Prepper Friends — Storm Mesh by R. Ann Parris
Among the many, many piles of stuff we stockpile as preppers are a few things that are particularly useful at all stages of preparedness, in all locations big and small. The best of them are not only multifunctional, but also inexpensive and compact.
Today’s targeted prepper helper: Storm mesh.
Yup, storm mesh — the stuff we see on windows and storm doors. It’s less common in some modern English-reading nations, but even so, it’s not terribly expensive or difficult to acquire. We can order it in rolls or sheets, but we can also salvage it from renovations and sometimes get scrap cuts for free or deep discount from companies and small businesses that pre-fab windows and doors.
There’s also an alternative: Garden insect mesh.
It’s not typically as tough, and there are particular benefits if we can get ahold of storm mesh already in framed screens intended for doors and windows, but the loose weave of insect mesh can handle a lot of the same uses and be had in even greater variety of dimensions and weave tightness. It also comes in an array of colors, with white most common but green and black not unusual, either.
Mesh has a range of uses for preppers and homesteaders.
Initially, there’s the widest use of window and door screens. It lets us open our homes to airflow while restricting how many insects we have to deal with. There’s an “ease” and “comfort” aspect there, but there’s also a sanitation factor. Many insects carry diseases they transfer to foods or through bites. The ability to reduce those risks is huge. The ability to get a good night’s sleep without biting flies and mosquitoes shouldn’t be overlooked, though.
Garden mesh has even more use on that front. The fabric drape of the large sheets available let us ring porches, erect canopy beds, and surround umbrellas and pavilions with that insect barrier. That creates additional outdoor sleeping areas and multiple barriers for those insects to penetrate.
Stiffer window and door screen can also serve that garden mesh’s role. We can built lightweight racks to support it and protect our beds from pests. We can use whole- or partial-bed frames to control pollination for promiscuous crops like squashes, or we can tie small sections around individual flowers.
Once it’s gotten our gardens safely to harvest, screen’s usefulness continues.
We can use it to turn colanders into sieves for seed saving, juicing, and canning, and create small reusable “tea bag” packets to brew herbals and coffee. We can also arrange it in racks to air dry produce, and — again — use it to keep pests off that dehydrating food and our drying seeds.
Mesh is also useful for water catchment, however simplistic and ad hoc or sophisticated those systems may be. We can tie or screw it down to buckets and intake channels to prevent insects and large debris from accumulating. In multiple layers it can serve as an initial filtration for larger debris.
The debris reduction also has use for our gutters. Preventing clogged gutters can prevent backups that cause leaks and damage to our home interiors.
Covering gutters can also help prevent critters from getting in there. That can be small critters breeding, but in some areas it also prevents things like snakes hanging out up over our heads, and it reduces the chances of enough organic matter to hold moisture and encourage ants (yes, ants in walls and attics and roof crawlspaces is a thing, and it’s even more horrifying than bees turning houses into honeycombs).
Meshes also hold some water. We can angle storm screen mesh to control where drip-back falls, and even catch dew and plant transpiration, preventing water losses. The condensation catchment can also help provide small amounts of water that’s already clean in emergency situations.
We can use it to line pots to keep soil inside, or create “socks” for water uptake in sub-irrigated planters. Strips can be used to give trees a chance to establish and grow without shrew and mole damage. It can be used in conjunction with weed barriers to prevent underside access to our garden beds as well.
This list just goes on and on. There’s probably fifty-five things we can do with mesh.
It can be used with plaster to patch a hole in drywall, to screen sink, tub and shower drains to prevent clogged pipes, and to create birdcages and rabbit hutches. Some types can be used as a veggie shield for grilling small foods. Tough screen can also be used as rat and mouse guards for animal feed, compost bins, and beehives. If all else fails, we can wad it up to use as a scrubby pad.
It’s hard to find something with that many uses to offer us, especially something that comes as easily, inexpensively and compactly as storm screen mesh.