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Growing and storing food

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posted on Jul, 17 2009 @ 10:45 AM
With the current economic times, people are thinking about growing and storing their own food. People also want to prepare for the worst as well. I believe that current practice is key to later competence. I am not an Extension Agent, but I appreciate this little-known resource.

For those that have not yet started, now is a good time to prepare for next year, for those of us in the northern hemisphere. The first step is knowledge. In the US, I would suggest that you contact your local Agricultural Extension Agent, or the equivalent. (I am sure that other countries have something like this, but I am not familiar with those organizations.) Your local Extension Agent is a wealth of knowledge. He can help you take a soil sample to tell you what your garden soil needs. He can teach you how to plant, what to plant, and how to care for your crops. Many Extension offices offer classes and sponsor clubs. You can learn about composting to improve your soil. Seminars on pests and beneficial insects may be available. You may be able to learn about modern methods of insect and disease control, as well as organic methods.

Once the crop is in, Extension can help you learn how to storage methods, such as canning.

Even if you live in an urban area, there will still be an Extension Agent. They are generally affiliated with your state Agricultural University, so they have access to a great amount of information and research.

If you are not gardening currently, now is a good time to prepare for next year. You can select an area for your garden and begin to prepare. Break up the soil and have a sample tested. In the fall, a cover crop may be planted. This cover crop will be turned over in the late winter to as a green manure to improve the soil and your yields for next year. Taking classes, meeting with gardeners in your area that can show you what they are doing, starting a small composting operation, all of these things will help you out next year.

Next post will be on available literature for 'simple' gardening.

posted on Jul, 18 2009 @ 11:46 PM
As promised, this post will focus on literature available on simple farming. I define simple farming in two ways. First, farming that does not rely upon large amounts of modern machinery and chemicals. In a survival situation, these may not be readily available, would make one a little too obvious, or would make the individual/group dependent upon outside suppliers. The second definition points toward those who need to ground themselves in growing (no pun intended) now, so that they may develop those skills most useful in the former.

A couple of years ago, I discovered a wonderful publication, SMALL FARMER'S JOURNAL. It is a quarterly. Before I began subscribing, I purchased it at the Barnes and Noble, so it is available on the rack. It caters to the sort of agriculture that was most seen in the time of WWII and prior. There are good articles on the use of draft animals, and essentially 'pre-technology' farming. Each issue is filled with advertisements for books, heirloom seeds, as well as the tools and equipment needed.

Not to mods: I do not work for SFJ, and believe that it is a very useful tool to the subject at hand. However, if the paragraph above is too 'commercial', please delete it with my apologies. I do not want to run afoul of the T&C. Thank you

A quick word on heirloom seeds, if you are looking for a survival garden, particularly post-SHTF, you should have a stock of non-hybrid seeds. For those that are not familiar, hybrids are very useful in gardening, and in agriculture as a whole. They generally provide superior yields, as well as disease resistance. However, there will also be an issue with the seeds of your crop being 'true'. In other words, the seeds from your hybrid crop may be sterile, or they may not produce the same, palatable crop. An heirloom seed is a non-hybrid variety that should produce the same crop generation after generation. Learn to properly save seed now. Also, determine which varieties best suit your area.

A search of the net produced some WWII era Victory Garden literature that also includes information on home canning. The Ball State site also has further literature on local Civil Defense of the same period that may be of interest to others as well.

Victory Gardens Handbook

Home Canning of Fruits, Vegetables and Meats

Root Vegetables in Wartime Meals

Vegetable Gardening in Wartime

Checking out Used bookstores for farming and gardening books from the 1940's and earlier can also be a good source of information as well. Particularly, these will discuss specific heirloom varieties, and can help you to choose. They will also discuss methods of disease and insect management that may be of use. Do be aware, however, that many of the chemicals used during that period for insect control can be nasty, lead arsenate, and Paris Green, to name two. These are toxic, but they are poisons, after all.

I hope that these two posts are of value to someone. Anyone else, who has other ideas, sources, or sees where I really screwed up, please feel free to chime in.


posted on Jul, 20 2009 @ 09:55 AM
reply to post by Viking04

Great stuff viking! the heirloom seeds are essential to long-term survival. In more northern climes a root cellar is the best way to store root crops such as potatoes, beets, rutabagas etc. For crops such as corn drying is the way to go for storage.
One of the bad aspects of having a garden plot will be that others will know and want to raid it. I have a feeling this topic will garner more attention than actual gardening or storage methods will.
An idea that I had was to plant very small plots in a variety of places to avoid detection. specifically the traditional corn/beans/squash could be grown in 10' circular plots. Not fully developed or tested but I would be interested to know what others think of that idea.
Keep on posting such good info - it's critical for us all. Thanks! Asktheanimals

posted on Jul, 20 2009 @ 07:52 PM
reply to post by Asktheanimals

Thanks for the response. I agree that, based upon the situation, it may be necessary to have dispersed foodplots. (Sweet potatoes and irish potatoes might also be good crops to spread around as well. Particularly as they will appear to be a simple mass of vines to most casual observers.) When I put these posts together, I was looking at several applications of gardening. First, basic practice, as anyone who may intend to grow their own food after a bug-out needs to work out the ins and outs now. Second, I wanted to introduce low-tech gardening. Again, working out the bugs (pun intended) needs to be done now. Third, with the current economic situation, many folks are looking to start urban plots for the potential money-savings. Fourth, I like growing, and enjoy passing that pleasure along to others.

posted on Jul, 20 2009 @ 08:37 PM
reply to post by Asktheanimals

Crop thieft was a problem here in the UK last year from allotment sites so I can imagine what it would be like in a SHTF situation. For years it was tools and equipment that were stolen but I think its a sign of the times when potatoes are being dug up during the night

I'm saving some seed this year, starting with just a few easy ones as this is only my second year growing.

I didn't start growing my own food thinking about a survival situation but now that I know how little most of us know about growing (myself included) I think it is something everyone should try, even if its only some herbs on the kitchen window ledge to start with.

Great post

posted on Jul, 25 2009 @ 02:06 AM
Many crops can be stored for a long time when stored correctly, from memory sand is a good one but willl look out some of my old books on gardening from the 60's and before when I get home. Of course not everything in them is good advice as back then they still advised using a LOT of chemicals.
There are however a lot of forgotten tips from planting and harvesting in line with lunar cycles and at different times of the day and night, advice that had been handed down from generation to generation.

been eating the first of my chillies, tomatoes and potatoes this week, they just taste so much better when you pick them and eat them while they are still warm from the sun

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