It only takes a quick scan of daily news headlines to realize that our world is teetering on the brink of disaster, from several fronts. If you are one of the millions who made the wise decision to prepare for the inevitable, you likely have a supply of necessary equipment and food. However, have you […]
5 Helpful Tips on How to Get the Most Food from Your Survival Garden
The amount of produce you can expect from your survival garden depends on your farming techniques as wl as your practices. Your physical strength is good enough but you may also have to deal with your mindset to lower the time and effort you put so that you can do more. Crop failure is something that stalks survival gardeners like their shadow especially if they are new to it.
Recently, I wrote an article about the use of herbal teas for their medicinal benefits. For the medic who is concerned about long-term survival scenarios, a hard reality is that stored pharmaceuticals will run out over time. This leaves them with only natural options, such as the plants that grow in their own backyard. These were used with skill by our ancestors, who had little else to treat sickness and injury.
While teas are the simplest way to utilize your medicinal herbs, many swear by essential oils as a storage option with other medical supplies. These items have much more longevity than fresh plants and can include those that don’t naturally grow in the area.
An essential oil is distilled from whole plant material, not a single ingredient; therefore, each one has multiple compounds that might be medically useful. To take an example, English lavender has about 20 different chemicals, including esters, ketones, and terpenes. These combinations make each oil unique. Oils may be produced from leaves, bark, flowers, resin, fruit or roots. For example, Lemon oil comes from the peel, Lavender oil from flowers, and Cinnamon oil from bark.
Although you might not realize it, you’ve been using essential oils all your life in soaps, furniture polishes, perfumes, and ointments. Previous generations of conventional physicians commonly included them in their medical bags. Indeed, many standard medical texts of the past were really instruction manuals on how to use these products.
Essential oils aren’t easy to produce without distillery equipment. Although it only takes a few leaves of peppermint to make a tea, you would need 5 pounds of leaves to make 1 ounce of essential oil. One source states that it takes an entire acre of peppermint to produce just 12 pounds of oil. The same source says that 12,000 rose blossoms are required to produce a tablespoon of rose oil. These concentrated versions are the ones you see marketed in small, dark bottles. Unless you intend to buy distilling materials, you should accumulate essential oils in quantity but use them sparingly.
The strength or quality of the oil is dependent on multiple factors, including soil conditions, season harvested, subspecies of plant, rainfall, and, in some cases, even the time of day. This is akin to the conditions that determine the quality of a particular vintage of wine. It also explains the significant variance you’ll see in the effects of the same oil from year to year.
You might be surprised to learn that the Food and Drug Administration only requires 10% essential oil in the bottle for it to be marketed as “Pure Essential Oil”. Beware of claims of FDA certification; the FDA has no certification or approval process for these products.
Making Essential Oils
The manufacture of essential oils, known as “extraction”, can be achieved by various methods:
Distillation Method: Using a “still” like old-time moonshiners, water is boiled through an amount of plant material to produce a steam that travels through cooled coils. This steam condenses into a “mixture” of oil and water from which the oil can be extracted
Pressing Method: The oils of citrus fruit can be isolated by a technique which involves putting the peels through a “press”. This works well only with the oiliest of plant materials, such as orange skins.
Maceration Method: a fixed oil (sometimes called “carrier” oil) or lard may be combined with the plant part and exposed to the sun over time, causing the fixed oil to become infused with the plant “essence”. Oftentimes, a heat source is used to move the process along. The plant material may be added several times during the process to manufacture stronger versions. This is the method by which you obtain products such as “garlic-infused olive oil”. A similar process using flowers is referred to as “Enfleurage”.
Solvent Method: Alcohol and other solvents may be used on some plant parts, usually flowers, to release the essential oil in a multi-step process.
As each essential oil has different chemical compounds in it, it stands to reason that the medicinal benefits are also different. An entire alternative medical discipline has developed to find the appropriate oil for the condition that needs treatment. The method of treatment may differ, as well. Common methods are:
1) Inhalation Therapy: This method is also known as “aroma- therapy”. The simplest way to perform direct inhalation therapy involves putting 2 or 3 drops of essential oil on your hands, rubbing them together, and inhaling.
Steam inhalation therapy utilizes the addition of a few drops of the essential oil in a bowl of steaming water (distilled or sterilized), which is then inhaled. This method is most effective when placing a towel over your head to catch the vapors.
Many people will place essential oils in potpourri or use a “diffuser” to spread the aroma throughout the room. This technique probably dilutes any medicinal effects, however.
2) Topical Application: The skin is an amazing absorbent surface, and using essential oils by direct application is a popular method of administration. The oil may be used as part of a massage, or directly placed on the skin to achieve a therapeutic effect on a rash or aching muscle.
It’s wise to always test for allergic reactions before using an essential oil in this manner: Even though the chemical compounds in the oil are natural, you could still exhibit an allergy to it or be irritated by it (case in point: poison ivy).
A simple test involves placing a couple of drops on the inside of your forearm with a cotton applicator. Within 12-24 hours, you’ll notice redness and itching if you’re allergic. Mixing some of the essential oil with a “carrier” oil such as olive oil before use is a safer option for topical use. Another concern, mostly with citrus oils applied to the skin, is “phototoxicity” (an exaggerated burn response to sun exposure).
Although we have seen many sources recommend applying essential oil over the location of an internal organ, some reservations exist about whether such an application will really have an effect on that organ. It is much more likely to work on skin issues or, perhaps, underlying muscle tissue.
3) Ingestion: Direct ingestion is unwise for many essential oils, and this method should be used with caution. Professional guidance is imperative when considering this method, except for a very few instances. A reasonable alternative to consider is a tea made with the dried herb. This is a safer mode of internal use, but the effect may not be as strong.
Essential oils have been used as medical treatment for a very long time, but it’s difficult to provide definitive evidence of their effectiveness for several reasons. Essential oils are difficult to standardize, due to variance in the quality of the product based on soil conditions, time of year, and other factors that we mentioned above.
In addition, there are many subspecies of plants that may differ in their effects. An essential oil of Eucalyptus, for example, may be obtained from Eucalyptus Globulus or Eucalyptus Radiata; these plants may have their own unique properties. These factors combine to make scientific study problematic.
In most university experiments, a major effort is made to be certain that the substance tested caused the results obtained. As essential oils have a number of different compounds and are often marketed as blends, which ingredient was the cause of the effect? If the oil is applied with massage, was the effect related to the oil itself or from the physical therapy?
The majority of studies on essential oils have been conducted by the cosmetics and food industries. Others have been conducted by individuals or small companies with a vested interest in the product.
Definitive studies of possible medicinal benefits are usually performed in universities sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. Unfortunately, they generally have little interest in herbal products because they are hard to patent. Therefore, serious funding is hard to find because of the limited profit potential.
Commonly Used Essential Oils
Despite the lack of hard data, essential oils have various reported beneficial effects, mainly based on their historical use on thousands of patients by generations of healers. Although there are many essential oils, a number of them are considered mainstays of any herbal medicine cabinet. Here are some of the most popular:
Lavender Oil: An analgesic (pain reliever), antiseptic, and immune stimulant. It is thought to be good for skin care and to pro- mote healing, especially in burns, bruises, scrapes, acne, rashes and bug bites. Lavender has a calming effect and is used for insomnia, stress and depression. It has been reported effective as a decongestant through steam inhalation. Lavender oil may have benefit as an antifungal agent, and has been used for athlete’s foot or other related conditions.
Eucalyptus Oil: An antiseptic, antiviral, and decongestant (also an excellent insect repellent), Eucalyptus oil has a “cooling” effect on skin. It aids with respiratory issues and is thought to boost the immune system. Consider its use for flus, colds, sore throats, coughs, sinusitis, bronchitis, and hay fever. Eucalyptus may be used in massages, steam inhalation, and as a bath additive. Although eucalyptus oil has been used in cough medicine, it is likely greatly diluted and should not be ingested in pure form.
Melaleuca (Tea Tree) Oil: Diluted in a carrier oil such as coconut, Tea Tree oil may be good for athlete’s foot, acne, skin wounds, and even insect bites. In the garden, Tea Tree oil is a reasonable organic method of pest control. In inhalation therapy, it is reported to help relieve respiratory congestion. Studies have been performed which find it effective against both Staphylococcus and fungal infections. Some even recommend a few drops in a pint of water for use as a vaginal douche to treat yeast. Tea Tree oil may be toxic if ingested or used in high concentrations, around sensitive areas like the eyes.
Peppermint Oil: This oil is said to have various therapeutic effects: antiseptic, antibacterial, decongestant, and anti-emetic (stops vomiting). Peppermint oil is claimed to help for digestive disorders when applied directly to the abdomen. Some herbalists prescribe Peppermint for headache; massage a drop or two to the temples as needed. For achy muscles or painful joints, massage the diluted oil externally onto the affected area. As mentioned previously, definitive proof of topical application effects on deep organs is difficult to find.
Lemon Oil: Used for many years as a surface disinfectant, it is often found in furniture cleaners. Many seem to think that this disinfecting action makes it good for sterilizing water, but there is no evidence that it is as effective as any of the standard methods, such as boiling. Lemon oil is thought to have a calming effect; some businesses claim to have better results from their employees when they use it as aromatherapy. Don’t apply this oil on the skin if you will be exposed to the sun that day, due to increased likelihood of burns.
Clove Oil: Although thought to have multiple uses as an anti-fungal, antiseptic, antiviral, analgesic, and sedative, Clove oil particularly shines as an anesthetic and antimicrobial. It is marketed as “Eugenol” to dentists throughout the world as a natural painkiller for toothaches. A toothpaste can be made by combining clove oil and baking soda. When mixed with zinc oxide powder, it makes a temporary cement for lost fillings and loose crowns. Use Clove oil with caution, however, as it may have an irritant effect on the gums if too much is applied.
Arnica Oil: Arnica oil is used as a topical agent for muscle injuries and aches. Thought to be analgesic and anti-inflammatory, it is found in a number of sports ointments. As a personal aside, we have tested this oil on ourselves and found it to be effective, though not very long lasting. Frequent application would be needed for long term relief. Although some essential oils are used as aromatherapy, Arnica oil is toxic if inhaled.
Chamomile Oil: There are at least two versions of Chamomile oil, Roman and German. Roman Chamomile is a watery oil, while German Chamomile seems more viscous. Both are used to treat skin conditions such as eczema as well as irritations due to allergies. Chamomile oil is thought to decrease gastrointestinal inflammation and irritation, and is thought have a calming effect as aromatherapy, especially in children.
Geranium Oil: Although variable in its effects based on the species of plant used, Geranium oil is reported to inhibit the production of sebum in the skin, and may be helpful in controlling acne. Some believe that it also may have hemostatic (blood-clotting) properties, and is often recommended for bleeding from small cuts and bruising. When a small amount of oil is diluted in shampoo, it may be considered a treatment for head lice.
Helichrysum Oil: Thought to be a strong analgesic and anti-inflammatory, Helichrysum is used to treat arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and fibromyalgia as part of massage therapy. It has also been offered as a treatment for chronic skin irritation
Rosemary Oil: Represented as having multiple uses as an antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic, Rosemary oil is proven to control spider mites in gardens. Use a few drops with water for a disinfectant mouthwash. Inhalation, either cold or steamed, may relieve congested or constricted respiration. Mixed with a carrier oil, it is used to treat tension headaches and muscle aches
Clary Sage Oil: One of the various chemical constituents of Clary Sage has a composition similar to estrogen. It has been used to treat menstrual irregularities, premenstrual syndrome, and other hormonal issues. Sage is also believed to have a mild anticoagulant effect, and may have some use as a blood thinner. Clary Sage also is thought to have some sedative effect, and has been used as a sleep aid.
Neem Oil: With over 150 chemical ingredients, the Neem tree is called “the village pharmacy” in its native India. Many Ayurvedic alternative remedies have some form of Neem oil in them. Proven as a natural organic pesticide, we personally use Neem Oil in our garden. Reported medicinal benefits are too numerous to list here and seem to cover just about every organ system. It should be noted, however, that it may be toxic when the oil is taken internally.
Wintergreen Oil: A source of natural salicylates, Wintergreen oil is a proven anticoagulant and analgesic. About 1 fluid ounce of Wintergreen Oil is the equivalent of 171 aspirin tablets if ingested, so use extreme caution. It may also have beneficial effects on intestinal spasms and might reduce elevated blood pressures.
Frankincense Oil: One of the earliest documented essential oils, evidence of its use goes back 5000 years to ancient Egypt. Catholics will recognize it as the incense used during religious ceremonies. Studies from Johns Hopkins and Hebrew Universities state that Frankincense relieves anxiety and depression in mice (we’re unsure how, exactly, this was determined, but it probably involved a cat). Direct application of the oil may have antibacterial and antifungal properties, and is thought to be helpful for wound healing. As a cold or steam inhalant, it is some- times used for lung and nasal congestion.
Blue Tansy Oil: Helpful in the garden as a companion plant for organic pest control, Blue Tansy is sometimes planted along with potatoes and other vegetables. The oil has been used for years to treat intestinal worms and other parasites. One of its constituents, Camphor, is used in medicinal chest rubs and ointments. In the past, it has been used in certain dental procedures as an antibacterial.
Oregano Oil: An antiseptic, oregano oil has been used in the past as an antibacterial agent. It should be noted that Oregano oil is derived from a different species of the plant than the Oregano used in cooking. One of the minority of essential oils that are safe to ingest, it is thought to be helpful in calming stomach upset, and may help relieve sore throats. Its antibacterial action leads some to use the oil in topical applications on skin infections when diluted with a carrier oil. Oregano Oil may reduce the body’s ability to absorb iron, so consider an iron supplement if you use this regularly.
Thyme Oil: Reported to have significant antimicrobial action, diluted Thyme oil is used to cure skin infections, and may be helpful for ringworm and athlete’s foot. Thyme is sometimes used to reduce intestinal cramps in massage therapy. As inhalation therapy, it may loosen congestion from upper respiratory infections.
“Thieves’ Oil”: Many essential oils are marketed as blends, such as “Thieves’ Oil”. This is a combination of clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, and rosemary essential oils. Touted to treat a broad variety of ailments, studies at Weber State University indicate a good success rate in killing airborne viruses and bacteria. Of course, the more elements in the mixture, the higher chance for adverse reactions, such as phototoxicity.
I’m sure I missed some of your favorites. There are as many oils as there are species of plants.
Some important caveats to the above list should be stated here. Many of the essential oils listed are unsafe to use in pregnancy, and some may even cause miscarriage. Also, allergic reactions to essential oils, especially on the skin, are not uncommon; use the allergy test we described earlier before starting regular topical applications.
Even though essential oils are natural substances, they may interact with medicines that you may regularly take or have adverse effects on chronic illness such as liver disease, epilepsy, or high blood pressure. Thorough research is required to determine whether a particular essential oil is safe to use.
Having said that, essential oils are a viable option for many conditions. Anyone interested in maintaining their family’s well-being, especially off the grid, should regard them as another weapon in the medical arsenal. Learn about them with an open mind, but maintain a healthy skepticism especially about “cure-all” claims.
Joe Alton MD
Learn more about natural remedies and 150 other topics on survival medicine with the 2017 Book Excellence Award winner in medicine, “The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide For When Medical Help is Not on the Way”.
In a long-term disaster setting where you are knocked off the grid, medical supplies expended and medicines dispensed over time may not be easily replaced. When confronted with dwindling access to the tools needed by the survival medic to keep people healthy, it becomes clear that knowledge of natural remedies is important.
Every medic must determine whether they believe a long-term survival scenario is a possibility. If this is their concern, they must not only have a sizable amount of supplies and medicine, but also a realization that they eventually must turn to the plants in their own backyard that may have medicinal benefit.
For long term storage, the preparedness community has turned primarily to essential oils as a natural alternative. These are, indeed, some of the best natural products the medic can stockpile due to their longevity. Producing new supplies of them, however, is problematic. Without distilling equipment and a large amount of plant material, you will not be able to replenish oils in any significant quantity.
A more realistic option for sustainable herbal medicines is using fresh or dried plant materials in teas. These require little more than a garden and some knowledge regarding each herb.
It should be noted that the term “tea” is incorrect: The word actually refers to various drinks made from the leaves of one species, Camellia sinensis. Green, black, white, and oolong teas are made from the same plant; only the processing differs. The proper term for a drink made by steeping herbs in hot water would be an “herbal infusion” or “tisane”. For simplicity’s sake, though, we’ll call them teas.
Standard teas from Camellia Sinensis, like green, black, white, and oolong, are high in antioxidants with many health benefits ascribed to them for various medical issues. These include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, liver dysfunction, and more.
Making a tea is one of the simplest ways to prepare medicinal herbs. If you can boil water, you can brew tea. You just:
- Bring some water to a roiling boil in a pot or other container. Crush the herb leaves, roots, and/or flowers.
- Pour the boiled water over 1 teaspoon of herbs and let steep for about five or ten minutes
- Keep a cover on while steeping.
- Unless using a tea bag or “bob”, place a strainer over a cup, and pour.
- Use honey or lemon to add flavor if desired.
A tea doesn’t have to be ingested to be of benefit: Some may be used as an eye wash, an irrigation solution for wounds, or in cold or warm compresses.
There are many herbs that can be made into a tea. Although some of the information below lacks hard scientific data, these are just some of the teas made by your ancestors for medicinal purposes.
Alfalfa: The seeds and leaves contain vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as calcium, phosphorous, iron, and potassium. It has been used as a diuretic to help urine flow and for upset stomachs. There are claims that it helps arthritis pain and may lower cholesterol. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried leaves, steeped in 1 cup of boiling water, for 10-20 minutes.
Burdock: The dried root has been used in teas to help clear acne and to treat psoriasis. Use 2 tablespoons of fresh grated root or 1 tablespoon of well-dried root in 3 cups of boiling water.
Catnip: Leaves and flowers are used to treat intestinal cramping, indigestion, diarrhea, and other stomach ailments. Also thought to treat respiratory infections like the common cold. A substance in catnip called nepetalactone is thought to produce a mild sedative effect. Use 1 teaspoon of dried leaves or 1 tablespoon of fresh leaves per cup.
Chamomile: This popular tea contains the amino acid Tryptophan, which gives it a sedative and relaxing effect. As such, it may help treat anxiety and insomnia. Antioxidants in chamomile may help slow down progression of visual, kidney, and nerve damage in diabetics. Use 2-3 teaspoons of dried flowers per cup.
Chicory: When supplies of coffee ran out, soldiers in the Civil War used the root of this common plant as a substitute. It doesn’t have caffeine, though, and has more of a sedative than stimulant effect in large amounts. Chicory root has an effect against intestinal worms, and has been shown in animal studies to improve calcium absorption and bone mineral density. Scrape the “bark” off the root before drying; use 1 teaspoon to 1 cup of water. Tea made from leaves has a laxative effect.
Dandelion: You might be surprised to know that the common dandelion contains vitamins and minerals. Indeed, it’s thought to have more beta-carotene than a similar serving of carrots. Young flowers and leaves make a good tea for constipation (steep for 20 minutes). Roasting the roots produces a coffee-like drink; use 2 teaspoons of dried chopped root in 1 cup of water.
Echinacea: Well-known to decrease the duration of colds and flus, Echinacea boosts the immune system and may have some antiviral activity. Steep 1-2 teaspoons of leaf, flower, or ½ teaspoon of root to 1 cup of boiling water.
Elder: Elderberry flowers make a tea that is used for many upper respiratory infections such as sinusitis, colds, flus, and laryngitis. Applied in a compress, the tea may be helpful for wound healing and some skin conditions.
The blue or purple berries are high in antioxidants and may be made into a juice or syrup: Put two pounds of elderberries and four cups of water and bring to a boil, then simmer for a half hour. Use a fine mesh strainer to press out the juice. Sugar may be added under medium heat to make a syrup.
Eucalyptus: Tea made from eucalyptus leaves offers relief from asthma as well as respiratory infections, mostly by opening airways and loosening thick mucus. It may have antibacterial and antiviral effects. Steep ½ teaspoon of dried or fresh leaves in 1-2 cups of water.
Ginger: The underground stems, or rhizomes, of Ginger are used to treat nausea of all types from morning sickness to motion sickness. Slice one inch of the rhizome into small pieces and simmer in two cups of water on low heat for 15 minutes. Then strain. ¼ – ½ teaspoon of ginger powder is another option.
Ginseng: Both Asian and American Ginseng root can be made into herbal teas that are thought to lower blood sugar levels, a useful benefit for those with diabetes. Simmer three to six teaspoons of the root for 45 minutes in three or four cups of water, then strain.
Lavender: Used in aromatherapy, lavender may improve nausea and other digestive symptoms when drunk as a tea. It’s thought to decrease migraine headaches and possibly limit convulsions and muscle spasms. Use 1 tablespoon of dried herb in 1 cup of water.
Lemon Balm: An herb with antiviral effects, it’s a member of the mint family. A tea made from lemon balm leaves and flowers was used in the past to treat mouth, throat, and dental infections like gingivitis and herpes sores. It’s also thought to decrease anxiety, aid sleep, and may help improve intestinal spasms and nausea. Add 1 teaspoon of dried herb or 5-6 fresh leaves to one cup of boiling water.
Licorice: Better known as an ingredient in candy, its coating properties may help with sore throats, coughs, and heartburn. Licorice can, however, raise blood pressure and should be avoided during pregnancy. Add 1-2 teaspoons of chopped root to 2 cups of boiling water. Drink ½ cup at a time.
Passionflower: Tea made from passionflower has a beneficial effect on anxiety and may serve as a sleep aid if taken regularly. Boil 1-2 teaspoons of herb (avoid the root) in 2 cups of water for 5-10 minutes.
Peppermint: A long-standing herbal remedy, tea made from peppermint calms the stomach and helps Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), but can worsen heartburn. The tea helps thin respiratory mucus and relieves nasal congestion. Put 1 teaspoon of dried herb or 6-8 fresh leaves over 1 cup of boiling water.
Rose: Rose “hips” make a tea with vitamin C, as well as calcium, selenium, zinc, manganese, and others. It boosts the immune system and is thought to be beneficial for the adrenal gland, responsible for the stress hormone cortisol. Boil 1 teaspoon of dried rose hips in water and steep for 20 minutes.
Sage: Sage leaf tea is a time-honored remedy for sore throat as well as the common cold as a tea or gargle. It may also aid digestion, decrease cramping, and may even improve memory. Steep 1 teaspoon of dried leaves in one cup of water.
Stinging Nettle: Stinging nettle root is thought to have benefits as a diuretic to improve urine flow, even in those with enlarged prostates. The leaves may decrease the pain of arthritis in joints. Use 1 teaspoon dried leaves in 1 cup boiling water or boil 5 grams of dried root in 2 cups of water for 5-10 minutes.
St. John’s Wort: One of the few herbs that has known activity against minor depression, it has been called “herbal Prozac”. Beware of interactions with prescription drugs, however. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of herb.
Thyme: Teas made from thyme will loosen thick phlegm and may help coughs. It’s known to inhibit bacteria, viruses, and fungi, including many that cause respiratory infections. Steep 1 to 2 teaspoons of fresh or dried leaves in 1 cup of water.
Turmeric: This herb contains curcumin, an anti-inflammatory compound that may treat Crohn’s disease and other digestive tract issues. As well, it may have beneficial effects on joint pain due to rheumatoid arthritis and other disorders.
Valerian: The dried roots of this plant have been utilized for centuries to deal with anxiety and insomnia. It may even decrease the frequency of seizures in patients with epilepsy. Its mild sedative effect eases pain and promotes sleep. Avoid taking with alcohol or sedative drugs.
Willow: The green underbark of willow trees contain salicin, the original ingredient used to produce aspirin. It is especially useful for muscle aches and joint pain. Simmer 1 teaspoon of bark in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes.
There is much research to be done to confirm all of the effects of these plants, and there may be other benefits not mentioned. Many other plants have medicinal effects other than the ones in the list above. These, however, are easily made into teas that can be produced even while on the move.
I’m sure you have your own herbal teas that have helped with various medical issues. The bottom line: Learn how to grow your own medicinal herbs. You may find they are all you have to keep people healthy in the long run. Using all the tools in the medical woodshed will make you a more effective medic.
Joe Alton MD
Learn more about natural remedies in the 2017 Book Excellence Award winner in Medicine “The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way”.
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Looking to add cucumbers to your garden? These easy tips and guidelines could have you knee-deep in cucumbers in as little as 2 months.
Growing cucumbers is among the most popular activities in backyard vegetable gardens across the country. In fact, almost half of the nation’s home vegetable growers – 47 percent according to Susan Littlefield, horticultural editor at the National Gardening Association – plant cucumbers. That makes cukes America’s No. 2 most popular homegrown vegetable. (Tomatoes, which should surprise no one, are the runaway favorite at 86 percent.)
There are two forms of cucumber plants, bush and vining. Bush selections form compact plants and are ideally suited for small gardens and containers. Vining plants, however, may be the better choice. They clamber up trellises and produce fruit that is straighter with less disease and insect problems than cukes grown on bushing plants.
Cucumber plants make two basic types of fruit, those for slicing and those for pickling. There are many varieties of each. Pickling varieties seem to reach their peak faster than slicing varieties.
Growing cucumbers is easy if you have a garden space that gets maximum sunshine. If you follow the few simple directions below from the National Gardening Association and don’t have unexpected late spring freezes, you should begin harvesting cucumbers in 65 to 105 days.
Planning and preparation
1. Select disease-resistant varieties.
2. Choose a sunny and fertile site with well-drained soil.
3. For an earlier harvest and to reduce the threat of insect damage to seedlings, start a few plants indoors in individual pots (or trays with separate compartments) about a month before your last spring frost date.
4. Set up trellises or a fence if you plant the vining form.
5. Sow seeds in the garden only after danger of frost has passed and you are sure the soil will remain reliably warm. Cucumber plants are extremely susceptible to frost.
6. Make a second sowing 4 to 5 weeks later for a late summer or early fall harvest.
7. To seed in rows, plant seeds 1 inch deep and about 6 inches apart.
8. To seed in hills, plant four or five seeds in 1-foot-diameter circles set 5 to 6 feet apart.
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9. Thin cucumber plants in rows to 1 or 2 feet apart, depending on the type (slicing or pickling), when 3 to 4 inches tall.
10. Thin cucumber plants in hills to the healthiest two plants when plants have two or three leaves.
11. Keep soil evenly moist to prevent the fruit from becoming bitter.
12. Side-dress cucumber plants about 4 weeks after planting. Apply two handfuls of good compost or a tablespoon of 5-10-10 or similar fertilizer per plant in a narrow band along each plant.
13. Apply a thick layer of mulch after applying the fertilizer.
14. Monitor cucumbers and other vegetables for the buildup of insect pests.
15. Perhaps the best way for home gardeners to control insects, especially the destructive cucumber beetle, Littlefield advised, involve strategies to disrupt the insect’s life cycle and habits. These include covering young plants with lightweight row covers until they begin flowering and crop rotation, she said.
16. If you decide to use insecticides, consider trying natural, less-toxic pesticides first. The problem with this approach, said Littlefield, is that there are not many effective “natural insecticide” choices in the case of cucumber beetles.
17. The most effective of the “natural insecticides” choices, she added, is kaolin clay applied preventatively. It acts as a repellent.
18. There’s also a problem with using broad-spectrum contact insecticides such as malathion, bifenthrin, cyhalothrin, cyfluthrin, permethrin, carbaryl and pyrethrin. These kill beneficial predators and parasites of insect pests.
19. In the case of all insecticides, read package labels to be aware of whether you must wait several days before harvesting cucumbers after applying the insecticide.
20. Consider capturing the pest, placing it in a sealed plastic bag and taking it to your local garden center and asking the staff there what control method would work best in your area.
21. Once cucumbers reach pickling or slicing size, harvest every couple of days to prevent cukes from getting excessively large or yellow and to keep plants productive.
Source : www.mnn.com
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In this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour with Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy (Joe Alton MD and Amy Alton ARNP), Dr. Bones discusses the upcoming ban on the useful but, perhaps, addictive herb Kratom, a Southeast Asian herb used for centuries to treat chronic pain and depression, and used by some today to replace addictions to opiates. Also, Nurse Amy discusses the many medical uses of Rosemary, and Dr. Bones discusses dental trauma, and what to do about that loose or knocked-out tooth in a survival setting.
To listen in, click below:
Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,
Joe and Amy Alton
You may or may not be an environmentalist, but a part of nature that everyone should support is the honeybee. It’s thought that every third bite of food that you take is there because of pollination by bees. Honey, when raw and unprocessed, is a versatile product that may even be used as a wound covering for burns and other injuries.
In the last decade, bee colonies are reported to be experiencing die-offs that have taken out a significant percentage of all the colonies in certain areas. I found this alarming, but a review of recent articles, however, revealed this idea to be a matter of debate. Opinions on the state of the bee nation seem to go along with the political bent of the author; if you’re liberal, the “bee-pocalypse” has arrived; if you’re conservative, bees are thriving and it’s all a bunch of “junk science”. Which do you “bee-lieve”?
As a conservative environmentalist (am I the only one?), it’s all pretty confusing. I tend to think that bees, like a lot of critters in today’s densely populated world, are in trouble, and there are multiple factors to blame. Some of these factors are, indeed, due to human actions.
These actions could be very isolated, like the truck that overturned in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, taking out most of the 430 beehives that were being transported to farming areas without enough pollinators (a question: Why is this a thriving business if there are plenty of bees?).
Human actions may be more coordinated, however, than a truck overturning. Our growing concerns about the Zika, West Nile, and other mosquito-borne viruses have led to the institution of mosquito control programs in many towns and cities in the U.S. One effective means of eliminating adult mosquitoes is aerial spraying with an organophosphate pesticide called Naled. Unfortunately, the use of Naled has caused collateral damage to many beneficial insects; the honeybee is one of them.
A recent series of aerial sprayings in Dorchester County, South Carolina, has killed millions of bees. Although relatively short acting, Naled is lethal to bees and daytime spraying has decimated the local population of these important pollinators. The chemical is not meant to be used between sunrise and sunset, when bees are out foraging. It seems the Dorchester County officials didn’t read the directions.
The inappropriate timing of the pesticide spraying has “nuked” the colonies of many Dorchester County beekeepers. Dead worker bees were found in large clumps at hive entrances; one beekeeper lost 46 hives.
Although the county claims to have given advisories of the spraying via email, many local beekeepers claim they didn’t receive the notice. Mosquito control is normally conducted by trucks in the county, and the aerial sprayings came as a (very bad) surprise. With warning, the beekeepers could have shielded the hives.
All this is happening at a time when another pesticide used to control pests is (apparently, another controversial statement) devastating bee populations in other areas.
Here’s a story that was reported some time ago: Customers at an Oregon Target store arrived to see tens of thousands of dead and dying bumblebees in the parking lot.
An investigation the day before revealed that a pest-control company had sprayed insecticide on surrounding trees due to an aphid infestation. Of course, bees don’t read warning signs and 300 colonies were destroyed. That’s a lot of lost pollinators.
The pesticide used is known as a neonicotinoid, popularly called a “neonic”. It was developed by Bayer a decade ago and differs from other pesticides, like organophosphates, in that they clear from the air a lot slower.
Many crops are treated with neonics. The chemical works like this: once sprayed on the plant, it is absorbed by the plant’s vascular system. This makes it poisonous to bugs that eat the leaves, nectar, or pollen. Sometimes the soil is treated as well, with the same absorption effect that makes it deadly to pests. Unfortunately, it’s kills good insects, as well.
When a Bayer neonic doesn’t kill a bee, it can damage its immune system and even affect its ability to navigate. It becomes lost and can’t find the hive. This phenomenon is sometimes known as “Colony Collapse Disorder” and it appears as if the bees have magically disappeared. Although not proven to be the cause in all cases, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to implicate the pesticide as a factor.
Now, a new study indicates that neonics harm drone bees’ sperm, killing close to 40 per cent and causing a condition called “queen failure”. A queen failure is when queen bees fail to have live offspring. A queen failure is a hive failure.
Of course, there are a lot of other reasons that a hive can fail. Parasites, disease, and many other factors may come into play besides chemical pesticides. But given the stress that our nation’s bee population is already under, what will be the straw that breaks the (bee’s) camel’s back?
To be banned, a chemical has to be proven dangerous in the U.S. Although Bayer is a German company, you might be interested to know that, at present, you can’t use neonics in Germany. Too dangerous. In the U.S., however, neonics are widely used and the bees pay the price.
Some areas in the U.S. are taking action. Eugene, Oregon has forbidden the use of this pesticide and the state of Maryland has followed with a ban to begin in 2018. Environmentalists urge action by the federal government to ban neonicotinoids and mandate wiser use of organophosphates like Naled (following the directions would be a good start). Meanwhile, others are complaining, even in Europe, of pests invading crops and want freer use of neonic and other pesticides.
Our bees are an important natural resource, not just for beekeepers, but for farmers and for all Americans. If you’re a consumer, you should be invested in this fight regardless of your political stripes. I’d like to Save the Whales, but it’s just as or more important to save the bees.
Joe Alton, MD
Lots of people are planting their fall gardens right now, so it seems like a good time to talk about gardening mistakes–the kind that could ruin your harvest and make all that digging and planting feel like a total waste of time. Of course, a failed garden isn’t the end of the world–you can just […]
Earlier this year I planted two young apple trees (McIntosh and Honeycrisp), and living in deer country I took a few precautions to deter them from eating the green shoots and damaging or destroying my efforts. By the way, planting fruit bearing trees is an excellent proactive action for preparedness sake… Here’s what I did, […]
Guest post by ‘Ozarks Tom’ Sweet potatoes are probably the longest storing vegetable your garden will produced. When handled and stored properly they’ll keep 8 months or longer in our Midwestern climate. Although generally thought of as a Zone 5 or below crop, they can be grown successfully in most any State with a […]
How To Make Your Own Insecticide For The Garden When garden pests are eating your plants, instead of reaching for chemical insecticides you might consider making your own organic insecticide spray – which may be just as effective… Here are a few do-it-yourself recipes, and I’m curious to hear about yours: HOMEMADE ORGANIC […]
Participate in our anonymous poll and let us know how big your garden is… Most all preparedness-minded folks have some sort of a garden or various patches of dirt for growing summer vegetables. Growing one’s own food not only results in great tasting fresh homegrown ‘real’ veggies, but preservation techniques such as home canning will […]
Tomato plants need structural support. Is there a best way to tie up (hold up) tomato plants? It may seem like no matter what you do the weight of the tomatoes hanging from randomly sprawling branches will eventually lean or tip over your tomato cage. So the search is on for the best way (or […]
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.
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.
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.
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:
Participate in our anonymous poll and choose from the list which vegetables that you’re growing in your garden this year… It should be interesting to discover which are the most popular, etc.. Check back as the poll develops: Note: The list of garden variety vegetables would be exceptionally long if I included every single […]
The fresh home-grown tomato. A succulent tasty summer delight! It is THE most common vegetable grown in backyard gardens, and that means that most all of you have some experience with growing tomatoes yourselves… Recently one of our articles developed a tangential comment thread on tomato tips and advice. I thought that I would capture […]
In this episode of The Survival Medicine Hour, good friend, author, and new dad Charley Hogwood joins Dr. Joe Alton to discuss group dynamics in survival scenarios. Charley is a veteran army recon scout with the 11th Armored Cavalry and survival expert who wrote the bible of survival groups, “The Survival Group Handbook“.
Also the average family of four throws out $1500 worth of food a year, something that has got to concern any prepper. Plus: Is there a vaccine being developed that might kill cancer cells? It’s being tested right now in Great Britain. All this and more with Amy Alton, ARNP and Joe Alton, MD in their latest podcast.
To listen in, click below:
Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,
Joe Alton MD and Amy Alton ARNP
You know us from our writings on medical preparedness, but we are dedicated survival gardeners as well, having gone through the Master Gardener program with our state’s Agricultural Extension Office. To stay healthy, your group has to have a plan of action to grow food. You may have stockpiled non-perishables, but they’ll run out in a long-term survival setting and your skills as a gardener may mean the difference between success and failure in times of trouble.
Even if you don’t have a lot of land, you can get through the gardening learning curve by using containers. In this video, Nurse Amy shows off her green thumb and gives you some tips on growing some pretty awesome eggplants.
To watch, click below:
Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,
Joe and Amy Alton
A lot of my readers live in apartments and townhouses, and some of them have complained to me about how they can’t have a garden until they move into a house with a yard. As I always tell them, you CAN have a garden. If you have a […]
Sometimes, the only thing preventing us moving toward independence and self-sufficiency is our doubts. Growing a garden is one area where our thoughts can be a bigger obstacle than any of the real obstacles involved in starting a garden. “I can’t have a garden, my yard is to […]
You might ask (or be wondering), “Where is the best place to buy seeds for the garden?” Maybe it doesn’t matter much, but then again maybe it does. Do you care to share your preferred supplier or retailer where you buy your seeds? Spring is coming and hopefully you’re beginning to plan this year’s vegetable […]
Whether it is fall, early winter, or late winter, the best time to plan your spring garden is now. There are few better ways to bust the winter blues than thinking of what you can plant for awesome fresh food in the spring. Spring gardens, depending on your […]
Make (Prepare) Your Own Soil To Germinate Seeds A ‘do it yourself’ soil treatment for germinating seeds. If you buy ‘special’ soil at the store for germinating seeds, it has most likely been through a pasteurizing process (not to be confused with sterilized). You might wonder why it may help to germinate seeds in soil […]
In a long-term disaster, your food storage will only last so long. Eventually you’re going to run out. But even if you don’t, you’ll be eating food that isn’t very nutritious. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a survival garden. It will give you more food […]
What’s for dinner? Well, it could be Frankenfish, as the FDA gives final approval for genetically modified salmon to hit the supermarket shelves. This story and more about dealing with a person physically collapsing in front of you are part of this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour with Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy. Also, a visit to the Urban Farming Institute…
To listen in, click here:
Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,
Joe and Amy Alton
I’ve been really into gardening lately, trying to find the best techniques and methods for growing fruit or veggies with as little effort or resources as possible. One method that really caught my attention was the straw bale method, a method that is based on planting into straw bales rather than in the ground. You prepare the bales thoroughly and that’s pretty much it. It’s cheap, requires very little care as the method is not pretentious at all and another bonus is that the plants are raised above ground level, which puts them out of the reach of various critters that could take a liking in whatever it is you planted. And not only that, picking the plants will from the straw bales, will be a lot easier than picking them from the ground. The seemed perfect, but only until I stumbled across the alternative: the HAY bale gardening method, which made the straw bale method seem less appealing all of a sudden.
Hay bale gardening vs. straw bale gardening
For those of you who have very little to do with gardening, there is a major difference between the two. Straw bales are usually comprised from cereal crops stalks (corn, wheat, oat, rye, barley etc.). It’s mostly used for bedding livestock, and apart from carbon, it has no real nutritional value. It’s not inefficient as a surface for growing plants, but it will require regular watering and fertilizers to get the job done. Hay on the other hand, it’s nothing but rich grasses that are mainly a source of rich and
nutritious food for cattle during cold periods (winter time), when the fields are empty. They are filled with nutrients and minerals like nitrogen, potassium, phosphates etc. that vegetables require to grow. It’s exactly this natural cocktail of minerals and nutrients that require no additional fertilizing methods when it comes to hay bale gardening. Hay also holds water more efficiently than straw due to its density and chemical structure. So a hay bale garden requires watering once a day, whereas a straw bale garden will require watering 3 times a day.
The first thing you’ll need to start your very own hay bale garden is getting your hands on hay bales. If you have nobody to turn to in your vicinity that could sell or give you the hay bales, you can always go on the internet and find farmers that have hay bales for sale. Once they’re delivered to you, pick a spot to your liking (preferably in your garden) and set them as you see fit. Next you’ll need to prepare the hay bales for the planting process. What’ll you’ll need is some 42-0-0 or even better, some nitrogen. You’ll treat the bales with nitrogen for 5 days; the nitrogen will break down bacteria, fungi and insects into nutritious compost that will serve as “fuel” for your growing plants. If you’re not that keen on spending money on nitrogen or fertilizers, you can just pee on the hay bales for the 5-day period; pee is rich in nitrogen and it’ll get the job done just as efficiently. However, the daily dose of pee a person produces will not be enough for this endeavor, so I suggest you start saving your pee in bottles or containers.
The preparation of the bales will be done over a period of 10 days total before planting. In the uneven days, the bales will be treated with half-a-cup of nitrogen and sprayed with water. During the even days of the 10 day period, the bales will be watered only.
During this process, the temperature inside the hay bales will rise dramatically, most likely to 120°F – 140°F. Although is very unlikely that the bales will simply catch fire, the risk still exists. So water the bales regularly I order to avoid any unwanted incidents. When the “ordeal” is over, the temperature will subside, from how to warm. Once this happens, you can start planting your vegetables. Just add regular seeds, water the hay garden once a day and you’ll be able to pick the fruits of your labor in no time.
Accurate temperature readings using a professional thermometer
- The bales should be tightly bound if you want them to hold. Synthetic twine works great and hold the hay bales together just fine during the growing season.
- A single bale of hay will hold about two tomato plants, two pumpkin hill, 3 cauliflower plants or 3 broccoli plants; plants cover the same amount of space in the bales as they do in the ground.
- Growing tall plants (sunflower, corn etc.) is not advised, as hay bales do not offer such plants the support they need. If you won’t provide these types of plants with a stacking system, they’ll most probably fall over.
- You shouldn’t water the bales more than two times a day. There is no danger of drowning the plants, because the water will evaporate quickly; the hay bales will not get drenched like soil would.
This method is very interesting and it seems to give great results even for the rookies. You don’t need much to get started. Just a minimum investment and the will power to get things done. If you’re looking for a cheap and fast alternative to gardening, look no further: hay bale gardening is the way.
By Alec Deacon
The post Hay Bale Gardening: How To Grow Your Own Veggies Without Fertilizer And Weed-Free appeared first on My Family Survival Plan.
No ratings yet. Editor’s Note: This post has been generously contributed by Caitlyn Robinson. It’s not a secret that self-reliance plays an essential role in a SHTF scenario. Besides the basic knowledge about making a fire and a shelter, purifying water and dressing wounds, you also have to make sure you have an ample […]
No ratings yet. Editor’s Note: This post has been generously contributed by Caitlyn Robinson. It’s not a secret that self-reliance plays an essential role in a SHTF scenario. Besides the basic knowledge about making a fire and a shelter, purifying water and dressing wounds, you also have to make sure you have an ample […]
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
The post 15 Essential Crops To Have In Your Survival Garden appeared first on My Family Survival Plan.
Urban Man says – if you are not growing anything in your backyard, on your balcony or even on a windowsill then you are not taking advantage of learning new skills sets nor getting the value of growing (and eating) your own healthy food. And least I mention saving money. In a depressed economy or monetary hyper inflation, the value of growing your own food cannot be over stressed.
You cannot open an internet browser without seeing former Senator Ron Paul warning of a dire economic collapse coming soon. This is echoed by Stansberry Research, The International Investor, Zero Hedge and many others.
Even growing a couple tomato plants, maybe a potato patch, or even just a squash mound or two can provide lessons learned on growing foods, give you some confidence and a sense of accomplishment, save you money and you may very well need that small garden to survive.
This is a main stream internet article on growing your own small garden and I re-post it as we cannot read, research or save enough articles on growing foods as I fear we are going to need these skills and soon.
10 Tips For Growing Your Own Food In Your Garden, by Sarah Wexler on Yahoo! Food.
There are plenty of good reasons to grow your own vegetables: you’ll spend less at the grocery store, you’ll know exactly what went into growing them, and you’ll have a sense of pride every time you enjoy that just-plucked-from-the-stem tomato.
“You’ll have a great variety of fruits and vegetables, and they taste so much better than anything from the store that’s been sitting on the shelves for days after it was picked,” says Suzy Hancock, general manager at Portland Nursery in Oregon. It’s true — you’ve never tasted a carrot so sweet or a cucumber so crisp as the ones you eat right from your own garden. Here’s her advice for starting your own successful veggie plot at home.
1. Build raised beds. Pick a part of your yard that gets full sun (that’s four to six hours a day), and construct — or buy pre-made — raised beds. They’re easier to weed and warm up faster than the ground, so you can start planting earlier and get better results. It’s also easy to attach hoops to a raised bed that you can cover in case of cold nights or pests like moths or birds.
2. Fill with good soil. Buy potting soil and mix in native soil from the yard as well as compost, mixing so the ratio is half compost, half soil. Mix in a dry organic fertilizer, which is good for long-term feeding, like E.B. Stone Organics Sure-Start, though you’ll still need to add compost every year to replenish your soil. Since vegetables like a close-to-neutral pH soil, buy a pH testing kit at the nursery and see if your soil is neutral. It’s often too acidic; if so, add lime.
3. Wait for warm nights. In spring, it’s generally safe to plant greens (lettuces, spinach, kale, Swiss chard), cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and peas. Plant other veggies too soon and you could kill your starters, so hold off until nighttime temperatures stay above 55 before planting peppers, tomatoes, and squash. The most cold-sensitive plants are melons and cucumbers, so plant those last, only when you’re fairly sure temps won’t dip again.
4. Plant the right fruits and veggies. Corn isn’t good for a small space, since it takes a lot of room and doesn’t produce much. Though plant starters are often sold in six-packs, don’t be afraid to scrap some or give to a neighbor; one zucchini plant is likely all you need because it’ll produce so many. Raspberries and mint are both invasive, taking over a whole garden if they’re planted, so use containers to keep them separate from the rest of your plot. Fennel doesn’t do well when planted next to veggies and tends to die. Generally, look for dwarf or bush varieties of plants, which don’t take up a lot of space even when they’re fully grown. A genius hack: buy grafted plants (often done with tomatoes), which are two varieties of the fruit or veggie growing from one plant, so you get double the variety without taking up twice the space.
5. Sequester your alliums. Alliums including onions, chives, shallots, leeks, and garlic are so much more fragrant and delicious from your own garden, but they tend not to play well with others; they can have negative effects on artichokes, asparagus, many kinds of beans, lettuces, and peas. Plant your alliums in separate containers or at least two to three rows away from its foes and it won’t be a problem.
6. Stagger your returns. Plant a mix of vegetables that mature over different time frames. That way you’ll have a steady stream of produce over the whole season, rather than so much ripening at once that you’re scrambling to use it all before it goes bad. The little plastic sign that comes with the plant will tell you the average number of days before it matures; at the nursery, look for a mix of traditional and early-maturing plants to spread your haul throughout the season.
7. Consider companion planting. This is a technique of pairing plants together that can benefit from being near each other. For example, basil generally thrives when planted next to tomatoes or peppers, but not as well when its neighbors are beans or cucumbers; find the whole list of happy plant pairings here. Generally, root vegetables like radishes, beets, and carrots do well when planted between leafy greens, since the root veggies take up a lot of space under the soil, while lettuces don’t have very deep roots.
8. Follow spacing guidelines. The plastic signs that come with your plants will give a guideline of how much “personal space” each needs from the plants around it. Rather than thinking you’ll get more veggies if you just pack more of them into your raised bed, crowding them in can reduce air circulation, leading to pests like aphids. If the plant’s instructions say three inches, give it at least three inches, and consider it room to grow.
9. Plant flowers, too. No, you’re not going to eat them, but flowers like marigolds are more than a pretty touch. Though it’s a myth that they keep bugs away, marigolds actually do help your veggies thrive by attracting beneficial insects to your garden.
10. Close up shop. After you’ve harvested your crops and you’re putting your garden to bed for the season, get rid of dead foliage to avoid pests, then cover with a thick layer of compost. Or, plant beneficial cover crops like vetch (in the legume family) or beautiful red-topped crimson clover; when you turn it under in the spring, it will add nitrogen and other nutrients to your soil — making for an even better garden next year.