When the collapse happens and you are in survival mode, you need to consider your long-term food needs. Whatever food you have stored away will eventually run out and then you will have nothing in your pantry. For this reason, you need to use the time you are eating through your food stores to grow your own food, food that will be ready when your stores are gone.
Perhaps the most important thing to understand when it comes to growing food for survival is that some foods are better than others when it comes to ease of growth, nutritional content, caloric content, and ease of storage. For this reason, you need to have good knowledge of the best foods to grow for survival, particularly if you have limited space or are trying to decide which types of seeds to stockpile.
How Native Cultures Did It
Native cultures around the world discovered thousands of years ago that farming was an essential part of survival. Hunting and foraging could only take us so far and being able to plant crops gave us a more stable food source. In North America, many tribes subsisted much of the year on what they called the three sisters, which were corn, squash, and beans. South America also relied on corn and beans, as well as potatoes. For thousands of years in China people have been growing enough food on a couple of acres of land that they can feed their families and still have enough with which to barter for other goods. These ancient cultures are good examples of how to farm for survival.
The Hardy Foods
First, when it comes to growing your own food, nothing is off limits. You can grow anything you want to include in your diet and the summer months will allow you to have a great abundance of food. Things like tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and broccoli are all wonderful foods to grow, rich in vitamins and minerals. However, these are not the hardy foods that will get you through the winter, particularly when your available methods of preservation are limited. Ideally, you want foods that, once harvested, can be stored as is or dried and stored for use over the winter months. For this reason, the following are the recommended staples to plant and grow for year-round sustenance, starting with the three sisters.
Beans are one of the best staples for so many reasons. First, they are very high in protein, vitamins, and minerals and they are also very high in calories, providing lots of the energy required for survival. However, beans are also very versatile. They can be eaten fresh off the plant or dried on the vine, harvested, and stored. Beans have an incredibly long shelf life when dried. They can be prepared in a wide variety of ways, such as in soups, cooked and eaten with breads, or just eaten on their own. Their versatility as a food is nearly endless. Finally, beans give nitrogen back to the soil, something other crops need. This makes them a great rotation crop.
The first thing you need to know about growing corn for survival is you won’t be growing the sweet corn you are familiar with. Instead, Native Americans grew grain corn, which was traditionally grown and dried on the stalk so it could be harvested and stored. Corn is very easy to grow. It can be ground and made into a variety or breads and used as a thickener for soup. Corn can be combined with beans for a complete protein.
Winter squash is very hardy and easy to store during the winter months. There are a lot of varieties, such as acorn, butternut, spaghetti, and Hubbard. Pumpkins also fall into this category. Store them for up to 6 months in a cool, dark place and you will be enjoying this nutritious staple along with your corn and beans.
The humble potato might be associated with Ireland in the minds of many people (think the Great Irish Famine), but it is actually native to South America and wasn’t known anywhere else in the world until after Columbus sailed. Potatoes are so easy to grow in a range of climates and soil types and their use has spread all over the world. They will also sustain you for an extended period of time when you when you have no other food available.
Carrots are also a very important root vegetable that will store well over the winter months and provide important nutrition and variety in your diet. As long as you have sandy, well-draining soil, you can grow carrots. If you aren’t in an area that experiences hard winters, you can cover your carrots with a thick layer of mulch to protect them and just leave them in the ground. If you do have to harvest them, then you can store them in a refrigerator or root cellar.
Cabbage is a staple around the world and for good reason. It is easy to grow, easy to store, and high in nutrition, even when cooked. Cook it with other staples, such as potatoes, for delicious meals, make it into soup, or ferment it to make Sauerkraut. When fermented, cabbage will last even longer and provide a wealth of nutritional benefits for the body and the digestive tract.
Kale is part of the same plant family as cabbage, and while it isn’t normally thought of as a survival staple, it is a great crop to grow. Kale is so packed full of nutrition, it will help keep your family from nutritional deficiencies that can weaken them and make them more prone to illness. It can be grown easily and it is cold-hardy, which means that you can grow it well into late fall or early winter. If you have a cold frame, you can grow it through the winter. Kale can be added to any foods you are cooking, including soups and stews and potato dishes. It can also be dried into kale chips, something that has become a popular health food, but will store well and keep you eating healthy greens throughout the year.
Sweet potatoes are a fabulous addition to your staple foods. They are similar to potatoes, but healthier because they contain more nutrients and their greens are edible. One plant can give you both tubers and greens. Sweet potatoes are also easy to grow. Even though they are a tropical and subtropical plant, they can be grown in the north. They are a vine than have runner roots that swell into the delicious tubers.
Sweet potatoes can be stored at room temperature for a long period of time. They will keep a month or two at the least, but if they are cured, they will keep for many months. Curing them means simply keeping them at between 85 and 90 degrees for the first five days after harvest, during which time they will essentially grow a second skin.
Garlic is a fabulous addition to any survival garden. It is delicious and will add flavor to anything you cook, but it is so much more than that. Aside from being a highly nutritious food, it can be used as a medicinal plant. Garlic is a powerful antibiotic and antiviral. It also helps boost the immune system, is a powerful antioxidant, and reduces high blood pressure and cholesterol. Garlic is easy to grow, and when harvested, it can be stored and used over the winter months while you wait for a new crop to grow.
Herbs are incredibly versatile and very easy to store. Anything you can think of, such as rosemary, thyme, basil, bay leaves, parsley, and oregano, can be grown during the summer months, harvested, and dried for use over the winter months. Simply cut the plants, wash them, hang them upside down until they dry, and then store them in glass jars in a cool, dry place. Plus, many of the herbs you use every day are perennials, which means that once you plant them, they will come back every year, giving you an ongoing annual supply of herbs. Herbs will also give you the nutrition you need from greens and will provide your food with added flavor, something that will save you from the blandness of a survival diet.
The list above includes the best survival foods to grow, but you shouldn’t wait until the collapse to get started. The key is to practice now, before growing this food is a matter of survival. Make mistakes now (while you can still go to the grocery store and buy food).
Even if you choose to begin with only one or two of the foods listed above, get started and learn how to grow food that will keep you and your family alive and healthy no matter how tough times get…
…because tough times never last, but tough people do!
Prof. Nate Storey (picture bellow) will show you why you need your own food source and how you can use high density “vertical aquaponics” or “survival aquaponics” to grow large quantities on a small piece of land.
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