Pay no attention to the snow and the cold. Now is the best time to get ready for the 2017 spring gardening season. This year brings new challenges, because you now need to plan not only for your specific geographical climate but also for the political climate and its all-but-inevitable outcomes. Here are a few tips to help you surround yourself with healthy plants, beautiful flowers, and fresh vegetables as you face the complete collapse of civilization.

Start by heading to your local garden or home center. The first thing on your list: get all the gardening equipment you will need for the rest of your life, including leather gloves, shovels, axes, picks, hatchets, shears, scythes, and pitchforks. Don’t delay! You will discover that by the time March rolls around, it will be very hard to find anything sharp or pointy left in the stores. And a word or two about the care and storage of your garden tools: always clean and oil your tools after use, and do not store them in a garden shed. Instead, keep them close to you at all times during the day and under your mattress while you are sleeping.

Once the matter of tools is taken care of, you can then ask your local gardening professionals to help you choose plants that are right for your region or zone. Here are some general guidelines to get you started:

— Our neighbors to the north in Canada should plant species with edible bulbs in large numbers. They’ll come in handy after all trade agreements are torn in two by the new administration. In fact, don’t even bother planting them. Just keep them hidden in a cool, dry spot known only to you and your loved ones.

— If you live along the southern border, select shade tolerant species that will thrive in the constant early-spring darkness caused by the presence of a giant concrete or metal wall. For the later spring and summer, choose species that will be able to withstand full sun and the extreme albedo effect from sunlight reflecting off that same wall. Remember that climbing species can go a long way toward dressing up a drab vertical surface.

— In all zones, choose plants that produce fragrant and colorful blooms but that also have thick stems and copious large thorns, preferably poisonous. Plant these in a complete and dense ring all around your home. Note that you will need a secret tunnel for entrance and egress. In addition, in all zones, regardless of normal average temperatures, heat-tolerant species are a must this year (rated up to 100,000,000 degrees centigrade if you can find them).

— If you must plant more delicate species, i.e., those that cannot withstand trampling by angry mobs of white people, these should be surrounded with a protective barrier such as razor wire or a tight line of sharpened spikes with their bases embedded deeply in the ground at a forty-five degree angle. And yes, a moat is always a good idea. And, of course, poison those spikes.

— It should go without saying that now is the ideal time to take up hydroponics! The most successful and long-lasting gardens this year will undoubtedly be those grown deep underground. Start on that concrete-and-lead-lined sub-basement shelter right away. Get a generator and grow-lights and all the fuel and water you can hoard. An air purification and delivery system is also a must if you want your subterranean vegetable garden to reach its full potential. All the work will be worth it though, because there is nothing like enjoying the taste of a juicy, organic beefsteak tomato that you grew yourself, while high above you, the remaining surface-dwellers are hunting and slow-roasting each other in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

So get going! I know it may be tempting to just stay inside and keep warm and cozy this winter, but if you don’t immediately start preparing for this spring’s gardening season, you will be completely unprepared for the never-ending nuclear winter that is sure to follow. Good luck, happy gardening, and may God help us all.