Rural Lifestyle

Life in Rural America

Tag: survival garden

Life After SHTF: Moving Food From Farm To Market

Bowl of okra and peppers grown as part of a survival garden

For this article we are going to take an exert from the book “Life in a Medieval City” by Frances and Joseph Gies. We are looking at chapter 3, a Medieval Housewife, pages 47 and 48. Last paragraph of page 47 talks about how the housewife shops for food on a daily basis. She would go to the market, divided into different groups, then shop for a variety of food.

There are several lessons to learn from this example.

Since there was no way to preserve food for a period of time, gathering food was done on a daily basis, and was seasonal. Food was grown locally, harvested, then brought to the market almost daily. How else do we think the housewife shopped for food daily?

Someone had to organize transportation for the food to go from the farm to the market. Today we call those people “middlemen.” The middleman organizes and communicates between the merchants and the farmers.

After a SHTF event we could probably expect this same type of organization to become reestablished. Chances are people who have horses and wagons will divide up rural farms into routes, very much like what the United States Post Office does. Rather than numerous middlemen going to the same farm, middlemen would divide up the farms and have established routes. This would allow the middlemen to develop relationships with the farmers.

Planning a Fall / Winter SHTF Survival Garden

Turnip as part of a survival garden

Let’s take a few minutes and talk about planning a fall and winter survival garden after SHTF. There are a number of variables in planning a fall or winter survival garden, such as location and growing season.

In the southern part of the United States we have a long growing season. Depending on location, we may not have our first frost until late November or early December. Sometimes we may not have a frost until mid to late December.

The northern portion of the United States has a rather short growing season.

Due to the various lengths of the growing seasons, first and last frost, please adjust the dates listed in this article to your geographical location.

The fall and winter survival garden will be divided into two sections:

  • Fall
  • Winter

The difference between the two? First heavy frost will kill the fall crops, while the winter crops will survive until the most severe cold weather sets in. An example would be the difference between acorn squash and turnips greens.

Fall Survival Garden

Why Won’t Your Garden Plants Produce?

Bushel of potatoes

You planted a garden, but it did not produce. The plants may have grown nice and large, but they did not produce anything. What could be wrong?

The simple answer is – Plants need certain certain types of fertilizer depending on what they produce. Using the wrong fertilizer may cause the plant to grow large, but may not produce.

What brought this topic up? I posted a video talking about how to pick out seed potatoes. Ethical Preparedness asked a question about growing potatoes..

If the reader does not subscribe to Ethical Preparedness YouTube channel, get over there and subscribe. He makes some excellent videos.

People prepping for a long term collapse, or just a backyard gardener should understand how certain nutrients affect the garden.

Everything written here is from memory.

Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potash

Survivalist: Starting a Seed Stockpile

Stockpiling Garden Seeds

Local farm supply stores are getting their summer seed shipments in. If any survivalist are looking to start a seed stockpile, or add to their current stockpile, now is the time.

The key is to buy your seeds early. If you wait too long, certain types of see will be sold out. Take corn for example. It is not uncommon for farming supply stores to sell out of their corn seed pretty quick.

There are also issues with seed shortages. This does not happen all the time, but it does happen from time to time. There may be issues with suppliers having shortages of certain types of seeds.

For example, several years ago there was a shortage in pickling cucumber seeds. The shortage did not affect me as I had a lot of them in my stockpile.

How would a survivalist go about starting a seed stockpile?

Buying Seeds

Crop Rotation

Rotation of crops economizes the natural plant food of the soil and also that which is applied in the form of manure and fertilizer. This is because:

Crops take food from the soil in different amounts and different proportions.

Crops differ in their feeding powers.

Crops differ in the extent and depth to which they send their roots into the soil in search of food and water.

Crops differ in the time of year at which they make their best growths.

Rotation helps to maintain or improve the texture of the soil because the amount of humus in the soil is maintained or increased by turning under green manure and cover crops which should occur in every well-planned rotation.

Raised bed cucumbers squash and lettuce

Example of a raised bed garden with cucumbers, squash, lettuce, squash and zucchini. I would like to thank Awakeaware1016 over at the forum for post posting this video and thread.

My suggestions

The green onions, lettuce and cucumbers are ok to plant together – all of them have a high nitrogen requirement.

Looks like you will run out of room with the squash. Allow at least 2 – 3 feet on each side of the squash plants for growth. With the right soil and fertilizer, those squash plants are going to get pretty big.

Squash needs a well balanced fertilizer, such as 13-13-13.

The raised bed is nice. What I suggest, next year build a raised bed based on fertilizer requirements.

Lettuce, onions and cucumbers go in one bed – all of them can use high nitrogen fertilizer, such as 21-0-0 or something like 16-6-12.

Tomatoes, squash and zucchini would go in the second bed – all of them use a balanced fertilizer, such as a slow release mature and something like 13-13-13.

Just about anything with large leafs is going to need more nitrogen then say tomatoes.

Keep this in mind when you plant your garden, lets take 13-13-13 as an example.

first 13 – nitrogen, promotes stalk and leaf production, such as corn, greens and spinach

second 13 – phosphate, promotes root production, such as potatoes

third 13 – potash, promotes pod production, such as peas, beans, squash.

Cucumbers require nitrogen to prevent them from getting a pointy end.

Looks like your project is off to a good start and keep up the good work.

Post your comments in this forum thread – My victory garden and first YouTube video 2012

2011 garden plans

snap beans survivalist gardenIt looks like the drought of 2010 killed off some of my young peach trees, so those will have to be replaced. Currently I have 1 nice sized plum tree, and 3 or 4 peach trees. At least 2 of the peach trees will have to be replaced. Instead of replanting both peach trees, I’am probably going to plant 1 more plum tree. That will give my 2 plum trees and maybe 4 peach trees.

One of the peach trees that I planted last year looks good, so its going to be pruned to make room for more branch development.

2 of the pear trees need to be pruned – the limbs are a little long and almost hang to the ground when loaded with pears.

All of the trees need to be fertilized.

As for the home garden – I think I’am going to plant some cucumbers, tomatoes, peas,,, and I really want to plant some okra this year. Okra is a warm weather crop. Here in east Texas, Okra can no be planted until around May.

We will probably plant a community garden this year,,,, but just where the garden will be planted I do not know. Where we planted the garden last year, the guy who lives next to the garden let his dogs run through it.

Thoughts on stockpiling food for SHTF

eversafe meal mre survivalist foodOne of the survivalist mindsets that has been around for a long time, is that you need 1 years worth of food stockpiled; that you should have 1 years worth of food for every member in the house. If someone has the time and money to manage such a project, then good for you. But personally, I do not have the room, money, or time to put towards maintaining a 1 year food stockpile. Its no easy project to maintain all of that food without letting it expire or spoil. Expiration dates need to be kept along with a running inventory. If you eat out of your food stocks to keep everything rotated, then list will need to be kept as to what was eaten and what needs to be replaced.

I never have been one that subscribed to the “massive stockpiling of food” mindset. Stockpile food – yes. But not to the point where rotating your food and keeping track of inventory consumes a lot of your time. Over the years I have seen people that have dedicated a massive amount of time to their food stockpile – everything from calorie counting, to spreadsheets that list every single little item.

My plans are more like stockpile what you eat, and have normal food rotation. Instead of having 1 or 2 jars of pickles, have 3 jars. Instead of having 2 or 3 cans of ravioli, have 4 or 5. Instead of having 10 pounds of rice, have 30 pounds, instead of having 1 jar of honey, keep 2 or 3 in stock.

On top of that, I keep a nice stockpile of seeds for gardening.

I look at survivalist food preps as layers:

Growing Cucumbers

cucumber survivalist garden

Cucumbers – contain very little nutritional content, require lots of nitrogen and are not very drought tolerant. But on the plus side, certain types are high producers. There are a lot of hybrid cucumber seeds on the market. So when buying your seed be sure to be aware of what your buying hybrid or heirloom.

Not drought tolerant – cucumber roots run just under the ground. When the top of the soil dries out, the cucumber leaves may start to wilt. Allowing the leaves to wilt may stunt the growth of the plant.

Nitrogen – cucumbers LOVE nitrogen. Without it, the cucumber does not form properly and will be pointed on the end.

My personal cucumber seed stockpile includes 2 types – the pickling cucumber and the straight 8.

Pickling cucumber – is a high producing plant and makes a cucumber maybe 3 – 4 inches long. Despite its name, the Pickling cucumber does not have to be “pickled”, it can be eaten just like it is. But its small size makes it an ideal cucumber for Pickling. Pickling cucumber are an heirloom types, meaning the seeds can be saved and used in next years garden. Just 1 or 2 of these cucumbers makes a good side dish for a meal.

Straight 8 – makes a larger cucumber then the Pickling cucumber, and grows to about 8 inches long. Thus the name, Straight 8. The Straight 8 is an heirloom type cucumber so that the seeds can be saved from year to year.

Peas and Snap Beans For SHTF

snap beans

Since peas and beans are so much alike, lets just group them together. In fact, there are debates saying that peas and beans are the same thing. I personally divide peas and beans into 2 groups – one you eat whole (snap beans) and one you shell to get the bean/pea out of the inside and eat it instead of eating the husk.

Peas and beans return nitrogen into the soil, so that makes them good for crop rotation. Before you plant a high nitrogen requirement crop, such as corn, plant some beans or peas at the same time, or the season before the you plant the corn.

One of the problems with peas and beans – wildlife love it. Deer and rabbits will eat the bean / pea plants down to nothing but a stub sticking out of the ground. To protect the bean and pea plants, plant some squash or zucchini with them.

The pea / bean plants will provide the squash plants with nitrogen, and the squash plants will help protect the pea plants from deer. The squash and zucchini plants have little “hairs” on the stalks that the deer do not like.

Peas and beans are a good long term storage food crop. The old timers used to run a needle and thread through the pod, and hang it up to dry. Thus the name “string beans”. When it comes time to eat the beans, pull them off the string and boil until ready to eat.

Are you ready to plant a garden

Are you ready to plant a garden? If not, why not? On Tuesday October 5, 2010 by Time magazine posted an article saying that Wal-mart had to roll back its rollbacks. As a result, food prices have jumped to a 2 year high. Add to that the Russian failed fall wheat crops, that has pushed wheat to a 22 month high.

Producing your own food is one of the easiest ways to off-load some financial strain. If your having problems paying your house note, electric bill, insurance, buying clothes, internet bill, cell phone bill,,,,,,,, something has to give. If you and your family are running on a shoe string budget, sooner or later that string is going to break. When that happens, financial disaster can set in.

Raised bed gardens – do not take any special equipment – just get some landscaping timbers, or old cross ties and build some raised beds. Find someone with rabbits, get some manure, and use that instead of potting soil. Rabbit manure makes great fertilizer and it can be cheaper then potting soil.

Squash as a Survivalist Food Source After SHTF

Yellow summer squash

Squash is one of the better choices for any garden. Its pest resistant, easy to grow, and the harvested squash can be cooked in a variety of ways. It can be fried, baked, grilled, or just eaten raw.

There are several reasons why squash should be favored by survivalist – can be eaten raw, it’s high in nutrients, can be cooked, and some types of squash can be stored for several months. The squash is in the melon family and can develop a hard outer skin. The squash should be harvested when it is in an immature stage. If the squash is left on the plant too long, the skin and the seeds will harden, making it undesirable to eat. Squash plants can grow to be about 3 feet tall and 3 – 4 feet across.

The squash is not what you might called a “high production plant”, but it does produce more then once. In this picture we can see several small “squash” starting to grow on the vine. The squash plant produces a vine, but not a long one. This “vine” may grow to be just a few feet long. The center vine of the squash plant in the picture may be about 18 inches long.

Stockpiling SHTF Survival Garden Seeds

snap beans potatoes survival garden

Every survivalist should have seeds stockpiled for a survival garden. The first questions is, why would anyone need a “survival garden?” During extended wide spread disasters, food production and shipments might get disrupted. Most grocery stores only have a few days worth of supplies in their warehouse. When the panic buying kicks in, those stocks could be wiped out in a matter of hours.

In the days before a hurricane makes landfall, local grocery stores are cleaned out. There is no reason to think the same thing will not happen if there is an outbreak of some kind of new disease, or some kind of other world wide event.

During outbreaks of the plague in the middle ages, starvation was a serious issue. As farmers were dying off, and the merchants died off, there was nobody to raise the food or ship it to the cities. People who live in an urban environment, and who depend on the grocery store for their food – they especially need to take home gardening very seriously.

How to Harvest Home Grown Potatoes

Bushel of potatoes

Once the tops of the potato plants start to die it is time to harvest the potatoes, Which is usually about 3 or 4 months after planting. To harvest the potatoes, pull the top of the potato plant up and then dig the dirt up around the plant.

The potatoes will be easy to damage, so dig up with care. Try not to use tools such as shovels as they can damage the potato.

Some people use cloth gardening gloves to help protect their hands from injury (from debris in the dirt) and to prevent getting dirt under their finger nails.

One way to quickly harvest the potatoes is to run a plow down the middle of the row. This will roll the dirt up and bring the potatoes to the surface.

After the potatoes have been Harvested, store them in a cool dry place. Some people will put down a bed of straw, layer of potatoes, layer of straw, layer of potatoes. When they need the potatoes, dig through the straw and dig some out.

Growing Zucchini As Part of a Survivalist Garden

Fresh zucchini from a backyard garden

Zucchini is a small summer squash and a member of the melon / gourd family. It has an outer skin that can harden if left on the plant for too long – kinda like a watermelon or pumpkin. The immature fruit are best when picked at about 6 inches in length. Zucchini can be yellow, green or light green. It can be compared to a cucumber is shape, with the Zucchini being a little slimmer then an average cucumber when ready to harvest.

When getting ready to plant the seeds, soak the seeds between two wet towels about about 3 – 5 days. The seeds that sprout should be planted, the seeds that have not sprouted can be discarded.

While the seeds are soaking, the ground should be worked and prepared for the seeds.

Fertilizer For Zucchini

Zucchini requires a balanced fertilizer such as 13-13-13. Try not to use straight nitrogen such as 21-0-0, as you might get a large plant that produces little food. For prolonged production, add some organic fertilizer to the mix, such as mulch, pot ash, compost or manure.

Kevin Felts © 2008 - 2018