biennials – These plants take two years to grow before they complete their lifecycle. The first year, they will grow roots, leaves, and stems before winter, then enter dormancy. The second year, they will flower, produce fruit, and then die. Perennials – Perennials are plants that grow and go dormant every growing cycle. It can take a few years for them to become fully established and bear fruit. Because perennials come back every year, collecting their seeds isn’t quite as crucial every growing season, although you might choose to do so just in case you have to move or something destroys the garden. Annuals and biennials do have a limited lifecycle, so collecting their seeds is more of a priority.

Plant a Lot

Veggies are not solitary, and some of them need to have plenty of other like veggies surrounding them in order to produce seeds. Others, not so much. That said, when you do grow plenty of the same species of plant, you’re encouraging genetic diversity, which will keep the plants healthy and strong for years to come.

Watch Your Spacing

Even if your gardening space is limited, you need to be sure to give some space between some species of plants. For one, their roots need plenty of room to grow. But second, some plants can cross-pollinate, which means your butternut squash could end up producing seeds for a cucumber.

Collecting Your Seeds

Each variety has a bit different method for collecting seeds. That said, you first need to start by collecting from only the healthiest plants that have adapted and flourished in your environment. For plants that are fleshy like squash, tomatoes, and peppers, let them grow on the vine until they are completely ripened, then harvest them and scoop out their seeds. You can put the seeds in water for a few days so they separate from the flesh, then air dry them. Plants that grow on vines like beans and peas are a bit different—wait until the vine and pods are dry and the seeds rattle before you pick them. Leave corn on the stalk until the kernels are dried out and look rippled. And lettuce will also need to dry out completely before the seeds can be harvested. For the most part, fruits and vegetables that are in the ripe, ready-to-eat stage aren’t at the stage where seeds can be harvested.

Store Your Seeds

Moisture is the enemy when it comes to storing your seeds. Water will cause the seeds to sprout prematurely, throwing off the growth cycle significantly. And it will also cause mold, which is exactly what you don’t want. Seal individual seeds in water-tight pouches and store the pouches in a larger light- and water-tight container. You can store them in a basement or root cellar where they’re cool and dry for several years. You really can’t go overboard protecting your seeds from light and moisture. And don’t forget to label each packet! There is so much to know about growing your garden, and when you’re preparing for disaster, knowing how to care for seeds and plants are skills everyone should know. The Atomic Bear has written a 400-page book on everything you need to know to grow vegetables and herbs, including comprehensive information on each seed variety and how to grow them start to finish. The Heirloom Vegetable Gardening Bible is a free gift with every purchase of our exclusive Arma’Garden Heirloom Survival Vegetable Seed pack, which comes with over 20,000 seeds in 32 varieties. If you were to buy these seeds individually, you’d spend well over $200 at the store. Get yours now!