Even the most avid gardeners have a bad year! Any number of things can keep you out of the garden in April and May, weather problems, work commitments, family problems . . . we’ve all been there. But don’t give up on your summer vegetable garden just yet. There are still plenty of yummy veggies you can get planted now (in mid to late June) and get a nice harvest before the summer ends.
Let’s talk about what you can still get planted now and also talk about a few things that you can wait on and plant in about 5 or 6 weeks (Around August 1st for most of us).
Summer/Warm Season Veggies in Your Summer Vegetable Garden
No summer garden is complete without a few tomato plants and you can still get some in. Tomatoes are an important part of a food storage pantry. Hurry on this one! Most nurseries will still have a few tomato plants hanging around but they wont last much longer. (Don’t try to plant tomatoes by seed this time of year.)
This late in the year you want to be thinking about smaller, quicker maturing varieties. Try some type of cherry tomato (varieties to look for include Sun Sugar, and Sweet 100). They are relatively fast growers and should still give you a good harvest in September and early October.
You can also try some of the tomatoes that produce small to medium sized fruit. Think varieties like Early Girl, possibly Celebrity, or many of the Roma tomatoes. Try to find tomatoes that grow on determinate vines (vs indeterminate) as these will spent less time growing vines and more time growing fruit.
The 6 weeks you have lost in growing time means you won’t have a huge harvest this year, but if you get them in soon you should still have plenty for fresh eating and, hopefully, canning!
Zucchini and yellow crook neck squash are actually quite fast growing. Look for varieties that have a maturity date of around 60 to 70 days and you should still have lots of time to grow more zucchini than you can eat! You could also look for a patty pan squash with a short maturity date.
Most bush type green beans have a maturity date of around 60 to 70 days, so there is plenty of summer left for beans. In fact, I don’t make my last planting of green beans until mid July and still have a great harvest, incuding plenty to can following these easy instructions.
If you would still like to plant a melon, you have a little bit of time left, but choose the small “ice box” types as those take much less time to mature. You can also get cantaloupe planted now. Again, don’t expect a huge harvest this year, but you will still have a few melons that will be ready before the frost comes.
If you can find the seed still around at your local nurseries, there is time to grow a nice crop of potatoes. In fact, you could continue to plant potatoes until mid July in most areas of the country and still get a nice harvest of small roasting potatoes. This time of the year I would stay away from the big “baking” potatoes, like russets. You are running short of time to get them to maturity.
Cucumbers are a good late season planter. Again, you may not get the huge yields you are used to, but by planting seeds now, you can still have a fairly respectable crop.
If you can still find a package of onion sets at your local nursery, they will do okay this time of year. You won’t get a lot of large onions but you will have plenty of smaller onions and green onions. Don’t try growing onions from seed or starts this late in the year.
Many herbs will still do well if planted this time of year. It would be best to plant starts instead of trying to plant seeds.
Cool Weather Veggies
You can still have an awesome harvest of cool weather veggies by planning now to get them planted in late summer and early fall. Nearly anything you would normally plant in the spring time, you can also plant in the fall. A good, solid summer vegetable garden can extend into the cooler months, if you jump on it now!
These plants are broccoli, cabbage, kale, and kohlrabi. If you grow your own seedlings, mid June is a good time to start a fall crop of all these yummy cool season veggies. If you plant any of the cole crops indoors now, they will be ready for planting out in the garden in about 6 to 8 weeks.
That means you will be planting them around mid-August, and they will mature in October when the weather has cooled back to those temperatures that cole crops love so much! You may find many of these veggies are even tastier in the fall because a night or two of frost helps to sweeten the flavor. If you end up with a lot of extras, try dehydrating them for quick meals, as in these instructions for dehydrating cabbage.
You can start replanting lettuce about 6 to 8 weeks before your first frost (for us that’s August 1 – 15). Fall planted lettuce can last unprotected in your garden until early December, depending on where you live.
Most people see spinach as a spring only crop, but it does very well in the fall! Again look at planting about 6 weeks before your first frost and you will be able to start harvesting in late October. Then cover those plants with a cold frame or hoop house and they will grow over the winter for an extra early spring crop.
Carrots, turnips, beets and radishes all do well in the fall and you can start replanting them around 6 weeks before your last frost.
So as you can see, all is not lost for your summer garden! Get out there this weekend to put some seeds and plants in your garden so you can still have an awesome harvest this year!
Guest Post by Rick Stone of www.ourstoneyacres.com.
The Old West was a tough place to hammer out a living. Whether it was mountain men, cowboys, or buffalo hunters, making ends meet in The West was not for the faint of heart.
Men and women alike had to be self-reliant, self-policed, and self-motivated if they were to survive. It certainly didn’t cater to the weak. Cowboys were one group who were particularly adept at taking care of themselves.
A major reason cowboys became so self-reliant was out of necessity. There simply wasn’t anything to fall back on in the middle of a 1,000-mile-long cattle drive. Part of their ability to complete a drive was attributed to their toughness and their ability to handle problems as they arose. Another reason they were able to complete these long drives can be credited to their planning for the drive. A properly supplied chuckwagon was essential if the cattle drive was to be successful.
One area the chuckwagon couldn’t fail in was the food department. The entire outfit would be composed of around 10-15 people, and those people needed food each day. Not only did those 10-15 people need food, but they needed fuel to energize their bodies for the 18-hour workdays they faced when on the trail.
Although they occasionally ate the cattle they were trailing, they also needed food in the wagon. Chuckwagons were packed full of all kinds of ingredients cooks used to prepare meals. Many sacks of flour and cornmeal were brought along for the journey. They also needed vegetables that would store well in the heat and provide enough energy for the cowboys to keep working.
If you are planning your garden and are looking for foods that store well, you might take a page from the cowboys and plant these three easy-storing crops.
One staple in the cowboy’s diet was beans – a food high in nutrition and protein (see nutritional information below). There is an old saying that proclaims, “There are two kind of people in this world — those that do eat beans, and those that should eat beans.” There are a variety of bean choices out there, but if you want to grow what the cowboys ate, then try pinto beans.
As they grow, simply let them hang on the plant until dry. After that, they need to be removed from the pod and stored in a cool, dry place. Once dried, beans can last for years without spoiling. Before cooking with them, soak them overnight to reconstitute.
Potatoes have an array of attributes that would have made them popular in any chuckwagon. First, they would have stored well on the long cattle drives. Just keep them cool and dry.
Second, they are packed with nutrition (see nutritional information below). In fact, there are stories of people eating nothing but potatoes for six months, without nutritional defects.
If you are looking for an easy-storing and nutritious crop, plant a few extra potatoes this spring.
One popular book with recipes from the Old West – “The Cowboy’s Cookbook” – includes a breakfast recipe of fried potatoes and onions. The ingredients’ list is short: potatoes, oil for frying, onions, and salt and pepper. Many a cowboy would have enjoyed this simple meal behind a dusty chuckwagon.
Out on the trail, cowboys needed food that not only “stuck to their ribs,” but also offered energy with essential vitamins and minerals. These staple foods, paired with a steady serving of beef, would have kept the cowboys fit and healthy.
Pinto beans (1 serving)
Potatoes (1 serving)
Carbs 63 grams
Protein 7 grams
Vitamin C 48%
Vitamin B6 46%
Onions (1 serving)
Carbs 15 grams
Vitamin C 20%
What would you add to our list? How do you make potatoes, beans and onions store long-term? Share your tips in the section below:
Are you ready to feed your family? If you want to reduce your dependency on the commercial food supply, you better start now. Establishing crops, building infrastructure, raising animals, and working out the kinks takes time, and you may have a few less successful years before you can really eat off the grid.
Assuming you have a house on cleared land, with at least one usable outbuilding already constructed, you will be able to focus on growing food. With long working days, attention to seasonal change and weather, efficient work practices, and regular routines, two adults can work the land for food within a few years.
Here’s nine foods that can make you 100 percent self-sufficient. Keep in mind that crops like lettuce – which is easy to grow and doesn’t store very long – aren’t on the list.
1. Beans. Reliable and easy to grow, beans are a nutritional staple for the homesteading family. Prepare the soil early, and plan on 2-3 months of growing before harvest.
2. Poultry. If starting with chicks, expect 2-3 years of successful rearing, selection, brooding and culling before you will have your flock established. In the meantime, you will collect eggs and eat birds you choose not to keep in the flock. Start with 10-12 chicks, and plan for them to be around 3-4 months old before butchering.
3. Rabbits. Rabbits are quick producers of meat for your family. It is not unreasonable to expect 20 or more rabbits per year from a single breeding pair. Allow for 1-2 years for your rabbits to become established. Select for breeding performance, health and size, and introduce new genetics regularly.
4. Corn. This is a prolific grain crop needing much nutrition from the soil and up to four months of heat for production. In your first year of growing corn, it is not unusual to have a lot of losses due to weather, pests or soil issues. However, once you have worked out the issues, corn can be an important staple grain. Plan on about two years of learning before cultivating a substantial harvest.
5. Wheat. One of the most common grains in the American diet, wheat is reasonably easy to grow but hard to harvest. Wheat is ready after around two months of hot weather. When planning to start wheat, figure in threshing and grinding time.
Fruits & Vegetables
6. Winter Squash. Grow winter squash to supply your family with important vitamins and to provide you with an easy keeper crop. Winter squash takes up to four months to mature, but you should be able to get a good yield in your first year with appropriate pest management and watering.
7. Apples. Although apples can be extremely useful, you need to plan on 6-10 years with your trees before they will bear fruit. Your patience will pay off, however, and planting apple trees is well worth the wait.
8. Potatoes. Potatoes are easy to start, and you can expect a good yield in your first year of growing them. Short-season varieties will grow in as little as two months, but longer-season varieties can take three months or more.
9. Honey. While not strictly necessary, honey is a fantastic sweetener on the homestead and comes with lots of nutritional benefit. However, bees take a while to get production ramped up. Your first-year harvest will be very small, but in the second year you can harvest up to 30 pounds of surplus honey from one hive (leaving the bees something to eat over the winter).
What would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below:
An analysis of data by The Times shows that crop yields did not increase and herbicide and insecticide use did not shrink in the 20 years since GMO seeds were introduced in North America. In fact, herbicide use has increased.
“An analysis by The Times using United Nations data showed that the United States and Canada have gained no discernible advantage in yields — food per acre — when measured against Western Europe, a region with comparably modernized agricultural producers like France and Germany,” an October 29 Times article stated.
Times researchers compared data from Europe, where genetic modification was rejected, with that from Canada and the United States, where they are widely used. The data goes back 20 years and indicates that GM technology did not deliver on some of the promises that its promoters made.
In fact, herbicide use has increased by 21 percent in the U.S. while it has decreased by 36 percent in France’s, Europe’s largest agriculture producer. GMO seeds have led to a decrease of about 33 percent in insecticide and fungicide use in the U.S., but France has seen an even larger decrease — 65 percent – without using genetically modified crops.
As the weather begins to warm, you’ll want to switch over to more heat-tolerant greens. Consider lettuce varieties such as Red Butterworth and Larissa or spinach varieties such as Tyee or Emu.
For greens that you intend to grow indoors, choose varieties that are suited to an indoor environment such as Tom Thumb
“Currently available G.M. crops would not lead to major yield gains in Europe,” Matin Qaim, a researcher at Georg-August University in Gottingen, Germany, told The Times. “I don’t consider this to be the miracle type of technology that we couldn’t live without.”
David Bellinger, a professor at the Harvard University School of Public Health, has been highly critical of America’s use of pesticides.
“These chemicals are largely unknown,” Bellinger told The Times. “We do natural experiments on a population, and wait until it shows up as bad.”
Monsanto said The Times had cherry-picked data.
“Every farmer is a smart businessperson, and a farmer is not going to pay for a technology if they don’t think it provides a major benefit,” Monsanto’s Robert T. Fraley told the newspaper. “Biotech tools have clearly driven yield increases enormously.”
Do you support the use of GMO seeds? Share your thoughts in the section below:
The Germans called it “The Year of the Beggar.”
The New Englanders called it “Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death.”
From his home in Monticello, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Never were such hard times.”
Writer Mary Shelley described a June outing that year to Lake Geneva this way: “An almost perpetual rain confines us principally to the house.” She ended up using some of the descriptions of that dreary summer in her novel Frankenstein.
It was the year 1816, often called “The Year Without a Summer,” and it just might be the most important meteorological event you have never heard of. Spring arrived on time, but then the weather went into reverse, with cold temperatures and continually overcast skies. Dim sunlight and frigid temperatures became so severe and widespread that major crop failures were reported across the United States, the rest of North America and Europe for a period of three years. New York state and Maine experienced snow in June.
While some scientists blamed sunspots for the weather problems of 1816, and some theologians blamed the wrath of God, it has only been within the last few decades that modern technology has enabled us to understand what really happened. And the implications are significant for our world today.
Scientists now believe that this three-year period of severe climate change was set off by a volcanic eruption. On April 15, 1815, Mount Tambora on the island of Sumbawa in what is now Indonesia erupted, spewing lava and dust for a week and then continuing to rumble for three months.
With a plume of gases and ash that extended more than 18 miles into the atmosphere, the massive Mount Tambora eruption is the most explosive volcanic event in recorded history. The 1815 eruption threw millions of tons of sulfur-dioxide gas into the stratosphere, and the gas then formed 100 million tons of sulfuric acid, which became dispersed by wind throughout the planet in the form of tiny droplets, clouding the skies and partially blocking the sun.
The Tambora explosion was far greater than the better-known Mount Krakatoa volcanic eruption in 1883. We know more about that natural disaster because the news was quickly spread by telegraph and then by newspaper. Most Europeans and North Americans did not hear about Mount Tambora for several months or even longer.
The explosion initially killed more than 10,000 people on the island, but it is estimated that another 80,000 people eventually died from starvation and diseases related to the cataclysmic event. In fact, the energy created by Mount Tambora was equivalent to 2.2 million atomic bombs.
The volcanic dust and ash that spread throughout the world blocked sunlight and disrupted natural weather patterns.
What are some of the far-reaching results of the ravaged weather of 1816?
- Many New England farmers, with their crops and their entire livelihood devastated, ventured west with their families. The state of Vermont, for example, experienced a population drop of an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people.
- The cold, rainy summer led to a sweeping potato famine in Ireland.
- In Europe, the wheat crop was ruined, causing widespread bread shortages.
- Food prices rose sharply across Europe, with riots, arson and looting frequently taking place.
- In Switzerland, an ice dam formed below part of the Giétro Glacier. Despite efforts to drain the lake that formed, the ice dam collapsed in June 1818, killing an estimated 45 people.
- In Asia, unseasonably cold temperatures killed rice crops, trees and water buffalo. The eruption disrupted China’s monsoon season, resulting in severe flooding in the Yangtze Valley. In India, the summer monsoon season was delayed, resulting in late torrential rains.
- Outbreaks of cholera spread from a region near the River Ganges to as far away as Moscow.
- Because of all the volcanic ash in the atmosphere, brown snow fell in Hungary. Red snow fell throughout the year in Italy’s northern and north-central region.
Floods, drought, disease, famine – all caused by a volcanic eruption half a world away. With the world’s population so much greater than it was in 1816, the effects of another eruption on the scale of Mount Tambora would be unthinkable.
Today, the year 1816 stands as a startling reminder of how one world event — even a volcano in Southeast Asia — can have dire consequences on our food supply.
Poet Eileen Marguet (1918-2012) wrote a poem that sums up the year of 1816 for many Americans.
It didn’t matter whether your farm was large or small.
It didn’t matter if you had a farm at all.
Cause everyone was affected when water didn’t run.
The snow and frost continued without the warming sun.
One day in June it got real hot and leaves began to show.
But after that it snowed again and wind and cold did blow.
The cows and horses had no grass, no grain to feed the chicks.
No hay to put aside that time, just dry and shriveled sticks.
The sheep were cold and hungry and many starved to death,
Still waiting for the warming sun to save their labored breath.
The kids were disappointed, no swimming, such a shame.
It was in 1816 that summer never came.
Do you believe America is ready for another such natural disaster? Share your thoughts in the section below:
In a survival scenario they key word is self-reliance. The weekly trips to the local food markets or stores will cease to become an option. And even if available, the prices will most likely sky-rocket so that it just won’t be convenient anymore. What you need to do is consider the possibility to set up your very own garden, which will sustain and provide for you and your entire family. It’s a rather complex task, but it’s nowhere near impossible. And once you’ll get the hang of it, it will become rather relaxing and enjoyable.
It’s something that can ultimately be achieved by the average Joe, with enough practice, resources and dedication. You don’t have to be a professional farmer, you’ll just have to educate yourself a little in the matter. Be aware of the sustenance and nutrients each product has to offer, calculate how much land you’ll need for the endeavor and set your budget. Your best weapon (if you decide to pick up the shovel) is information: educate yourself on season crops, micro-farming, insect repellants, seed collections and storage and on the nutritional value of various crops.
And arm yourself with patience, because this type of activity requires a lot of practice if you’re starting from scratch. But you’ll get better at it with time, and at some point you’ll be become self sufficient, even though if you originally started gardening as a hobby. When it comes to choosing the right seeds, I strongly recommend getting non-GMO or heirloom variety seeds. These seeds will continue to reproduce, unlike the hybrid varieties that stop reproducing after the first season. Let’s have a look at different types of seeds that are suited for your very own survival garden.
Corn – it’s a warm weather crop, very intolerant to low temperatures, so you should plant it only after the last frost. It usually produces two ears per stack and it’s loaded with calcium, iron and protein. It’s easy to pick and to store.
Wheat – possibly the most common crop in the world, because of its large content of nutrients like copper, iron zinc and potassium. Spring what is planted in early spring and it’s the most common variety in the world. Winter wheat can be planted anytime from late September to mid October.
Potatoes – they’re high in protein, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium. It’s best if you plant your potatoes 4 – 6 weeks before the last frost. An average plant will hold somewhere in the lines of 4 -6 potatoes per sprout. When storing them, just know to keep them in a very cool and dark place, away from fruit.
Peas – it’s one of the most (if not THE) easiest plants to grow, because most varieties are not pretentious and grow very fast. Peas are rich in fiber, protein, potassium, vitamin A, Vitamin B6 and more. The best varieties to consider are the snap, the shelling and the sugar and snow pod. They will do just fine even during a harsh winter, as they’re resistant to frost.
Spinach – considered the original super-food, it’s a great source of nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, iron and thiamin. It’s easy to grow, and most species grow best during winter. There are a few though that stray from the rule, so inform yourself before purchase.
Tomatoes – once again, we’re dealing with one of the easiest plants to plant and grow. It’s very nutritious as it’s abundant in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, potassium, thiamine and niacin. To make sure you get plenty of them throughout the year, just plant a first batch in late spring and a second one in late summer.
Beans – they come in many varieties, such as kidney beans, pole beans, bush beans etc. They are rich in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and Calcium. Pole beans require steak firmly planted in the ground, on which the plant can grapple and grow. Their grow cycle is shorter than that of the bush beans and the yield production is better as well. It’s easy to grow and staggering the plant will give continuous yields.
Carrots – there are very easy to grow and prefer cooler weather. So the best time for planting would be during fall, winter or early spring. They’re rich in vitamin A and beta carotene, which is excellent anti-oxidant which does wanders for your eyesight, skin or hair.
Garlic and Onions – they’re a very rich source vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber and folic acid (folate). They’re best planted in mid or late October, and can be pulled early in case you’re eager to have green onions or garlic.
Cucumbers – they come in all shapes and sizes, with many varieties to choose from. You can pick whatever you like, from large to small ones (which are excellent for pickling). They are very nutritious, as they are loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. They are a crop for warm weather and if you pick them regularly, you’ll get increased production.
Lettuce – not only will it be easy to plant and grow, but is also one of the earliest harvests you’ll get. It’s best if you plant it somewhere at 6 – 8 before the first frost date for optimum results. It grows quickly and you can pick it partially simply by choosing a few leaves at a time. The nutritional content differs in case of variety, but mostly all contain proteins, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, folic acid and iron.
Eggplants – it’s one of the most versatile vegetables when it comes to cooking, as it offers a lot of possibilities. It’s a warm weather plant and doesn’t do well during winter. So you should wait after the last frost is over in order to plant it. It’s high in fiber, vitamin B1, vitamin B6 and anti-oxidants.
Broccoli – it’s a plant that grows rather easily. It’s usually planted mid to late summer and by the time fall is upon us, you’ll have your first broccoli harvest. It has however, the tendency to give yields even after the first harvest. It can withstand mild frost, but won’t survive a harsher climate. A far as nutrients go, it’s most commonly packed with vitamin A, vitamin K and protein.
Cauliflower – it’s a cool season vegetable, resistant to low temperatures. It’s quite fast to grow and gives extremely rich yields. It’s very nutritious and can be very versatile when it comes to cooking. It’s packed with vitamin C, vitamin K and dietary fibers.
Turnips – the seeds are best sown in late may, but if you get caught in doing anything else and forget, early summer will do just fine. They’re easy to manage, as they’re very resilient to plant diseases. It’s very versatile too, as you can eat the whole plant, green and root alike. They contain calcium, vitamin B6, vitamin C and iron.
This list is a must for your very own garden, the plants that no survival enthusiast should go without during a crisis. Remember what I said before: take your time and practice, because it’s unlikely you’ll be successful right away. But once you get the hang of it, you and those close to you won’t go hungry a day in case SHTF. So get going, get your hands dirty and you’ll pick the fruit of you labor in no time… literally!
By Alec Deacon
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