Homesteading and Survivalism

Living a simple life

Tag: potatoes

Starting Spring 2017 Garden

Starting Spring 2017 Garden
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The weather in early 2017 has been unseasonably warm, so I decided to go ahead and start the spring garden a few weeks early.  I usually do not plant until after the Ides of March.  With everything blooming out early and daytime highs hitting the low 80s, I decided to start planting in late February.

This garden will be special, as it uses decade old seeds.  I posted a video on youtube about stockpiling seeds and then shared the video on survivalistboards, twitter and reddit.  A couple of guys on reddit said made statements that seeds can not be saved.

One comment was,

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Almost Time To Plant Potatoes

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Around February 14th is usually when potatoes are planted, at least here in the south.  I missed the 14th but will be planting the week of February 20 – 24th.

On February 18, 2017 my finance and I went to Circle Three Feed in Jasper Texas.  I bought some chicken feed, bean seed, seed potatoes and some  mineral blocks to put around the deer feeders.

On Monday a front pushed through bringing a lot of rain to southeast Texas.  I also cut the potatoes on that day.  In the next few days I will be working up a spot to plant this years garden.

Cutting potatoes before planting

Cutting potatoes before planting

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.

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Storing potatoes

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How do you store potatoes?  So far this year the potato harvest has gone well.   I have probably gotten close to 3 bushels, and that has not even made a big dent in the garden.

If you had a shed or a barn, you could put down a layer of hay, layer of potatoes, layer of hay, layer of potatoes,,,, until all the potatoes are covered with hay.

Space the potatoes so that they are not stacked on top of each other.  The spacing allows airflow and will help prevent potato rot.

The layers of hay add a cushion between the potatoes and will help prevent rot.

  • Keep the potatoes out of direct sunlight.  It is ok to put them in the sun for a little while.  But do not leave potatoes in direct sunlight all day.  Sunlight releases a toxin in the potato, which will turn the potato green.
  • Be careful when harvesting potatoes as to not bruise them.
  • Do not wash the potatoes, just wipe the heavy dirt off.

Besides a shed or barn potatoes can also be stored in a bushel basket.

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Digging potatoes

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Nothing brings mankind closer to the earth than digging potatoes. There is a certain joy in working the soil, planting seeds, watching the plants grow, taking care of the plants, then harvesting the fruits of your labor. This is especially true with potatoes.

Digging potatoes like opening a present, you do not know what it is until you open the box. The same is true with potatoes. You do not know what is in the ground until you start digging.

There are other options besides digging potatoes by hand.

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Potato plants three weeks after planting

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Potato plant

The potatoes were planted March 1st. Here we are three weeks later and the potatoes are starting to break through the soil.  One of my favorite times after planting is seeing the first sprouts break through the top of the ground.

When the cuttings were planted they were not planted in a mound. The mound will be made as the plant grows.

A common question is how far down do you plant the seed potatoes? I usually plant them about 3 inches deep, or the width of your hand. With well drained sandy soil the potato sprout will have no problem pushing to the top of the soil.

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Planting potatoes for 2014 garden

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If you plan on gardening during a long term SHTF event, the potato is one of your best friends. Not only are potatoes easy to grow, but they also store well, are easy to cook with, and any remaining potatoes at the end of the year can be replanted for next years crop.

Unlike a lot of crops that require special storage, such as canning and/or drying, just keep potatoes dry and in a cool dark place and they will store for close to a year.

Small potatoes can be eaten straight out of the ground.  Larger ones can be baked, boiled, mashed, or made into a soup.

Potatoes grow well in loose soil free from rocks, sticks, tree roots and other obstructions. Work the soil with a tiller, plow, disk,,, something that will break the soil up. Make the rows, add fertilizer, I like to mix the fertilizer into the soil using a tiller, then plant the seed potatoes. Plant the seed potatoes about 3 inches deep and about 12 – 18 inches apart.

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What To Plant In The Spring 2013 Garden

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Spring time is just around the corner.  One more month until the potatoes go in the ground, and another two months until everything else is planted.

If you were to plant a SHTF survival garden, something that would produce a wide variety of food and nutrients, what would you plant?  We have already mentioned potatoes, so they should be a given.

Here are some of the crops I am considering planting this year.

Potatoes – already mentioned.

Snap beans

Spinach

Okra

Squash

Zucchini

Pinto beans

I want plant crops that not only provides a lot of nutrients, but food my wife and I can preserve and store.

Corn – corn is often named by survivalist as a main food crop.  Corn has a lot of uses, such as food for livestock, it can be dried, canned and made into cornbread.  But, corn also requires a lot of water and fertilizer.  Then there is the predation from raccoons, deed and other pest.

If you want to look at effort to output ratio, okra would probably be a better option then corn.

Corn is still iffy as to whether or not I am going to grow it.  I would like to grow some corn, its just not high on my list.

The main food producers I am looking at growing this spring and summer are squash, zucchini, snap beans, peas and okra.  I look for those crops to produce the most food from my garden.  But then again, time will tell if that estimate holds true.

Potatoes – if at all possible, I would love to grow enough potatoes to feed my wife and I for a whole year.

Without some kind of standard to go by, its going to be almost impossible to estimate how many potatoes we need to plant.

Estimating crop yield – something I need to work on is estimating some kind of crop yield.  Its going to be difficult to estimate crop yield when there are so many factors, such as water and fertilizer.

If I was going to try and estimate how much we needed to plant in order to survive a long term SHTF situation, it would be like shooting in the dark.

In 2011 my wife and I planted several rows of corn, potatoes and beans.  Due to the drought that year the garden was a total loss.

Not only do we need to grow enough for 1 year, we probably need to grow enough for 2 years.  Just in case there is a drought and a total crop failure like what we experienced in 2011 we would have something to fall back on.

This year I am going to try and keep record of how much we plant, and how much our yield is.  This would give us some kind of baseline record for later on.

Old style potato farming

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In no other form can so large an amount and value of human food be obtained from an acre of ground as in that of edible roots or tubers; and of these the Potato is by far the most acceptable, and in most general use. Our ancestors, it is settled, were destitute and ignorant of the Potato prior to the discovery of America, though Europe would now find it difficult to subsist her teeming millions without it. In travelling pretty widely over that continent, I cannot remember that I found, any considerable district in which the Potato was not cultivated, though Ireland, western England, and northern Switzerland, with a small portion of northern Italy, are impressed on my mind as the most addicted to the growth of this esculent.

Other roots are eaten occasionally, by way of variety, or as giving a relish to ordinary food; but the Potato alone forms part of the every day diet alike of prince and peasant. It is an almost indispensable ingredient of the feasts of Dives, while it is the cheapest and commonest resort for satiating or moderating the hunger of Lazarus. I recollect hearing my parents, fifty years ago, relate how, in their childhood and youth, the poor of New-England, when the grain-crop of that region was cut short, as it often was, were obliged to subsist through the following Winter mainly on Potatoes and Milk; and I then accorded to those unfortunates of the preceding generation a sympathy which I should now considerably abate, provided the Potatoes were of good quality.

Roasted Potatoes, seasoned with salt and butter and washed down with bounteous draughts of fresh buttermilk, used in those days to be the regular supper served up in farmers’ homes after a churning of cream into butter; and I have since eaten costly suppers that were not half so good.

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Potato Recipes

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Potatoes are one of the most valuable of vegetables. They are easy to grow, and will grow just about anywhere as long as the soil is workable and the area gets plenty of rainfall.

PARSLEY PIES

Mash and season with butter and salt half a dozen boiled white potatoes, add a little grated onion and chopped parsley.

Sift together in a bowl 1 cup of flour, 1 teaspoonful baking powder and a little salt.

Add a small quantity of milk to one egg if not enough liquid to mix into a soft dough.

Roll out like pie crust, handling as little as possible. Cut into small squares, fill with the potato mixture, turn opposite corners over and pinch together all around like small, three-cornered pies. Drop the small triangular pies into boiling, salted water a few minutes, or until they rise to top; then skim out and brown them in a pan containing a tablespoonful each of butter and lard.

Germans call these “Garden Birds.” Stale bread crumbs, browned in butter, may be sprinkled over these pies when served. Serve hot.

These are really pot pie or dumplings with potato filling.

BAKED POTATOES

All young housewives may not know “that there is more real food value in potatoes baked ‘in their jackets’ than is found in preparing this well-known tuber in any other way.” The secret of a good baked potato lies in having a hot oven, but not too hot.

Scrub good sized potatoes, or, for a change, they may be pared before baking, place in a hot oven, and bake about 45 minutes, when they should be a snowy, flaky mass inside the skins, palatable and wholesome. When fully baked they should fed soft to the touch when pressed.

Medium-sized potatoes, pared, cut in half lengthwise, and baked in a hot oven 25 to 40 minutes, until the outside of the potato is a light brown, make a pleasant change from boiled potatoes. When baked the proper length of time and served at once, the inside of potato should be light and flaky.

Serve rice or macaroni and omit potatoes from the bill of fare, especially in the spring of the year.

Potatoes should always be served as soon as baked, if possible. Potatoes may be baked in less than a half hour in a gas oven.

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POTATO BALLS

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Potato Balls

Boil until tender, 8 medium-sized (not pared) potatoes;

When quite cold remove parings and grate them; fry one finely-chopped onion in a little butter until a yellow-brown; add this, also 1 egg, to the potatoes, season with salt and pepper and add flour enough to mold into balls;

Use only flour enough to hold the mixture together.

The chopped onion may be omitted, and instead, brown small, dice-like pieces of bread in a little butter, shape dumplings into balls the size of walnuts, place a teaspoonful of the browned bread crumbs in the center of each and add also a little chopped parsley.

Drop the dumplings in salted boiling water and cook uncovered from 15 to 20 minutes.

When dumplings rise to the top they should be cooked sufficiently, when remove from kettle with a skimmer to a platter; cut dumplings in half and strew over them bread crumbs, browned in butter.

Designing a long term survival garden

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Lets say SHTF tomorrow, you break out your seed stockpile, till up some soil, and then what?  You plant your seeds and hopefully grow something.

The first year everything goes ok because you have some commercial fertilizer and get plenty of rainfall.  The second year does not go so well because you have depleted your fertilizer stockpile and there is a drought.

At this point yall are probably saying, “I will just do some composting and everything will be fine.”

This is the difference in survivalism as a theory and survivalism as an experience.

Where is that compost going to come from?  Do you have livestock so you have access to manure?  What kind of livestock do you have?  Do you have rabbits, chickens, goats, cow, horse,,, something else?  Or were you planning on obtaining livestock after SHTF?  Do you have a garden plot planned out, or were you going to bug out to the wilderness and plant your garden there?

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BEEF STEW

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1 lb. of meat from the neck, cross ribs, shin or knuckles

1 sliced onion

¾ cup carrots

½ cup turnips

1 cup potatoes

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

½ cup flour

1 quart water

Soak one-half of the meat, cut in small pieces, in the quart of water for one hour. Heat slowly to boiling point.

Season the other half of the meat with salt and pepper. Roll in flour. Brown in three tablespoons of fat with the onion. Add to the soaked meat, which has been brought to the boiling point. Cook one hour or until tender.

Add the vegetables, and flour mixed with half cup of cold water. Cook until vegetables are tender.

POTATO PANCAKES

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2 cups of chopped potato

½ cup milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

5 teaspoons of baking powder

2 cups of hot water

Parboil potatoes in the skins for fifteen minutes. Pare and chop fine or put through food chopper.

Mix potatoes, milk, eggs and salt.

Sift the flour and baking powder and stir into a smooth batter.

Thin with hot water as necessary.

Bake on a greased griddle.

POTATO PARKER HOUSE ROLLS

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½ cake yeast

1 cup milk (scalded)

1 teaspoon fat

3 tablespoons corn syrup (or 1 tablespoon sugar)

3½ cups flour

2 cups potato (mashed and hot)

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg

Dissolve yeast in milk (luke warm). Stir in dry ingredients.

Add potato and knead until smooth.

Let rise until light. Roll thin, fold over, bake until brown.

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