At one time or another, every prepper will ask him or herself: could I become 100% self-reliant in terms of providing food for myself and my family?
Many will say, no, that is not possible. Heck, a couple of weeks ago I even mentioned that I was all but giving up on my food garden. I have very little space and only a few hours of direct sunlight a day coupled with a short growing season. There are also critters that eat everything in sight. What is left is a modest container garden on a small deck with herbs and greens as the definitive crop. This is hardly enough to evoke self-sufficiency when it comes to growing my own groceries.
That being said, things may change. I can move or, if the SHTF, I may be able to barter my time to help others in my community with their gardening effort. Heaven knows, growing food can be a lot of work and an extra set of willing hands is always welcome – even if it is simply to pull weeds or perform routine watering chores.
With this introduction, I would like to share my review of Marjory Wildcraft’s DVD, Grow Your Own Groceries. After taking some flak from readers about my own gardening situation, I decided to bolster my confidence and watch the DVD again. I am glad I did.
But let me start at the beginning.
Grow Your Own Groceries
A couple of years ago I invited some like-minded friends over for a meal and a viewing of the DVD Grow Your Own Groceries. The four of us watched the DVD from start to finish with many pauses for discussion points and to take notes. So what did we think?
Well first of all, let me say that this is a pretty amazing DVD in that it covers so much in just a couple of hours. And while the DVD itself does not go in to extensive detail about the various topics, the included resource DVD does. Perhaps it is best to start with an outline of the DVD itself.
Section 1: Overview
Why we began this journey
Soil types and climate of the site
Section 2: Water
Water sources and qualities of water
How much water do you need?
Rain water collection systems
Section 3: Garden
Size – how much area do you need?
Bio-Intensive gardening overview
Watering the garden
Sun and shade
Bugs and insects
Vegetable varieties and seed saving
Section 4: Rabbits
Housing and protection
Section 5: Home Butchering
Butchering a rabbit
Section 6: Poultry
Housing and egg collecting
Section 7: Dogs
Size and breeds
Section 8: Perennials: Orchards, Food Forests, and Edible Landscaping
Locations and micro climates
Using geese for fertility
Planting and care of trees
Section 9: Other Essentials
Solar food dehydration
Home made herbicide test
Hog panels and tee posts
Water levels and mapping contours
Rocket stove and hay box cooker
In The Wake; a manual for outliving civilization
As you look through these topics, you will see that almost every aspect of food production is covered. From figuring out your water needs, to selecting chickens and your coop, to determining the correct type of fruit trees for your orchard – there are practical tips that every one can embrace. (Personally, though, I did fast forward through the butchering section.)
So what is my takeaway?
The author, Marjory Wildcraft is a down to earth, practical lady that has learned what works and what does not work through trial and error on her own homestead. She is not a Hollywood actor hired to make the DVD sparkle visually. Instead, she walks us through her own hands-on efforts to attain sustainability, dirty fingernails and all.
Something of Value for Everyone
The most valuable part of the DVD for myself and my dinner companions were her tips for beginners:
Plan your garden. What is your climate? What grows well in your area? Ask other gardeners in your community for advice while you are in the planning stage.
Start small or you will be overwhelmed and will give up. Even starting with a few pots on a deck is better than nothing.
Determine your water needs in advance and install water systems (she shows you how).
Beginners should start with nursery starts and not seeds (now that was surprising!)
Do not be afraid of failure. It takes trial and error to figure out the nuances of what will work in your geographical area and your circumstances. Plus, it takes time to develop the proper technique
Grow for calories. If you are looking for 100% self-reliance, calories are important
Chickens are for egg-laying and not for meat. Unless you can handle 90 chickens at a time, that is.
And for the more advanced gardener? In viewing the DVD a second time, I picked up information that I missed the first time around. The material is timeless and the resource DVD invaluable in providing references to the more esoteric how-to’s and why-for’s.
A Few Caveats
If I can cite any negatives it would have to do with the fact that a lot of emphasis was given on dealing with the very hot climate in the south – in this case it was Texas. I feel the DVD could have used a section of gardening and producing food when the growing season is short such as here in Washington state.
Also, the DVD assumes that you have a decent sized area for a garden, say 10 x 20 or larger. Those limited to a smaller plot or containers would be better off sticking to books, such as Mel Bartholomew’s All New Square Foot Gardening that I love so much or a book on vertical gardening.
That said, after watching this DVD I was motivated to continue to at least try and to continue to be religious about composting. As I mentioned in the the beginning, with a bit of knowledge I can always barter my labor working in someone else’s garden for part of their bounty.
Back to My Own Situation
I am at peace now that I have recognized that my garden has limitations. As I said in the beginning, I still can have a healthy crop of herbs and greens which will be supplemented by an ramped-up plan to add to my bulk and freeze-dried food storage.
Two of my blogging colleagues have come to similar conclusions.
Bernie Carr, the Apartment Prepper shared this:
After trying to grow a garden for three years, I have realized that a garden is also subject to too many factors beyond my control such as weather, insects, soil conditions etc., and may not yield enough food to support the family. I have concluded that my food storage would be the main source of food in an emergency. I still think gardening is a worthwhile skill, and I still count it as a great hobby.
She wrote about her experience in this article: Why You Still Need Food Storage Even Though You have a Garden.
Another colleague, John Wesley Smith at Destiny Survival said:
Not everybody can grow their own food due to physical condition, lack of space, money, etc. In fact, not everybody who gardens or keeps small livestock can be totally self sufficient. It is important, however, to know about and patronize local farmers markets, get to know fellow gardeners who are willing to share/barter, etc.
A Special Offer for Backdoor Survival Readers
When it first came out, I paid $69 for the Grow Your Own Groceries DVD and resource disk. Right now, the set is available to BDS readers for $27.75 which is a 25% discount off the current price. This is a great deal on a fabulous resource with tons of useful information – not only about gardening but about rabbits, chickens, water conservation and more.
The Final Word
If you have never done any gardening, do not shy away from this DVD. There are so many practical, no BS tips that this DVD can take you from beginner to expert over a period of time. As a matter of fact, Marjory indicates that failure is part of the process and even she is still learning.
Wise words from a smart lady.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com. At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.