gardenerflintmi
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Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

Hi,
I'm trying to select what vegetables to plant in my garden,
I'm a "prepper", who believes that one day my supermarket might not have any food, and I will have to survive on my garden.
So, my garden is not to make a colorful salad at the dinner table, it's for when there is no other food source anywhere, and all I have to eat is what I can get from my garden, or from preserves I canned from my garden.
I'm trying not to use chemical fertilizers or insecticides, because those won't be available in a doomsday scenario.
I have a decent compost started, and I'll turn the topsoil of my garden before I start.
Ideally, my vegetables should have the following benefits:
* High yield vegetables (I want the most food for my buck)
* Easy to harvest and grow (I would hate to rely on my garden for food, only to lose the crop to bugs or bad weather. I live in Flint MI, so we don't get the best sunshine)
*Can be preserved or canned (this garden is not for salads, it's for survival, so I need to be able to preserve the crop for later)
* Gives seeds for next planting (on doomsday I can't run to the local nursery to get more seeds, so my vegetables must give me seeds to replant the next crop)
*Can be eaten alone, and supports health ( I don't want to plant onions or garlic, because they can't be eaten alone, without upset stomach)
I really appreciate your advice on what to plant!
I learned a hard lesson when I bought cheap seeds from walmart, I wasted so much time on worthless seeds!
Thank you

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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

Things I encourage preppers to have as crops and as skill-sets: grow potato, learn how to grow TPS* from your spuds. Build and know how to operate a root cellar.

Collect now and set out an orchard suitable to your zone, it should include both fruit trees and trees suitable as rootstock. Your orchard should also include 4 to 6 each of hazel-nut, carpathain walnut, hickory, and pecan.

Brambles-grape: can be collected post SHTF

Grains : Have a fairly large requirement of both seed stock, skill set, and real estate needs. Start on all three.

*TPS true potato seed is both a way to breed potato, and it is a way to escape spud born disease. Your potato should have this ability breed in. See Tom Wagner breeding efforts.

You can feed a family of four with a half acre of potato and a root cellar. And you can get your skill set on with a much smaller patch...
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

An orchard with 36 to 50 trees will give you an adequate supply of proteins, fats, and sugars, to both make life bearable, and leave you commodity to barter or put into livestock.

A half acre of potato can by itself feed a family of four.

Good selection of fruitwood and rootstocks should provide you also with a marketable biome of graftable
trees.
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

For me, beans would also need to be a staple - packed with nutrition, can be dried and stored long term, easy to replant and sustain. My long term goal is to be able to live off of my patch of land, wherever I may wind up. I don't consider myself a prepper (although it would not surprise me if things wind up such that supermarkets have no food...), but it seems like on paper, my growing, preserving, etc requirements to live off the land would be about the same. Whether my faith in there being readily available backup food is misplaced or not, it would give me the luxury (or illusion of) of growing onions, garlic, fancy salads and the like. I consider my current residence as my practice yard - hopefully I'll learn some stuff over the next few years, and when it's time to move I can scale up and apply what I've learned.

Best of luck!

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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

jal_ut (James) who does have experience living (pretty much) off his land always says that the most important things to grow as food sources are potatoes, corn, squash, beans. All of these can be canned or frozen, the beans can also be dried. All of them will give you seeds for next year (the corn and beans are the seeds, squash very readily grow from their seeds and even volunteer from your compost pile).

After that, I would say tomatoes, because they are so versatile in many foods, nutritious (anti-oxidants, vitamins, etc), and easy to can/freeze. Then I would put the onions and garlic back in. They are very healthy, with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects, and who wants to eat food with no flavor. You might not eat them alone, but they will make you enjoy everything else you grow a lot more. They are easy to dry and long keeping. Also they are very beneficial in your garden for repelling bad bugs from your crops and can be interplanted without taking up a lot of room.

I would put herbs on the list, because they are healthy and flavorful, easy to grow and don't take up much space (you don't need acres of herbs, just a row here and there), add flavor AND they help attract beneficial insects to your garden, which is very important if you are gardening organically. Basil, oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary are all good to grow and all but the basil are perennial will keep coming back and getting bigger, with no more effort on your part.
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

Ditto what everyone said. The best bang for the buck will be things you can eat fresh and freeze, can or dry for later.

Unless you are like James and have acres to play with, you may have to make choices about what gets you the best yields.

Beans are good since you can eat young shelling beans as string beans and dry the beans for storage later.
Tomatoes, and most root vegetables can be canned.

Corns, squash, melons, potatoes, zucchini, take up a lot of space, so it depends on how much space you have to dedicate to them and if you get enough yield for the space they take.

Spinach, cabbages, lettuce you can eat fresh.

Fruit trees are nice if you have the space for them. Most will give you one large crop a year.
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

One thing to think about in this scenario is where are you going to get all your vitamins and needed nutrients. That means you have to grow some dark green leafy veggies--kale, spinach, chard, collard greens, etc. They are sources of calcium, vitamin E, folate, vitamin K, Magnesium, Omega 3 fatty acids, potassium. Spinach is good in spring and fall but doesn't last long. I really recommend growing chard, which is the easiest, most productive thing in my garden and produces for the whole season.

Then you need to grow as good a variety of legumes as you can. This includes black beans, soy beans, fava beans, chick peas, kidney and lima beans. They are higher in protein than most veggies and are sources of Vitamin B6, calcium, iron, lycene, selenium, thiamine, zinc.

If you grow dark green leafy veggies, legumes, broccoli, tomatoes, bell peppers, you will have covered all your needed nutrients (except B12, which doesn't come from plant sources).
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

oh and probably sweet potatoes, winter squash or carrots for the Vitamin A.
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

Great advice here so far. Being of Cajun heritage, I'd have to add okra to that long list of crops. It is very disease resistant, drought tolerant, very productive, can be frozen, canned, pickled and just a handful of dried pods will give enough seeds to plant a large plot of it the next season.

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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

Hey! Great to see you posting gumbo! Looking forward to hearing about your garden. :D

I'm following this thread with great interest and love all the contributions so far. I don't think I have much to add ... Hmm... Maybe just that the variety/cultivar of the individual crops should not be hybrid but stable heirloom or open pollinated variety, AND several varieties of each should be planted and allowed to develop seeds with as well as without protection from cross pollination. The seeds will be as much an important harvest for future planting as the edible portions of the crop.

For vegetables that are typically propagated vegetatively like potatoes, TPS is an important alternative, but you would also need to learn how to preserve the root or other parts of the part to carry over from season to season, especially where the winter is too severe.

Some can simply be planted in fall like garlic, some (many herbs) are best cloned (rooted cuttings) during the previous season, but seeds should be collected as well. Very important to study•research•learn best ways to start and grow different plants.

Learning to graft fruit and other trees to rootstock -- referenced in some of the comments already -- is a skill. I'm still trying and find the results to be very much hit or miss.
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

It's funny that I have never grown potatoes, corn or dried beans. They are always available and cheap. Being from Indiana means a corn stand on every other block. These are cheap too purchase, take up too much room and don't really taste any better IMO. I do grow squash occasionally. I would always have chard growing. There is not much that is cut and come again packed with so many vitamins. Green beans will always be there and are easy to save seed. Tomatoes and peppers will always be on the list. I am just starting to experiment with napa cabbage and I always have lots of cucumbers. I will be experimenting with fermenting this year. There are a lot of variations with kimchi, pickles, green tomatoes, carrots....etc. With a brine you can ferment a lot of veggies to get you through the winter months and have different combinations for taste. Patches of herbs that re-seed would also be handy. If SHTH I would mainly rely on my hunting, fishing and gathering skills. The veggies would just compliment them and give us extra vitamins.

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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

Rairdog wrote:It's funny that I have never grown potatoes, corn or dried beans. They are always available and cheap...
Well, there you go. Food that stores easily and/or can be grown and harvested with machinery on large farms -- is cheap. Often, it isn't especially high in vitamins but simply carries a lot of calories. If the s doesn't htf, you are left with having put in a lot of labor with an investment of lots of resources for something that could have been cheaply purchased at harvest.

With large gardens, I still grow these things. Altho' it took quite a few years for me to get back to potatoes, I like to have varieties that aren't in the soopermarket (& have new potatoes with the peas ;)).

There was a guy who became one of the most important bean collectors in the US and all that started because he was interested to find Jacob's Cattle beans and prepare them the way he had them as a kid. That's a real tasty dry bean. I'd never eaten edamame until I grew my own soybeans.

When I was a kid, my job for the holidays was to make pumpkin pies. On the farm, we used a winter squash. I like baked squash and still grow and use them for pumpkin pie :).

About the best time of year for me is when I can have buttered sweet corn along with slices of cucumbers, sweet onion and beefsteak tomatoes, splashed with apple cider vinegar and sprinkled with salt and freshly ground pepper. If there are a few crackers and some cheddar cheese and a beer ..!

If you grow some sweet corn, it's easy to have a squash plant amongst them. You don't want to get things too crowded so the squash needs a few square feet on the south side. Pole beans on poles - rattlesnake pole beans are nice fresh and if you only take the early ones, the later mature bean seed will make outstanding chili. Those hottest of the hot peppers, don't need to take up much room to give you a colorful ristra to have in the kitchen through the winter.

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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

Here in the Great Southwest if you look at what the Native Americans did 1000 years ago, the staples for survival were corn, beans and squash, so I second that recommendation. You get such a bang for your buck, so to speak. That's great to know about the potatoes too. When you think that potatoes were the Irish staple since forever.
I lived for about 15 years near St. Johns, MI. That's a few miles west of Flint. We grew anything and everything in abundance. We hardly ever bought anything from the grocery store. Everything (except tropical stuff) worked and the sizes of the vegetables were crazy. So, lots of choices. You may not get as much direct sunshine as I do here in AZ now, but you get longer days because of higher latitude. No problem there!
Out here we have to water regularly too; back in MI we rarely, if ever, watered.

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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

As a nurse you made me start thinking that after a natural disaster I would be in charge of my family's health so I took to google and these and the most accessible and useful herbs and roots that seem to grow easily.

Ginger- anti nausea, antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant properties. Also used for digestion and migraines. Noted it had 40 confirmed pharmacological actions.

Garlic- eating 1-2 cloves a day...reduces inflammation, boots immune function, improves cardiovascular health, improves cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, active ingredients are lost 1hr after chopping fyi

Ginseng root- lowers blood glucose levels, lowers cholesterol, increases resistance to disease, treats lack of appetite and insomnia

Chinese yam- states it is easy to grow in well drained, fertile soil and sun. Good for loss of appetite, tiredness, poor digestion, diarrhea, asthma, cough, diabetes, externally for ulcers and boils, leaves are good for snake bites and scorpion stings

Sage- external-insect bites, skin infections, cuts, burns. internal-reduces inflammation, aids digestion and reduces diarrhea, fights colds, relieves cramps, helps with depression and anxiety

Feverfew- make in a tea to treat arthritis, migraines and fevers. Apply externally for swelling. Add to a bath for swollen feet.

Lemon balm- rub on skin for mosquito repellant, sores, gout and insect bites. Mix with water for colds, fevers, depression and headaches

Peppermint- boots immune system. Helps with cough, asthma, colds, allergies, decongestant and to help clear respiratory tract. Also noted irritable bowel syndrome and gas relief.

I would love a section on the forum for medicinal plants and herbs. I see so many supplements at the store that are common plants people can grow at their house. I have recently imbraced putting ginger in my homemade smoothies.
This is a small list compiled from only 3 websites. If really interested I would research holistic medicine websites. But growing these especially the roots would sustain a family's health after the zombie apocalypse lol
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

Very nice post nunez. We do have an Herbs Forum.

Other suggestions for good herbs to grow include

chamomile - relaxing/ calming, helps with sleep

echinacea (purple coneflower) - builds immune system, fights colds and infections

lavender - relaxing/ calming, aids digestion, antiseptic when applied to cuts and bruises

marigold - Good for sunburn, acne, and blemishes, also soothes ulcers and digestive problems.

sage - it's scientific name is Salvia officinalis. Salvia is the same root as salvation and means healing and the officinalis is a designation that it was included in the official roster of healing herbs, in the days before antibiotics, etc. Good for coughs, colds, infections

Thyme - antiseptic, coughs, colds

Many of these are also culinary herbs that will help make the other things you grow more flavorful and enjoyable AND most of them are really good to have in your garden, attract bees and other pollinators and beneficial insects and repel bad bugs from your plants. AND beautiful. Humans do not live by bread alone! :)
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

And we haven't even started on beneficial weeds, that you shouldn't have to cultivate, just watch for and let them thrive. Wiki has a really nice article on them here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_beneficial_weeds

I will just mention a few of my favorites:

Clover - bees love it and it is a nitrogen fixer that improves the fertility of your soil
Dandelion - attractive to beneficial insects and its long tap root pulls up minerals and nutrients from deep soil that aren't otherwise accessible, so it is great in your compost pile
Purslane - one of the best edible weeds with tons of nutrient value
Lambs quarters - aka wild spinach, similar to purslane, very edible weed with lots of nutrients
Plantain - make a poultice of slightly chewed plantain leaves and apply it to bee stings, small cuts and bruises and it absolutely takes the pain right out.
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

Aloe vera - For burns and also packed with nutrients so can serve as food as well. Probably the best and easiest plant to cure burns.

Some of my other fav you mentioned already.
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

So flintMI, you've gotten tons of thoughtful and practical responses. Are you reading any of this? Any reaction?
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

rainbowgardener wrote:So flintMI, you've gotten tons of thoughtful and practical responses. Are you reading any of this? Any reaction?
The OP made a single post. and has made no replies. Probably of more import, has not returned to even look in on his post.

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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

In the spirit of talking to myself.

Establishing a working nursery as part of the post-apocalypse homestead, needs a working source for the feet of grafted fruit trees and a selection of top wood.

Now I'm not feeling all that post-SHTF, but I do intend to make grafted trees for the daughter's campground and wisteria. If I already had a working orchard, I could simply broadcast some pomace (the dry squeezings of cider) and let those apple babies germinate for rootstock. I don't have an orchard in my pocket.

So-o-o I'm growing out new apple-baby feet from antonovka seed. They will be where the roots hit the road for upcoming projects.

Our prepper will need this order of prior action if s/he is to start over. A good working nursery probably also needs a working root cellar. But that is another chapter...
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

Am a little guilty of thread necromancy. Found this via a link in another thread.

Interesting thread on a sustainable and self sufficient garden crops.

Conclusion first, before you stop reading....

Besides, True Potato Seed (TPS hence forth) what else can you plant quickly now in the spring, leave unattended, ignored and hope it doesn't get scavenged before you get back to it in the fall and expect to find some food and be able to stash some seeds for next spring?


Am guessing SHTH is about the same as SHTF. Google didn't clarify much.

This is actually a fairly popular topic in some parts of Anthro after you get away from the folks competing for tenure and grant money and those collecting PhD's to justify their arrogance.

IF the big catastrophe does happen, the big question comes down to how bad will it be and how far back in human history with we need to go to not become extinct. (Personally, my bet is on a homo habilis-like skill set.) Then again, it doesn't really matter much since there is only one outcome for a J-curve population growth.

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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

Re: "what else can you plant quickly now in the spring, leave unattended, ignored and hope it doesn't get scavenged before you get back to it in the fall and expect to find some food and be able to stash some seeds for next spring?"

As noted, potatoes are really good for that... they grow quietly underground, so are less likely to be scavenged. I would think the same would be true of carrots and other root crops. Carrots are biennial, so you wouldn't get seed the first year. But you can leave a couple to go to seed. After that you may have carrot volunteers coming back on their own.

After that maybe winter squash. The hard shells don't rot too easily and the squash are often a bit hidden under the foliage.

I leave some of everything to go to seed in place, hoping for volunteers to come back. Right now I have volunteer potatoes, tomatoes and pepper in my garden and sometimes the lettuce comes back.
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

if you can get away with it. I would also grow hemp. the seeds are good for oil and can be eaten whole. they also store easily. the stalks can make rope and fiber for clothing. and the drug variety has many medicinal uses.

if things get really bad I doubt what is growing in your garden will be very high on law enforcement's priority list.

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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

Okay, most root veggies make sense. I can kind of see winter squash and company working.

I am wondering about stuff that would do well with a late nomadic hunter/gather mentality - right before you leave, push the seeds back into the ground and come back next year.

What does well with limited soil prep (rip up the weeds and indigenous growth, soften the ground with a digging stick) mulch and move on? Would be a benefit if they could be planted as individual plants or very small groups in a pattern over a large area as to not attract attention form other people or animals and insects.
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

I guess you are not going to worry about marauders that may "harvest" them before you get back?

We are not talking about fruit trees and nut trees which are more obvious choices, asparagus and other perennial vegetables.... Can't we add strawberries or bramble fruits?

I'm thinking sweet potatoes if you live in hot long growing season areas -- instead of seeds, poke started slips in the ground. Melons and beans.... some kale and other brassica leafy greens will self-seed -- actually any in the mustard family -- radish, Asian greens, arugula, etc. so do lettuce, escarole , and celery, parsley, and Swiss chard definitely (some of these are biennial though).

Perpetual onions.... garlic, and leeks, too, basically.
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

Corn, beans, squash and potatoes, what I call the big 4, are the plants that give us the calories we need. Yes, calories, fuel for the furnace. Without fuel the fire goes out. The other garden plants are mostly for color and flavor, but most don't give us the calories.
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

In a post apocalyptic world, would the air be breathable, the water clean, and would the land be arable?
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

imafan26 wrote:In a post apocalyptic world, would the air be breathable, the water clean, and would the land be arable?
My sister, at 65 years old, is looking into prepper, SHTF, EM pulse or whatever they call it, and the Mormon way of having a years supply of food stocked up.

I tell her that six jars of marshmallow fluff are not generally survival food. I've also told her if she won't eat dark meat on a supermarket chicken, then she's not likely to eat squirrel or snake.

One of my interests is permaculture. (Oh, and my sister won't eat the mulberries from her yard.) One issue that may face folks in a somewhat survivable post-apocalyptic world would be the lawlessness and violence. There are foods that most people don't recognize. Marauders may steal your apples, but they will overlook your pine nuts, acorns, cattail, smilax, dandelion,
grape leaves and so many other common foods.

If I were interested in surviving any post apocalyptic situation (and I'm not) I would stud areas near me with persimmons, hickory, maples, crabapples, duck potato, and whatever else I could easily and surreptitiously slip into the landscape.

There's a lot of good advice and, dare I say, food for thought in this thread.

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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

Ha! I was thinking similar lines of thought, and in line with edible forage rainbowgardener mentioned, too. First step would be to train yourself to RECOGNIZE food when you see it. (and corollary, recognize NOT food and TOXIC non-food....)

But to imafan's doom-filled comment, I guess you'll want to be located where it is least likely to sustain damage (wherever that is), and at least try to build up the land and soil diversity and fertility, have the plants already growing and reproducing seeds.

I want to add mushrooms to the list.
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

imafan26 wrote:In a post apocalyptic world, would the air be breathable, the water clean, and would the land be arable?
If they are not, we probably won't know and there is no need to worry about it.
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

thanrose wrote: I tell her that six jars of marshmallow fluff are not generally survival food.
Depends on how you define Survival, doesn't it? :lol:
thanrose wrote: ... Marauders may steal your apples, but they will overlook your pine nuts, acorns, cattail, smilax, dandelion,
grape leaves and so many other common foods.

If I were interested in surviving any post apocalyptic situation (and I'm not) I would stud areas near me with persimmons, hickory, maples, crabapples, duck potato, and whatever else I could easily and surreptitiously slip into the landscape.
Very true statement, I think.
__
At least I have an experiment for next spring. There is a little meadow a few hundred yards on in the woods here, with a small trickle of a brook that is wet year round. Once I get the garden in, am going to go out with some potatoes and carrot seeds, find a rock, make a digging stick, rip out the existing plants and roots, turn the soil, plant, mulch and watch to find out what happens.

Anyone have a link or suggestions on True Potato Seeds?
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digitS'
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

True Potato Seeds
Only about 30 months since spring of 2015 but, yet again, I had winter squash on the south side of the corn and rattlesnake beans in one north corner of the garden this season.

It's been nearly 50 years since I built a log cabin and planted a large garden, nearby. Nearly 50 years since I left that lonely venue. Nearly 50 years of almost continuous gardening since but I would like to have gardening and food close at hand, these days. I'm not sure how long or with what enthusiasm I would live life without the trappings of civilization and would much prefer to have my marginal, agricultural existence with a human community than otherwise.

Don't send me back to my ancestors' time but constant attention was probably not given The 3 Sisters Gardens. Subsistence farmers often live at some distance from their fields and gardens. It usually has to do with village livestock, their adequate fencing, and suitable ground for agriculture.

I found that beans for drying, winter squash and flour corn were the best 3 sisters for my garden. However, we don't eat all that much dry beans and, while exceptionally tasty, cornbread from our own flour corn was a bit of a bother :). Leaving that corner of the garden worked out well. The squash did well at suppressing the weeds. Poles for the pole beans worked better than having them weigh down the corn and irrigation is really necessary. It wasn't as tho the sisters could be left entirely on their own, here - at least.

More hands-on gardening is more fun for me. I think that if I was just trying to "happen on" a food supply, it would make more sense locally if that was of a hunting enterprise. However, to imagine that wildlife could sustain much human life is almost as nonsensical as thinking human life can be sustained without regard to nature.

Steve
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

Thanks for the link.
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

We have one too, though it's still a bit experimental for those of us who tried it.
Subject: TPS True Potato Seeds

I think Joseph posted in it and around here generally for a bit -- I say familiarly though I don't know him... (but we all know his Dad :wink: ). He sounds like he is doing amazing work and advances in some of the stuff I merely dabble and generally fail or make slow progress. (Sadly my potato growing successes have been one step forward, two steps back -- partly I think I don't give them enough attention, partly they also get the tomato pests and diseases and sometimes with worse symptoms... and I grow way too many tomatoes :roll: ).

So I'm glad digitS posted his link. :-()
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

Btw, my "take" on tomatoes in this discussion? If you narrow down your tomato varieties to only the best performing OP and Heirloom varieties -- don't just grow Heirlooms, they are inbred -- then all your volunteers will start being reasonably edible to superb tasting, and good performers, even those that have been accidentally bee-crossed.

If you insist on growing hybrids and eating store-bought hybrids and putting the scraps and viable seeds in the compost, etc. then you will end up with undesirable genetic throwback and other characteristics that people talk about, when discussing saved seeds from hybrids. ...Just MHO.
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

digitS' wrote:True Potato Seeds

I think that if I was just trying to "happen on" a food supply, it would make more sense locally if that was of a hunting enterprise. However, to imagine that wildlife could sustain much human life is almost as nonsensical as thinking human life can be sustained without regard to nature.

Steve
Yeah, for sure. Maybe a quarter century ago, I was on a mailing list for people interested in homesteading or related things. When people read through the list and discovered they were mowing down stuff in their yards that could have been eaten, I offered a few suggestions. A couple of the folks were fascinated and wanted to live off the land, so to speak. Another few just wanted to decrease their supermarket expenditures. None of them were prepared to really learn the local flora edibility and utility. Some of them who tried some of the spring wild greens were surprised that dandelions were bitter or that leeches inhabited the same water as duck potatoes. Or that coquina clams could not be eaten on the half-shell.

While I have had entirely foraged meals as a fun sort of experiment, it's hard to dissuade someone who thinks they can give up shopping at Whole Foods. Once in a while you can gather enough of an item or two for a family to eat, much as you might land a stringer of panfish, but generally foraging does not provide your meals for the month. Dumpster Diving could, but not foraging unless you are ready to eat nothing but salmon and berries while avoiding the bears coming out of hibernation.

So if you stack the deck with scattered fruit and nut trees, with shrubs and vines and grasses, you can supplement your food stores. Just don't watch survival reality TV as your source on wild food gathering. Even some of the experts will mess up and completely overlook a few of the resources around them.

Ideally, we would be looking for a spring fed water source, varied terrain with forest and meadow of at least 10 acres, but ten times that would be better. With interspersed permaculture food plants somewhat disguised by the surrounding woods and a few scattered intentional plantings of sweet potatoes, brassicas, cucurbits, and beans and more, you might have enough to feed a family. If no one stumbles across it or sets fire to it.

There are plenty of folk who do the hunter-gatherer thing without realizing it. They pick ramps and morels and fiddleheads, then blueberries and cherries, then apples and crabapples, in wild places they've discovered while out hunting or fishing. While I haven't done it lately, I know roughly where a number of wild edible things and even some old crops regrowing in fallow fields can be found. I don't think we have one of those urban forager lists for my area, the ones where people put in the location of an abundant yield of cherries over an alley or the unkempt grape arbor at an abandoned church. I may be too sour on people, but I think if I were to publicly list some of these places others would screw it up. Like I know where someone has planted papayas in a public park. Out of the way, of course, but subject to park officials ripping them out.

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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

I think I have to agree with the eat the weeds philosophy. I think as a 'prepper' you might want to try to save seeds of as many plants as you can.

I think in a post apocalyptic world while it would be nice to have tomatoes, the less pampered and prolific things would provide a better food source.
Sweet potatoes and beans. For me it would be the tropical spinach NZ hot weather spinach, amaranth, swamp cabbage would be fast growing, high yielding. Some would need a lot of water and some can handle heat. Herbs would probably make it, most are not demanding of soil or water. While I love mushrooms for their flavor, they don't have a lot of nutrition, but it might be on my list for foraging as would grasses. I remember seeing a picture of a woman in Korea eating grass during the wartime, many people survived on grass, weeds and whatever they could find. They could not grow anything during the war and had to forage.
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

Thanks for all the great ideas. I'm going to read through all of this and take some notes, see how I might up my game a little.

But I have to say, I am interested in increasing my general self-sufficiency in terms of skills and ability to feed ourselves. But if it is going to get really bad with marauding gangs and all that, I'm not a fighter. I do think the best resource we can have for what ever kind of hard times might be coming is tight communities, where people have strong bonds and lots of sharing and mutual support. No amount of money will get you through (remember post WWI Germany with hyper-inflation and people bringing a wheelbarrow of cash to buy bread?). No amount of stored stuff is any guarantee (floods, mold, those marauding gangs, etc etc). Only your ties to other decent human beings...
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

Some more food for thought, even if it is a little off topic:

How long would it take you to pass the "Boots and Pockets Test" with fire?

Take off your boots and socks, empty your pockets, go outside and start a fire.
("Empty you pockets" = No matches, lighters, magnesium, fire strikers..., no knife.... i.e. in a pair of jeans and a tee shirt.)

After that, try to generate 1 quart of clean, safe drinking water under the same conditions.
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Re: Best "Prepper" Vegetables to grow?

Preppers hoard but think if they hoard enough, they will be living the life of Riley after an apocalypse. I think that is where they are wrong. The survivors will need skills and they will have to work hard to survive. Usually what happens to civilizations when they start to collapse is that they start warring with nearby communities trying to take what they have and having to defend their own. Cooperation is usually not on the menu, but really is what will be needed for all to survive. "No man is an island unto himself" is quite true. In the end we would all need to work together to rebuild. Gardens don't grow if there is one farmer and a lot of raiders. Foraging will probably be what most people will have to do. So instead of thinking like a farmer, you need to think more like a forager. What will grow with very little care. What weeds can you eat, where would you look for food. What seeds would you save that would have the best chance to survive and thrive in a harsh environment? We probably would want to save the seeds of the things we like to eat, but they may not be the survivors. Time to think out of the box at wild foods like wild berries, roots, and leaves.
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