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.
After the video was posted on youtube logos2600 asked a very good and important question.
The only plants I noticed that had decent calories were melons and beans – I don’t think you could survive off vegetables that are mostly water or plant fiber whether or not they have vitamins and minerals. What fruits and vegetables do you recommend for the backbone of a survivalist diet to provide calories and protein?
I divide my seed stocks based on several categories. Besides nutrients, the other considerations are how fast does the food spoil? Because of the spoilage, crops are divided into 2 categories – must be eaten right away, or within a couple of weeks. And crops that can be stored for more then 1 month.
Some Things to Consider:
Season that the plant can be grown
Nutrients the plant contains
Fertilizer to production and nutrient ratio
Water requirements compared to local rainfall
Maturity rate – how fast does the plant grow
Feed for livestock?
Cucumbers have high water requirements. Their roots are close to the ground. Any lack of rain fall can affect the plant. Cucumber have high nitrogen requirements. If the plant does not get enough nitrogen, the cucumbers will get pointed on the end and their growth will be stunted.Cucumber have few nutrients and they are concentrated in the skin. If the outer skin is removed, the cucumber looses just about all of its nutrients.
Cucumbers must be eaten within a week or so after their picked. So they can not be stored.
Because of all of these factors, cucumbers are way back on the list. Lets say that there was a list of the top 10 plants you should stock up seeds for. Cucumbers would be around number 9 or 10. They make a good snack, are high producers can be used as a filler at meals.
End of example
Lets take a look at history:
Pecan trees – because pecans can be stored for months
Rutabaga, Turnips and other greens
All of those kept our ancestors from starving to death. It was noted in Rome that greens (like turnips) kept man and beast from starving to death. Farmers would grow greens to feed their family, and to feed to their livestock – cows, horses, goats,,,,. But if you tried to feed a squash plant to the livestock, they will not eat it – except maybe the goats.
Peas were dried and imported into Rome over 2,000 years ago. Corn can be dried and will stay good for months. Watermelons can be stored for weeks and used to be shipped from Africa to Rome over 2,000 years ago. Potatoes and onions can be stored for months. Pecans can be stored for several weeks, maybe a couple of months.
Being able to dry and store crops kept our ancestors alive through the winter months. So this must be an important consideration for us as well.
Because greens have multiple uses – most of the time you can eat the whole plant. Which includes the root ball and leafy green tops, and because they can be fed to livestock – they are first on my list. If livestock is not a concern, then greens may not be at the top of your list. And some people just do not like the taste of radishes, mustard or turnip greens
1. Radish – mature in about 30 days. In good conditions, at 15 days after planting you should be able to thin the rows out. Which means you pull some of the sprouts up to give the root balls room to develop. The sprouts that you pull up, they can be eaten.
Because the radish can be eaten as soon as 2 weeks after planting, to me its the first and last resort choice.
[U]Nutrients in Radishes for every 100 grams:[/U]
Nutrient ————- Recommended daily allowance
Thiamine (Vit. B1) —— 1%
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) —— 3%
Niacin (Vit. B3)———- 2%
Pantothenic acid (B5) — 3%
Vitamin B6 ————- 5%
Folate (Vit. B9) ——– 6%
Vitamin C ————– 25%
Calcium —————- 3%
Iron ——————- 3%
Magnesium ————- 3%
Phosphorus ————- 3%
Potassium ————– 5%
Zinc ——————- 3%
2 & 3. Turnips and Rutabaga – Produce a large leafy top and a large root ball. The rutabaga is probably the larger of the 2 plants. But, the Rutabaga takes about 30 to 45 days longer to mature then the turnip. Both plants can be eaten so nothing goes to waste. These plants do well in cool weather, so they are a good early spring or fall crop.
Nutrients in Turnips for every 100 grams uncooked and raw:
Nutrient ————- Recommended daily allowance
Carbohydrates ——— 4.4 g
Vitamin A ————– 42%
Folate (Vit. B9) ——– 30%
Vitamin C ————– 45%
Vitamin K ————– 350%
Calcium —————- 14%
Notice the Vitamin K content on Turnips. People with certain heart conditions should not eat plants that have a high vitamin K content. If you have a heart condition, consult your doctor before eating plants that have a lot of vitamin K in them.
4 & 5. Yellow Squash and Zucchini – Disease and pest resistant, wildlife usually will not eat either of these 2 plants. The large leaves provide shade for smaller plants such as peas and protection from wildlife such as deer.
Do not plant Squash and Zucchini next to each other. They will cross pollinate and the harvested seeds will produce a hybrid plant that will be sterile. Thank you Bogdan for that information.
The Squash plant will take about 45 days to mature to where it will start producing food. Once the production starts, the squash will need to be picked every 2 – 3 days. The plant also likes hot weather.
If your garden space is limited, plant either Squash or Zucchini, but not both at the same time.
Squash is divided into 2 groups – summer and winter. Meaning that this crop can be grown just about all year.
Summer Squash – zucchini, straight neck and crook neck. I personally like straight neck.
Winter Squash – acorn, buttercup, butternut,,, those are only 3 of the over 2 dozen different types of winter squash.
Nutrients in summer squash for every 100 grams uncooked and raw:
Nutrient ————- Recommended daily allowance
manganese ———— 19.00%
magnesium ———— 10.8%
vitamin A IU ———– 10.33%
vitamin C ————– 16.5%
potassium ————- 9.87%
copper —————– 9.5%
folate ——————- 9%
vitamin K ————– 7.88%
phosphorus ———— 7%
vitamin B6 ————- 6%
thiamin – B1 ———– 5.33%
2 & 3 VS 4 & 5 on my list: The Squash and Zucchini are high producers, pest resistant, easy to grow, high in nutrients and certain types of squash can be grown just about all year long.
The only reason why Squash and Zucchini are not numbers 2 & 3 is because you can not eat the whole plant. Nor do livestock like to eat the leaves.
In my opinion, the squash and zucchini have a higher cost to gain ratio then the greens. The greens can be eaten at any phase of development, while you have to wait for the squash and zucchini plant to mature and then start producing food.
With the radishes – you can start eating them about 15 days after planting, but they will be very small. The whole plant will be ready to harvest at about 30 days. With the squash and zucchini its going to be at least 45 days before the plant starts producing.
Then there is the size of the seeds. You can plant a dozen or 2 dozen turnip plants for the same amount of space taken up by one Squash seed. That is a purple top turnip seed and a crooked neck squash seed. Given a certain amount of storage capacity, you can stockpile 10X – 20X the amount of turnip seeds then you can store squash and zucchini seeds.
Then there is the size of the seeds. A couple of dozen turnip seeds can be stored in the same amount of space taken up by one Squash seed. That is a purple top turnip seed and a crooked neck squash seed. Given a certain amount of storage capacity, you can stockpile 10X – 20X the amount of turnip seeds then you can store squash and zucchini seeds.
Notice a pattern here?: If you have not noticed the pattern yet, none of those foods require cooking. All of the plants in my top 5 do not require cooking of any kind.
When I first started working on this list years ago, there were certain requirements for the plants in my top 5. It was through the guidelines I set for myself and real world experience that I decided on those as my top five.
6. Beans and Peas – These include snap beans and peas such as purple hull pink eye. The difference is – snap beans you pick when they are immature, boil and serve. Or wait until they are mature like peas, harvest, shell, boil and serve.
Ok, your probably asking “why” am I recommending something that you have to cook? The peas can be dried, and eaten through the winter.
Beans and Peas have a low nitrogen requirement. If you do not have any kind of fertilizer except for ashes from a fire, that that will do just fine for peas.
7. Potatoes and onions – Underground root crops that are easy to grow, easy to store and have good nutritional content.
The problem is, seed potatoes are usually cut off of potatoes you already have. So if there is some kind of wide spread disaster, and you have some potatoes – do not eat them. Save them and plant them at the proper time.
Onions on the other hand, you can stockpile onion seed with no problem.
Immature onions can be diced up and added to salads or eaten straight.
8. Corn – Used by mankind of thousands of years. But, corn has a high nitrogen requirement and wildlife loves it. Coons will climb up the corn stalk and take the ears and deer will eat the corn stalks when the first sprout.
The corn can be harvested, dried, stored and eaten through the winter.
9. Cucumbers – high producers, high nitrogen requirement, not very drought tolerant, but can be pickled and stored for a long time.
Cucumbers make good side dishes and can be used as snacks. Production can easily exceed demand. So the extra could be given away to friends and neighbors.
10. Peppers – All kind and all types. You can save the seeds from most peppers, so these are an excellent choice for spices. Some peppers like the banana pepper are mild and can be eaten straight off the bush. Bell peppers are good for spices or for making stuffed bell peppers.
Peppers are supposed to be a good source of vitamin C.
11. Melons – Watermelons and cantaloupes. Takes 90 – 120 days to mature. Not too many people want to dedicate 3 – 4 months to a crop.
The rind can be pickled and stored for months.
12. Okra – hot weather crop that needs a lot of water. Pods must be boiled or fried before they can be eaten. But the pods can also be pickled and stored.
Okra is a high production crop. With the right conditions production will exceed demand – meaning that just a few plants will produce more then what you and your family can eat.
I have personally seen 2 rows of Okra, each 100 feet long, fill up a 5 gallon bucket every 2 – 3 days.
The only reason why okra is not in the top 10, it has to be cooked or pickled before you can eat it.
Growing okra is a labor of love. The plants have “hairs” on them that will make you itch. And for some reason fire ants like something in the blooms of the plants. Its very possible to be picking okra and get fire ants on your hands and arms.
When you pick okra, wear a long sleeve shirt and watch out for ants.
13. Broccoli, cabbage and spinach – And since we already have greens listed as number 1, 2 and 3, these are moved back a little bit.
Its my personal opinion that all three of them deserve a place in the top 10. But how do you “really” put a number on how important a plant is?
14. Carrots – Why not, just for the fun of it. Their good raw or in stews, maybe cook them with a roast.
15. Pumpkins – And not for Halloween. Look for the sugar and I think the other type is called field pumpkins.
Tomatoes – not on my list. It gets so hot here in Texas that the growing season is short and bugs love them. And there are so many hybrids on the market, I do not want to waste my time saving seeds that are going to be sterile.
Fruit Trees – Lets not forget about the fruit trees that yall should have been planting. But that is a whole other post.
Conclusion: I’am tired of typing, but there is my “list”.
I fully understand that not everyone is going to agree. The types of plants are going to need to be adjusted due to location, climate,,,, other factors.
And, that list is going to change due to the seasons. Just because I said zucchini is #4 or #5, that does not mean I’am gonna plant it in the middle of winter.
This list is just my opinion on some of the important plants and types of seed that should be included in your seed stockpile.