5 Reasons Potatoes Are The Best Survival Food To Grow

Click here to view the original post.

In the Andy Weir novel, The Martian — which was made into the movie of the same name starring Matt Damon — the main character, Mark Watney, is stranded on Mars for months. When his supply of packaged food runs out, he grows and eats only potatoes for several weeks and is able to survive […]

The post 5 Reasons Potatoes Are The Best Survival Food To Grow appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

Irish Shepherd’s Pie Recipe -Traditional Recipe With A Twist

Click here to view the original post.

Irish Shepherd’s Pie is a twist off of the traditional Shepherd’s Pie recipe that was thought to originate in Scotland or Britain. Shepherd’s Pie is a baked meat pie made from lamb meat that is either cut in small chunks

The post Irish Shepherd’s Pie Recipe -Traditional Recipe With A Twist appeared first on Old World Garden Farms.

Your Survival Garden: Time to Start Thinking About Calories

Click here to view the original post.

In good times there are tons of reasons to garden.  It saves money, gets you closer to your food supply, teaches you valuable skills and gives you some independence.  In bad times there is only one real reason to garden—to grow food so you can survive. But looking deeper, it isn’t the food that keeps […]

Top 10 Seeds to Hoard

Click here to view the original post.

Have you ever thought about which plants you should focus on for long-term survival? If food supplies were to run low, what could you grow to provide a large amount of food, calories, and nutrients to help your family stay full and healthy? Just as important, though, are plants that are easy to grow. Your […]

Planting Potatoes … the Easy Way! (VIDEO)

Click here to view the original post.

Here in Central Texas, the rule of thumb for planting potatoes is to get ‘er done around Valentine’s Day. My TGN friends in colder climates tend to wait a little longer—say mid-April or even later—until their soil has warmed up to at least 45°F.

Since I spent this past Monday doing spring garden prep and getting my potatoes in the ground, it seemed like a good time to share this video with you:

In it, Paul Gautschi (of Back to Eden gardening fame) talks about:

  • His easy method for harvesting and planting potatoes in the same day, in the same place;
  • Why cutting potatoes before planting them is a waste of time and potential; and
  • A really cool way to get the biggest and best potato harvest possible.

He also gives his No. 1 reason why you should never buy root veggies from the grocery store.

(And, if you’ve got a little more time, you can watch Paul harvesting his potato crop without any tools in this video from Justin Rhodes’ Great American Farm Tour.)

After you watch, I’d love to know—what’s your favorite way to grow potatoes?


The post Planting Potatoes … the Easy Way! (VIDEO) appeared first on The Grow Network.

Gardens For Two People-Yes You Can Do It

Click here to view the original post.

Do you love seeing gardens full of vegetables? There is something so rewarding when we plant a garden and we slice that first tomato that was just picked. Cherry tomatoes are like candy to me, but I learned very quickly that I can only plant one cherry tomato plant. They are so sweet and so easy to grow. Here’s the deal, I know it sounds wonderful to have a huge plot of land and harvest enough for your family for a year.

Well, there are a few of us that are now down to one or two in the family. The kids have grown and moved on to start their own story with their family. They will teach their children how important gardens are. But, Mark and I still want a fresh supply of vegetables. We have less than 1/4 acre and yet we can grow enough food to feed 6-8 people for a year.

I remember when we were raising our daughters, our neighbors always teased us because we had the biggest garden in the neighborhood. I really never thought about size, I thought about how much food I could produce. The largest piece of land Mark and I have owned was a 1/2 acre. We had the best garden ever there. But, I also had several hands to help plant, weed and cultivate all the plants we needed.

We also had six people to harvest, snap green beans, peel pears, peaches, tomatoes, strawberries, make applesauce, salsa, spaghetti sauce and so much more. Now, It’s down to Mark and me to produce food in our raised gardens.

I live in in the desert in Southern Utah and the soil is hard rock clay. A few people here have brought in loamy soil and used a tiller to incorporate some amenities into the ground. We have owned several garden tillers over the years, but we no longer want a tiller.

I decided to build four foot by four foot and 18 inches high raised gardens. They are made by a company called Suncast. I have seen better ones but these work great for us now. I no longer want to bend over and kneel on my knees. You have to realize you do have to bring in soil and nutrients to fill those babies, but they are awesome.

The picture at the top will be my next purchase, with the brackets and the wood planks. I have seen them 24-36 inches tall, those would be my dream. The company sells different size brackets depending on how tall you want your garden, just dreaming here. But for now, I have these plastic Suncast ones.


If you plant tomatoes get really good tomato cages. These are the only ones I use and they are like 15 years old. I bought them from a garden nursery in South Jordan, Utah called Glover Nurseries. Yes, I have purchased many of them, I’m so afraid they will quit selling them. I can’t find them anywhere else. They are rock solid. My favorite tomato plants are Early Girl and Better Boy or Big Boy. Life is good when you can grow your own food. I love to plant spinach, radishes, lettuce, and cucumbers. I have my strawberry patch in one box that just keeps on producing. I do cut them way back in the spring.

I do the same thing with all my tomatoes and squash plants I cut them back and they bounce back and produce more for me to harvest.


Well, I tried growing tomatoes in large pots, that didn’t work. But I can grow lots of potatoes year-round in those pots. The great thing about potatoes if you buy the right ones as in Organic you will never have to buy potato seeds again. In other words, you will always have potatoes, I mean forever. And if you buy the right ones they will have zero pesticides on them. If you think about it, potatoes fill the belly. Yay! I love it!

All you do is dig a hole about 5-6 inches deep, cut a piece of the potato with a “sprouted eye” looking up and cover it with soil. These potato plants below are actually sprouting from potatoes I missed when I harvested a month ago. I love it. My favorite potatoes are Organic Gold Yukon potatoes.


My favorite items to start your gardens:

If you have rich loamy dark soil like I had up in Salt Lake City, Utah, all you need is Miracle Grow Root Starter mixed with water, put some of the liquid in the holes you dig  and then place the plants in the holes, water it in and mound the soil around each plant and watch them grow. Easy peasy.

More Things For Your Garden by Linda

Miracle Grow Garden Soil, you can get bags of this at your local hardware or big box stores.
Azomite Micronized Bag, 44 lb
FibreDust Coco Coir Block
Unco Industries Wiggle Worm Soil Builder Earthworm Castings Organic Fertilizer, 15-Pound
Miracle-Gro Nature’s Care Organic Bone Meal, 3 lb.
Espoma VM8 8-Quart Organic Vermiculite

I received an email from Ann over at A Green Hand (.com) she is teaching the world how to garden. She has an awesome blog, you’ll want to read, I promise. She asked me to contribute to an article “50+ Ideas To Build A Garden” in which experts in gardening were asked to give a little advice to help people to get started gardening. A Green Hand 50+ Ideas To Build A Garden I was honored to be asked to contribute.

Please teach your family to be self-reliant and grow a garden. May God bless this world.

The post Gardens For Two People-Yes You Can Do It appeared first on Food Storage Moms.

How To Store Potatoes For 20-Plus Years

Click here to view the original post.
How To Store Potatoes For 20-Plus Years

Image source: Pixabay.com

Extending the shelf life of root vegetables like potatoes has been practiced for centuries as a method to enjoy the harvest year-round. Traditionally, potatoes grown for storage are a variety bred specifically for winter storage, since not all varieties keep well long-term. Thicker-skinned potatoes such as russets will store far longer than thin-skinned red potatoes.

The traditional method of winter storage using a root cellar is to dig the potatoes when the potato plants have died down. Then, brush off dirt (without washing) and cure them before storage. Curing the potatoes in temperatures ranging from 45-60 degrees Fahrenheit (or as high as 80-85 for sweet potatoes) and high humidity (90 percent or more) gives potatoes a thicker skin that prolongs their storage life and lessens spoilage.

Curing should occur in the shade or in a darkened indoor location like a barn. Green potatoes have been exposed to excessive light and should be discarded, as it is frequently a sign that solamine is present in the potato; solamine is toxic at high levels. [1]

Discover More Than 1,000 Off-The-Grid-Living Tricks!

After curing them, store potatoes in a humid dark root cellar at approximately 45 degrees Fahrenheit, packed in bushel baskets or burlap sacks or in several piles. Storage temperatures below 45 degree Fahrenheit may increase the sugar content of potatoes. Higher temperatures can lead to shrinkage or rot, reducing storage life by half. Potatoes should be stored away from any fruit that gives off ethylene gas (such as apples and pears). Frequently, people will wrap apples and pears individually in paper to store them in a root cellar so as to reduce the ethylene gas they emit.

Storing for 20 Years

If 20 years sounds like a long time to store potatoes, then it might surprise you to know that “fresh” potatoes in the grocery store are often 11 months old when you buy them. [2] Modern developments in commercial food storage allow growers to store produce with a chemical (1-methylcyclopropene), which extends the shelf life of vegetables.

Of course, fresh potatoes won’t last 20 years, but you can dehydrate them to get that kind of long-term shelf life while maintaining nutritional value. [3]

Some conditions: 1) The shelf life will be longer if your storage location has a moderate temperature and reduced light. A cool basement would be ideal, while a hot attic or room which fluctuates in temperature will shorten the shelf life of any stored food. 2) Botulism can grow in low-oxygen moist environments. To avoid this, you must reduce the moisture level within the potatoes to 10 percent or less in order to store long-term with an oxygen absorber packet or to safely store using a vacuum sealer that removes air.

Here’s how to do it:

  • A dehydrator with an electric fan is recommended.
  • Wash the potatoes (peeling is optional).
  • Slice ¼ inch or less, or grate.
  • Drying temperature for potatoes is generally 125-135 degrees Fahrenheit. Drying time will depend on the humidity and your dehydrator. Dried potatoes will be crisp and brittle.
  • Once dry, let them cool for an hour or so, and then place temporarily into gallon-size Ziploc bags to “season” the dried slices for a week. Seasoning accomplishes two things: 1) It distributes any remaining moisture evenly between slices, and, 2) It alerts you if there is too much moisture in your dried potatoes. If you have too much moisture, you will see condensation on the inside of the sealed bags (in which case you need to dry some more).
  • Pack into airtight glass containers or cans.

Your kitchen cupboards are simply too exposed to light and temperature fluctuations to be useful in storing items more than a year. Dried potatoes in a glass jar will last about a year in kitchen cupboard conditions. This is about the same time as a canned potato product. However, in a cool, dry and dark place like a cellar, these jars of dehydrated potatoes will last five or so years without any detectable change in taste.

For REALLY long-term storage of 20 years or more, put an oxygen absorber packet in the airtight container when packing, or remove air using a vacuum sealer, and again, store in a cool, dark, and dry place.

Dehydrated potatoes are tasty in soups, stews and casseroles. Vegetables and starches are an essential component of any balanced diet, and potatoes are a great (and delicious) option for long-term food storage.

What storage advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

[1] http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/tips-keeping-harvested-potatoes-fresh
[2] http://www.mashed.com/71127/old-produce-eat-really/
[3] https://www.lds.org/topics/food-storage/longer-term-food-supply?lang=eng&old=true

It’s June! Mid to Late Summer Vegetable Gardening

Click here to view the original post.

summer vegetable gardening

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.)

IMG_9950This 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!

Summer Squashes

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.

Green beans

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!

Fall LettuceCole crops

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 thCover Photoe 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.

Root crops

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.




3 Never-Go-Bad, Easy-Storing Crops That Kept The Cowboys Alive

Click here to view the original post.

3 Never-Go-Bad, Easy-Storing Crops That Kept The Cowboys Alive

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.

‘Miracle Oil Maker’ Lets You Make Fresh Nut Oils Within Minutes!

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.

3 Never-Go-Bad, Easy-Storing Crops That Kept The Cowboys AliveAs 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.

Just 30 Grams Of This Superfood Provides More Nutrition Than An Entire Meal!

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.

Nutrition facts

Pinto beans (1 serving)

            Calories: 245

            Fiber 62%

            Iron 20%

            Copper 41%

            Folate 74%

            Protein 31%

            B1 28%

Potatoes (1 serving)

            Calories: 278

            Carbs 63 grams

            Fiber 26%

            Protein 7 grams

            Vitamin C 48%

            Vitamin B6 46%

            Manganese 33%

Onions (1 serving)

            Calories: 64

            Carbs 15 grams

            Fiber 11%

            Vitamin C 20%

            Manganese 10%

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:

How To Grow Potatoes Indoors, Using Straw

Click here to view the original post.
How To Grow Potatoes Indoors, Using Straw & A Garbage Bag

Image source: Pixabay.com

Did you know that you can grow potatoes in a container with just a little bit of soil and a whole bunch of straw? You bet you can. Using straw has a couple of huge benefits: the container remains light and easy to move around, and it’s easy to harvest early potatoes without disturbing the plant and the rest of the tubers.

Preparing The Seed Potatoes

One of the most important steps is choosing the correct variety of seed potatoes. Late-season cultivars work best because they will continue to set tubers as the plants grow taller, unlike early-season potatoes, which set tubers only once. There are a lot of fantastic late-maturing varieties to choose from. Kennebec and German Butterball are popular late-season varieties, but you also can switch it up and try cultivars like Russian Blue or All Blue (which have blue flesh) or the Purple Peruvian, which is a purple-fleshed fingerling variety. Whichever kind you choose, it’s best to use seed potatoes. If you saved potatoes from last year’s crop for seed, you’re ahead of the game. If you don’t have your own seed, buy them from a reputable seed company to ensure that your own potato crop is disease-free. It’s not recommended to plant store-bought table potatoes.

Looking For Potato Seeds? Get Them From A Company You Can Trust!

When planting a potato, the most important part is the eye — the indentation on the surface of the potato skin where sprouts pop up. Larger potatoes have a number of eyes. While you can plant a whole potato of any size, it’s more cost-effective and productive to cut larger ones up, leaving one to two eyes on each piece. It’s possible to start potato plants from potato peels that have eyes, but for best results keep each cut piece to roughly the size of an ice cube or small egg.

If you plant freshly cut potatoes, they may rot. It’s best to let the cut parts “scab over” before planting. Just spread the cut pieces out and allow them to sit for a day or two. The flesh of the potato should dry up a bit. If they turn black or start to mold, you should cut up new seed pieces.

Preparing The Container For Planting

Tall containers work best for this project. Use things like tall tote boxes, garbage cans, bushel baskets, and five-gallon pails. Extremely soft bags probably won’t work since the straw won’t support the sides very well, but sturdy grow bags should do just fine.

Start with about an inch of small gravel at the bottom of the container. Cover that with about four inches of container soil that has been amended with a little bit of compost. Water the soil and let it drain before planting. It should be moist but not soaking wet.

How To Grow Potatoes Indoors, Using Straw & A Garbage Bag

Image source: Pixabay.com

Once you’re ready to plant, place your seed pieces on the soil, with the eye/sprout facing upwards. Aim for about eight inches between each seed piece. The seed pieces only need to be covered with about a half inch of soil. Once the soil is in place, cover it with about six inches of weed-free straw. Do not pack the straw in. Keep it loose.

The Growing Stage

While you wait for your potato plants to grow tall enough to poke out of the straw, keep the sunlight and moisture levels regulated. The container is nice and light, and easy to move around so that it gets as much sun as possible. The straw acts as mulch and keeps your soil from drying out. It’s important to not overwater potato plants or they will rot. Just stick your hand in through the straw to see how dry the soil is, and water right through the straw as needed.

It should take about three weeks for your potato plants to start showing. Once they start peeking through, add about another four inches of straw. This encourages the plants to keep growing taller, and as they grow taller, they will set out more tubers. Once the plants poke through this second layer, you can add another four to six inches of straw.


You can start checking for new or baby potatoes about eight weeks after planting. Potatoes are super-easy to locate and harvest when you grow them this way. Just stick your hand into the loose straw and gently feel around for potatoes that are large enough to pull out. If you are helping yourself to potatoes as the plant keeps producing, there probably won’t be a lot left when the plant dies back. But once the plant starts turning yellow and withering, it’s time to finish the harvest.

Potatoes are not fussy plants. They are generally easy to grow and it’s fun to try the different varieties. Growing them in a container with straw makes it easy to enjoy fresh homegrown food in the depths of winter. Wouldn’t fresh baby potatoes, steamed, and served with butter and dill, hit the spot right about now? I think so!

Have you ever grown potatoes indoors? Share your tips in the section below:

Bust Inflation With A Low-Cost, High-Production Garden. Read More Here.

The 9 Most Productive Vegetables You Can Grow Indoors During Winter

Click here to view the original post.
The 9 Most Productive Vegetables You Can Grow Indoors During Winter

Image source: Wikipedia

There’s more than one way to plant a bounteous vegetable crop. It’s possible to have a hearty garden even if you don’t have space in the backyard, even if you don’t have a patio or balcony for containers, and even in the dead of winter.

The approach may be different than planting seeds in the ground, but it isn’t difficult to grow vegetables in the convenience of your toasty, warm home. And, unlike growing vegetables outdoors, you’ll have total control over temperature, water and light – all without bothersome bugs and pesky weeds.

You may, however, need to provide supplemental lighting, especially if you’re growing vegetables indoors during the winter months. If the atmosphere in your home is dry, mist the plants frequently or raise the moisture level with a humidifier.

Vegetables aren’t fussy about containers. Nearly anything will suffice, as long as it has a good drainage hole in the bottom. Use a good quality potting mix. Don’t attempt to use garden soil; it won’t work.

Looking For Non-GMO Vegetable Seeds? Get Them From A Company You Can Trust!

Starter plants may be difficult to find, but if you plant seeds, the top of the refrigerator is a good place to provide a little extra warmth for germination.

Now that you know the scoop on growing vegetables indoors, here is a list of the best, indoor-friendly veggie plants.

1. Tomatoes do well indoors with plenty of light and warmth, but they need a good-sized container – preferably at least five gallons, even if you grow dwarf or patio varieties. Once the tomatoes bloom, you’ll probably have to help with pollination by giving the plants a gentle shake to release the pollen. Choose indeterminate tomatoes, which will grow and product fruit indefinitely.

2. Eggplant and peppers belong to the same plant family as tomatoes, and their growing conditions are similar. Look for dwarf varieties that take up less valuable growing space.

Story continues below video

3. Carrots generally need deep soil to accommodate the long roots, but you can plant dwarf or round types successfully in pots. Sprinkle the seeds over the surface of moist potting soil, and then clip the tiny seedlings to ½ inch apart soon after they germinate. Once the carrots reach 3 inches, thin them again to a distance of about an inch.

4. Radishes are easy to grow just about anywhere, and growing them indoors is no exception. Like carrots, round or dwarf varieties fit best in containers.

5. Potatoes don’t require a lot of space, but they need large, deep pots because you’ll need to add straw or compost to build up layers over the plants as they grow. You can even grow potatoes in a garbage bag with the top rolled down; then roll up the top as they grow.

This New All-Natural Fertilizer Doubles Garden Production!

6. Mushrooms are a fun indoor crop. It’s easy to get started with kits, but you can also purchase mushroom spawn and do it yourself. The growing medium depends on the type of mushroom, but you may need to stock up on straw or sawdust. (Or rotten manure if your mushrooms are in a garage).

7. Beets do fine in lower temperatures, but they need plenty of light. Don’t crowd the plants, as beets need space for the roots to develop.

8. Lettuce is one of the few vegetables that you can plant in a small pot if you’re low on space. Like beets, lettuce is a cool season vegetable that doesn’t require a lot of heat.

9. Green onions do great in a sunny window. They don’t require much growing space if you harvest them while they’re small.

What would you add to our list? Share your suggestions in the section below:

Bust Inflation With A Low-Cost, High-Production Garden. Read More Here.

The Best Way To Grow Indoor Potatoes Is In A … Garbage Bag?

Click here to view the original post.
The Best Way To Grow Indoor Potatoes Is In A ... Garbage Bag?

Image source: Pixabay.com

Potatoes are traditional vegetables that pretty much everybody loves. They’re easy to grow, and harvesting spuds is a little like hunting for buried treasure — but a whole lot easier.

While potatoes certainly aren’t your standard house plants, they’re surprisingly easy to grow indoors, and unlike planting in the garden, you get to control the growing conditions. Better yet, you can grow potatoes indoors any time of year, which means fresh potatoes for dinner, even when snow is falling.

By the way, while you can plant potatoes indoors in large buckets or plastic containers, it’s really fun to grow them in plastic garbage bags. Here’s how.

Preparing to Plant

Start with fresh seed potatoes from a reputable garden supply store. Avoid potatoes from the grocery store, which are treated with substances that keep the potatoes from sprouting. If you decide to try planting grocery store potatoes, be sure they’re organic.

Looking For Non-GMO Seeds? Get Them From A Company You Can Trust!

If the potatoes are large, cut them into chunks about the size of a small egg, each with at least two “eyes.” Set cut potatoes aside to dry at room temperature for three or four days.

Place 4 to 6 inches of potting soil in a large garbage bag, and then fold the top of the bag down to just above the surface of the soil.

Planting Seed Potatoes

Plant the seed potatoes on top of the potting soil, with at least one eye facing up. As a general rule, figure about three seed potatoes for every square foot of planting space, then add one more for every 4-inch square.

Cover the seed potatoes with an inch or two of potting soil. No fertilizer is needed if you use fresh, good quality potting soil.

Caring for Potato Plants

The Best Way To Grow Indoor Potatoes Is In A ... Garbage Bag?

Image source: Pixabay.com

Place the garbage bag where the seed potatoes are exposed to full sunlight (or grow lights).

Water as needed to keep the potting soil barely moist. Don’t water to the point of sogginess, but on the other hand, never let the soil become completely dry.

When the plants are 6 to 8 inches tall, roll up the bag and add just enough soil to cover the entire plant so just the tips of the top leaves are visible. You can also use straw or a mixture of potting soil and straw, which keeps the soil loose and easy to handle.

Continue to roll up the bag and add more potting soil every so often as the plants grow. Be sure the potatoes are never exposed to direct sunlight, which can cause them to turn green. Never eat green potatoes, as they contain solanine, a substance that makes potatoes taste unpleasant and can make you sick if you eat enough.

Harvesting the Potatoes

Stop watering the potatoes when the leaves begin to die back and turn yellow – generally about 10 weeks. The extra time gives the skin time to firm up.

To harvest potatoes, simply reach into the bag and pull them out. Or, take the bag outdoors and dump the contents on the ground, and then pick out the potatoes.

Brush the soil off of the potatoes, and then set them in a dry, sunny spot to dry for a few hours. If it’s too cold, spread them out under a fluorescent light.

What potato-growing advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

Bust Inflation With A Low-Cost, High-Production Garden. Read More Here.

Book: Cookin’ with Potatoes

Click here to view the original post.

See larger image Cookin’ with Potatoes: Featuring Many Fabulous Dried Potato Recipes Book by Layton, Peggy The Cookin’ with Potatoes book contains 104 pages of tips, recipes, and ideas for cooking with fresh and dehydrated potatoes. Learn to use them in everything from soup to bread, and from casseroles to desserts. Enjoy hearty comfort foods and storage favorites with the varied recipes in this comprehensive cookbook developed by author Peggy Layton. List Price: $13.95 USD New From: $7.50 USD In Stock

The post Book: Cookin’ with Potatoes appeared first on Dave’s Homestead.

Potatoes: Which Varieties Store The Longest, Cook The Best, And Grow Just About Anywhere

Click here to view the original post.
Potatoes: Which Varieties Store The Longest, Cook The Best, And Grow Just About Anywhere

Image source: Pixabay.com


The cultivation of potatoes originated in South America, where the Incas of Peru grew them for food some 10,000 years ago.

The original potato, though, bore little resemblance to today’s enormous, oblong, white-fleshed tuber. Instead, they were round, smaller than a golf ball, and dark blue in color.

When the Conquistadors conquered the Andes region of South America in the 16th century, they brought potatoes back to Europe. Basques in northern Spain immediately began growing them, and over the next 50 years cultivation spread throughout Europe. Potatoes were filled with vitamins and easy to grow, and many Europeans began growing them instead of the traditional crops of wheat and oats.

Today, the potato is the world’s fourth most grown crop, trailing only rice, wheat and corn. But potatoes are not restricted to large-scale farming — they are also an ideal crop for your garden because they are easy to grow, provide many calories per acre, and are adaptable to a variety of climates.

Looking For Non-GMO Potatoes? Look No Further!

But to maximize success, you should choose the right potato for your needs and growing conditions.


Although there are potatoes for general use, different cultivars generally are better for a specific type of cooking. Some are good for boiling and mashing, others are good for baking, and still others are best fried.

The color of the potato flesh can be a good indicator which cooking method is best. For example, red or pink potatoes are often lower in starch, and therefore lend themselves to boiling or steaming. Common cultivars include red LaSoda and red gold.

Russet potatoes and those with blue flesh have higher starch. This makes them a good choice for baking or mashing. Potatoes with a thin white skin make great French fries (with the skin left on).

Yellow-fleshed potatoes tend generally to have intermediate amounts of starch and are good for all uses. Common cultivars include Cal white, Yukon gold, and Yukon gem.


Potatoes: Which Varieties Store The Longest, Cook The Best, And Grow Just About Anywhere

Image source: Pixabay.com

For generations, Americans in cold areas have grown potatoes and stored them through much of the long winter. If your goal is to grow potatoes during a short summer season and then store the harvest in a cellar over the winter, then remember that not all potatoes store well. So look for cultivars that excel in long-term storage. Examples include Cal white, defender, red Gold and the russet varieties.

Heat Tolerance

Potatoes are a cool-weather crop, first proliferating in the high-altitude of the Andes and then excelling in the cool climates of Ireland and northern Europe. However, over time, much hard work and research has resulted in a few cultivars that can be successfully grown in hot climates. These include bake king, defender, red LaSoda, Viking purple and yellow Finn.


Potatoes vary greatly in the time it takes to grow to maturity, from early to medium to late to extra-late. Based on your climate and needs, select the right maturity time. For example, on my homestead I grow an early cultivar and an extra-late cultivar.

Seamazing: The Low-Cost Way To Re-mineralize Your Soil

I consume the small, poor storage, early maturing potatoes during the late summer and early fall. I harvest the late cultivars and use and store them over most of the winter.


Many potatoes can be grown vertically in containers or boxes. The potato seeds are planted about three inches deep. Then, when the plants emerge to a height of several inches, they are buried halfway with soil. After several more inches of growth, the plants are buried halfway again. This continues until the original potato seed is two or three feet deep, allowing potatoes to grow in all the additional soil.

However, caging works better with some cultivars than others. It works well for Butterfinger, defender, purple Peruvian and many others. Caging does not work well with some popular cultivars like bake king, French fingerling or Yukon gold. So if you plan on growing potatoes vertically, choose a cultivar amenable to this growing method.

Final thoughts

Potatoes are a mainstay on the homestead, and can be grown in most parts of the United States. However, based on your cooking methods, storage conditions and other factors, make sure and select the cultivars that best suit your needs and that will be successful in your garden.

What potato-growing advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

Every Spring, Gardeners Make This Avoidable Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

7 Vegetable Pairs You Should NEVER Plant Together (No. 5 Is Where Everyone Messes Up)

Click here to view the original post.
7 Vegetable Pairs You Should NEVER Plant Together (No. 5 Is Where Everyone Messes Up)

Image source: Pixabay.com

Companion planting — the practice of intentionally planting two or more species in close proximity to each other — has many advantages.

Paired properly, companion plants can help each other grow, deter pests, reduce weeds and even improve flavor. Unfortunately, not all plants are ready to link leaves and sing “Kumbaya” together. In this post, we’ll look at vegetable pairs that should be kept far apart from one another.

1. Corn and tomatoes

While you’d think a common enemy would make for good friends, in the garden it’s usually a recipe for disaster. Both corn and tomato are vulnerable to the same worm and the same fungal infections and if planted too close together, it makes it easy for invaders to conquer both at once.

2. Cucumber and sage

It sounds like it should be the name of an enticing new lotion fragrance, but as friendly as they may seem in the cosmetics aisle, cucumber and sage have no business being together in the garden. In fact, cucumbers and almost all aromatic herbs have an antagonistic relationship. The strong scent of sage and other herbs are likely to affect the final flavor of the cucumber, resulting in an unpleasant off-taste.

3. Radishes and hyssop

Another herb-vegetable combination to avoid is radishes and hyssop. Hyssop is a fragrant flowering herb used to scent potpourri and prepare teas, but it also tends to wreak havoc with radishes. Don’t write off hyssop entirely, though — it’s great for luring away cabbage moths and is said to help make grapes grow.

4. Onions and peas

Mom may have spent a lot of time trying to talk you into eating the onions and peas hidden together in a casserole dish, but out in the garden you can keep them as far away from each other as you’d like.

This New All-Natural Fertilizer Doubles Garden Production!

In fact, the entire legume family and the entire allium family tend to “go Godfather” on each other, likely because onion (and its many relatives like shallots, leeks and garlic) set up root systems with large radii that have a tendency to hoard needed nutrients from beans and peas.

5. Tomatoes and potatoes

7 Vegetable Pairs You Should NEVER Plant Together (No. 5 Is Where Everyone Messes Up)

Image source: Pixabay.com

While it may be fun to say their names together, tomatoes and potatoes don’t belong together in the garden. Both are subject to the same early and late blights, making it easy for a problem with one to quickly become a problem for both.

6. Dill and carrots

Dill participates in some of the most complicated companion planting relationships you’re likely to find in the vegetable garden. Loved for its small yellow blossoms and bright perky flavor, dill will do great things for asparagus plants, broccoli plants and a wide range of others. On the other hand, it seriously inhibits carrots. Both part of the Umbelliferae family, dill can cross-pollinate with carrots to a disastrous end. Even more confusing? The relationship between dill and tomatoes. Planting dill and tomato together will benefit the tomato … at least until the dill reaches maturity, at which point it will start to stunt the growth of tomatoes and should be moved.

7. Strawberries and cabbage

Save any combination of strawberries and cabbage (and other brassicas like broccoli and cauliflower) for the salad bar. While strawberries appreciate the presence of onions, thyme, bean, and sage planted nearby, they get tired of having to call the cops on their pest-prone cabbage neighbors.

Although far from an exact science, keeping these neighbor no-nos in mind when planning your garden will help you get the most out of your garden space.

What would you add to our list? Share your advice in the section below:

Bust Inflation With A Low-Cost, High-Production Garden. Read More Here.

Growing Potatoes In A Bag….One Week Later

Click here to view the original post.

Well, my last post was about my choice to try to grow potatoes in a bag.  Last week, I had rolled the bag so that it was only 1/3 of it’s normal height.
Within a few days, I had to unroll the bag and add more soil as the plants were growing by leaps and bounds!


As of yesterday, I had to unroll the entire bag to add more soil. As I stated before, these plants are growing very quickly!
Although it isn’t lovely (the bag I mean), but I have loved how simple this process is.  I look forward to harvesting them at the right time.  I am curious about just how many potatoes we will have!
I’ll keep you posted…..

It’s A Matter of Growing Potatoes In A Bag…

Click here to view the original post.

So far, my gardening season is going pretty well. I have a tomato that will be ready before July 4th!  Please know that this will be the first time that has ever happened.  
I have watched the trend of growing foods in bags.  I also saw that some folks grow in reused bags.  I decided to try the latter.
Well, we no longer have a dog.  It’s a long story, but let’s just say the dog and I are both happier. Rooster Senior probably wouldn’t agree.  
Anyway, I put a request out on a social media site that my neighborhood has.  I got a few funny comments, but several people who were happy to share with me.  Here is the bag I was given.
The purpose of growing potatoes in a bag is to grow vertically.  I rolled the edges to the inside until only about 1/3 of the bag was height was visible.
I had some potting soil that was not used in my original planting this year.  I put it into the bottom of the bag.  I did not cut holes to allow water to flow out.  As the Potatoes grow, I may do that in the future.
I took my seed potatoes (that I had cut a couple of days before) and placed them into the soil
I put another layer of soil to cover the potatoes.  Then, I watered them.  It has been rather rainy since I planted these, so I placed the bag just under the roof line to give them moisture.  Rooster Senior kept pulling the bag out of the rain….trying to be helpful.  I put it back hoping that we could still have a crop.  
As you can see, I had nothing to worry about.  Since I took this photo, several plants have emerged and I am adding a layer of mulch or soil on top to encourage the vertical growth. As the soil mixture gets higher and higher, I will be unrolling the bag to allow for the growth.  I can’t wait to harvest these beautiful Red Potatoes!


  • This method does not have a large footprint.
  • The Dog Food bag has a strong Plastic mesh interior bag.  It seems to be working very well and was free!
  • Growing Potatoes is a great return on investment if you are going to grow them.  I plan to keep a few potatoes back to plant next season.
  • If you have never tasted potatoes from your garden, consider yourself to be very unfortunate.
If this goes well, I may try this again next year….

The Crazy Gardening Trick That Gives You 10 Times More Potatoes

Click here to view the original post.
The Crazy Gardening Trick That Gives You 10 Times More Potatoes

Image source: Pixabay.com

Americans love potatoes, eating about 125 pounds, per person, per year. Although potatoes are easy to grow, many off-gridders on small plots of land avoid them because traditional growing techniques take up a lot of space. However, by using the caging technique, you can get a high yield in a small space.

Caging refers to the practice of using a wire cage, wooden box, barrel, or any other device designed to grow potatoes vertically. By using this practice, potato yield can be increased by anywhere from two to 10 times using the same area of garden.

Need Non-GMO Seeds? Get The Best Deals Here!

Here’s how caging works:

1. The container

The Crazy Gardening Trick That Gives You 10 Times More Potatoes

The author’s potato box.

Select the container, or cage, for your crop. It should be 18 inches by 18 inches or larger, with room for 1 to 4 feet high of soil. On my homestead, I use either a 4-foot-square or 5-foot-square raised bed, constructed of wood, which is 16 inches high. There are also commercially available cages designed for growing potatoes vertically, but instead of spending your hard-earned money, I’m sure your off-grid homestead has materials available for constructing one.

2. The soil

Before planting, set aside enough soil to fill the container. For potatoes, a slightly acidic soil that drains well is ideal. I like to use a mix of peat moss, native soil, compost and vermiculite.

3. Planting

Fill the cage with 6 to 8 inches of soil. Plant the seed pieces 3 to 4 inches deep. Let the potatoes sprout and grow to a height of 8 inches or so. The photo above is from my 5-foot by 5-foot potato cage for this year, where I have Yukon Gem potatoes that have grown 6 to 8 inches high.

4. Fill up the Cage

Once the potato plants are about 8 inches tall, like in the photo above, it’s time to partially bury the plants. Take some of the soil you’ve set aside and gently bury the plants about a third of the way.

The Crazy Gardening Trick That Gives You 10 Times More Potatoes I just did that in my garden. The photo here shows the potato plants after they’ve been partially buried the first time.

Continue the process of letting the vines grow higher, and then partially burying them, until your cage is full. Take care not to ever bury the plants by more than one-third to a half, and make sure there is adequate moisture.

Tips for Maximizing Success

Successful potato growing begins by selecting the right cultivar for your climate, and growing vertically is no exception. Potatoes originated in the cooler high altitudes of South America, and thrived for centuries in the cool weather of northern Europe and Ireland. So if you live in an area where the summers get hot like I do, choose a variety that has been developed for heat resistance. These include Butterfinger, Defender and Yukon Gem types.

The reason caging works is that some varieties of potatoes will continue to form tubers from parts of the vine that have been recently buried. However, not all potatoes varieties are created equal — some excel at this and some don’t. So for growing vertically, consider those types listed above, as well as All Blue, Carola, Dark Red Norland, German Butterball, Yellow Finn and Fingerling potatoes.

Final Thoughts

Potatoes should be grown on every off-gridder’s garden. They give great yields, provide lots of needed carbohydrates for the hard-working family members, and store for months without electricity. If you’ve shied away from growing them because of traditional space requirements, try caging today.

Have you ever tried caging? Share your tips in the section below:

Every Year, Gardeners Make This Dumb Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

The Lowly Garden Superfood You Can Survive On For 6-Plus Months

Click here to view the original post.
The Lowly Gardening Superfood You Can Survive On For 6 Months

Image source: Pixabay.com


The lowly potato. This dull tuber seldom ranks high on a list of superfoods. It won’t make headlines as the next “it” food. In fact, the most commonly known fact about potatoes is knowledge of the devastating Irish potato famine. Combine their blandness with recent diets that suggest eliminating carbohydrates is the silver bullet to weight loss, and the potato doesn’t stand a chance. Truth be told, potatoes may be the ultimate food source. Folks with a survival garden or looking to become self-sufficient should exploit their myriad of benefits.

Potatoes’ characteristics make them an ideal crop for self-sufficient gardens. For starters, potatoes grow well in a variety of soil types. Generally known for their success in sandy soils, potatoes also do well in other soils. The important thing to remember is to plant in any well-drained soil. Plant in waterlogged soil and you’re asking for problems with this root crop. Most productive garden plots have acceptable soil for potatoes.

The second major benefit of potatoes is they are possibly the easiest crop to save and replant. Anyone with experience in seed-saving will validate this statement. Other seeds must be separated from the fruit, cleansed of plant gunk, dried and then packaged for storage. Saving potatoes for seed is a much simpler process. Of course, you also can simply plant the potato itself to grow more potatoes. The ease of storing and growing potatoes is a huge benefit for someone in a survival situation. They simply save work.

Get The Best Deals On Non-GMO Seeds For Your Garden Right Here!

Finally, and this is essential, spuds are an absolutely excellent food source. Potatoes provide vitamins and minerals like potassium, fiber, B6, and vitamin C, just to name a few. The fact is potatoes are so nutritious you can live on them exclusively for months with no problems. Don’t believe it? In 1927, a study was performed by researchers at the school of hygiene in Poland to understand the benefits of potatoes. During the experiment two individuals, a man and woman both in their 20s, committed themselves to an all-potato diet for six months. Throughout the experiment the duo only ate potatoes for every single meal, although at some point they began cooking the potatoes in oil. Researchers realized the pair was burning more calories than they consumed and needed more energy. Fat from the oil added a bonus energy source but did not contribute any other nutritional value.

The Lowly Gardening Superfood You Can Survive On For 6 Months

Image source: Pixabay.com

At the end of the six-month experiment, the pair were reported to be in great physical shape and fully nourished. Most shocking, the test subjects did not report any desire to add other foods to their diet. The study reported, “They did not tire of the uniform potato diet and there was no craving for change.” In their conclusion, the researchers summarized the study as “an experiment … in which two adults, a man and a woman, lived over a period of 167 days in nitrogen equilibrium and in good health on a diet in which the nitrogen was practically solely derived from the potato.”

In his book The New Self-Sufficient Gardener, John Seymour advises self-sufficient gardeners to invest heavily in potatoes. He advises planting potatoes in at least one-third of a garden. This is by far the largest proportion of any crop. In his rationale, he cites the nutritional value of potatoes and their outstanding ability to keep people alive.

This New All-Natural Fertilizer Doubles Garden Production!

History also displays the effectiveness of the potato. In South America, the Inca in the 1400s and 1500s were able to build the largest and most powerful nation in the Western Hemisphere using the potato as their staple crop. Upon the back of the lowly potato, they built thousands of miles of stone roads, conquered countless neighboring tribes, and constructed impressive temples. When you take into consideration the strenuous mountain lifestyle of these people, their potato-fueled exploits are that much more impressive.

For anyone serious about taking control of their food supply, the first step is to get your hands on some seed potatoes. Not all seed potatoes are created equal, and there is one major pitfall to avoid. Seed potatoes for a survival garden should always be certified disease-free. By investing in disease-free seed potatoes, you can help avoid a disaster like what befell the Irish. Obviously, this is important, especially for long-term survival.

All total, it is hard to deny the effectiveness of potatoes, especially in a survival garden. Their exceptional nutrition, combined with their ease of growth and storage, make them invaluable to someone who grows their own food. Not only are they promoted by some of the top self-sufficiency experts today, but the ultimate test of history proves their effectiveness as well. Whether it is potatoes for survival, or potatoes simply to take control of your food supply, it is hard to deny the power of the super spud.

What advice would you add for growing potatoes for survival? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Every Spring, Gardeners Make This Avoidable Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

What the Hell is a Yam?

Click here to view the original post.

Getting to the Root of the Question

First off, let me explain how I arrived at the question, “What the hell is a yam?”  I’ve been on a little quest – to find the fabled yam.  I started this quest last week, knowing exactly what a yam was… or so I thought.

We’ve had several questions over the past few weeks about the confusion that exists around yams and sweet potatoes.  Seems that people are finding contradictory information on the internet, and several people asked us to help them sort things out.

So I thought it would be helpful to put together a simple article with some pictures, to show people how they can tell the difference between a sweet potato and a yam.  That couldn’t be too hard, right?  They’re two different plants.  To be honest, I thought this would be as easy as making two short bulleted lists – voila, problem solved.

That was last week.

I gathered up the facts about sweet potatoes first.  That was pretty easy, just like I expected.  So I quickly moved on to start gathering up the same facts about yams…

And here I sit, days later – my mind tied into a knot by knotty roots.  I set out in search of a few simple facts, and that search led me on a whirlwind tour of world history with more sidebars and tangents than you can imagine.

And so, as I sit here today, I can only ask, “What the hell is a yam?”

Read more: How to Plant Sweet Potatoes

The Mysterious Origins of The Word “Yam”

It’s widely agreed that African Americans started calling sweet potatoes “yams” when soft, orange varieties of sweet potatoes were introduced in the southern United States.  Prior to this time, a firm variety of sweet potato had been popular.  Supposedly, the new softer sweet potatoes reminded African Americans of the yams they knew from Africa, and so they started calling orange sweet potatoes yams – to differentiate between the old firm sweet potatoes and the new soft sweet potatoes.

That’s a convenient explanation, but on closer inspection it doesn’t make sense, since yams weren’t called yams in most West African languages.  They were called isu, ji, viazi vikuu, and other names from African languages.

Some argue that the name “yam” was adapted from Portuguese or Spanish words, and it is possible that the name did travel across the Atlantic on a slave ship – in the mouths of the traders, and not the slaves.

If you check out Webster’s Dictionary, you’ll find that there’s probably some degree of truth to both explanations.  They claim the origin of the word “yam” is nyami, which means “to eat” in the Fulani language, which was spoken in West Africa during the slave trade (and today) by people who ate (and still eat) yams.  The word nyami was adapted to inhame in Portuguese and ñame in Spanish, and then later to igname in French and eventually to yam in American English.  So, while yams have been cultivated around the world for ten thousand years, the word “yam” has only been around for the last few hundred years.

However it came into existence, the word “yam” today can mean many things.  In a global food market in 2016, saying the word “yam” is about as descriptive as saying the word “root.”  There might be 20 different things for sale in that market that are called by the name “yam.”  What you get will depend entirely upon whom you ask.

Make Potato Pasta: 8 Ways to Enjoy Wholesome Noodles

What the Hell is a Yam?  It Depends…

Ask an American for a yam, and you’ll probably get a sweet potato.  Ask a New Zealander, and you’ll probably get a root from the wood sorrel known as oca.  Ask an African, and you’ll probably get an actual yam.

If you make the mistake of asking a Japanese person, you might get any one of several different plants – a sweet potato, an actual yam, an Okinawan purple yam (which is actually a sweet potato), or a third plant that’s also known as the konjac.  As I said before, the word “yam” doesn’t really mean much.

If you ask a Mexican person for a yam, there’s a chance you’ll get jicama, which is also known as yam bean.  This plant has another, even more confusing, common name – it is also known as the Chinese potato, even though it is native to America and probably didn’t find its way to China until after the Spanish conquest of Central America.  In addition to not being Chinese, jicama is also not a potato. Then again, a sweet potato isn’t really a potato either.

Ask a Pacific Islander for a yam, and you might get taro root.  Taro is also known as yam in Southern Spain, and in some Portuguese-speaking countries as well.  And the word “taro” could cause you some additional confusion in West Africa, the home of the yam, where taro is commonly known as coco yam.

Finding the Fabled Yam

Of course, there is in fact such a thing as a true yam.  But it’s definitely not as easy to pin down as the sweet potato is.  All sweet potatoes belong to one species.  So while there are hundreds of varieties of sweet potatoes, they are all the same plant – Ipomea batatas.

Not so with the yam.  There are at least 8 species of yam that are cultivated for culinary use in the world today.  They all belong to the same genus, Dioscorea.

So, right off the bat, you can’t really do a clean comparison of yams versus sweet potatoes.  The sweet potato is one plant, and the yam is a big family of related plants.

Meet the Yam Family

And the yam family doesn’t stop with those 8 culinary species – not by a long shot.  Those are just the tip of the iceberg.

Yams grow wild all around the world.  There are over 600 accepted species in the genus Dioscorea.  They predate humans by about 75 million years, and they have a representative on every continent except Antarctica.

There are some native, edible yams that grow wild right here in North America.  Fourleaf yam (Dioscorea quaternata), and the wild yam (Dioscorea villosa) are native across the Eastern United States and were used as food sources by the Native Americans there.

Mansplaining Yams and Sweet Potatoes

If you look for information about yams vs sweet potatoes on the internet, you’ll find a million comparisons that say things like “sweet potatoes have smooth skin and yams have rough skin,” and “sweet potatoes are more moist than yams.”  Of course, if you’re only holding one or the other, you don’t have anything to compare it against, and this isn’t very much help.

And much of the information that’s out there is targeted at the average American grocery store consumer.  So, the overall message you’ll find is something like this, “People in America call sweet potatoes ‘yams.’  Yams are from Africa, and we don’t have yams in America; we only have sweet potatoes.”

That’s sort of right, but it’s sort of wrong too.  It assumes that you are someone who would never shop in an ethnic market or a specialty food store; someone who would never forage for wild food; and someone who would never take a random root from the farmers market and plop it in the dirt just to see what happens – and I think I know you better than that.

What the hell is a yam?  Not this - this is a sweet potato.

What the hell is a yam? Not this – this is a sweet potato.

We’re an American Yam!

We do have yams in America.  Actual, true Dioscorea yams.  In the age of the internet and the sustainable farming revolution – you better believe that there are yams in America.  You want a yam?  I can get you a yam by Tuesday…

In addition to the wild yams that are native to America, culinary yams have been grown here, and continue to be grown here – in small volumes by independent growers.

All the way back in 1896, Robert Henderson Price referred to sweet yam (Dioscorea sativa) being grown in Georgia and Florida.  He also referred to Chinese yam (Dioscorea polystachya) being imported from France to the US around 1850.  That yam had been acquired by the French Consul in Shanghai, while France was trying to find alternative crops to respond to the potato blight in 1848.

In 2009, the USDA reported on 5 species of yams that are considered foreign invasive species in the US – some of which were brought here as food crops.

And in addition to actual yams, there are many other things that might be sold as “yams” that are not truly yams.

More about the potato blight of 1848: Monocultures

Eating Versus Growing

If you are the “average American grocery store consumer,” then the confusion about yams shouldn’t be a problem for you.  You buy your sweet potatoes at the grocery store, cook them, and eat them.  Who cares if they’re labeled as yams?

But it’s a little more complicated for the home grower.

In most of North America, making the mistake of planting Dioscorea yams instead of sweet potatoes could cost you your whole harvest.  Most of the culinary yams have a growing season that is too long for our climate, and they will freeze before they yield.

Many people enjoy eating their sweet potatoes raw.  But most true yams shouldn’t be eaten raw.  Some contain toxins, and most contain bitter compounds, so yams are typically soaked or boiled before consumption.

Sweet potatoes also offer more nutrition than yams – so even if you’re in a tropical region where you could grow yams, it probably makes more sense for you to use your precious garden space for sweet potatoes.

So do a little due diligence before you plant, and make sure that you know what you’re putting in the ground.  How will you know?  The best approach is probably to get your planting material from a source that uses the Latin botanical names for their plants.

In fact, the only person who ever gets a clear answer to the question “What the hell is a yam?” is the botanist.

Read more: Which Spud is Superior? White Potato vs Sweet Potato

Latin, the Universal Language

In the hypothetical global food market we talked about above, there was potentially a lot of confusion about what a yam is.  The word “yam” can mean one thing in New Zealand, a different thing in Japan, and yet another thing in Polynesia.  It’s confusing all around the world.

But the botanist has no problem.  She can ask a Chinese vendor for Dioscorea sativa, and she’ll know that the root she receives is the same plant she gets when she asks a Mexican vendor for Dioscorea sativa.  Problem solved.  

And it will work just as well for sweet potatoes.  Request Ipomea batatas anywhere in the world, and what you get will be a sweet potato.



1: The origin and evolution of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas Lam.) and its wild relatives through the cytogenetic approaches. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download;jsessionid=016E4C6C53AD973BF8DA3ADC090A514C?doi=
2: Library of Congress, What is the difference between sweet potatoes and yams? http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/sweetpotato.html3: USDA SNAP-Ed Connection, Sweet Potatoes and Yams. https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/nutrition-through-seasons/seasonal-produce/sweet-potatoes-and-yams
4: Wiener, Leo. Africa and the Discovery of America, Volume 1. Innes & Sons 1920. Philadelphia.
5: Price, R. H. Sweet Potato Culture for Profit. Texas Farm and Ranch Publishing Company 1896. Dallas.
6: USDA Plant Profile: Dioscorea. http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=DIOSC
7: U.S. Forest Service: Discorea spp. http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/vine/diospp/all.html
8: The Congo Cookbook: Yam. http://www.congocookbook.com/staple_dish_recipes/yam.html
9: Wikipedia: Sweet Potato. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_potato
10: Wikipedia: Yam (vegetable). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yam_(vegetable)
11: Wikipedia: Taro. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taro

The post What the Hell is a Yam? appeared first on The Grow Network.

How To Grow Potatoes Off The Grid

Click here to view the original post.

How To Grow Potatoes Off The Grid Are you struggling with finding a food source that is sustainable, easy to acquire, an inexpensive to grow? If so, then consider growing potatoes. If you’re even a little familiar with gardening, you know that potatoes can grow pretty much anywhere. You can even grow them in bags …

Continue reading »

The post How To Grow Potatoes Off The Grid appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.

How to Plant Sweet Potatoes

Click here to view the original post.

Plant Sweet Potatoes from Slips, Vines, or Roots

If you live in a good climate for growing them, you should plant sweet potatoes every year.  They’re one of the easiest vegetables to grow.

Here’s how I plant my sweet potatoes.

Step 1: Get Your Planting Material!

This isn’t hard. Sometimes your local feed store or nursery will sell “slips,” which are just rooted segments of vines. This is a really easy way to get started, but if you have a little more time you can make your own sweet potato slips like I teach you here.

You can also simply buy a bag of sweet potatoes and start burying them in the garden… or take chunks of vine off an existing plant and start plunking the stems a few inches deep into the ground.

Plant sweet potatoes from the pantry

Rachel broke this chunk off a sweet potato in the pantry. It’s perfect.

I’ve done all of the above with good success. Think of them like ivy: they root easily at every node. Water them for a couple of weeks and they’ll take off.

Generally, we eat most of the big sweet potatoes through the winter and keep a basket of the smaller ones for planting in the spring. It doesn’t matter that they’re small. Unlike individual fruit or vegetables, the sweet potatoes we harvest all contain the exact same genes as the big ones we ate, so there’s not a problem with “selecting” for tiny roots.

No room for sweet potatoes?  Check this out: Balcony Gardening – Big Food Production in Small Spaces

Step 2: Prep Your Bed

You don’t have to worry too much about preparation for sweet potatoes. Loose, loamy soil is great… but they’ll also grow in so-so sand without many complaints.

Plant sweet potatoes from tubers

The vines are shorter on this sweet potato so Rachel planted the entire root.

We grew this particular round of sweet potatoes in a bed where we planted white potatoes the year before. You don’t have to worry about sweet potatoes and white potatoes sharing diseases – they aren’t even remotely related species.

That said, after pulling white potatoes the year before, I covered the area in fall with a mixture of rye and lentils as a green manure cover crop.

Here’s what it looked like before I busted out the tiller:

Potato bed with rye and lentil cover crops

Cover crops add nutrition to the soil and keep it “alive” between plantings.

I dug three trenches about 4′ apart after tilling, then we planted the sweet potatoes at 4′ apart down the trenches.

Plant sweet potatoes from vines

Rachel covered this piece of vine with dirt all the way up to the leaves.

We get plenty of sweet potatoes from our gardens each year, and we wouldn’t want to be without them.

Infographic: Which Spud is Superior? White Potato vs Sweet Potato

Step 3: Water Well… and Stand Back!

Sweet potatoes will take off in warm weather and need little to no irrigation in years with decent rainfall. They also tend to run over most weeds and control the area where you plant them… and the areas around the garden… and some areas beyond that. I have them coming up 20′ from where I planted them last year. My kind of plant.

Plant sweet potatoes from old plants

This sweet potato yielded at least five good slips for planting.

If you haven’t planted your sweet potatoes yet, it’s time to get going as soon as the danger of frost has passed. If you have a long enough warm season, you can start one bed then use it to start a second, as I do in this video:

As a final note – sweet potatoes make a great ground cover for food forests, especially in the more tropical areas of Florida where they’ll grow year round. As a bonus, the longer you leave them in the ground… the bigger the roots tend to get.

Sweet potatoes are easy to grow and easy to plant. Get to it!


The post How to Plant Sweet Potatoes appeared first on The Grow Network.

How To Grow 100 lbs Of Potatoes In 4 Square Feet

Click here to view the original post.

How To Grow 100 lbs Of Potatoes In 4 Square Feet How To Grow 100 lbs Of Potatoes In 4 Square Feet, not only will this save you space but can yield way more potatoes than regular planting. Quite the clever gardening tip here folks! Today’s feature includes tips from three different sources for growing …

Continue reading »

The post How To Grow 100 lbs Of Potatoes In 4 Square Feet appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.

Warning: Some High Carb Foods Can Give You Lung Cancer

Click here to view the original post.

bagelsWe all know that bad habits like smoking can often lead to lung cancer. In fact, in our culture, the association between lung cancer and tobacco is so strong that we often forget that there are other causes of this disease. We’re usually surprised when we hear about a nonsmoker getting lung cancer, as if it’s some kind of anomaly.

In truth, there’s more to it than just “abuse this one organ and it’ll fall apart.” Our diets play a much bigger role in our long-term health. You could live a squeaky clean life without any addictions or vices, and still have cancer if you don’t eat the right foods. And since the food we eat affects every cell in our bodies, a poor diet can fuel cancer in any organ.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find that science has just discovered a new link to lung cancer in nonsmokers, and it has everything to do with what these otherwise healthy people eat.

Could lung cancer be one of those malignancies? Dr. Xifeng Wu, chair of cancer prevention at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, conducted the new study to help answer that question.

Her team looked at the health and dietary histories of more than 1,900 people with lung cancer and more than 2,400 people without the disease.

The investigators looked specifically at the intake of foods with a high glycemic index, such as the white bread and potatoes cited by Jain.

Overall, people who registered in the top fifth in terms of a high-glycemic diet had a 49 percent greater risk of developing lung cancer versus those in the bottom fifth, Wu’s team reported.

And when the researchers focused solely on people who never smoked, the link was even more compelling. Those who had the highest glycemic diet were more than twice as likely to get lung cancer as those who had the lowest glycemic index scores.

Dr. Wu made it clear that the study wasn’t 100% conclusive. It’s likely that there are other factors involved. People who eat a high glycemic diet are also more likely to have diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, all of which can contribute to cancer. Just having a high insulin resistance can do the trick. But regardless of whether or not these factors are involved, the result is the same. Some high carb foods can really mess you up.

And it makes a lot of sense. These high glycemic foods often have an effect on your body that is similar to eating candy and drinking soda. And as we all know, sugary processed foods fuel cancer growth.

We often think that there’s a big difference between foods that are laced with simple sugars, and those that are filled with complex carbohydrates, and we assume that the latter of the two is safer because those carbs are digested and broken down into sugar at a much slower rate. However, it isn’t always that simple. Milk is loaded with simple sugars in the form of lactose, but is low on the glycemic index, whereas potatoes with their abundance of complex carbs, are ranked very high on the index.

So if you want to stay healthy, do some research on your diet, find out which foods are high on the glycemic index, and consider cutting back on them (though many of them are still good for you in moderation). You might just be surprised to find that your healthy diet, isn’t so healthy after all.

Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.

Joshua’s website is Strange Danger

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Cooking in a Pressure Cooker

Click here to view the original post.

In any disaster situation, energy is a premium. If you are cooking over a fire – every second of heat is paid for several times over with work finding, carrying, chopping, and stacking firewood. If you are using a petroleum based fuel you have to rely on your supply – which is something you may […]

The post Cooking in a Pressure Cooker appeared first on Shepherd School – Home for DIY Prepper Projects.