The third episode of National Geographic’s Doomsday Castle is full of cringe-worthy moments, but do not expect them to stem from sibling angst or a frustrated father.
When preparing to survive a disaster and the civil unrest that will surely follow, some necessary tasks may involve a certain level of “grossness” and danger. This episode offers a host of detailed information about growing and camouflaging your food supply and ideas for fortifying windows. Michael and Dawn Marie embark on the creation of survival food forest  project with renowned author Rick Austin.
During the course of this exercise, the “unsupervised” twins cause such a ruckus that Brent Sr. runs with the speed of lightening to the garden area, frightened and spewing some bleeped-out words. All ends well, but all the parents watching this scene will surely understand the range of emotions Brent Sr. went through in during a scary moment which likely felt as if it lasted for hours.
Secret Garden of Survival author Rick Austin  had the opportunity to share his “weeds are good” theory with the world during this Doomsday Castle  episode. Alright, I don’t know if that is Rick’s official doctrine, but it is how I supportively explain his planting process to my friends and family. My husband gave me a look of total disbelief when I said I wanted to allow the weeds to grow freely in our garden this year. I am sure that he got tired of hearing, “Rick said …” when he attempted to get a hoe and hack away at the non-crop plants.
Seasoned gardeners may think Austin’s theory is crazy at first glance, but those who have read his book or taken his advice after an interview swear by it. Although the written word is still king in my opinion, there is something to be said about watching the survival garden or food forest unfold before your very eyes on the television screen – complete with detailed computer graphics outlining the design scheme. Perhaps even those who have considered weeds foes for decades will give Rick’s food forest concept a chance after watching this episode of the Doomsday Castle.
An excerpt from the NatGeo website which discussed the value of a camouflaged food forest reads:
“Imagine a garden that takes up very little space, but grows five times more food per square inch than a traditional garden. A garden that you plant once in your lifetime, but provides food for 30 years without any fertilization, pesticides, or weeding … and it’s all disguised to look like overgrown underbrush! In a future world where there is potentially no electricity or refrigeration, no super markets or seed stores, and no fertilizers or pesticides, it makes sense to look at people who have managed to live successfully for generations without these conveniences. Studies of native indigenous people around the world, people who have lived off the land for generations without electricity, refrigeration, commercial agriculture, pesticides, or insecticides, showed that these people lived primarily on perennials, plants that grow year after year without replanting, as opposed to annuals such as typical grocery store vegetables crops that must be replanted each year.”
Austin shared this with Off The Grid News when asked about his experience on the Doomsday Castle show:
“All this came about after I was speaking at a prepper conference about the Secret Garden of Survival. Brent Sr. was the in audience with another guy who was interested in prepping and bought my book. Later I got an email from Brent Sr. out of the blue saying that he enjoyed the book and was working on this castle project in the mountains and would really like to install my garden concept. Then he added, ‘Oh by the way, I just got a contract for eight episodes about the project with NatGeo to film my family building a castle.’
OTGN: What would you say to critics of the show who do not view Brent Sr. as a ‘real prepper?’
Austin: Brent Sr. is a staunch advocate for trying to get things done right. He has been a prepper for a long time and put a lot of thought into the design of the castle and all the projects necessary to fortifying the structure and making sure that the family could survive there after a doomsday scenario takes place. I saw photos of when he first put a hole in the ground at the castle. He really has a done a lot of research. He has truly done his homework. I think he is innovative, he was an engineer, he knows how to do the projects shown on the series. The kids on the other hand, they are typical kids and in a lot of ways I think they have all grown; not only from a family perspective but from a preparedness perspective as well.
OTGN: Did the Doomsday Castle family embrace the idea of a camo food forest easily?
Austin: It was interesting because Dawn Marie said, “Well it is going to be a lot of work,” and was shocked when Michael told her all we have to do is plant and then leave it be. She was like, of course you have to tend to the garden, they are a lot of work to get them to grow. A lot of shooting took place during just the short scene where I was helping Dawn Marie and Michael plant the camouflaged garden. During that scene we were walking down from the truck with plants to garden, that walking scene took an hour. It was the middle of day, in the blazing sun, and we were carrying heavy plants.
When I told her that Michael, who had just visited a secret garden of survival food forest was right, she was still skeptical but liked the idea of not needing to constantly tend the garden to get crops to grow. Michael didn’t really think gardening was manly work or was the best use of his skill set at first, but after the food forest tour, he got really excited about both the concept and providing food for his family.
The director would say, “Go back we need a different camera angle. Ok, now walk down again, no now wait a minute, I need a close up. Ok walk back.” My arms were just dying. When it all came together it looked great. That’s the nature of TV production I guess. A part of the food forest which was cut out of the final product talked about how the herb circle around the central fruit, berries and nut tree attracted predatory wasps, which in turn ate the “bad bugs” population. Dawn Marie totally understood the importance of the food forest formation, and aptly deemed it a defensive perimeter, and that is exactly what it is.
OTGN: What would you like viewers to know about the food forest that may have not made it into the episode?
Austin: I would have liked to have had more close-ups of fruit, a few, some shots of the grapes and apples especially. There was a lot more bountiful fruit everywhere, it just didn‘t all make it into the shooting frame. I go into great detail about the process from beginning to end in my book. I show a picture of eight or 10 plants growing in a 2-by-2 square foot space, it really highlights how much food you can grow in such a small area. The show focuses more on a perennial garden, which is also emphasized in the book. We do plant annuals like veggies, tomatoes, carrots, and potatoes, and other various other stuff. We do not plant in rows. We interplant them in each little guild or eco-system, that way they can take advantage of the shared protection and nutrients. This is the way nature has grown things for millions of years.
OTGN: When can we finally get a chance to read your next book, Secret Greenhouse of Survival?
Austin: In October. The Secret Greenhouse of Survival: How to Build a Camouflaged Greenhouse is the ultimate prepper greenhouse. It is camouflaged and can grow food year around – even citrus in cold climates if you build it right. I preheat our water with it; this can be really simply done. I ran 800 feet of black one-inch coil pipe around the top of the greenhouse. It holds bunches of gallons of water, gets hot, and at night we use the heat to get hot water. The greenhouse not only creates heat, but humidity as well. This is really good in cold climates where it can get uncomfortable and dry due to woodstove usage. I have a solar fan that runs only when the sun is out. It bleeds heat and humidity indoors. We incubate our ducks in the greenhouse in the winter. Rabbits could be in there as well, above the raised concrete beds, or even an indoor chicken cook added to the mix. I am growing coffee beans in my North Carolina mountains camouflaged greenhouse – I would rather use coffee to barter for something that I need than bullets.
Preparing for Child Birth In A Disaster Scenario
Also in this episode, a pregnant member of the Doomsday Castle clan visits the set with a mid-wife in tow. The girls might have gotten out of manual labor for a little while, but what their task lacked in physical requirements it surely made up for in sheer “yuck” factor. The mid-wife segment was highly educational, but it would be a good idea for viewers not to be eating a late dinner while watching the mid-wife pull her surprise out of the cooler. The girls, while grossed out a bit, took the advice from the woman who has helped deliver multitudes of babies in third world countries seriously. The off-the-grid child birth portion of the Doomsday Castle episode gives Ashley and her sisters a great idea for a challenge with the men during the final moments of the show.
Brent Sr. had this to say about the ongoing castle project at the beginning of the episode:
“Getting this castle ready for the End of Days has been a lot more challenging than I anticipated. Not just building it, but holding this family together. Finishing this castle and really preparing my kids for the End of Days, my kids just aren’t there yet.”
Brent II and Ashley Are Put In Charge Of A Very Important Task
Despite some misgivings, Brent Sr. allows Ashley and Brent II to take charge of the latest castle security project, and the son beams with pride when his dad gives than an A+ for ingenuity and effort. Wrangling five adult children who have not spent much time together in recent years (in some cases) under one bunker roof and expecting them to complete important and detailed tasks could not have been a simple endeavor.
A Healing Of Old Wounds
A touching moment between Brent and Brent II while the pair work on a castle protection project showcases the side of the patriarch I found so endearing during a recent interview. As Brent Sr. aptly notes during the heart-to-heart with his eldest son, the group is working on two major tasks – building an End of Days fortress and rebuilding their family ties. The adult children come together in this episode like viewers have not witnessed previously. While all the siblings do not hold hands and sing Kumbaya, they do resemble a family.
Doomsday Castle Predictions
If the third episode is a good indication of what is to come during the first season of the new NatGeo series, the approximately 3 million preppers in the United States might be a lot more pleased. As someone who is not a fan of reality shows, I could do without the fighting as well, and understand the criticisms of those who wanted to see far less of the fussing on the show. Living under one roof with my siblings while working grueling 18 hour days, six days a week, I can’t say that I would not have gotten snippy as well — especially when my brothers tried to tell me what to do. Brent Sr.’s brood is large, and the product of two families who had not spent a lot of time together as adults. It is clear to see they had some issues to work out. While there will likely be more tense moments among the siblings, the show also seems like it will focus more on showing the viewers how to accomplish potentially life-saving tasks in an off-the-grid location.