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.
Rotation helps to maintain or increase the plant food in the surface soil. When crops like cowpeas or clover which take mineral food from the subsoil and nitrogen from the air, are plowed under, they give up the plant food in their leaves, stems and upper roots to the surface soil, and thus help to maintain or increase fertility.
Lets say that some kind of long term SHTF / TEOTWAWKI survival situation happens. Whether its war, food shortages, some kind of new disease,,, something happens to disrupt modern society. What food group would you want to have stockpiled?
Fresh picked spinach and snap beans
Instead of saying what single food would be the most important to stockpile, lets look at it from a “food group” point of view. The fact is, there is no single perfect food. Humans are omnivores, meaning we are designed to eat a wide range of food.
Man can not live on bread alone, nor can we live on meat alone.
Lets look at four factors in selecting our food group
History – how long has mankind used the food group.
Ease of growing – how easy is the plant to grow. We should be looking at long term survival factors.
Production – how much food does the plant produce.
Storage – how easy is the plant to store.
For the past 7,000 years or so mankind has moved from the hunter-gather lifestyle, to a farmer-gardener. What plants have sustained mankind? We have greens (radishes, turnips,,etc.), squash, zucchini, corn, okra, wheat, beans and peas, watermelons, various grains, fruit trees, potatoes,, only to name a few.
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.
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.
Lets talk about food production during some kind of long term SHTF situation. Whether its nuclear war, some kind of new disease, climate change,,,,, combination of several things, there might come a point in time when you have to grow your own food. So what kind of seeds should you stockpile for some kind of long term SHTF situation? Lets break it down to 3 categories – short term storage, mid term storage, long term storage.
Short term storage foods – these are the foods that need to be eaten within a few days to a couple of weeks of being harvested. This is going to include most of your leafy greens, radishes, cucumbers, broccoli, spinach, summer squash and zucchini.
Beans and peas are a good example of short term and long term foods. We will get into storing peas and beans later in the article. For snap beans, they can be picked, boiled and eaten right after their harvested.
One of the benefits of beans – they do not require extra nitrogen to be added to the spoil. Throw some manure and pot ash down, and the beans will supply their own nitrogen.
Leafy greens do not make good warm – hot weather crops, bugs love them. I have seen bugs wipe out several rows of greens in a matter of 1 or 2 days.
Turnips and radishes are easy to grow, but will need to be eaten within a few days of being harvested.
Cucumbers can stay good for several days, to maybe a week or so after being harvested. Cucumbers have certain “issues” that may not make them good for a long term post SHTF situation – they like lots of water and they require lots of nitrogen. So unless you have some kind of organic high nitrogen fertilizer available, and lots of water, cucumbers may not be a good choice.
Okra is a good quality high producing plant, but you have to cook or boil the okra pods before their edible. One of the problems with okra, their a hot weather plant that likes lots of water. If you live in a cool region, okra may not be a good plant for you.
It 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.
Here is a video from 2010 about planting a community garden.
One 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:
1st layer – the frozen food in your freezer. If kept cold, this might be able to supply most families with 3 – 5 days worth of food. The thing is, stand up freezers do not stay cold without electricity. Once an upright unit is opened a few times, all the cold air is gone. Chest freezers stay colder longer, and have some good quality ice chest on hand, like a 5 or 7 day coleman extreme.
2nd layer – MREs or eversafe meals. 1 case of MREs should be enough food for 1 person for about 6 days. Each case has 12 meals in it – eating 2 MREs daily should give 6 days worth of food.
3rd layer – is your canned and dried foods.
4th layer – is your long term survival food supply – your livestock and or garden.
I would rather have 4 – 6 months of food stockpiled, and enough seeds for 2 or 3 years worth of gardens, and that stockpile requires little rotation. Then to stockpile 12 months of food, and have to dedicate a lot of time and effort into keeping that food rotated.
The 13 hens my wife and I have are laying between 6 – 10 eggs everyday. Eggs will be a good source of protein and fat during a long term SHTF situation.
The only real solution to long term survival is having livestock and a garden. So why not make the garden and livestock part of your plans to start with? To me, stockpiling food is a short term solution to a long term problem. Having several months of food stockpiled is a great idea, but it only addresses part of the problem. To address the “whole” problem, and to have a well rounded solution, then there must be a start and finish point.
Starting point – to have stockpiled food for an instant solution.
Ending point – to have a self-sustaining farm with livestock and 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 – 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.
Care must be taken when picking the beans and peas. If you pull too hard, part of the plant may break off. Sometimes I like to use scissors to cut the pea / bean pod off, so that the rest of the plant is not damaged.
Snap Beans are a high producing plant, the more you pick it, the more it produces. While you might get just a couple of pickings from purple hull or silver skin crowder peas.
My pea and bean stockpile contains maybe 4 or 5 different types of seeds – mainly purple hull pink eyes and about 3 different types of snap beans.
There are 2 different types of bean plants – runners and bush.
Bush beans – and we are not talking about the canned “Bush baked beans” either. These are bean plants that form a bush and do not form a vine.
Runners also called climbing beans – do just as their name implies, the vine climbs stuff. A lot of times people will plant their beans and corn together. The beans will supply the corn with nitrogen and the corn will give the bean vines something to climb on. Other people may plant their bean vines close to a fence so that the vines have something to climb on.
Personally, I like bush beans. Even though you have to dig through the bush to find the beans, it seems like you can plant more bush beans then you can runners in the same amount of space.
Fertilizer – when adding commercial fertilizer to peas and beans, try not to add add a lot of nitrogen. Use a well balanced fertilizer like 10-10-10 or 13-13-13. In most cases beans and peas do not need a lot of nitrogen, adding high nitrogen content fertilizer like 21-0-0 or 16-6-12 is a no, no. The exception might be if the soil is nitrogen deficient; but the only way to know that is if you have a soil test done.
Tomatoes– one of the the topics I love and hate at the same time. If you see some tomato seed at the local store – go ahead and buy some. If nothing else, you can say you have some tomato seed stocked up.
Tomatoes are rich in nutrients, they can be eaten raw, and their easy to preserve in jars.
One of the problems with tomatoes – the bugs love them as much as your do. When the tomatoes start to ripen, if their not picked before they turn red, the bugs will have a field day. So pick the tomato right when you see a little bit of red on it, and then put it on a window seal to finish ripening.
Tomatoes do well in a slow release organic fertilizer, like in rabbit, cow or horse manure. Some of my best results with tomatoes have been from either horse manure or miracle grow organic potting soil, and some 13-13-13 fertilizer. One year I spread a bunch of dried horse manure in a raised bead, mixed in some 13-13-13 and I had more tomatoes then my family and I could eat.
One of my favorite types of tomatoes has to be the Grape Tomato – these are bite sized tomatoes that go well with just about anything, kids like them, their a high producing plant and their supposed to be an open-pollinated / heirloom tomato.
On each branch of the grape tomato plant there might be 8 – 12 grape tomatoes. In other words, when it comes time to pick the grape tomatoes, your going to get hand fulls of them.
Tomatoes are pretty easy to transplant. Meaning they can be sprouted in a green house, and then transplanted outside after the last frost has passed. This lets people get a head start on the growing season.
Video about some tomatoes I planted in May of 2010.
This video was posted back in 2008. Its kinda blurry – sorry about that. I did not know how to use the video editing software enough to make the videos turn out any better. Shortly after this video was posted on youtube, I finally figured out the editing software and the video quality improved.
Spinach – maybe one of the best seeds that a survivalist can stockpile, and maybe one of the best plant choices.
Spinach is a relative easy crop to grow, the only “real” fertilizer requirement is nitrogen. So any kind of slow release organic fertilizer will be good – horse, cow, rabbit or chicken manure. I wont hurt to mix in some nitrogen fertilizer when you have it on hand, such as 21-0-0.
Spinach is a high producing plant – you cut the leaves off with a pair of scissors and the plant will produce more leaves.
Spinach can be eaten raw or cooked. This means you do not have to use precious fuel cooking / boiling the spinach before its eaten. However, its always good to cook your food to kill any bacteria that might be growing on the leaves.
Spinach does not take up a lot of room, its not like the plants grow 3 feet wide. This means that a lot of food can be planted in a small amount of space. This makes it a great choice for patio gardeners and other urban dwellers.
Plant the seeds about 1/2 inch deep and about 3 – 4 inches apart. Rows should be spaced 2 feet apart – or as much room as needed to walk between the rows.
Spinach does not need a “lot” of water, average needs are around 12 inches of rainfall during the growing season.
After cutting the leaves, extra fertilizer may need to be spread to ensure further leaf production.
Spinach likes a cool season with day time temps reaching the 70 and night time temps getting into the 40s. Which makes it ideal for fall or early spring planting.
Lets talk about stockpiling seeds and the value of having the ability to plant a survival garden. Stockpiling food – dried rice, beans, canned goods – is fine and dandy, but that is a none renewable resource. When you eat that can of beans, are you going to plant the can, and maybe it will sprout a canned bean plant, for you to pick more cans off of? I don’t think do.
Stockpiling food provides a family with a limited food source.
Having a garden can provide an unlimited source of food.
2,000+ years ago, did the Romans and Egyptians have canned foods and mylar bags? Nope, they raised what they wanted to eat. What about the Greeks and the Chinese, did they have mylar bags full of rice and beans? Nope, they raised what they ate.
There is nothing wrong with stockpiling food. It appears to me that a lot of survivalist put more focus on stockpiling a limited food source, then on learning how to develop an unlimited food source.
Types of seeds to stockpile:
Corn – maybe one of the most versatile crops grown today. The kernels can be ground to make a type of flour, or they can be dried for long term storage. Corn can be ground or fed whole to all kinds of livestock – cows, chickens, pigs,,,,,,.
One of the problems with corn, wildlife love to eat as much as humans to. Deer will eat the young sprouts, and raccoons will bend the stalks over to get to the ears. Corn also has its fair share of pest, like the Corn Earworm, grasshopper, Armyworm and the Wireworm.
Corn requires a lot of nitrogen fertilizer and water to grow properly. Some types of corn may require as much as 20 – 35 inches of rain fall during the growing season.
When buying corn seed, be aware that there are a lot of hybrid corn types on the market. So adjust your seed buying to match the types of corn best suited for your area. A lot of survivalist get on this “you must buy open pollinated / heirloom seeds.” Being able to save the seeds does have its advantages, but having corn that will grow in you area is more important. When it comes to drought, disease or pest, certain types of hybrid corn will grow better then heirloom. The best thing to do is to make a trip to the local feed and fertilizer store and talk to them about what are the best types of corn for your area.
My personal corn stockpile contains about 2 – 3 pounds of different types of corn seed. The seeds are bundled in 1/2 pound bags, and each bag contains a certain type of seed. I have stockpiled both hybrid and heirloom seeds.
There was a line in 28 Days Later that got me to thinking. Its after the group leaves the city and finds their way to the house controlled by the soldiers. The commanding officer takes Jim (played by Cillian Murphy) into a courtyard where an infected soldier is chained up.
The commanding officer tells the Jim that the infected soldier provides a lot of information. Jim says something along the lines of “what does he tell you?” The commanding officer explains that the infected solider will never raise crops, he will never raise livestock, he will never bake bread, he has no future. And eventually, he will tell me how long the infected take to starve to death.”
This brings up the question, post SHTF, how many people will “have no future”?
How many people will be unable to raise crops,
How many people will be unable to raise livestock,
How many people will be unable to hunt,
How many people will be unable to bake bread,
How many people will be able to adapt to a new lifestyle,
One of my favorite quotes is – “utilize available resources to achieve a desired goal.”
Resource – Pumpkin seeds from pumpkins bought for Halloween.
Desired Goal – stockpile seeds for a survival garden.
Wash the seeds to remove any pumpkin residue – to help prevent mold growth. Then let them dry for a week or 2, put them in a paper bag, and put the seeds in the freezer. Be sure to mark the date on the paper bag.
You may want to do a sprout test – take 10 seeds, get a cookie sheet, put a hand towel on the cookie sheet, put the 10 seeds down, cover with towel, and pour some water over the towel. Keep the towel wet for about 5 days, and see how many seeds sprout.
However – due to evaporation, the towels might stay cool. If the temperature of the water and towels is say below 70 degrees the seeds may not sprout. So keep them in a warm place. Doing a sprout test only works if you can keep the towels and water warm enough to fool the seeds into thinking its spring time.
I keep my seeds in a plastic tub, which is kept in the deep freezer.
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.
Old flower beds – if you have some old flower beds around the house, plant something there. Stuff like radishes, onions, peppers and garlic are easy to grow.
If you have a fence between your house and the neighbors house, use it to grow stuff like cucumbers.
Instead of planting that do not produce fruit, plant fig or pear trees. Both can be used to make jelly or preserves.
If you have a community breezeway that runs behind your house, plant some fruit trees there – just don’t tell anyone, its called Guerrilla gardening.
If you know someone that owns some land, ask them about letting you plant a small garden. My mom and dad let my cousin plant a 40 foot by 100 garden on their land, but they have 25 acres.
Snap beans, peppers, tomatoes, peas, corn and cucumbers (only to name a few) can be preserved in jars. If you have some extra money, invest into some Ball brand jars and a pressure cooker. Be sure to read the directions and follow the safety guidelines on those pressure cookers. The old ones had a reputation of going “boom” – but the new ones are pretty safe to use.
There is a discussion on the forum about the best survival crop. In other words, if you were going to stockpile seeds, what type of seed would you focus on. Or if you were going to grow 1 crop, what would it be? Some of the suggestions in the thread were – corn, beans, peas, greens, peppers, bell peppers, potatoes,,,,,,.
In my opinion, one of the best seeds to stock up on are greens:
The whole plant is edible – roots and tops, so nothing goes to waste, except for spinach.
The plant does not need to be cooked – but it helps.
The leafy green top and the root provides different nutrients.
The problem is, people with heart conditions should not eat a lot of greens. The plants contain a lot of Vitamin K, which thickens blood. For people on blood thinners, this could pose a problem.
Greens can grow in just about any climate – but they prefer cool weather. In warm weather, bugs might eat the greens up before you get a chance to.
Greens are also good to feed to livestock. One Roman historian noted that greens prevent famine in both man and livestock. On a county road just south of Jasper, Texas, there is a certain person that raises greens and sells them out of his field. Towards the end of the growing season, he will turn his cows loose in the fields, so they can feast on any unsold greens. There is an added benefit, as the cows refine the greens and drop fertilizer back on the soil in the shape of manure. The manure is then tilled into the soil for next seasons crop of whatever he grows.