Seeds are an essential item for any long-term survival plan. Stockpiling food is a great idea and everyone should do it, because there’s no other way to get through the initial weeks and months after a crisis hits, but there’s a limit to how much you can store; eventually you’re going to have to start producing your own. Foraging for wild foods can take up some of the slack, but in the end it’s going to be a lot more labor-intensive than growing it.
The question is, what should you grow? A look at any seed catalog will quickly tell you that there are thousands of options, so which ones to add to your stores? It’s tempting to get the widest selection you can, but in fact that’s not a good idea. You need to be selective about the seeds you buy – you need the right varieties, and the right number of varieties.
For the same acreage, you’ll spend more time and effort on it if you grow a larger number of crops. That’s a good argument to keep the number down as much as you can. On the other hand you don’t want too few crops either. That way, your entire food supply is vulnerable to a disease or pest that just happens to target what you have. If you’re growing two things and one of them picks up a disease, you’ve lost half your food. If you’re growing ten things and one gets an infestation you’ve only lost a tenth.
You also need to think about future crops. You can harvest seeds from this year’s, but you might not want to grow the same crops every year – that can be a quick way to exhaust the soil. Rotating the same crops around different patches can help, but varying the actual crops every year or two won’t hurt either. Having some extra seed varieties on hand will give you much more flexibility.
Finally, make sure you’re growing a balanced diet. Some crops are high in carbohydrates, some in proteins, some in fiber – but very few are high in all the nutrients you need. To keep yourself healthy you need a mix of crops that provides all your requirements.
So you need to have a few types of seed, but not too many. Getting the balance right makes the difference between a productive plot and hungry frustration. Avoid that by stocking up on this selection of all the seeds you’ll ever need:
Squash is a great food crop; it’s easy to grow, and the fruit is high in carbohydrates. It contains a lot of other nutrients too, including magnesium, potassium and Vitamins A and C. The squash family is diverse, too, meaning you can find varieties that thrive in almost any climate. Butternut squash and pumpkins do well in warm climates; zucchini is the one to go for if you live somewhere temperate to cold.
Squash is also a very versatile crop. Depending on the variety it can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. It’s easy to store, too. Whole squash can be kept in a root cellar for up to three months. Alternatively it can be canned or dehydrated for longer-term storage, and it freezes well too.
Squash seeds can be bought, and it’s also easy enough to harvest seeds from your own crop.
Potatoes are another carbohydrate-rich crop and they also contain an array of other nutrients – they’re a good source of potassium, copper and Vitamin B6. Potatoes can be grown from seeds; either buy them, or collect them from the seed pods on mature potato plants. The drawback with potato seeds is that it takes two seasons to produce edible potatoes. In the first year the plants produce small tuberlets; use these as seed potatoes to grow a real crop the next year. On the other hand seeds can be stored long term. To cover the next season’s crop, keep a supply of seed potatoes as well.
Related: Preserving Potatoes Year Round – A Solid Choice for Preppers
This grows best in a sunny climate, but if you live in a farming area you’ll know where it thrives and where it doesn’t. Corn is a very useful crop; apart from being eaten as a vegetable it can also be dried and ground, then used to make cornbread.
Corn is a wind-fertilized crop, and it will pollinate better if you plant it in blocks instead of rows. One thing to be aware of with corn is that it’s vulnerable to inbreeding, so aim to have at least 100 plants to guarantee a healthy gene pool.
Spinach is another versatile plant, which can bee eaten cooked or raw as a salad. It’s very nutritious, containing plenty of fiber as well as iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and Vitamins A, B-riboflavin, B6, C, E and K. It grows in spring and fall, so most (not all) varieties will deliver two crops a year. It’s also easy to grow.
Whenever you plant spinach, don’t pick it all when it’s ready to eat – leave a few plants to fully mature, then collect the seeds from the female plants. You can recognize the females by checking the small balls that grow under the leaves; on a male plant these are yellow, but on a female one they’re green. Let the plants grow until they turn yellow then pull them up, hang them upside down in a cool dry place for two weeks, then shake them to collect the seeds.
Related:22 Cans You Can Purchase for $1 or Under
Most preppers already have a load of dried beans in their food stores, for a few very good reasons. First, they’re easy to keep and have a long shelf life. Second, they’re versatile and can be turned into a wide range of meals. Third, they’re a great source of protein and fiber. Sadly there’s a limit to how many beans you can stockpile, but the good news is they’re also easy to grow.
There’s a huge variety of beans on the market, but if you want to grow beans for storage the most popular choice is the navy bean. Green beans and peas can be canned. Some varieties are bushes while others need to grow up a stick; this can affect how much space they need. Most varieties do prefer warmer weather,, but they can be grown in most of the contiguous 48.
If you’re serious about self-sufficiency you need to reckon on growing, and processing, wheat. It’s one of the most nutritious thigs you can plant, being high in carbs, protein and fiber, and it also has significant amounts of B vitamins. Processing it into flour can be quite labor-intensive, but if you can manage that you’re able to be self-sufficient in proper bread.
There are plenty more seeds you can add to your collection depending on personal preferences, but if you have a good stock of these six, store them properly and rotate them as required, you’ve got the basis for a sustainable long-term food supply. Make sure you get heirloom seeds – GMO ones are often modified to stop them producing fertile seeds of their own, forcing farmers to buy more seeds every year. That’s obviously no good in a crisis, so look for more traditional non-GMO cultivars that can be bred generation after generation. Do that and you’ll have an endless supply of produce that will secure your long-term food supply.
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If climate allows, Okra is also a must. It’s a sturdy plant, very prolific, the seeds are large and easy to collect for the next year; just let a few pods grow to maturity, cut them off the plant and save them for next spring.
I’ve heard the flowers can be consumed, but I’ve never tried it, preferring the fruit to the flower.
Plant a 50 foot row, and you’ll have plenty to eat fresh and to put up for winter enjoyment.
My favorite way to eat it is picked fresh, sliced, and fried in butter in an iron skillet. …Makes me hungry just thinking about it.
Thanks for the addition. Perhaps that was supposed to be #4
shhhh…. don’t tell anyone #4 was missing! See how many people catch on….. : )
Well spotted! You’d have won a jar of okra, but we forgot to plant it.
I have a number four on mine it is spinach. Must have been edited before I read this article.
I have a # 4 also, Spinach
If only I liked okra. Slimy little devils. Maybe I’m cooking them wrong.
Try coating them in some flour or corn meal and frying them. They’re not slimy that way.
Okra and tomatoes cooked together removes the slime.
Add sweet corn as well. Delicious.
put corn on a foil sheet old bay seasoning and pour beeron it and cook yummmm! scotish recipie, curl up the foil make sure it is sealed. cook in oven 300 45 minutes.
You will be out of luck. Tomatoes didn’t make the list
They’re nice stewed with tomato, maybe some sweet corn. Definitely onion and garlic.:)
Have you tried fried okra? YUMMY. Lightly floured or battered the way you like to flour and batter your veggies.
That’s why most people eat okra battered and fried. It isn’t slimy that way.
If picked really early (very small), some like them pickled (not me). I put a few in stir fries (too many and it will get slimy – so only a few) or batter and fry them.
Young okras are great on a grill. Put them on top of aluminum paper after salting them s little. Delicious
Try slicing, battering, and frying…YUM, YUM! Especially if you sprinkle it with a little Cajun seasoning while fresh from the grease.
Fried okra is the way.
Best to cook okra in frying pan and butter after rolling the cut up pieces of okra in egg and then cornmeal…mmmm so good!
CS: that and deep-fried. ! niio
Okra grew like gangbusters in Coastal Virginia when I had a garden for a couple of years. Brussels sprouts did very well, too, and I was a FIRST TIME gardener. Surprisingly, the leaves of the Brussels sprout plant had a nice lemony flavor, and were great in SOUPS. Anyone know of any reason to NOT EAT’em????
Thank you to everyone who adds their take on the information. You guys are great. I am learning so much
Mad: I let the collards go to seed, and now it’s the winter (fall planted two years ago) kohlrabi’s turn. The raab (flower buds) off the collards are great if cooked, then do as you will. Saute in garlic butter 🙂 Use them in Asian food! Next, the brussels sprouts can go to seed. Radishes are starting to close down but the seed pods are tasty for snacking and in salads. Spring kohlrabi are starting to come on. It’s summer here and the corn is growing fast. I need to get some okra to plant! niio
How much you plant depends on where you live. A few years ago I planted 20 seeds. Once the plants started to bare fruit We ate all we could, froze a bunch, gave away until no one would take any more. I cut all of them but 2 off and allowed them to grow until frost. they were 8’7″ and 8′ 3″ tall. I had to cut the plants off because there root system was so large I could not pull them. I live in East Texas.
Wow. What kind of fertilizer did you use?
Home made compost, composed of weeds, leaves, grass, kitchen scraps tea and coffee grounds, dead rats, twigs, small limbs, and lots of paper and cardboard. I also added brown sugar and cotton seed compost.
I never liked okra, but all the okra-lovers I know told me, “You just ain’t never had it fixed raht. I tried it several different ways, but I guess none of them were ever raht.
We dehydrate some of our okra for making gumbo, and adding to soups and stews.
Elizabeth Taylor once publicly stated that okra was her favorite vegetable.
Perhaps she was on one of her many famous crash diets at the time, because okra is known for expediting weight loss… ( I boil it, with very little water – and do not overcook do it has little time & opportunity to get overly mushy)
“If it ain’t deep-fried, is it food?” Coated and fried, stuffed coated and fried 🙂 niio
My family is learning so much from your letters and we are so thankful for all you are teaching us. You are a blessing to us
Learning to take a garden from seed to seed is a must and probably more important to learn that what to plant. Having that knowledge/ability can make you an invaluable asset to a post-SHTF community. Also, having viable seed to trade will probably make them worth their weight in gold, so to speak.
A note of caution – We purchased “seed vaults” from two or three different sources (another mistake we made in our very early years of learning to prep). We found that a lot of those seeds were not mature and would not grow. By checking them when we did, we had time to rectify the situation but a lot of people will not get that opportunity. There’s going to be an awful lot of upset and hungry people out there when they find that those wonderful seed vaults they purchased and stored away are nearly worthless.
A lot of stuff that is sold to peppers is junk. It really is a caveat emptor field. It seems as if alll the folks who used to sell encyclopedias and aluminum siding have moved over to the prepper field.
Isn’t that the truth?! Guess those “salesmen” had to go somewhere but why couldn’t it have been to used cars or septic tanks?
I bought a seed collection from food insurance and everything I planted seemed to do very well. Only problem is they throw in a lot of exotic crap I will never use. Always best to collect what you like and will use and works well for your own environment.
Hi, How could you tell the seeds were not mature(suitable to grow)? Have you found a Heirloom Vault that will be honest and sell a reliable Heirloom Vault? Did you tell the seller? Did they respond? I am a teacher for families learning to prep and I just told them about Heirloom Seed Vault and I would hate to be out of seeds years done the line. Please help me.
Thank you so much. 🙂
Lizy, you don’t really need an heirloom vault; just buy the heirloom veggies and save the seed. It isn’t hard to do 🙂
Choose what you want to grow, save the seed, and you can sleep easy about your store of seeds.
To clarify, “save the seed from what you grow”.
We found out the hard way “store” veges arent worth growing. Saved the seeds of some awesome zukes. Plants grew big/fast & after flowering, died. Were Monsanto crap wthe suicide gene built in.
Store vegetables sometimes get treated with various gases, etc to slow their maturing or ripening. That could have a big effect on their seeds not being able to grow. Then of course, there are a lot of GMO vegetables in stores. Only God and Monsanto know what’s been done to them, and I think Monsanto tries to leave God out of the loop most of the time.
It’s good they died, really, if you think about it.
Elizabeth – The seeds I was talking about were white instead of the black, brown, green, etc of mature seeds. The way I check seeds to see if they will grow is to put some in a little water. Then I wait a few days to see if they have sprouted. If they have, then the seeds in the package are likely viable. The seeds from my vaults would not sprout. I had purchased vaults from Patriot’s Pantry, Emergency Essentials (don’t even know if they still carry them) and one other place. Sorry, I don’t remember the third’s name. Did I tell them about the seeds in my vaults? No. I bought the vaults while living in Kentucky, then had an unexpected move to North Carolina. After I moved, it was another year before I was able to get a garden plot ready for planting. By then way more than a year had passed, so it was my problem to deal with.
I would recommend anyone with a vault to check their seeds now while they can still get seeds to replace any that will not grow. If in doubt, use the method of a few seeds in a little water to see if they will sprout. Based on my experience with the vaults, in my opinion, it is better to just buy seeds from a store and then put them away in a jar or other container until needed. That way you can have the vegetables and herbs you and your family prefer rather than some random assortment that some company threw together. My suggestion is to date the seed packets with the date you bought them. Then when you start to plant them, you know for sure which is the oldest to use first.
Once you have your seeds and your garden growing, the next best thing to learn to do is to take it from seed to seed. Learn to harvest seeds, not just vegetables. That way you always have a supply of seeds available, you know where they came from and how they were cared for, so you know what is in your family’s food supply. Herbs just need to be harvested from time to time but not totally cut down. Then in late summer, allowing the herbs to bolt, or go to seed. Most herbs will reseed themselves like that and then come back again in the spring ready for another growing season.
Hope I answered your questions without causing more.
Patriots Pantry is one of the companies I was talking about. A quick check to see if you are getting your money’s worth is to find out what the total calorie count of the package is that they are selling as X day’s of food. Divide the total calorie count of the whole 365 “servings” of food by 2,000. Whatever the number is left is how many “days” worth of food you really have. Even Mountain House, considered by many to be the cadillac of “prepper” food considers 1800+ calories a day’s worth of food. Well, you won’t starve to death on 1800+ calories a day but you will get lean and especially mean on that number of calories a day. Now, if you are a sedentary, 50 year old, post-menopausal woman, 1800 calories a day would be plenty. If you are an active 30 year old male engaged in the various chores necessary to maintain the homestead in a time of crisis, even 2500 calories a day is going to make you lean and mean. I say mean because you are going to be hungry all the time and you will constantly lose weight and muscle mass until you get down to the body mass that can be supported on 2500 calories a day. You will be in better shape if you are short. If you are over 6′ you are going to start being called Slim or Toothpick.
One of the big vendors has now changed its copy to read servings but that is still misleading as most servings are in the 250 to 375 calories per serving category. If you simple add up the servings, sure, it looks like you are fine because it works out to, if your are lucky, 4 servings a day. Well, Cricket, 4 x 375 = 1500 back when I was in first grade. I realize with the new math that figure may be incorrect, but I am still going to go with it. Running 1500 calories short every day, you are going to be d-d mean and really, really lean. If there were movies being made in an EOTW situation, you could fill in as an extra in a film about the Nazi camps or the Japanese POW camps – maybe a zombie because your eyeballs would be shrunken in, your cheekbones would be very prominent and you would probably walk with a shuffling gait naturally.
LCC – I was talking about their seed vaults, NOT their foods.
I realize that, but it just confirms what I was talking about for the whole product line. I think one is better off buying heirloom seeds at his local nursery in the varieties that will grow in his area and the kinds of food he actually eats. The seeds will be picked by the folks at the nursery who have to face their customers if they are junk for the area where they are going to be planted.
The SoCal climate is so different from the Indiana climate that it takes different varieties to germinate. Varieties that work wonderfully in Indiana probably would germinate and wilt immediately here in this semi-desert climate. There are so many micro-climates in the U.S. that seeds have to be selected for varieties that will be worth planting in that climate.
I don’t think a company that is putting together a “food value” and selling it in every climate across the country is doing anyone a service. If you look at the mail order seed vendors who are actually in the seed and plant business, they will give you advice concerning what varieties have a chance of surviving in your climate. The food vault concept is a good idea poorly executed for fast buck agents.
Check out “My Patriot Supply” they have all kinds of heirloom seeds and other stuff too, this is where I buy seeds and have never been disappointed in the quality.
There is a catalog, Annie’ s Heirloom seeds @
I’ve bought several seed vaults (#10 Cans) from different suppliers. Some suppliers are much better than others. Seeds are living things, and though they can last for years, when they’re sealed in an airtight container with packets that remove the free oxygen, they will eventually DIE. You can still eat’em. I have NO idea how long different seeds can survive in a sealed container. Extreme cold might make’em last, but freezing can disrupt their cells, too. It’s a fine balance. The only times I’ve been able to raise a decent garden were times when I didn’t have a full time job, and most of the work was prepping the soil. Once the plants were well established they grew WAY faster than any weeds!
Where’s number 4
Just so you know #4 is missing. So there is only 6 seeds listed.
I am looking for alternatives to a few of the recommended seeds as the DW is allergic to the plants. Presently we live in growing zone 6a/b, depending on what map you look at.
For the potato I can use sweat potatoes/yams, but are there any others, as alternatives would be helpful in rotation. The wheat needs to go along with the corn, so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Personally, I would choose Sorghum as an alternative to wheat or corn.Very flexible crop and drought resistant
Learn something every day. I looked up sorghum to see how to use it for food. I had always thought it was just cattle fodder. You can actually make bread out of sorghum and I now know why I see so much of it growing in SoCal. It grows well in semi-arid regions. According to Wikipedia in Honduras they make tortillas form sorghum. I had heard of sorghum molasses which while not really molasses I guess is sweet enough to pass for a cheap molasses. At EOTW I may learn to like sorghum molasses.
Kelly, thanks for the reference to sorghum. Without it I would have never researched it. This site is so valuable. I have learned as much from it as form the many books I have read on survival and prepping.
Personally, I prefer sorghum molasses over regular because it isn’t as strong tasting. The regular is fine for use in baking where you need the stronger flavor to survive the heat of the oven.
I also agree, it may also grow well in Northern California. I will let you know. My area? Far more water than you in Southern Calif., however my summers are upward to 108 degrees in the summer.m does anyone know of,some good recipes? Tried Pre-Packaged in Indiana and was terribly disappointed by the results.
I’m glad to help with ideas, sorry for the late response, haven’t been around this article lately. Let me know how it turns out if you do grow any. I’m not in the position to grow it right now but hope to next year. Another fun fact is that you can pop it like popcorn but you don’t get those annoying kernel shells. Cheers!
Hey! I am a 67 old broad that runs by herself a small farm with nut & fruit trees, garden and I hunt for a lot of my meat. I moved 10,000 pounds of soil this spring. Don’t generalize so pls… Though I know I am an exception not the rule.
Rydaartist: 16 years old? Remember the wisdom of George Burns. the movie, Oh, God, was cool about that. When asked what age God created Adam and Eve, he thought about it and said, 17. It’s the perfect age to be. You live at home, eat there, sleep there, and work like a dog, but it’s your money. I’ll be turning 17 in a few months, again 🙂 My mother worked just as hard as Dad on the farm. he worked 3rd shift and she took care of house and barn work. She was too short to handle the [plow, and the horse was afraid of her, anyway 🙂 Be an exception: Stay young. niio
Maybe turnips? They are a great alternative to potatoes, though not calorie-rich. Do not confuse them with parsnips which I think are yucky. They are a white to yellow-fleshed gulp, purplish on the ends.
Gov: If you like turnips, that’s cool. I only like them raw, and the white ones (Japanese) are a lot sweeter with little bitterness. Canna for starchy food is better and easier to hide. If you do try, get a commercial achira, which tends to grow long roots with little branching. If you want the starch, do like Native Americans and peel, slice, and dry the roots, then grind to a powder. Mature roots tend to be fibrous, but all are bland. Shoots can be picked to use like asparagus, the leaves are eatable. Seeds are ground for flour. The starch is 2nd only to arrowroot.
Sunchokes are a lot hardier than turnips or potatoes. niio
Wow! Thanks. Will check them out.
This is an old thread, but wanted to comment in case others happen by later with the same question.
If you can’t grow wheat or corn, you might want to consider spelt (some who can’t eat wheat are okay with spelt, some not), or oats. They’d grow well in Zone 6.
For potato substitutes, you can consider Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), rutabagas, or turnips.
the article doesn’t mention about looking around what’s growing naturally that you can take. Lambs quarter grows in many places, is nutritious, and happily self sows. Acorns can be gathered and processed to be used as a flour (no gluten, so it won’t rise).
Second time I have ordered books from you and I have not received them
I think the reason that they were mentioned is that your body needs some carbs to survive and be healthy. I would add amaranth/quinoa to the list , possibly buckwheat. It’s obviously just a “starter” list to be tailored to individual needs/tastes. I do believe there was another typo in the squash section though- zucchini is a warm climate squash and the “winter” squashes do better in cooler climates. Check with neighbors/coworkers/local garden shops to see what grows well in your area and also read up on vegetarian nutrition strategies for inspiration.
My ancestors down to me have always saved seed. Mostly local climate things but some the require a hot bed to get an early start.
Blessed that they were farm families. They taught me to grow and save seed and how to preserve crops. I looked at “seed vaults”, from the mentioned experience I’m glad I stuck with what I know.
I grow zuchinni and yellow squash for summer eating although some canned of dehydrated for later is good. I have several “winter” squash we grow a few of but my favorite is a gray hubbard from seeds originally in a few gift squash when I first moved here 41 years ago. I plant 6-8 in cups very early and once nights stop freezing we plant 3-4 for us and I share the excess with others. They require quite a bit of space for each plant but are well worth the space and water.
I grow several old heirloom tomato varities. Most for different cooking and raw eating situations. Tiny ones to have something early, medium for slicing and salads, and paste tomatoes. Often I grow a few yellow pear tomatoes but share all but pne or two plants. Here by seasons end the plant is hugh and covered in tiny tomatoes. I eat a few every time I walk through the garden. They are good in salads and in jars of mixed colors and sizes of small tomatoes that I pickle for relish trays. Incredibly proliffic just one or two plants each year are plenty.
Always there are beets. Nothing fancy. Just good old fashioned red beets. We cook fresh, and can them plain and pickled. .
My mother loved beets so I grew up with served many different way. Boiled, peeled and lightly buttered; pickled; heated in a bit or lemon or orange juice with a hint of sweetness and the juice slightly thickened with corn starch; hot or cold; et. I enjoyed them all.
My kids are good eaters and love salads. One of their favorites, was easy. Grate up a large bowl of raw zuchinni, stir in halved cherry tomatoes in any colors you have lots of, moisten with Italian salad dressing. Serve chilled or at room temperature. They called it Mom’s zuchinni and we never had leftovers. Whoever was putting away food and doing dishes would sit down and eat what was left in the serving bowl.
I was blessed to have farm raised parents. Raising a garden just seemed natural. So did preserving the crops for the next years meals.
This is a great intro article. I would love to see follow up letters on best way to collect and store the seeds.
Food is necessary, but so are clothing. Add one more seed (seeds are edible), is Flax Seed. Fiber broken down is spun into linen thread. Is it labour intensive? Yes. But flax can be stored for years before it is broken down for thread.
I personally would remove corn from the list. Even if you lived in an area where you could grow corn it only produces two to three ears per plant and the plants need to be spaced far enough apart to allow sunshine to allow even those three years to produce kernels.
The only way I would plant corn. Is if I were to plant beans and squash and use the three sisters method.
One could also plant sunflowers in place of corn. As a sprout sunflowers have tremendous food value. Then you could use the sunflowers with the three sisters method.
I would concentrate on the brassicas that is the number one food value can grow is watercress. Number two is Chinese cabbage or bok choy. Then spinach. All of these have amazing food value.
I am concentrating and on growing sprouts because you can grow Sprouts in the dark for about 9 to 10 days and only need about 3 days of sunshine or artificial light for them to get green. They have tremendous food value.
Before dismissing a survival choice so readily, you should look at the benefits or negatives. A single corn stalk will not produce much, but when you have a sufficient quantity, you can increase the benefits of raising the crop.
Corn can be used to make corn meal, corn flour, and can be an enhancement to several dishes. On top of what you can do with the kernel, you also have the corn silk, which has medicinal uses. See https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-140/corn-silk for more information.
Corn stalks can be fed to you farm animals, and may also attract deer for added meat to your survival needs. Even composting the stalks will aid in your future garden requirements.
Corn husks and cobs can be used for various other things. Researching for my post, I came across https://www.thekitchn.com/please-dont-throw-away-your-naked-corn-cobs-232598 which discusses corn jelly, and using the cobs to smoke meat.
Just because we only consider the normal uses for a plant (or other items), doesn’t mean it may not be more useful for a SHTF situation.
Corn husks can be dried , shredded and used for stuffing mattresses and pillows. Cobs can also be used to make smoking pipes and as “tp”, but I don’t know how well it would work) :¤
Miss Kitty: corn cobs and husks were used as TP for many many years since the Indians first showed white man how to grow it. I have never read what the Indians used for sanitary purposes — ever. For all I know that might have been one of the things they showed the white man. That’s very interesting. Of all the things I have read about Indian life, I have never read a word about how they handled something that occurs daily for most of us.
Neither have I, but I’ll do a bit of research and get back to you on that. One thing I did read was that oak moss was used as absorbent stuffing for baby swaddling, and shredded cedar bark on the NW coast, so maybe those were used in some way for TP.
Here in the NW spagnum moss was used for diapers and for sanitary napkins. Almost any of the north/northwest mosses can be dried and used. From a half Sioux friend came this info. She loved her stays with her grandmother in Montana Flathead area) who taught her to make a lemonade drink from moss gathered from creek bottoms. Could be a good drink which doesn’t have to be carried.
And if you have cattle the stalks can be used for feed.
Thank you for suggesting sunflowers instead of corn in the 3 sisters method—what a great idea!
No cucumbers or melons? I would have to include these as well. 🙂 Melons especially have some great nutrition and cucumber can grow up on a trellis to save space. Herbs and more lettuces and kale too! I know they’re suggesting the most nutrient dense and trying to save space, just saying.
Dry corn stalks can also be used to burn as fuel… waste not, want not.
Speaking of burning, someone pointed out that the ashes from burned hardwood are an excellent source of essential minerals for the soil of your garden!
I was in a grocery store yesterday and they were handing out samples of sunflower butter. It looked like peanut butter, a little more oily than most peanut butters. I could not tell the difference in taste between sunflower butter and peanut butter. I would have to try one and immediately try the other in order to detect any difference. The label said sunflower butter, the clerk handing it out swore it was sunflower butter. Coudda fooled me. Never knew one could make butter out of sunflower seeds.
Learn something new every day if you’re not careful.
I think the reason that they were mentioned is that your body needs some carbs to survive and be healthy. I would add amaranth/quinoa to the list , possibly buckwheat. It’s obviously just a “starter” list to be tailored to individual needs/tastes. I do believe there was another typo in the squash section though- zucchini is a warm climate squash and the “winter” squashes do better in cooler climates. Check with neighbors/coworkers/local garden shops to see what grows well in your area and also read up on vegetarian nutrition strategies for inspiration.
On this I would state….depends upon the type of corn, is the soil “brand new” I.e. a weed field. RENEES’S GARDEN has a bicolored corn that is harvestable in 65 or so days. This is for California only I can not speak for any other areas. That is 20 to 40ish days (105 days s a lot of time when you are hungry) earlier and I got up to 5 ears of corn In a new field. It also dried easily for future food.
Popcorn is a better crop to plant than regular corn because it has never been genetically modified, and when ground into corn meal, it will make cornbread taste like cake if ground fine enough. Whatever you taste, I would recommend Popcorn over regular corn.
What more pop for the corn? Well it works for me. However there are a number of Heirloom Seed Producers where the corn is true to it’s heritage as opposed to “let’s go bigger, taller and the one I love the least…throw the taste out let’s get Really BIG EARS!”
Millions of acres of corn are planted in the no till method throughout the Midwest, and the plants produce beautifully planted as close together as grass in a lawn. Combine a grain and a legume in your daily diet and you get a complete protein, then you just need a bit of meat and dairy for calcium and B-12. Add peppers as a multi vitamin and you’re grooving. If it’s going to be long term survival better have a nitrogen fixing cover crop like vetch, clover, alfalfa, or peanuts. Gather leaves in the fall and make as many 10×10 piles 4 feet high as you can, keep the piles turned and watered and you can make a heckuva lot of compost over the winter. And practice now, your 1st couple of gardens are probably going to be disasters.
WHAT????? NO TOMATOES????
I wondered that too.
Tomatoes should be a “must staple” in every garden. They’re to valuable to not grow.
….maybe that was #4?
A large potato has as much protein as an egg.
Turnip greens are edible.
Raddish greens are also edible.
We usually grow these
A couple items to add…….I plant all items you mention but add cucumbers. We pickle some and trade many fresh ones with the neighbors. Now Swiss Chard is a mainstay in our house hold. We over plant and when the frost comes to our mountains we dig up many plants and replant in our greenhouse. This way we have fresh greens all winter. We then replant back in garden, eat early in the spring and while the the new crop is maturing last years replant goes to seed. It sure helps our 9 chickens with treats too.
All your plants listed take a minimum of 40 to 60 or more to bear food. How about radishes (30 days), carrots (35). Look at maturity dates when you are hungry and can’t eat the corn plant doesn’t make it.
Excellent point, especially since we’re supposed to be entering a “solar minimum” period over the next few years. That’s going to really mess up growing seasons if it goes on for an extended length of time. Ditto if we are unfortunate enough to have any major volcanic eruptions (anywhere!) spewing ash and crud into the atmosphere as that will lower temps further by blocking the sun. ( As an aside, prayers for those folks on Hawaii’s big island who are being displaced by the volcano. May they all be safe!)
I’d choose spelt over wheat (yes, I suppose spelt is technically considered a wheat) because spelt is less fussy about soils. Ditto sorghum, which has been mentioned. The same is true for oats.
Alfalfa can be grown for several years, and you can use the cuttings for animal fodder as well as providing lots of organic matter, and its deep roots can forage for minerals that are deep and bring it closer to the surface, so that the food you grow can be more nutritious.
If you set up the area you want to use as a garden, you could have a block of alfalfa for 5-7 years, and a couple blocks using vetch, clover, sorghum, rye, and oats as cover crops for one year, and then a block for what you want to grow this year.
Save all the seed you can, and use the one-year cover crop block(s) the following year, and a one-year cover on last year’s garden.
After several years, plow under the alfalfa and use that section.
I feel i’m not explaining this very well, but essentially, if you have a rotating garden system where you use part now and keep the rest covered with shorter term and longer term cover crops, you’ll be feeding your soil as well as providing yourself with stuff to use and seed to save.
What??? Sorry, but taking into account how little space seeds take, I’m sure you can have more than 7, to have a balance diet and all the vitamins and minerals a person needs to be healthy. I always grow specialty potatoes, which I save every year, but if you had one of those rare years without a summer, the next year you would have zero potatoes unless you try growing some indoors (which I am experimenting with this year). Yes, the plants grew huge, don’t know if I will get potatoes yet, too early.) By the way, it’s May and I still have 3 butternut squashes left and they are still perfect. Being that this is Minnesota, it’s not like I left them in the ground until January. In other words, that type can last at least twice that long. Corn is rather iffy, if the weather is bad during the time you’re saving seeds for, they are only viable for about 1-2 years. The Okra that someone suggested has a very limited rage. Don’t want to save much, go to the dollar store (4 packets for $1) and get one of each type the carry. (Our town’s carries all the basics. And then buy or borrow the book Seed to Seed with tells you how long a whole lot of seeds are viable for and how to grow them. And do NOT forget the native edibles for your area, especially the ones that are perennial. Food for decades that you don’t even have to plant more than once, if at all. Birds are always bringing me new plants. As for wheat, you actually need a farm, if you have more than one person in the family. Most people don’t have farms. Interesting, but REALLY? Great site, this suggestion not so much. lol
If the die-off rate is as high as some have predicted, there will be lots of land available in the average suburban tract for tilling by the survivors.
Your comment about what grows natively is spot on. Mother Nature has done a fine job over the centuries of selecting the plants that grow best in your climate. Prickly pear grows great in SoCal. The fruit can be eaten and the pads can be cooked and eaten. Buckwheat grows wild all over California. It grows from the coastal plains all the way to the Sierra foothills.
Before urban development cut so many of them down, live oak grew all over SoCal and the Indians used the acorns as a significant item in their diet. Black walnuts grew all over NorCAl until urban development did them in and the white man cut them down for the lumber and to plant English walnuts.
Corn only grows in the dust bowl region due to massive irrigation. In an EOTW situation where irrigation will not be possible, that vast grassland will once again reappear. If the bison from Yellowstone are not hunted to extinction, they will once again roam the region from the Mississippi to the Rockies. Except for along creeks and rivers, farming in the Midwest will disappear.
I have a situation that might prove interesting, I purchased a box of mushroom spores that after they stopped flushing I added to one of my food planter boxes. I am currently harvesting spinach, carrots, kale and mushrooms. Now you must beware of what your mushroom looks like…I have harvested wild mushrooms for years. Any mushroom that doesn’t look correct do not eat!
I was literally born at home on the farm, never seen a doctor until I was starting school or had a birth certificate or SSN. We grew almost all our own food as well as for our milk cows. We had around 250 milking at any given time.
One thing I can tell you is this, if you seriously think that you will learn to farm and grow your own food all on your own, you will die. I don’t care how many books you read or back yard gardens you grow, you really need to learn from someone who knows, and this takes a commitment.
Farming is very dangerous, and the chances of injury, infection and death are more real than starving.
If you don’t have the very basic equipment to farm large areas of land to feed a family, your work load will increase so much that you will never be able to keep up.
Like I said, I grew up on a farm and I am under NO grand illusion that I can find some land, and start right in farming again with some seeds I have squirreled away in some cans.
Like my father used to say, don’t come to me sniveling and whining about a problem or issue unless you have a solution as well, because I more than likely already know the problem.
So, now that I have the doom and gloom out of the way, here’s how I have addressed the problem…….
What I started doing years ago, was making friends with local farmers. It’s a lot easier to do than you think. Go to farmers markets, the phone book, and just call them and ask if they sell what they grow, and start making small talk.
I live in Louisiana, and I went down to the local Co-op and asked about local rice and sugar cane farmers. Long story short, I now know many farmers, and have become friends with them and more.
Farmers LOVE to talk about their farms and the long history behind it, so humor them and ask them all about their farms and fathers before them, tell them how BEAUTIFUL their farm is and what a GREAT job they’ve done with it, and before you know it, you’ll have a new friend, WHO KNOWS HOW TO FARM.
Stroke their ego, you and your families life might depend on it.
Get to know them as a person and what they and their family like, and show up with that. I noticed they always had coffee on, so the next time I brought them some fresh Kona coffee from Hawaii and a dozen fresh donuts. Say I seen this coffee and thought about you and your coffee and thought you might like some.
Once you establish this friendship, you’ll see how you can slowly start talking to them about world events, all the “WHAT IF’s” in life and ask them how would you keep farming if some thing happened like North Korea or China or Russia or whatever.
Farmers are natural survivors, so this is a lot easier than you think. Just remember to come across asking questions and not throwing out wild crazy zombie crap. Farmers are busy 25 hours a day and 8 days a week, so don’t be dumb or too big of a pest.
This is where you both come up with a plan of what each of you can bring to the table or willing to bring to the table for the good of both families, and the neighbors, because they are probably farmers too.
You’ll also have cattle on farms and who will protect them from hungry people who come to take them and plan on having steak that night?
You can offer serious protection in the form of rifles and people who know how to use them, that many farmers don’t have. You can also offer canned veggies that a farmer probably does not have to feed his family long term when some thing happens out of the blue.
You just need to bring things to the table that the farm does not have, but will need for basic survival. Maybe you have a solar panel set up that can be moved to the farm when something happens, water treatment, a lot of medical supplies, food to hold you all over while the PRO FARMER goes out and grows more for the group.
Right now, you can also start planting grape vines, berries, fruit trees, rhubarb, asparagus, and things like that on the farm prepping for the future, but you can enjoy every year as soon as they start producing.
You need to show some form of commitment and you’re serious. It’s like bacon and eggs for breakfast, a chicken makes a contribution, but a pig makes a REAL commitment.
You can get things now that you can use, and that a farmer will wish he had if some thing happens. A farmer has a lot on his plate everyday, so planning for surviving a SHTF event is not some thing he has time to plan for.
Make yourself valuable to him, and him to you. Farmers are natural think ahead type of people and you need to think that way as well if you expect them to take you seriously. Farmers are thinking several years ahead as far as crop rotation and soil prepping and how crops work together like planting oats to protect the young alfalfa from the summer sun, that you plant with the oats. The next three years that’s your hay field for your animals.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the basic idea. You must MUST surround yourself with people who actually know what their doing or you will not make it.
It will be tough enough to make it when you know what you’re doing, like farming, but in bad times, it will be dang near impossible when bad times hit and you have little to no clue what you’re doing.
Anyway, that’s my two pennies worth, but what the hell do I know anyway.
Keep up the great work.
I have been using seeds purchased in 2012 and still doing fine. Only go to feed stores and I always ask about non GMO and they direct me to such. You can tell the GMO to non because of the price and a lot of times they are listed as hybrid. NEVER buy Burpee. From what I can tell they are all GMO. NEVER purchase fruit plants from Lowe’s or Wal-Mart they buy from farms that use GMO. Was going to buy two peach plants from Lowe’s and my wife said I wonder if they ere GMO. So I called the company that grew them and they told me that their plants are in fact hybrid. Hybrid = GMO. This is why they guarantee fruit the same year they are planted. Stay away from them. It should take five years before a healthy non altered plant produces fruit. I keep seeds in freezer and seems to work fine from year to year. Never have successful with corn though. Don’t have enough space to have a healthy crop. Same with potatoes. Okra grows great even in hot weather. Just be sure to cut pods when they are about three inches and they will produce until you grow tired of picking them.
Hybrid does not necessarily equal GMO. Hybrid plants were developed long before gene manipulation was anything but science fiction. Of course, neither one will have seeds that grow true to the parent plant, which is why heirloom seeds are the way to go.
Please read up on GMO and hybrid. They are not the same. Use science text or Ag depts. of universities.
Love the site and the article. Just read a really good book called ‘Spiritual Disaster Prepping’, by Stephen Wallis on Amazon and it covered mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of prepping. Add it to your list along with your seed savings and gardening. Can’t recommend it highly enough!
Buy seeds from established seed suppliers like Seed Sabers, Parks, Burpee, ETC. Plant Day lilies, violets and Dandelions. Purslane shows up from nowhere, but seeds are available.
I agree with Okra, and would like to add Radish, Turnip, and broccoli to the list.I allow broccoli to go to seed after we are full of heads and flowers. The bees love the yellow flowers and it is a prolific seed producer. The leaves as well as the buds are eatable.
I have tried to grow spinach many times. Can’t do it. It is hard to get it to start. But I can grow lots of lambsquarters, which tastes like spinach and can be used like it.
Where are tomatoes? They would be very high for me.
Thank you so much. I have a hard time trying to print out the pages.
Chia! Both Mexican and Tarahumara (mountain) grow well here. Squash, definitely. Potatoes, spinach, and wheat, NO. Sweet potatoes keep better and taste better, spinach bolts too fast and amaranth is much better, with greens and grain; wheat has gluten and is mildly additive; maize is much better, anyway. niio
I agree with your choice of corn and amaranth and also wheat for the processing it requires. As for addictive!?! Please do more research as I could find only 1 Doctor’s statement with many stating Medically that more research needs to be done.
Rydaartist: First, who are researchers working for? the Wheat Council/ Foundation pays for a lot of research. they’re not going to screw themselves. They’ve been blaming the problems of gluten on sugars, but most diabetics who give up gluten find they’re no longer diabetic to any degree. My mother’s side of the family quit gluten, and we can eat sweets, eat fried fat and no cholesterol problems (fried fat/chicharones were a snack food especially when hunting in winter).
When I quit gluten, I suffered withdrawal symptoms. When Mom came to live with us, no gluten: she went from a nice old bat to crabby, complaining and worse. when she stopped smoking, she wasn’t that bad. But, she also lost the LDL cholesterol and fatigue, and went from bottoming out at 20 points in the morning to extreme highs close to 400 in sugar count–and that was without eating sweets.
I saw the withdrawal for myself in dozens of family members I still get cravings for wheat. Not for sweets because now I can eat what I want as long as it’s gluten free. With xanthan gum and so on we can make exactly the same stuff we made with wheat. so why do things made with wheat look so much more enticing? Try it, give up gluten for a week. then a month.
It wasn’t till WWII Americans became wheat eaters. Wheat just has too many problems to raise, and most farmers would only raise a few acres. American wheat suffers every disease that affects wheat. We imported seed and diseases and insect pests from hundreds of nations, and that’s why.We never raised wheat for that reason, and I’ve 27 cousins in Penna alone who still farm. niio
Years ago before I was reading up on prepping and had ever heard anything about GMO plants and seeds, I had been growing a few vegetables from packaged seeds from companies like Burpee, Ferry Morse, and NK, purchased from Walmart, Home Depot, even Navy Exchanges, etc. I have always tried to let a few plants go to seed, save those seeds in old pill bottles labeled with the name of the seed followed with “climatized”, such as green onions climatized, and also for tomatoes, bell peppers, green beans (bush and pole), and peas, then grow new plants from the “climatized” seeds, letting some of those go to seed, and continuing the cycle year after year. In recent years I have been expanding my learning curve by trying to grow seeds obtained from fruits and vegetables purchased as food from the produce sections or farmers markets, and those that grow and produce seeds will be added to my “climatized: collection.
This year we have had a serious problem with gophers eating everything I planted in the ground and I hate using poisons, so I set up a lot of container gardening the gophers can’t get into, and expanding what I am growing to include potatoes from sprouts (from potatoes bought to eat), sweet potatoes from sprouts, and squash seeds from squash purchased to eat. I am also growing these other vegetables from purchased seed packets: broccoli, spinach, carrots, white onions, eggplant, corn, cucumbers, and zucchini, and will try to get some of each to go to seed and start getting them “climatized” also.
I bought five different starts, one of each, from WalMart for $5 each: red grapes, green grapes, blackberry, raspberry, and blueberry, that are growing well. All are supposed to start fruiting the second year but the blackberry produced about ten berries this year, we have to wait and see what happens next year. I also have a dozen or so Moringa “trees” growing from seeds that came from Florida and the Philippines, and “camote” from cuttings my wife brought home. She also brought home a pineapple cutting start several weeks ago, so I researched how to grow pineapple in a container, planted it in a large pot, and we now have a new sprout glowing near the bottom that is about 2 inches.
Part of my container gardening learning project is to try and sprout seeds from everything we obtain to eat that is or has seeds in it, such as various dried beans (red, black, kidney, pinto, and black-eyed peas), avocados, mangos, apples, pears, lemons, and oranges, or produces sprouts like potatoes and yams. To my surprise getting avocados to sprout and thrive has been a challenge, they sprout, they grow for a while, then die off, I do have nine Fuji Apple trees I started this spring, from seeds obtained from apples we ate, that are doing very well and are about 12 – 18 inches tall, but I don’t have much faith they will produce fruit where I live because we do not have a long enough chill period, so I may give them to people that live at higher altitude in the mountains where they have actual winter weather, then wait several years and see if they flower and produce. I also have about six “Manila” mangos, and two Mexican mangos started from the seeds gotten from fruit we ate, six Meyer Lemons, and one Navel Orange. I am planning on trying to sprout and grow D ‘Anju pear seeds but I will wait until next Spring for this.
I just bought some “Heirloom” seeds for strawberry, corn, edible amaranth, and various Asian greens like Pak Choi, lettuce, and cabbage that I am planning on trying to grow in this climate over the winter or next spring while it’s cooler. I live in Southern California in Zone 9 “Inland” microclimate and we get several periods during the summer and fall of a week or two that often heats up to and over 100, which cooks a lot of the plants even if you water them, so I may try to set up some sort of shading and see if that helps, I recently learned a little about companion planting, as well as which plants to keep separate, and I can attest that my potatoes that were struggling when the pots were right next to my onions and green beans really perked up and zoomed when I moved them to a location about 20 feet away, along with the sweet potatoes, camote, a few of the Moringa’s, the pineapple, the grapes, and the berries – all in containers is a single row along a wooden fence that does provide a small amount of afternoon shade.
I am planning on putting in a few raised beds on top of 1/2″ galvanized wire mesh to keep the gophers from digging in from underneath, has anyone tried doing this? Does anyone have any advice on controlling gophers without poisoning? We live in an Urban cul-de-sac location and have large dogs that have killed every opossum that climbed over the fence, so trying to attract predators, even hawks and owls, to control the gophers probably won’t work.
All of this, and more things to try later like trying to find edible plants that are drought tolerant such as amaranth, are all part of my attempts to obtain and produce “climatized” plants and seeds, and to learn more about what grows best during what times of year for where we live.
dz: You don’t mention what state you live in. If the Southwest, look up edge of nowhere farm on youtube. They’re starting a small commercial orchard in Wittman, AZ, and like to experiment with different varieties.
No gophers here. Ground squirrels, javelina, and packrats. You could borrow a dachshund, they go nuts over small rodents. Surefire way is supposed to be planting castor beans. If you don’t use the seeds (for oil, otherwise toxic) then cut off the seed heads. If you have children around, tho, don’t plant them!
Any place I planted moringa or black Schifferstadt radishes was let alone. Roots of both have a strong horseradish flavor.
Wow, dz! Your place sounds like the garden of Eden. Thought I would share with you my gopher defense. We began with mothballs, just 3-4 thrown down the tunnel. This worked with the first signs as they had not gotten a toehold. They left for 3 years. When they came back, it was with a vengeance and more than 1 generation took over. The county extension folks were no help. They suggested learning to share with them.
The mothballs did not work as they were established. Tried sticking a garden hose down the tunnel and flooding them out as it had irked in OR. This only works with a new infestation, so failed. Then went to the poison gummy worms, granules etc. No go. The guy at the hardware store just shook his head and said, ” They’re real tough to get rid of.”
Did not like those spikes things that will impale them so didn’t use it.
Bought the sound spikes which moved them around, but did not evict.
Tried pouring husband’s pee down tunnels. They didn’t like it, but just moved them around.
Finally, my neighbor told me her mother had been successful with ammonia.
They do not like ammonia and moved to the nighbor’s yard.
So, if early infestation, 3-4 mothballs or some flakes and add sound spikes if not quite enough. For a bad infestation, ammonia every couple of days. Put a rock over opening. When you see them starting to move toward perimeter, keep it up and add sound spikes, we have 2 in front yard and no problems.
One other thing I did(this was a lawn situation,)was would gather up the dirt they kicked up with a trowel into a plastic bag and move it to garden where needed more dirt. That way you don’t have mountains all over.
Gov: Tomorrow, I’m buying mothballs. ! I never thought of it, but since Bubba the terrible (dachshund) died, the rodents are coming in a lot more. niio
my gophers are long term “dug in”, for several years now without being disturbed, and it’s the same with the neighbors on all sides, so I don’t think I’ll be able to get rid of them completely so have been searching for ways to prevent them from getting to my plants, I have tried the hose down the gopher holes, with only one confirmed kill because he crawled out a hole and I hit it with a shovel. I also used the pronged spring type traps and they do work, but are hit and miss. I did find a tube version trap at Home Depot that works fairly well, and I use a small dab of peanut butter on the “trigger plate” inside the tube for bait. I have killed a few gophers with this trap and may buy a few more and see if I can kill them faster than they breed and move in.
I didn’t know about moth balls or ammonia, and will research before using – I do not want to poison our dogs that do try to dig out the gophers, but the gophers are way to fast for them to catch. The dogs’ may not eat the moth balls, but if they get residue on their feet they will lick it off., it’s the same with all chemicals and fertilizers, the have to be bio-friendly around pets.
dz: I can’t see a dog going near a mothball. but, one might. If you use castor beans, I’d put a tiny drop of the oil on the nose of each dog. Not enough to make them sick, but so they know that nasty is in the beans. People use the oil on dogs with no harm done, and usually after one taste, the dogs won’t lick it off.
Right now, rodents aren’t much of a problem here. with the Bighorn fire going (118,000 acres of brush gone) we have flocks of quail ‘terrorizing’ town 🙂 No garden is safe. And they rip up seedlings and eat them, and dig into mulch killing more plants. javelina, too, but they usually try to avoid the bobcats coming down. With bobcats and Mouser the rattler in the garden, there aren’t many squirrels, kangaroo rats, and packrats left–except the two that got in the house. While I’m sure Mouser would make short work of them, I don’t think I need her crawling in bed with with me at night. Rattlers do love to snuggle. yes, I’m kidding, but it happened to me a few times. Definitely a better heart-starter than even the coosie’s cow camp coffee. niio
quail are small, but very tasty, maybe they will still be around when the season opens and you can stock up.
dz: I wish. 🙂 Come season, they all disappear. Before season opens, they head up to the mountains where there’s more feed and water. the only ones that get taken here are trapped by people who fed them al summer.
BTW, Clergy Lady’s son is coming home from the Filipins with his wife, a Pinoy, and their kids. She lives in Zone ^, but lived in survival mode for decades. niio
I would get a couple of jack Russels to control those gophers
Trailm: You have to love anything that enthusiastic about their work. My dachshund loved hunting ground squirrels and pack rats so much, he had to be dragged in the house when it got hot out, over 90 F. He lost a toe from digging too much in the adobe. A plus, he was easy to feed, as long as there were plenty of rodents around. niio
Will check out the tube traps at Home Depot. Am having some success with the ammonia plus mothball offensive, but only by being relentless. Fortunately, no dogs right now to be concerned about. Thanks for the trap tip.
GovGirl, I have been very successful killing gophers in lawns by inserting pellet baits into their tunnels, but I would only do this in areas where pets and young kids won’t get accidentally contaminated, nor where I am growing food I intend to be eaten, which is why I’m not doing this for our garden. It might sound complicated but it’s actually very simple once you try this, here’s the technique:
Materials: save up several toilet paper and paper towel rolls. Toilet paper rolls are better because they are thinner and you don’t have to cut them down, they are already sized well. Paper towel rolls will work but you need to cut them to shorter pieces. You need some masking tape, and I preferred using an old roll that was about halfway dried up, it would still stick but was easier to work with, and cut pieces of masking tape about 2″ long, two per roll. Peanut butter and butter knife to smear some peanut butter into each roll. I used Mole & Gopher pellets / bait from Home Depot. I also used a very skinny gardening transplant trowel to “measure” and pour the pellets into the tube after it was prepared with tape and peanut butter. A good spade / shovel for accessing the gopher tunnels so you can place the baited tube inside.
The Process: when you see fresh tunnel openings and/or fresh dirt piles, get all materials together on a flat surface. I would then cut the masking tape into 2″ pieces, two pieces per roll and stick them along the edge of the table. Take one tape piece and cover one end of a tube but only about halfway up, so half stays open and looks like a half-circle – this helps keep the pellets from falling out while setting the baited tube in the tunnel. From the opening at the other end, with the taped part down, use the butter knife to make a fairly long smear of peanut butter inside the tube, then tape that end the same as the other end so the tape is only covering about half the opening. The oil in the peanut butter will be soaking into the rolls and may make them look “wet” on the outside along the bottom, this is good, adds more smell to attract the gophers. Take the prepared tubes, shovel, small trowel, and pellets out to the fresh gopher diggings. Dig out the soil where you think the fresh tunnel will be accessible, trying keep the soil being removed intact as you can and also not collapsing the tunnel. Clear out any loose dirt from the tunnel you can reach with the small trowel. Pour about a tablespoon of pellets into the trowel, then hold the roll in steady (peanut butter down) and carefully insert the tip of the trowel into the roll and pour the pellet bait onto the smear of peanut butter. Tap lightly to spread the pellets but do not tip the roll much or the pellets will fall out. keeping the peanut butter smear with pellets down, insert the baited roll into the tunnel. I usually used the trowel to push it in a couple more inches, then carefully replace the dirt you dirt removed with the spade, again being careful not to collapse the tunnel or shove dirt into the baited tube.
The gophers will smell the peanut butter, find the tube, chew or push through the tape, eat the pellets, and die.
Try it and post your results and observations.
The next day you will want to check the entire area closely because occasionally you may find a dead gopher that crawled out to die, and sometimes the tunnels are extremely long so the gopher may emerge 50′ from where you place the bait tubes, as happened when I placed bait in the front yard and the next day found a dead gopher that had crawled out a hole in the back yard the next day. Most will die in their tunnels and there is not much you can do to find those. Keep looking for fresh diggings and repeat this process, and depending on how infested your gophers are, you will see fewer and fewer fresh diggings until they are all gone. This will last until more gophers move back in from the neighbors that do not kill the gophers on their property.
Red, in the middle of my post above I wrote “I live in Southern California in Zone 9 “Inland” microclimate and we get several periods during the summer and fall of a week or two that often heats up to and over 100.” We live in unincorporated San Diego County east of San Diego, it’s about another three hours driving east for us to get to Yuma.
I currently have all my Moringa in pots but I still have plenty of seeds so I’ll try planting some around the perimeter of my little lot on this cul-de-sac that is only 75′ x 90 ‘ and see if the gophers leave. When the Moringa get taller they may even provide enough shade to keep some other plants alive during the hot spells. I’ll know a lot more by this time next year. Take care all, please keep learning and sharing your knowledge and experiences.
dz: serious sinus infection trying to get into the eyes, have some nasty burns on the face that, had I not been wearing glasses, would have taken my eyes. Never shave with a loaded blowtorch. That’s my excuse an I’m stickin’ to it.
According to a dude up in Phoenix, after a few years, his moringa rooted deep enough he stopped watering it. the only thing he didn’t like was while it grows rapidly, it has weak branches. But, that’s good, too, because they make a ton of mulch and good shade.
last winter, javelina raided the garden bed outside the fence. When they came to the moringa, they ran off. I have black radishes still trying to bloom in a few of the patches, and the weather has been 3 digits for days and no rain for weeks. Yes, I water it once in a while.
A dozen early girl tomatoes are thriving in the heat and the best ones are in direct sun! Those are in bloom and making fruit. as always, walk in beauty
Red, my wife grew up in the Philippines where Moringa is called Malunggay and it is very popular to eat the leaves like a green vegetable added to soups and other dishes. She said when you break off the stems it grows more to replace them, and it appears she is correct. My Moringas have a lot of new branches growing out the main stem after she gathered a bunch by snapping off the branches from the main stem. In fact, it looks like they are growing more new stems than the amount she harvested.
dz: Your wife is a smart lady. It doesn’t hurt to remind her (once in a very great while) her husband doesn’t do too badly, either. After all, you were smart enough to marry her 🙂
Mine died over winter, but fresh or dried, the leaves taste good. this year, and have fresh seed on the way, some are going in buckets to come in the house. At least I can root cutting off them. All around, a very good tree. It was funny how when the javelina reached the root zone, the whole gang ran away. 🙂 And, with quail and animals all over thanks to the fires, it would be cool. Quail will eat the greens, and not all the green tomatoes off the vines–I hope! niio
An old lady told me to put bubble gum in gofer holes and cover them up. That was 4 years ago and just this year they have come again. But the gum worked for me for 4 years. Might give it a try.
Most corn, I believe, is GMO these days.
Correct me, if I’m wrong.
KDC: Most, not all. There are sites that brag they do not carry GMO. Baker’s Creek, Native Seed Search, Sustainable Seeds, and others. niio
Zucchini seems to be nearly impossible to grow in my region (Tidewater region of Virginia); nearly everyone has lost their crops these past few years to squash vine borers. Miserable.
Valerie, just this year I discovered a “container/bush” type of zucchini called Fordhook , sold by Burpee, which did very well where other varieties I tried have floundered. It grew into leaf “umbrellas” that other plants like bak choy and green onions grew very well underneath.
Can you raise coyote gourds? They’re not eatable (except for the seeds), squash borers and cucumber beetles love them, and stay away from domesticated stuff. AKA fetid gourd/buffalo gourd. niio
Potatoes: They don’t do well in my part of Arizona (Zone 9A). For starch, achira (canna) is much better. Sweet potatoes thrive here. Mesquite is native and will make a crop on a scant few inches of rain.
Corn: What about diseases? We have a problem with dwarf maize mosaic, carried by aphids via sorghum. As such, sorghum grain/sweetener would be better. It’s affected by DMM, but isn’t killed by it.
Spinach is disgusting. Cooked, it can prevent iron absorption. Rocket is much better as a spring green and self-sows. Summer greens like amaranth give both greens and grain.
Beans! I like tepary (semi-wild, original domesticated). Mind, the pods tend to blow up when dry. Right now, we’re planting peas. Later, after New Years, garbanzo beans.
No one who plants wheat is serious about survival. It carries a lot of diseases and insect pests. It can lodge in wind, it rots from too much rain and dies without enough moisture. Triticale is a good grain like wheat, and has less gluten/toxins in it. If you like rye, that’s the best winter grain. After that, if you have space, uplands (desert) rice, Indian Rice Grass. Yep, it’s a type of wild rice. Dry weather and sandy soil and it does well. After harvest, graze livestock on it, it’s a good feed. Next spring, it jumps back and should do that for 20 years.
dz, thanks for the suggestion. Perhaps I’ll give it a try. Can’t hurt.
this article has made it’s rounds a few times, so I am going to point out the title should never be “the only seeds you need…” considering everyone lives in different Zones and climate conditions and not everything listed works for everyone – there is no “one size (or list) that fits all”.
Where I live with very limited growing space and Southern Kalifornication low hills desert conditions, the squash, corn, and wheat take up too much space to be a viable solution to provide enough to support us, so here is what I would list as the primary seeds I have personally been successful with for my conditions:
legumes: any and all varieties of beans and peas
greens: spinach, bak choi, kale, amaranth, herbs
potatoes and tubers: russet and golden potatoes, sweet potatoes, camote
other root crops: onions, carrots, garlic
“fruiting” vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, bitter melon, zucchini, spaghetti squash, kabocha
fruit trees and berries: lemon, orange, avocado, moringa, blackberries
I am trying other varieties but those listed are the ones that I have successfully grown from seeds or cuttings in Southern Kalifornication, Zone 9a on the old maps, Zone 10a on the new maps.
red, thanks for the suggestion. Based on what I could find, they won’t do well here in the swampy, humid south.
I live in the dry subtropics, and they do like it at least some dry. But, you have a multiple, much larger list that can be grown. Row covers are a must. You can start them in the house, then transplant. The bugs are native to the South, so we know them too well. Native squash, things grown by American Indians, are usually resistant. Continuous planting helps. I do not like summer squash, much, and use winter squash (when small) for things like squash blossom soup. Calabacita and 7 year melon grow so fast they outgrow most problems. Both can be picked at about fist-sized to summer squash. niiohttps://stanly.ces.ncsu.edu/2016/06/beat-the-squash-vine-borer-2/