The War Against Germs; Autoclaves

One thing is certain, when a world changing event happens, people may become migratory.  They may find the need to travel from place to place looking for food and supplies.  Some of these people, you may wish to add them to your community as valued members because of the skills they possess.  Unfortunately, they will also bring with them their regional germs.  It will be just like when you move to a new city and everyone in the family gets sick for the first month.  It will be like that, except a 100 times worse because there will be so many people, traveling from places far and near.  You can’t help but come in contact with them at some point.

Whether the contact be friendly or foe, one thing is for sure, germs will be transmitted in both directions.  If an outbreak occurs within your community, you will need to be able to sterilize your items because throwing them away just may not be an option, and neither may throwing them in the fire.  One can either boil items, or use an autoclave.  Boiling will kill anything that dies at 200° or below.  However, as in canning, you may need to kill germs that die only at higher temperatures.  In that case, you will need the autoclave.

Medical autoclaves are extremely expensive, and usually have a small capacity.  Larger ones can be prohibitively expensive.  There is another option.

Interesting enough, in Spanish, the word “autoclave” is the word they use for pressure canners.  Pressure canners will reach that magic 250 degrees that kills most nearly every living thing.  Perfect for sterilizing your items.  If you choose to use a pressure canner to sterilize items, you must bear in mind that you will not want to use that canner for food production.  It just ins’t good practice.  But, pressure canners are used all over the world to sterilize surgical equipment and other medical devices that can be sterilized by heat.

It is my opinion that pressure canners used as autoclaves should be the type that requires no rubber seal.  These are much better because it is screwed down and there is no wiggle room as there is with the rubber seals.  You will notice the price of the one pictured is not your average cheap pressure canner, and that it looks like a beast.  It is a beast.  It is also the best one for the job.
 It has a gauge so you know how much pressure is actually in there, as well as the weight to make sure you get the right pressure without going over and having it explode.  Don’t get me wrong, it can still explode if you have the heat too high, just like any other pressure canner.  One must always make certain to follow the manufacturers instructions for proper use and cleaning.  It has six screws to hold it firm and comes in a variety of sizes.  To date, I have never found one for a lower price than on Amazon, the link is in the picture.

I prefer the larger one as autoclave, even though it takes quite a while to heat to temperature, but it also will hold the most items so I don’t have to use it so often.

Remember, when handling contaminated items, to always use appropriate protective gloves and other necessary protective items.  Learn and follow appropriate protocols whenever possible to reduce the spread of outbreaks.
 

 

Using Water Contaminated with Cyanotoxin for Non-Consumable Purposes?

See even a little of this? Don’t use the water.

This article is part of the discussion on cyanotoxin Don’t Drink the Water.

When you find out your water is contaminated with cyanotoxin, your world will change.  This water is dangerous and causes all sorts of troubles, even for showering or bathing.  Unfortunately, you may never know it’s contaminated without the gas chromatography mass spectrometry testing.  Since you can’t keep one in your back pocket, you must prepare and be on the alert.  You must take precautions.

Do not bathe or shower in water contaminated with cyanotoxin.  Someone, who shall remain nameless, told us it is okay to shower with it if you have no cuts or skin breaks on  your body, you are healthy, and you are an adult if the toxin level was very low.  Given the additional information below, that bit didn’t provide any comfort.

If you have to use it for doing dishes, all dishes and utensils must be effectively rinsed with undiluted chlorine bleach.  It’s the only thing that removes (not destroys) it from the dishes.  Even that is not a guarantee of safety.

Not one article has been found that suggests it’s safe to wash your clothing with it.  And, since it concentrates the toxin as water is removed, it seems as if it would only remain in the clothing, and then be on your skin and you can’t get away from it.

Irrigation
Algae can get into the system and contaminate the water with toxins.

And, most disturbingly is that water containing cyanotoxin is unsafe for both livestock and irrigation.  Your animals will die from the exposure, and you wouldn’t want to eat any animals contaminated with cyanotoxin.  When used in irrigation systems, it is airborn and inhaled by field workers.  This causes any number of dreadful outcomes.  Further, studies show that plants irrigated with contaminated water poses a great threat.  The toxin not only gets in the plant, but it concentrates in the plant through the root system so that eating a small portion of the plant would be deadly.

In short the only way to get it off of something is to wash with full strength bleach, and that isn’t a sure thing.  It remains on surfaces.  It is both a poison and a carcinogen.  It is harmful to every living creature that encounters it.

In short, there is no safe way to use water contaminated with cyanotoxin.  When you use it, you know you are taking a risk and one has to determine if the risk is worth it or if there is some alternative water source to be found.

References:

Saqrane, Sana, and Brahim Oudra. “CyanoHAB Occurrence and Water Irrigation Cyanotoxin Contamination: Ecological Impacts and Potential Health Risks.” Toxins. Molecular Diversity Preservation International, n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

Milligan, Allen J., Assistant Professor of Botany and Plant Pathology, OSU. “Potential Impact of Cyanobacteria on Crop Plants.” Potential Impact of Cyanobacteria on Crop Plants. Pacific Northwest Plant Disease Management, n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

“Drinking Water and Sanitation.” SpringerReference (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

The War Against Germs; Blood Borne Pathogens and Parasites and the Wild Game Food Supply

Blood borne pathogens and parasites can be dangerous to humans.  They can be found in animals for food and animals not for food, the increasing risk of rabies, cat scratch fever, rabbit fever and many other dangerous tiny life forms. Not to mention fleas (that bite for blood) and ticks (the vampires of the insect world), among other insects, that bring their own special set of risks of infection.

Image from page 331 of "Diseases of the dog and their treatment" (1911)When a world changing event (WCE) happens, it is best to have as much knowledge as possible stuffed into all the brains of the people who will be sharing your living space.  The more people know about blood borne pathogens and parasites, the more likely the survival of the group.  This includes a good working knowledge of blood borne pathogens.  We’re not saying you have to be a molecular biologist. But it is important to know which meat and poultry sources are more likely than others to carry diseases and parasites that can cause illness or diseases among your group.  Everything from squirrels to pigeons find their way to the dinner table during hard times.

The most obvious risks when acquiring your meat in the wild are disease and parasite carrying fleas and ticks.  Salmonella, rabies and rickettsialpox are just a few possibilities.  Also consider hantavirus, trichinosis, mosquito-borne encephalitis, and Haverhill fever that range from the mild to the deadly.  They are found in all living wild and domesticated animals and fowl. The wild thing is more likely to have something to make you sick than not.  You can still eat them, but now that you know the risk is great, you can negate the risks by religiously following certain procedures.

  • Do not handle or eat animals that look sick or behave unusual manners.  What ever is killing them might make you sick or kill you.
  • Do not eat animals that are already dead.  You don’t know why they died, nor how long they have been dead.  Pay attention to the “eeww” factor.  You will likely get sick from them.
  • Bury any dead animals you find deep enough to keep other wild animals from digging them up and eating them. Three feet might be enough, but six feet is best. Pay attention to your water supply so that the dead animal is not buried close enough to your river or lake to contaminate it.  Dead animals might contaminate other wild life you plan to add to your food supply.  Do not touch the animal with your body or clothing while doing this.  Use sticks to push the animal around, then burn the stick.  Never open the grave of a dead animal, even if you are just going to add another.  Opening the graves will cause pathogens to become airborne making them easy to breathe in and contaminate your body and your clothing.
  • Wear disposable clothing and gloves when handling, skinning or cleaning wild animals.  If this is not possible, read the article about using an autoclave to sterilize equipment and proper cleaning of clothing items.
  • Properly dispose of carcasses and unusable wild game parts as soon as possible and as far away from your home as possible.   It’s most ideal to burn them, but burial a long distance from the home at a suitable depth is the next best choice.
  • Do not let meats contaminate any item that can’t be washed or sterilized by chemical or heat.
  • Handle carefully and cook wild game thoroughly before eating.
  • You can never use too much soap and hot water cleaning up after handling wild game!

Hunters and trappers who take game to a processor after the hunt should consider processing the meat yourself so that you and the other members of your group are well educated in these processes.  Learning to do them now means you will have access to excellent medical care and pharmaceuticals should you become infected.  If you wait to learn when you need it, after a WCE it might be impossible to get the quality of medical care you need.  The loss of the food from poor handling would unimportant after you die.

Lastly, all states offer a food handling certification course.  They are really cheap or free.  Everyone should take the a course from the most knowledgeable people available.  Make sure you take your list of questions!!  This will go a long way to making sure you understand how to protect your family’s health.

 

The War Against Germs; Foodborne Pathogens

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There are several ways germs can spread through your house.  It becomes more noticeable when family members get sick one by one.  Sometimes the germ is brought in from work, school, or just daily life outside the home.  But once it’s in your house, you have a mission to stop it before everyone else gets sick.  Simple hand washing won’t guarantee success.  You can help stop the spread of germs from one person to the next by checking what happens in your kitchen and stop foodborne pathogens.

Wear gloves when handling the dishes of a sick person.  Keep those dishes separate from other dishes until they have been sanitized.  Do not let the dishes of a sick person sit on the counter or in the sink.  Clean them immediately.  Put them in the dishwasher immediately.  Failing to do these things is one reason care givers get sick when they could have avoided it.

People generally try to follow the safest procedures they can when cooking.  Separate cutting boards and utensils for vegetables and meats, proper hand washing, and changing gloves between tasks are all important parts of meal preparation.  But, what about after the meal has been served, enjoyed, and the dirty dishes are lurking in the kitchen?

That cutting board, cooking utensils, and dirty dishes are in the kitchen producing future foodborne pathogens.  They even create their own protective coating called “slime”.  Ewww!!  The slime makes it difficult to kill germs using chemicals like bleach.  You might kill the creepy crawlies on the top layer of slime, but the bugs on the bottom are happily consuming food particles. reproducing, and making even more slime.  Some pathogens can double their population at alarming rates.

Many people do not have a dishwasher with a sanitation cycle.  If this is the case, you have no time to waste.  Really.  The longer you wait to wash those dirty dishes the more chance your family will get food borne illnesses.  To avoid this issue, many cooks of the past century and still today practice “wash as you cook” methods.  By the time the meal is prepared, nearly all the dirty dishes are washed and put away.  Then all that’s left is the eating utensils and a few stray cooking utensils.

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We use cutting boards that can go in the dishwasher.  Wood, especially bamboo, don’t hold up well over time in the dishwasher.  We only use one side of the cutting board and put the dirty side facing inward so the full effect of the washer can be had.  But mostly we put them in the dishwasher to sterilize them.  Pots and pans go in the dishwasher too, even if I have to run the dishwasher two or three times the same day.

Cast iron cookware should not go in the dishwasher or have soap used on them or their usefulness is wasted.  Instead, I clean them well, by boiling water if necessary, put a fine layer of oil on them and put them in a 350°F oven for a few minutes.  In this manner you are not only sure the pan’s interior is clean, but also the handle.  No more spreading germs from pan to knife to food!

However, as people have become busy with their work-a-day lives, they often leave dishes in the sink, or laying around the house, all week.  Come their day off, they gather them up and wash them.  Others put dishes in to soak overnight.  These practices must stop if you hope to ensure your home is not infested with foodborne pathogens.

When washing dishes by hand, be sure to wear rubber gloves.  They protect your hands from germs, prevent chafing, and help you tolerate higher water temperature.  The higher temperature doesn’t do much for killing germs but it makes it easier to clean the dishes.  Then the dish detergent can get in there and do its job!  When you are finished washing dishes, use a good anti-bacterial bar soap to wash your still gloved hands.  Remove the gloves and hang them to air dry.

Once germs are on kitchen utensils and dishes, they are spread by your hands to everything you touch.  That pan you just washed?  Did you dry it with a dishtowel?  If you have germs on your hands, so to does the towel, and now your clean dishes aren’t so clean any more as you spread germs from dish to dish!  From now on, take the easy way out and let them air dry on a sanitary dish drainer!  Don’t forget to kill germs on counters too!  If you are sensitive to bleach, simply pour boiling water on the surfaces and wipe it up.

Now, for whatever reason you do not have a dishwasher with a sanitation cycle, and the heated dry cycle doesn’t heat to a high enough temperature, or you’re not expecting to have electricity during a WCE, now what?  Foodborne pathogens can be some of the most difficult to get out of your kitchen.  They can also be the easiest!  During past centuries they simply put all the dirty dishes in a big boiling pot.  Ten minutes later they are read for use.  That was how dishes were rinsed after washing with elbow grease and soap.  It doesn’t take long to kill off germs that way.  It is important that the water be over 165°F to be sure bugs are killed.  Some sources tell you 148°F is sufficient, but consider that the U. S. Navy required water supplies on ships to be heated to 165°F.  The extra 2 minutes it takes to go from 148° to 165° is worth it, but why not just boil the water?  You don’t need to worry about using a thermometer to be sure if water is at proper germ killing temperature.

Lastly, consider your dishwasher.  Even though your dishwasher goes through a sanitation cycle to clean the dishes, take a look at the door, inside and out.  See any nasty stuff there?  Yeah, those are germs just waiting to get on your nice clean dishes and your hands.  Clean and sanitize those areas of the dishwasher that will not be cleaned by the dishwasher.  Use bleach if you can tolerate it, if not look for other methods to sanitize it.

Following these methods should be a daily practice and will bring you one step closer to preventing germs from destroying your plan for preparedness.

The War Against Germs; Introduction to Biological Preparedness

Mycobacterium tuberculosis Bacteria, the Cause of TBOne common thread among those who prepare is the concern about biological warfare as a world changing event (WCE).  People most concerned with germ warfare have products and plans in place if such an event should occur.  But, that does nothing to stop any “normal” germs that might enter your home or may already be there.  And, let’s face it, no one should live in a germ free environment unless he has a compromised immune system.  For the normal person, a normal cleanliness regimen and proper housekeeping should be okay for the everyday germs.

Still, no one wants to get a nasty case of the trots or another serious illness because they used a modern product when an antique product would have worked much better in a society where there is no electricity.  Let’s consider the many who plan to revert to the ways of  our ancestors during the years 1850 – 1900.  However, they will continue to do things using modern methods and products.  They will raise and prepare meat and produce at home or trade among their small community of like-minded members.  This is all well and good, wonderful!  Unless they didn’t think ahead and learn the skills they will need to remain free of nasty germs that could put an end to their community before it has a chance to recover from the WCE.

It is important to also note that modern times has brought many micro-organisms that didn’t travel at the same rate in the 1800s, as well as the mutations over time.  Communities were much more closed then they are today.  Even so, how were people in those times able to keep themselves from getting so many nasty illnesses as those which so easily span the globe now?  How were they able to prevent food borne illnesses?  Truly, there are some mirco-organisms that should cause concern.

It is with these thoughts in mind that this series, The War Against Germs, is created.  Each week we will post a new article covering one of the many important topics about pathogens that may already live in our environment.  We hope you find it useful when you consider how you prepare for a WCE.

Building Your Own Shelter

Peter Larson, a Utah survivalist with a home and family, gave CNN a tour of his elaborate $65,000 bunker he built in the mountains in preparation for what he called “the last days.” There are even developers building luxury underground condos inside abandoned missile silos that stretch 175 feet underground, and cost upwards of $2 million per unit.

But you don’t have to break the bank to build an underground shelter that will keep you and the family safe in the event of nuclear holocaust, extinction-level meteorite impact and/or full-fledged police state oppression. All you need is a decent-sized backyard and the will to survive.

The Dig

You want your bunker to be a total secret, or known to exist by as few people as possible. When it hits the fan, and desperate neighbors are trying to escape nuclear radiation or government tyranny, the first place they will come knocking is your bunker. That said, try and be as discreet as possible when digging the hole. You can do it the old-fashioned way by hiring workers to dig with shovels, or have dig parties with friends who are guaranteed a spot in the bunker when it becomes necessary. A small excavator can be rented for as little as $50 per hour. The bunker should be 10 feet deep minimum, but for maximum protection from just about anything, go to at least 20 feet.

The Walls

Nukemap is an app that can simulate what would happen if a 100 megaton nuclear bomb was detonated in a given area. For instance, if one were dropped in New York City, nearly 8 million people would be instantly incinerated, while 4 million more would suffer serious injuries. The residual radiation from the bomb would linger anywhere from a few minutes to several years, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Radiation Emergency Medical Management. The King County, Wash., Health Department recommends a concrete shield to protect yourself from gamma rays.

Get quotes from several concrete contractors who will also reinforce the walls with steel. The American Concrete Institute says that steel-reinforced concrete walls have 20 times the compressive strength (weight capacity) of normal concrete. This will not only come in handy if an initial nuclear blast is within a few miles of your bunker, but will serve as a near-impenetrable radiation shield. Make sure to leave small openings for an air filtration system, sewage elimination and even a spout to capture rain water for drinking.

Stockpiling

The last major expense will be for supplies. Batteries, food and water are the items you will want the most. Remember you may not be able to leave the shelter for a year in the event of nuclear holocaust. The bare minimum amount of water humans need to survive is about 68 ounces (two liters) per day, according to Human Rights Watch. This means each person needs about 180 gallons of water to survive for a year. Contrarily, humans can survive for weeks without food. Dried (i.e. jerky) and canned foods are best, as they can be stored at room temperature and will stay edible for years. Firearms, ammunition, flashlights, matches, hygiene and first-aid supplies are the other essentials.

All the aforementioned can be done for less than $10,000, if you exercise due diligence.

Ebola and Other Considerations

This frightening little creature could easily be found on the television show "Monsters Inside Me".
This frightening little creature could easily be found on the television show “Monsters Inside Me”.

We have been quiet until now about the Ebola cases in the United States.  Let’s face it.  None of us are surprised it found it’s way here.  Most of us wonder what took it so long.  We have been expecting the appearance of the dreaded virus since the 1970’s.  The wonder isn’t how it got here, but what took it so long to get here.

We didn’t jump on the bandwagon to post about it for this amount of time because we wanted to see exactly how it would effect our society from government response to citizen reaction and action.

It’s been six months, and as with all things, the outbreak came and went.  During that time, mass news media enjoyed the flurry of actually being watched for the latest news and bloggers went wild posting their two cents worth of commentary and second guessing.

For the most part, we saw exactly what the government feared would happen.  People who were sick or knew they had been exposed chose to travel regardless of the risk to others.  The needs of the one outweighed the needs of the society, and indeed, the globe.  Fortunately, the number of people who were infected in the U.S. was very small.  Nevertheless, some of those citizens still chose to do whatever they wanted to do regardless of the cost.  Armed guards had to be placed at doors where people had been quarantined.  The occupants refused to remain inside because they felt like they were “prisoners” and were worried about “losing their jobs” and other financial considerations.  The rest of society continued to live their daily lives, waiting to find out if their city was going to be next.

Those people were receiving assistance both financially and fresh food was delivered to their homes every day.  They were getting free medical care.  They had internet, cable TV, and all the other amenities living in the U.S. provides.  Still, they behaved exactly the way Sci-Fi novels and movies said they would.  These are the reasons FEMA has so much power when it comes to such incidences.

The CDC and the WHO had been keeping Ebola under wraps for decades.  Not really secret, but not something they wanted to alarm the American public about.  They’ve been hunting, battling and studying Ebola since it first poked it’s head out of the caves of Africa.  Those are not the only organizations that have worked relentlessly to keep the disease from becoming a pandemic.  Various Christian ministries and charitable organizations have been in Africa taking great risks every time an outbreak occurred.  Through it all, they created a battle plan should such outbreaks come to the United States.  When the day came, they followed through with their plan and it worked.  Imagine how much worse it would have been had no plan been made and people wandered around the country sick and continued to spread the virus without notice.  Those who had been exposed, or gotten sick would have spread the disease, and the cycle we see in Africa would be present here.

In the meantime, as the prepared, we keep vigilant and prepare for these events.  This won’t be the last time we have to be ready for such instances.

Here’s what we do know:

  • It’s transmitted by touching body fluids.
  • Body fluids can become airborne, such as coughing and sneezing.
  • The exact moment when a person becomes contagious is not known.
  • Fever indicates viral load.
  • In Africa, it has been statistically shown that each person who has the disease will infect two more.
  • About half the people who get the disease in Africa die.
  • Dead bodies spread the disease.
  • The viability of the virus outside a living host is not determined.  There is debate ranging from a few hours up to a week.
  • There has been no public discussion about how long a dead body may harbor live virus.
  • United States and Canadian residents likely will fare better because health care and food supplies are more accessible.
  • We quarantine in patients’ homes, whereas in Africa both the infected and undetermined status persons are quarantined in camps.  Home quarantines are most comfortable for patients and reduces the spread of the virus to healthy persons.
  • In the United States, food and necessary supplies are now delivered free of charge to those in quarantine.
  • In America, we have the ability to use special ambulances equipped for safe transport of patients with level four contagions.
  • Americans avoid locations where an infected person is reported to have been.  So much so that one hospital became a ghost town and the mayor of New York City had to ride the subway just to prove it was safe.

We know all of this and still we took a look at our pantry and said to ourselves, “Are we really ready if something were to happen?”.  At first, when the news broke about an Ebola case, then possibly two more, were in Dallas concerned us.  We looked in the cabinets and the freezer and was satisfied that we would be fine if the disease were to make the long drive to our town.  If we were to remain in our homes because other people in our town were passing around a disease, we could do it.

At least, we thought we could.  Therein lies the difficulty.  Can you really afford to quit your job?  Taxes and health insurance don’t pay for themselves.  The only way to fully guarantee that no one will bring the contagion into a home is that no one ever comes inside the home.  Consider how many hundreds of people were being monitored or quarantined as the result of one person coming into our country with the disease.  Are you financially prepared should such an event happen?  This incident lasted a few weeks because of the swift and sure actions of all health care providers involved.  You’ll need the amount of money saved that you would need every day, but you will also need additional funds for the things you don’t expect.  Emergency situations, no matter how well prepared you are, need contingency funds and contingency plans.

For us, it’s time to reconsider how we do things.  Not because we are fearful, but because it is the right thing to do.  All households should be prepared to shelter in place should it come to your neighborhood.  The less you need, the more help medical and relief workers will be able to provide those who are in real distress.

What do you say when people think you’re crazy for being a Prepper?

We hear, all the time, we are crazy for preparing for hard times ahead. Many people believe because we live in the best country in the world nothing, as bad as we think, will ever happen here. When we disagree, they look at us like we grew two heads. They think we’re lunatics and need to be locked up in the looney bin. So, what do you say when people think you’re crazy for being a prepper? How can you get them to consider we might be right?

First, no amount of explanation can get through to the really stiff neck people who simply refuse to accept all the signs of decay in our country. For these people no amount of reasoning will persuade them. However, if you mention our fears concerning where our country is headed and the person seems to listen…you might be able to plant seeds of understanding by telling them what you believe and what you are doing to prepare.

Tell them about our loss of freedoms little by little through the years and the intrusion of the government into our daily lives. Ask them how we are supposed to sustain the increase of national debt and how long can we continue to over spend?  How long can a decreasing amount of working people support and increasing amount of people who don’t work and expect increased welfare and support? Never in the history of our country has there been more people collecting support from the government than those working and paying taxes. This alone can damage an already weak economy, much less all the other problems.

Next, we have a group of activists, raised in our country, who wish to bring us down to the level of third world countries. They believe Americans have too much and our lives are too cushy. They push the idea of equality for all people and put down the wealthy…even those who worked to build their businesses through hard work and fortitude. They want everyone in the world to live the same…except them of course. They want to rule the world from their lofty places and fancy mansions.

Add the above problems to the fact, whether we want to accept it or not, there are people in our world who hate us and want our country to fall. They hate our free market system, our freedoms and most of all our faith. These people have vowed to destroy us and our way of life. Many of them already live in our country. We never know when they will decide it’s time to push their beliefs and begin our destruction.

Anything could tip the scales and bring devastation in our nation. If or when any major event happens, our country could totter. From there it wouldn’t take much to make it collapse. If that happens, even those of us who have prepared will have a difficult time. Those who have not will suffer greatly and many will die.

If people will listen at all, tell them your preparations. Most are practical things everyone can do to make themselves more independent. Share the idea of heirloom seeds, canning more of their own food and raising a vegetable garden. Having three to six months or more of food is a great start. It’s important to gather seeds, canning jars and lids, gardening needs, along with medical supplies, guns and ammo, etc. while we can.

Most of all, encourage them to prepare their hearts. We must come to realize we cannot help everyone. That in itself will be challenging. But knowing you may have to defend yourself from those who would steal your provisions will be very hard. However, it could make the difference between life and death for you and your family. You must be prepared to make the difficult decisions. Being a Prepper is challenging, but we are sure you’re up to the task.

You can visit us at: FleetotheMountains.com

In a Post WCE, Where to get the Best Quality Seeds?

The simple answer is “from yourself”.  The only way this can happen is if you are already practicing the skills you need to secure the best possible seeds for next year’s crops.  Sure, many gardeners will tell you to choose the best plants to get the best seeds, but what they don’t tell you is how to consistently improve, over time, your ability to harvest the best produce possible.  As a matter of fact, you could produce a new variety of seeds through your efforts.

Start with the best quality seed you can get.  Seeds are expensive, so do your research.  Just because you have bought this or that brand for year after year does not mean you are in fact buying the best.

One of the most important things you can do is to keep a proper journal about your garden exploits.  Write down everything, every year.  Date every page.  Did it rain today?  How much?  Was it hotter or colder than normal today than last year on this day? Note it and log it.  What did you plant today?  Remember to log the germination rate each day.  There is no detail too small to consider adding to the journal about your garden or fields.  Why?  Because you will need that information after a WCE.  Then it will be too late to start gathering useful information for your region.  It takes years to gather what you need.  Some of it you can get from local garden experts, but your own experiences are more valuable than anyone else’s.

Test the germination rate for the seeds you plant every year.  You will know the rates for each company from which you buy seeds.  In this way you will better choose products that meet your needs best.  It is with these seeds that you will start your seed saving practices as well as your venture into creating a better and stronger variety of your favorite produce.

Since accuracy is important, keeping a separate journal for various produce so as not to get grape writings mixed up with apple writings might be a good idea.  Now for the good stuff.

When your plants are growing in the garden, continually watch them to see which are the best and worst.  When it comes time to harvest seed, choose only to harvest from the single best plant that has the best qualities you desire.  For the next planting season complete the steps over again.  Be sure to plant these seeds away from the possibility of pollination by any other source.

Each careful harvest gains seeds that are best suited to your environment and most resistant to the pests and diseases of your region.  In this manner you will create your own variety of plants and seeds.  Those, and your reputation for seed production will be valuable after a WCE.