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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Survival Preparation - More Notes on Survival Gardening received the following questions on e-mail, concerning the Urban-Suburban Survival Garden: "For your garden, where do you get your dirt? Isn't it true that you can't reuse the same dirt year in and year out for growing vegetables? Don't you have to have fertilizers? We live between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona and with enough digging and removing rocks all we get is sand. The only time I can grow flowers is when I use the potting mix and other bags of recommended filler from the Nursery. My husband and I are both beginning our sixties, and want to start growing vegetables in our back yard as opposed to flowers, to cut down on grocery store costs, as we are on a fixed income, and just in case this country goes haywire maybe we'll have a start on growing food. My husband served in Vietnam and loves your site. Glenda and Bill."

UrbanMan replies: As the kid's would say, "Coolios", getting an e-mail from you two. You and your husband were/are the main target of this site - getting people exposed to the preparation concept and to prepare better. Imagine if all of us prepare well, this country would not only be better off, but just may come out a giant collapse sooner. Okay, okay that's a pipe dream, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I have not bought topsoil for two years. I knew I had to be able to grow some sort of food supply without commercial products that would probably not be available after a collapse. I too only get a sand mix where I am at. Although within 20 miles there are farms and such growing vegetables and other crops.

I have a guy I know bring me horse manure in buckets....sometimes in thick garbage bags. He gives me the buckets too, which once cleaned out become great storage containers for my vacuum packed foods supplies. I used one of the buckets to pack some vacuumed packed food and gave to some friends of mine as a gift, saying "Hey, put this away in case we have a natural disaster or something." - just another way to drip preparation to friends.

Anyway, back to the dirt,.....I dig a small hole and mix the horse manure with loose dirt (mostly sand) from my yard. I water it a couple times a week, chop it up with a shovel blade or garden hoe and turn in over (mix it up). When we have organic waste like fruit or vegetable skins I add that as well, making a compost heap. I actually have several of them going at once. In about four weeks of watering and chopping and turning over, the dirt starts to turn dark. I add more sand-local dirt then form my rows or mounds and plant.

It takes about four weeks minimum to break down the horse manure, which does not stink by the way probably because the horses eat organic stuff. As the manure breaks down, it releases nitrogen. The compost pile will actually become hot, maybe as hot as 150 degrees, then cool off. Use it after 4 weeks and after it has cooled.

One a side not, my friend says he'll give manure to anyone who asks. Sometimes he has loaded a truck bed with his tractor. If you can find some farms or ranches close by, who knows a mutually supporting friendship may involve, maybe for barter, maybe for other necessities such as security.

Last year I grew some really big Black Magic Squash and other things as well using this method. You may also like this site:
You can also sign up for a e-mail organic gardening newsletter from this site.

I know the Phoenix - Tucson area well. Lots of criminal activity - gangs, drug cartels, illegal alien smugglers and bandits who prey on about anybody. You please be careful out there. I hope you are preparing in other ways as well.

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