In this uncertain world, over the past 2-3 years, we have experienced events in our lives that we thought were only possible in Block Buster movies.

Most people, the world over, have experienced some difficulty within their lives. And we are all desperately trying to adapt and take back a semblance of control.

Drought, flood, bushfires, loss of bees, super-storms, volcanic eruptions, mouse plagues….and let’s not forget the pandemic….. they’ve all left their mark..

We’ve often laughed at those people who label themselves as ‘Doomsday Preppers’ as they pack their Bug-out bags, store mountains of food and build shelters for the Apocalypse they worry may be coming.

But you know what? I think they may be onto something…….

We’ve all witnessed the recent pandemonium in regards to toilet paper shortages, the shortages of certain foods and massive crop losses due to damaging weather events. Now we see shortages in regular medicines and building supplies, just to name a few. 

 Whether or not you believe in Covid 19 or Global warming, it’s becoming obvious, that without our daily staples and all the products that we take for granted, we may become, what we’ve striven all our lives not to become……vulnerable..

So it got me thinking. How would we cope, much less survive without access to our everyday medical prescriptions, our rich source of essential foods, clean, safe water, affordable electricity and shelter, just for example?

The answer is…we would not be happy campers. 

We’re so used to buying any fruit or vegetable we want whether it’s in season or not, using the internet to quench our every desire or question at the click of a button. We take for granted our beautiful clean water and relatively, clean fresh air. Things which are mere pipe dreams for many third world countries, even at this moment in time.

What would you use for toilet paper if it became unavailable? What would you use for deodorant? 

How would you store your food without electricity? The lists go on and on…

I think the answer lies in our gardens. Rain and soil will always be there, as will the sun…hopefully! 

An Answer

Could you make room in your garden to grow plants that may save your life? Herbal medicines have been used since the dawn of time…in fact they were the precursors of the medications we all use today.

Could you learn to save seeds and also the best way to store them for future planting? Learn how to build an underground earth cellar to store meat and vegetables? How to dry or preserve fruit?

Our grandmothers’ old cook books are full of some fantastic ideas on preserving food. And there was nothing artificial in any of them!

I’m not telling you to pack a Bug-out bag or to start building an underground shelter, I’ll leave that to the Doomsday preppers, they can arm you with that stuff.

But….Plants will save us… they have for centuries.

What’s important to you when you first wake each morning?

Your first coffee…a hot shower and your favourite body wash…that first cigarette..a quick toilet visit with that beautiful soft toilet paper?

Here’s just a small list of plants that you can grow that are very useful…..just in case! 

TOILET PAPER SUBSTITUTES: Mullein leaves/ herb. Banana leaves. Corn husks. Maple leaves. Lambs ears, Stacey’s byzantina. Old mans beard/ Spanish moss. Dombeya spectabilis. 

Sounds ridiculous right? Maybe…. but you won’t be laughing when there’s no other alternative available. 

TOBACCO SUBSTITUTES: Calendula, Mullein and Lemon balm. Be sure to do your research in this area please. I do not recommend smoking to anyone. These are simply available plants and alternatives, but are nicotine free.

COFFEE SUBSTITUTES: Roasted Dandelion roots..harvest after two years growth in autumn and roast before drinking.

CHICORY root roasted…great taste but sadly caffeine free. Have some Lemon Balm tea handy for that lack- of -caffeine- headache coming your way too!

CAMELLIA SINENSIS: green tea leaves….dry and powder the whole leaf. You’ll be drinking the entire mix, not just a tea made from the leaves. 2tsp of powder to one cup of hot water, whisk until it froths, then drink. Contains caffeine…Thank heaven!

You could also grow your own COFFEA ARABICA beans, but remember they need a constant year-round climate of around 25 degrees C. Above and below these temperatures, will slow their growth and effect the ripening process and also the flavour of your coffee.

SOAP AND SHAMPOO SUBSTITUTE: SOAPWORT root. 1 tbs of ground root to 1 cup of water, boil covered for 30 mins. Strain. Use 1 tsp per cup of water for soap or shampoo.

LAUNDRY LIQUID SOAP: Gather 75 ENGLISH IVY leaves, pick the larger and older ones and chop. Add 4 cups of water and bring to boil. Simmer 20 mins. Remove from heat and steep for 3 hours. Strain the leaves and compost. Store in the refrigerator. Use ¾ cup per medium washing load. Do not drink as it is toxic, wash pots and utensils very well after use. 

MOISTURISERS: ALOE VERA. Avoid the yellow juice near the skin, use clear gel only. Add some essential oil for a soft fragrance. 

ROSEHIP oil. Allow your rose bushes to flower but do not de-head them so that the rose hips will form. Harvest once they have dried on the bush. Crush and Cover with oil, coconut, olive or almond oil or home made sunflower oil. Heat in double boiler for up to 10 hours on low heat.

Cool and strain into jars.

CALENDULA oil. Harvest the flowers early in the morning to preserve their precious oil. Check for insects and then cram the flowers into a jar and cover with oil. Sit on a sunny windowsill and let it infuse for a minimum of 3 weeks and up to a couple of months, turning daily. Strain through muslin and bottle. 

WORMWOOD: Keep your chickens worm-free by letting them occasionally graze on the leaves. Use dried leaves for their bedding, it keeps the mites and other insects at bay organically.

STEVIA: Make your own sweetener by picking and drying some leaves just as the flowers are beginning to bud. Dry approximately ½ cup of leaves and add to 2 cups of water and steep for 24 hours. Strain and then cook over low heat, reducing it to a syrup. Bottle into a sterilised jar and cap. Will keep for one year in the fridge. Remember…1tsp equals 1 cup of sugar!

ARROWROOT FLOUR: Harvest tennis ball sized tubers, peel and chop into small pieces. Mince it with water and then add it to a bucket of clean water. Continue squeezing the pulp as the flour residue sinks to the bottom. Remove the pith and pulp from the top. 

When the water becomes clear, strain it off, leaving the flour at the bottom. Spread on trays in the sun to dry thoroughly.

Arrowroot is used in natural deodorants combined with baking soda, coconut oil and essential oils.

So there you have it… a few staples and must haves that we cannot go without. Nothing is too hard if we apply ourselves to the matter at hand and gain a little knowledge along the way….

It’s called ……RESILIENCE!

Tanya Sawyer. 

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