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Monday, December 27, 2010

The Survival Homestead

Imagine walking onto a cobble stone path out in your back yard. As you are wandering through the path you begin looking at your garden growing in the distance. The plants have grown and are beginning to bear their fruits. This is you and your family's second garden after the Crunch happened. You are giving in to your fantasies of fresh tomato salsa, pickles, watermelon, husks of fresh grilled corn. These are the fruits of your tireless labor. The satisfaction of knowing your family is going to eat is overwhelming. You quietly laugh to your self thinking, "Wow, you give 'em half-decent conditions and they just do what they know how to do. "

Medicinal Garden

As you are nearing your garden off to the right is a smaller garden full of small bushy medicinal herbs. They too are growing into attractive looking adult plants. The way you placed them looks almost as they were there for aesthetic reasons. Seeing that the echinacea is blooming and the sage and thyme flanking it is a sigh of relief knowing that you can create natural medicines for your family as well as dry it for seasonings. Peppermint is spreading its way through the garden. You make a mental note to cut some of that back. You took a basil leaf in your hand and instantly bring it up to your nose. The fragrance is intoxicating. The soft spikes of chives, dill and lavender are swaying in the mild breeze.

Companion Planting and Crop Rotation

You are glad that you took your neighbors advice to create a companion garden to naturally repel insects and nourish the plants. The 12 tomato plants are growing in nicely and the fruit is ready to be picked. The marigolds that you grew as a companion plants are protecting the tomatoes from pests and enriching your soil. You reach the garden and smell the sweet air that the corn is giving off. The small melon vines that are slowing growing and twisting on the corn stalk looks as if they are making their way up to touch the sun.

Your wise neighbor came by to bring a basket of okra he had grown and noticed your mistake of placing the tomatoes and potatoes next to each other and advised that they be moved away from one another because of their heavy feeding. He went on to add that there are certain plants that work well with each other and are companions, so to speak. Some plants have little personalities: some like their space, some are invasive, some take a lot of nutrients and some give off nutrients in the soil.

Crop Rotation

You think back on your life two years ago and realize how much you took for granted driving down to the store to pick up a few vegetables and some meat for dinner. On the south side of your land is where your crop rotation is. After reading different farming books and talking with wise neighbors, you decided that crop rotation was the best way to grow food and condition the earth. Your neighbor describes that crop rotation is that each year a person rotates a set of crops that nourish the soil with nitrogen, and then in the next line of crops you add a plant that is a high feeder on the soil's nutrients. This swapping will create balance in your soil. Looks like it paid off. You have beans, carrots, onions, squash, tomatoes, cabbage, peas and potatoes.

Irrigation Area

Walking around the "country swimming pool" filled with fish and ducks swimming around each other, you only feel blessed seeing the mini ecosystem that you assisted in creating. You smile back and realize that the earth is giving its blessing back to you. The fish pond is not only another source to find food, but it can also be used to irrigate the vegetables and crops growing. After reading more from the many farming resources you have, you discovered that the Native Americans used fish to fertilize the soil. And after using this method, the vegetables were even healthier and robust.

Livestock and Compost

Not far from your crops and the pond are where the small goats are feeding. They are feeding on the left over wheat hulls that had fallen when the crop was threshed the other day, and they seem quite attentive to their task at cleaning up. Their manure has been a God send to the composting area. Once again, you see that you are creating a ecosystem where each aspect of the system is supporting one another. To think this Eden that you have created only started out with a dream put on paper. Your well planned micro farm is utilizing every resource available.

Find some answers to your homesteading and survival questions at

Tess Pennington is the lead content contributor for Ready Nutition. Ready Nutrition is an educational resource for those wanting to learn more about home safety preparedness, learning how to cope in disaster situations, and for those wanting to learn how to be more self sustaining. Her career at the American Red Cross left her with years of experience in safety and disaster preparedness. Tess is establishing herself as one of the foremost authorities on safety development and disaster preparedness on the internet. She describes herself as a mixture of Martha Stewart and Les Stroud.

Tess Pennington's work today encompasses:
Teaching disaster preparedness
Informing readers about the importance of preparing for any given situation.
Media consultation

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