Homesteading and Survivalism

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Farm update beans figs and potatoes

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The season of plenty is upon us. On Saturday June 14, 2014 the grandkids, my wife and I dug 4 1/2 bushels of potatoes, beans are doing good, fig trees have figs on them.

Here in southeast Texas we had an unusually cold and wet winter. We got snow 4 times this year. One of the storms blanketed the farm with 3 inches of snow.

Around 1964 there was a storm that dumped 2 feet of snow in southeast Texas. My dad remembered having to get the chickens out of the snow and put them in the chicken house for the night.  Nobody I talked to remembers a winter like what we experienced here in Southeast Texas in 2013 – 2014.

Because of the cold wet weather I postponed planting potatoes for a couple of weeks. Instead of planting in mid-February we planted in early March. This meant the potatoes would be ready to dig later. Instead of mid-late May, the potatoes were ready in early-mid June.

Potatoes

One good thing about digging potatoes in early June, the grandkids are out of school. The grandkids get to experience growing their own food first hand.  There is something about getting dirty and finding potatoes kids love. Digging potatoes is kinda like Christmas. Instead of opening a present Christmas morning, kids get to dig in the dirt.

Three half bushels of potatoes

Three and a half bushels of potatoes

Digging potatoes teaches children several life lessons

  • Where food comes from: Our society is disconnected from our food supply. We need to get back to basics.  We need to teach our children and grandchildren food comes from the ground and not from the grocery store.
  • How much work goes into raising food:  Most people go to the grocery store, buy food and do never give a second thought to the person who worked to raise the food.
  • Appreciate nature: A question we need to ask ourselves, what kind of world are we leaving to our kids, grandkids and great grandkids? Children need to be taught to appreciate nature early in life so they can carry those values with them for the rest of their lives.
  • Pass on knowledge: Farming, gardening, homesteading is becoming a lost art. We need to keep those values and knowledge alive and pass them down to the next generation.

Now it is a matter of storing the potatoes.

My pressure canner is supposed to be here Tuesday June 17th.

The rest of the potatoes will be stored in baskets. My wife and I cleared out some room in a spare bedroom, the potatoes will be stored there. Hopefully next years potato harvest will stored in my new barn.

Beans, beans and more beans

If you are looking for the best food crop for a long term SHTF event, look no further than the bean. This years bean harvest has been bountiful, to say the least.

When picking beans one must be careful not to damage the runner or the plant. Children get rough when pulling bean pods, sometimes pulling the bean plant out of the ground.

My wife and I are storing beans three different ways:

  • In the freezer
  • String them up in a shed to dry
  • Canning

This year we planted Roma II snap beans and Contender bush bean. I do not know the history of Roma II snap beans, but my grandmother used to raise Contender bush beans when my kid was a child. The Contender is a time tested and proven classic bean.

The Roma II produces a flat pod while the while the Contender produces a round pod. The Contender is like what you see in a can of green beans.

Contender bush bean

Contender bush bean

On both the Roma II and the Contender the pods hang from the bottom of the plant.

The pods should be picked often as they will weigh the plant down. When the pods come into contact with the ground they will start to rot.

Depending on weather, rain, soil temperature and other conditions, Roma II and Contender should start producing 50 – 60 days after planting.

Fig trees

This past spring my nephew, his wife, their son and my grandkids planted 3 fig trees.  A few weeks later I planted a 4th fig tree.

One of the fig trees we got half price at the local Lowes store.  It had wilted and lost all of its leaves.  My wife and I picked it up, asked for a discount, the checker gave us half off.  We brought it home, planted it, made sure it was kept watered, and the tree came back.  To look it now you would never know it was just a few days from dying.

Here in southeast Texas we are having dry periods that last a week or so.  During these dry periods I have been watering the fig trees about 1 1/2 gallons – 2 gallons every other day.  Let’s just say when figs started sprouting I was overjoyed.

Figs starting to sprout

Figs starting to sprout

My grandmother had a fig tree in her chicken yard. So from an early age I was eating figs straight off the tree. My grandmother did not want us eating the figs. I think she either wanted to make preserves or feed the figs to the chickens. That fig tree died several years after my grandmother passed away. I miss that tree and her very much.

If you like fresh fruit, there is nothing better than eating a fig straight from the tree.

Conclusion

Things are going well. The chickens are doing good, the potatoes have produced enough that hopefully my wife and I will not have to buy any potatoes for several months.

The fig trees are taking root and sprouting new leaves and figs.

Beans are producing enough my wife and I should be able to put up a bunch of jars.

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Kevin Felts was born and raised in southeast Texas, graduated from Bridge City high school Bridge City Texas, and attended Lamar College in Port Arthur Texas. Hobbies include fishing, hiking, hunting, blogging, sharing his politically incorrect opinion, video blogging on youtube, survivalism and spending time with his family. In his free time you may find Kevin working around the farm, building something, or tending to the livestock

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