Top 10 Foods to Grow for Survival

Karen Hendry
By Karen Hendry June 22, 2016 09:44

Top 10 Foods to Grow for Survival

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.


beansBeans 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.


corn-survival foodThe 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

Squashes-survival-foodWinter 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.

Related:22 Ingenious Hacks to Make Food Last Longer


potatoes-survival foodThe 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 survival foodCarrots 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-survival foodCabbage 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_titleKale 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

sweet-potato-nutritional-fact-versus-regular-potatoSweet 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.

Related: 7 Primitive Cooking Methods You Still Need to Know Today


Garlic-survival foodGarlic 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-survival foodHerbs 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.

Start Now

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.

You may also like:

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The Only Meds That You Need To Stockpile for SHTF

33 Essential Foods to Stock Pile

Karen Hendry
By Karen Hendry June 22, 2016 09:44
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  1. Shamaryah June 22, 19:09

    Great wright up. Everyone should make copy of same and then build up their survival storage food with these foods. they cover all of the main meals you will need to stay healthy. Most are easy to grow, but carrots will take the longest time to grow if you want them long.

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  2. Cummins45306 June 23, 13:59

    I agree these are great food to be growing, BUT growing them isn’t the only part needed to know. Collecting seed is ever bit as important as knowing how to plant, harvest, store, and eat. Carrots and cabbage, most people aren’t familiar at all in how to allow them to produce seed. And corn needs to be an open pollinated variety. While listing what we need is a great help, there is more to being prepared

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  3. Ginny June 24, 14:16

    Amen to all of the above! God be with you all!


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  4. Richo July 11, 17:21

    This article is a good start, but there are more additions I would make. I have gardened in Montana for over 60 years and am a big fan of food storage.
    Carrots: They are a good start but I would also add other root crops, they are the heart of long term garden food storage. I grow beets, turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, and edible rooted parsley, all storable for a long time in a refrigerator. Beets keep the best. I have purchased a second used refrigerator, removed all the shelves, and fill it with buckets and garbage bags of produce. If you have a heated garage you can set the thermostat low and have it function as a giant walk-in refrigerator.
    Along with the garlic I would highly recommend growing lots of onions. I raise 3-400 pounds a year. If properly cured they last longer than garlic, I consume mine year around. The key is to never cut the tops or roots off, let the stems dry up naturally, then stuff them into open mesh bags and hang up. Do not plant the onion “sets” you see in stores, they do not keep. What you want are onion transplants that come in rubber banded bunches of about 50 and look like miniature green onions. Start them early and top dress occasionally, they are heavy feeders, and like extra sulfur.
    Along with cabbage I like brussels sprouts. When winter approaches I dig them up after breaking the outer leaves off, and transplant them into 2 gallon pots. They can be kept in a place that does not freeze hard and will keep on the stalk most of the winter.
    Along with the dry beans try dried peas and chickpeas as staples.
    In general I never plant in rows, but always in beds that one can reach into from both sides. A path down every row wastes way too much space. The key to growing good root crops is in the thinning. Each plant should have its own spacing both ways in the bed, carrots 2 inches, beets 4, and so on.

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    • Gail January 2, 09:21

      Yes Rico, please write a book. I’m also a novice, but very serious about learning.

      Reply to this comment
    • Grego April 3, 10:55

      “in a refrigerator” LOL not sure if you grasp what survival means. Ha ha thanks for making me laugh.

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      • jules April 16, 17:11

        I’m thinking they meant using a non working fridge as an above ground cellar. In Montana would be useful to keep things from freezing. Plus extra warehousing when harvest time is here, until you can get it all put away properly. I have two extras in my house. Put a frozen bottle of water inside, works way better than an ice chest. Air tight. Thanks for the laugh.

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      • Bear September 26, 18:27

        Grego: a refrigerator can be a root cellar. That is why root cellars existed and were named “root cellars’

        Also, unless you are practicing living a refrigeration-free existence right now, finding ways of keeping a refrigerator and freezer running after SHTF is a very, very good idea. Solar and wind power are great. Invest in good inverters. Learn to dry things. But if you have a way to refrigerate…do.

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      • Capt Ned August 1, 15:29

        Grego- I don’t think you grasp the fact that Montana is a refrigerator…

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    • red September 27, 04:01

      Beds are more natural and produce much more than rows. Note, Native Americans always used beds. A perennial onion bed is the best way to store onions for survival situations. Just let the good ones go to seed, and scatter the seed where you want it. let the parent onion remain and it should come back dividing into several more onions. Old-timers used to plant garlic the same, allowing the best to go to ‘seed’. Bulbs that didn’t divide are called rounds, and can be stored in the ground, or replanted. We always got two crops of peas from the same bed, allowing spring peas to self-sow to come up in summer, and those gave a nice crop of peas even in Arizona heat. Root crops and all cole crops will self-sow if replanted in the spring, or allowed to winter-over. You’d need a heavy cover for them. We need to refrigerate some (to vernalize). We also mix things up to confuse the bugs. Carrots can go anywhere, growing between things like beets and beans and cabbage. Radishes will go everywhere to help kill nematodes. As cowpeas die back, other things will take their place. As sorghum is harvested, it makes more room for sweet potatoes and squash and so on. Over all, every bit of mulch I can get and we can plant and harvest year-round.

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    • Clergylady June 26, 03:27

      I like beds. Saves watering rows. Plant more in a bed. Weed as a block if it needs weeding.

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      • red June 27, 00:04

        My favorite weeder is the shovel. I undercut it a little in the ground and lift. That makes a good separation of weeds from roots, and leaves the roots in the ground to decay to make the soil more fertile. Monsoons are coming! We’re been eating purslane till it comes out the ears. Ours is red, with red flowers, so people walking by the front like it, say, wow, that’s a pretty flower 🙂
        Be happy when this is done, this hospital stay. The dog has a baby sitter now, and all that waits is the rains. The chiltepins have to be planted and mesquite crush piled over that to keep off the birds. The last of the peanuts need to be transplanted, and another pack of sweet corn. I hope the tomato seedlings get tall enough to plant soon, then they can go out. Porter are a good variety for the southwest. They can handle the heat, the cold, dry or soaking wet. niio!

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  5. Goldmerry July 23, 21:23

    Richo – I would like for you to write a how-to book. Your info was great, but as a novice in the planning stages, I don’t always understand exactly what you mean. And when you write it, take pictures. It would be a good article for this site or other prepper or homesteading site.

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  6. CSB October 26, 22:04

    All are excellent suggestions, but what about onions?

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  7. lucy October 27, 02:36

    Great comment, Richo! I would also add that tomatoes and peppers can be dried, and wake up soups and stews.

    One year I grew 26 kinds of tomatoes, to finally know which ones grew best, and were most flavorful. The one we found just “okay” was Valencia, an orange tomato. BUT — When I picked all the good-sized green tomatoes off the vine to bring inside to ripen before the first frost, the Valencias lasted forever! We ate the last FIVE fresh at EASTER!!! Why they lasted so long is a mystery. They may not have been the best in the summer, but they were really tasty throughout the winter, way better than anything from the store!

    Note: Corn is easy to grow, but you had better have a tall fence with a chicken wire “lid” to keep the raccoons from taking one bite out of each ear before they are ready.

    Also, acorn squash are not nearly as good keepers as butternuts, spaghetti squash, even Delicatas. Don’t keep winter squash cooler than 55 – 60 degrees, and wash them off in a 10 to 1 water to bleach solution. I store mine on the cellar stairs. There is one butternut left from last year’s harvest. The one we just ate was perfect! I don’t know if it made any difference, why they stored so well, but they were all organic.

    One more thing: In zone 5, at least, you can keep root crops in the ground, with a bale of straw on top to keep the ground from freezing too hard — BUT — I now plant them inside at least a buried foot of fine mesh hardware cloth to keep the mice and voles (and who knows what all) from eating my tender carrots, beets, parsnips, etc. The tops looked really good, though, in spite of the fact that the beasties had eaten all but the top inch or two of my veggies.

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  8. Farmer Phyl July 30, 03:35

    Good article. We are so used to eating veggies for weight loss or weight control. In times of hardship or crisis we may need the opposite…to grow as many calories as possible! Leeks and parsnips have 3 times more calories than onions and carrots. Kale is one of the very few high calorie leafy green veggies. Garlic has almost as many calories per pound as many cuts of meat. When slow roasted garlic is a very mild, high calorie vegetable (not just a seasoning)…check online for a recipe for 40 cloves and a chicken. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and squash are all high calories, at least for veggies. Oregon Sweet Meats Squash is a variety that will store over a year but there are others too. Zucchini is usually very over abundant but low in calories. Dry it and use it as a pasta replacement, Costata Romanesca is very good even at 6-7 pounds and particularly good when dried! All dried food is much higher in calories. You need large amounts of land to grow enough dried beans or dried corn for flour or meal so that it isn’t an option for most backyard gardeners. Those are staples better off purchasing at Costco or Sams Club. Lastly, saving seed is a skill that takes 3-5 years for most gardeners to become good at.

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    • Mark March 29, 19:45

      We have been aiming for self sufficiency for six years, and I think we might get close this year. It’s hard work, and not all the crops produce. Fruit trees just starting to produce well, after being planted on poor soil. Softfruit going well.
      Not only food but 95% off grid, pump our own water, and wood fired cooking and hot water.

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  9. red December 26, 18:50

    Good article, but: Ah, gotcha! If you want to grow sweet corn, grow it. Pick in the milk stage, blanch, and dry for a very sweet cornmeal. When it comes to greens, try to grow local, like lamb’s quarters. Greens and seeds are used (it’s a weedy amaranth and easy to hide). The best sweet potatoes I ever grew were in hanging planters, 5 gallons!, because they love it hot. Right in the sun, hanging from the porch ceiling, trees, and so on. All the Hispanic neighbors were impressed and the next year, they were doing the same, as well as with vigna (cowpeas), which don’t do well where cabbage and white potatoes do. To store the sweet potatoes, leave them in the planters and hang them in a cool (not cold) dry place to dry out. Greens are eatable, but make a better animal feed. Garlic can be grown as a weedy, hidden plant, but all animals and poultry will eat it down, killing it. It needs some calcium, but dies in alkali areas. Manure in excess is alkali, but in winter, when dormant, manure should be spread over it. chives can be grown and will spread. Garlic, onions, and chives are alums, and will kill legumes. keep them apart.

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    • N W August 13, 21:54

      My Grandfather in S C stored sweet potatoes by digging a circular hole I don’t recall how large or deep; it’s been over seventy years
      The bottom was lined with pine straw. A layer of straw, a layer of potatoes, and so forth until he had a truncated pyramid maybe three feet high.
      You shouldn’t be able to see any potatoes, only pine straw.
      Then cover the pyramid with a layer of dirt. As I recall, he used the dirt from the hole and it was only a few inches thick.
      Take out what you need, starting from the top and re-cover the hill.
      They would keep all winter easily.

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      • red August 19, 07:44

        Aside from the dozen and more plants in the garden, there are two in those upside-down hanging planters. Those will make the most roots. They can be taken down and stored in the pantry as is and the ‘potatoes will keep for months. Pine needles are a good idea, it keeps molds from starting. Our soil is too dry to earth them, tho if left in the garden they can be kept there till January. At that time, chickpeas and other crops go in, like kohlrabi and turnips. niio

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      • Shay February 20, 18:11

        My grandfather in upstate SC did the same. Dug a deep hole!

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  10. Jerry December 30, 00:45

    One variety of Kale is tree kale, also called tree collards. It is an evergreen permanent variety that grows like a tree. You can snip off leaves to eat in any season and cut off and plant the branches, put them in the ground and they will grow. Hardy in zone 7 and maybe colder. Wilted leaves make great fodder for chickens, goats, pigs. Takes very little work to grow tree kale.

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    • red December 30, 08:39

      yeah, they sell them on Amazon. I send for the seeds, but they also have plants. Only thing, they need a year to reproduce (set seed) as I understand it, and also need both mild winters and mild summers. They’d probably do well on the coasts, but I’m for Arizona 🙂 Baker’s heirloom seeds has Blue bonnet rice, a red rice. it’ll grow in mud, but needs up to 3 months with nighttime temps over 70 F. It’s supposed to take all sorts of flooding, as well, where Asian rice needs strict control on water levels and more fertility. Buy seed now for what you want. Get stuff that can be grown in hidden, wild gardens. No rows, but patches scattered around. I’m getting teosinte from Native Seeds (Tucson). It looks like grass. Also got RojoAjo, a garlic that thrives in hot, dry areas. I still need to get onions (Brown, an old Aussie variety for dry lands).

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  11. Katie February 5, 01:32

    What about black oil sunflowers? Making food will be a lot easier if you have cooking oil, and black oil sunflowers produce a lot of it, take up very little room, and are very easy to grow.

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  12. Carrotlover February 12, 19:04

    If you do not have “sandy, well drained” soil, Chantenay carrots do very well in heavy clay. They tend to be short and fat, so they come up without a major struggle.

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  13. Clergylady March 12, 16:05

    Good article and I love the comments. I’ve been a gardener since childhood. I also dry, can, ferment, et to preserve foods. I grow native wild plants for food and medicines and a type of white corn developed by natives here and a type of gray hubbard squash. Both store well and can be prepared many different ways. I saved seeds this last fall from the biggest healthy lambsquarter plant I’ve ever seen. Ive eaten some as sprouts but the rest of the seed will be scattered in my wild patch and fertialized with rabbit droppings. I’d let that one grow after an area was harvested and wasn’t being replanted because of my busy life. The spot was where extra rabbit droppings had bern dumped expecting to use it this next spring. That one lambsquarter plant looked more like a tree by the time we were getting the first frosts and it was heavy with seed. I have a pint of seed from one plant! We had many meals of cooked and salad greens from it also. I still have 6 more gray hubbard squash and its March and they look as fresh as when they were harvested. Its snowing but in another week or so rabbit cages will be getting cleaned and I’ll scatter the lambsquarter seeds for this spring. I usually just give wild ones a squart of water when I water flower beds and the garden. They grow in an “unused” area aroung the faucet. My native white corn makes an ok roasting corn. Its not bad boiled with a few stevia leaves to sweeten it, and its great as ground meal. Some roasted , then dried on the ears… is good rubbed off the cob and added to soup. Learned that from natives where I live.
    I save seed from many different wild plants. They grow without care or extra water most years. Here on the high mountan desert that is important. They will live and make seed in evrn the driest years but if given just a little extra water and “cold” fertilized with rabbit droppings or a manure tea you’d be shocked at how well green things grow with very little care. And few will realise they are part of you’re “garden”.

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  14. Lidge April 16, 15:15

    SEED RETRIEVAL AND STORAGE. is a very important topic. We need more on this. Very good point. How to keep bugs out of stored seeds. If you can’t keep seeds, you won’t make it. Generally, this is a forgotten art. I don’t know that much either, and I have been farming all my life. My mother seems to know all about it, but she’s pushing seventy. We were poor. Plowed with a horse through the seventies. When the horse died, bought a tiller. Lived 25 miles out of town, down in Lousyana. Nowadays that ain’t far, but in a 1956 Ford 3/4 ton flat bed, it was a stretch.

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  15. Jerry April 16, 15:57

    Regarding seed storage and how to keep bugs out of your seeds, diatomaceous earth is very useful. It is a dry powder and you can add it to your seeds, grains or beans. It is harmless to people but it is microscopically very sharp and it cuts the feet of insects so they can’t stand to be around it. You can also spray it into your attic crawl space to wipe out insects there. Easy to store and not very expensive, at least right now.

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  16. Kacy August 16, 17:49

    I already have the 1st Book of the Lost Ways but still need to get the 2nd edition ..
    I now see that You offer this Book ” The Lost Book of Remedies ” I will be getting as soon as money is available.

    I’d like to be informed of new books coming out before they ever are available to ‘ Clickbank ‘ so I can Promote them online, I believe in them, they are Awesome, my mother had a few of these remedies, she also canned and made food to eat from herbs and plants but she never kept a book on what she knew, its unfortunate ..

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  17. Clergylady September 27, 15:22

    Saving seed is an art. You can actually learn almost anything online. Search for information and learn, practice, perfect it for yourself.
    There are groups preserving heirloom seeds that are for sale. Again look for them. Seed Savers is good as are others.
    Wild foods are often worth cultivating in patches. Some wild things are seasonal and some grow well all year. Here we have 4 definite seasons. Family laughs if I mention saving seed from the biggest and best lambsquarter or amaranth plants. I happen to enjoy fresh greens and sprouted seeds. Those are harty and will grow with little or no care. Both plants produce lots of seed. I watch the amaranth for the heaviest seed production because the seed is so good. It can be cooked in place of other cereals. Things that become popular like quinoa were once wild, then cultivated by native cultures, then “discovered” by others.
    The lambsquarter seeds I save are for sprouts in winter. Then in summer I scatter them for a fall crop of greens and to save seed from again. They are the weeds around the water faucet in my yard. They fill a 3×6 bed that nothing else seems to grow well in. There, by the time they go to seed they are taller than I am.
    I “cultivate” purselane growing around paths or mixed in other beds. It is a wonderful addition to salads or a good cooked vegetable. No special care required but in my desert area if they get a bit of water they grow larger and even make a pretty container plant. They self seed anywhere they are allowed to live out a life cycle. Most of the things we are killing as weeds are a food or medicine somewhere in the world.
    Online look up plants you aren’t sure about. Even puncture weed, the bane of bicycle tires and bare feet, is a medicinal in India.

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    • red September 29, 03:30

      Good for our side! There are no weds, only misplaced plants. I need chia seed, but can only find Tarahumara, which is very tiny. Garden report: The Apache ‘Sugar Cane’ is setting seed, and driving roots deep into the soil to make more carbon material. Next year, year 2 for the garden, it should hold that much more water. Purslane is great. It came up with the monsoons, and spread all over, but there’s also euphorbia mixed in. Had a little war going to eradicate the euphorbia, and most is now mulch. Yori Cahui cowpeas are doing all right, but nothing to brag on, but the beans get 15 inches long. Cowpeas produce extra-foliar nectar, they attract predatory insects. The yard is full of lady bugs and so on. Chilis are so-so, but that is my fault, planting them too close. But, wow, are they sweet, once the fire dies 🙂 I had Red Merlot amaranth, but also Apache Red. The Merlot needs more water than the Apache, and grasshoppers are wrecking it. The sandias (mouse melons/Mexican gherkins) are in full bloom, but no gherkins yet. I do not know why, but the beds are scattered where they can climb, so it’s not just one patch. The chayote kicked the bucket, but I have two more that will go in the house till summer, late March or april. The wivian tobacco (native wild, for medicinal use, hence, wivian/midwife) is coming up. I found 3 patches of it down in the arroyo, Big Wash. Also found river cane, and took all I could of the dead stalk. Some are 12 feet tall, but too flimsy for a lot of things. Yucca seed stalks, tho, are tough and very useful. The tuna cactus (prickly pear) is only now beginning to ripen, but a got a gallon of juice in the freezer. Someone gave me a barrel cactus (all cut up), and that had to be cooked to use for jam and so on. Got palm fronds for mulch from them, and date stalks with dates ripe on them! And they thanked me for taking all this so they didn’t have to run to the dump. Biet Alpha cucumbers thrived in our gentle 112 degree heat where all others fried. All puncture weed is now mulch. Ditto tumbleweed and much of the wild amaranth with it’s thorns (that’s Arizona. As an old-time told me decades ago, if it ain’t got thorns, horns, or fangs, it’s poison!). The leaves were tasty, tho 🙂 Tatume squash is doing OK, nothing to brag on, but then, it was planted in sand and caliche. Next year, then I’ll see if it keeps its bragging rights on being the guain to vines. Kajari melons are OK, not all that great eating (red and green honeydew). Parker and Flamenco tomatoes thriving, but 1 Heatmaster kicked the bucket, and the Beefsteak now, after months, has 1 tomato on it. Next year, Punta Banda, which is reputed to produce tomatoes even in heat and drought. The honey mesquite is ripening, 3rd crop, and I have several pounds now to grind for flour. Collards are doing well. We’ll see about the kohlrabi, carrots, and turnips, and I still have to plant the winter radishes. They can go in where the cucumbers are now. The soil is rich from the grass and weed mulch. BTW, our purslane gets small red flowers. 🙂

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  18. Clergylady September 29, 07:02

    Red, for hot desert sounds like a pretty good garden. My high mountain desert only tops 100 now and then. But -10 is a pretty normal winter and -20 not too unusual. I’m at a bit over 6200 ft elevation. Seasons too short for most tomatoes to do much unless you have a greenhouse. I had both a regular greenhouse and a pit growing area at my last home. Both did well but even at a record breaking -46 one winter nothing died in the 6 ft deep pit.
    A broken ankle and ribs in the winter and wrist injury in May and galblader surgery this summer and now Surgery on the wrist and forearm a couple of weeks ago have equaled not getting as much done as I needed to and a pretty neglected garden. Transplanted asparagus and rhubarb from the old garden to the new one. That has done well as have green herbs. I have 8 tomatoes to pick and just tiny yellow tomatoes still producing.
    Hope to get water connections finished in the next few days. Gas line and risers to my propane tank should be done next week. Trim on the wood floor I’m aiming to finish next weekend. I’m not supposed to use the hand too much with a 5 lb limit for two months. Working on some painting but going to wait another week to try nailing. Off grid solar is great! Also have solar motion sensor lights scattered around the property.
    I’ve scattered prickly pear cactus along the sideload fenceline. Two different varieties. A smaller one the makes small fruit and lots of long tough stickers and a larger variety that makes larger fruit and tons of short stickers. I eat both pads and fruit and make wine, jelly, and syrup from the fruit juice. I also figure someone coming in that way has to be pretty determined.
    I did get some jalapenos but the plants are about dead and I may get enough Swiss chard and kale for one last meal before they are gone. Beans bloomed like crazy but few pollinators and just a few pods set this year. Garlic and red onions did ok. Morning glories along a fence have done the best of anything this year. There must be nearly a hundred blooms every morning.
    Broody hens have added 35 chicks to the flock this year. I’ll soon cull young Roosters and three older hens for the table. I promised my husband a Christmas duck this year. I have a large Japanese drake I have my eye on.
    With the injuries I haven’t done much butchering this year. I have 15 rabbits I need to get down to less than half of that number.
    The wild amaranth is full of heavy heads of seed. The lambsquarter are setting seed. I’ll soon harvest both.

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    • red September 30, 05:01

      I look at my garden and say Thank You, Father. If the doc ever saw half of what I do just to make a garden, she’d have me in the VA in a straight-jacket drooling on my chin. When things swell up or start to turn black with trapped blood, it’s time to stop for a while. Mind that ankle or it’ll remind you. Today, I got in a while 90+ minutes work before I had to quit for a while. So I make freezer pickles and cleaned the bathroom, then scraped burned something from under the burners on the stove. Bubba has not had a nice squirrel hunt for some time and is getting grumpy. Like, two days in a row I had to clean the living room floor. That water went on some wild flowers. And Bubba got sprayed down with the squirt bottle, which he hates. He’s swim the Mississippi if he thought he could catch a yummy mouse of rabbit on the other side but let one drop of water touch him…

      Have you checked Native Seed Search, in Tucson? A lot of their seeds are from the high desert, a mile or more in elevation. They’re a little pricey (I’m cheap, but not easy, just ask the kids :), but everything is open pollinated, so I save the seeds from the best plants.

      Where I lived in Pennsylvania (AKA the Swamps of) for years -20 was common, and many people liked it (no asthma attacks and so on). The last frost was 1 June, and the first might come in early September. Where you are frost can come any time after the 4th of July (worked on a ranch in Colorado at that elevation). Russia and Canada have developed frost resistant tomatoes and corn. The chilis I planted would do much better where you are than here, Chimoyo and Sandia. They started to bloom when only 4” high. A mulch is always a must to cool the earth. How long is your growing season, and what’s the average high in summer? Kale is a fall crop, like most or it’s family. Russian kale should survive, laugh at, -20 degrees. Collards are a summer cabbage. When the collards bloom this spring, the buds are eaten like broccoli.

      Rhubarb? I think I’m jealous. Here, it’s an annual. I am looking for a variety of asparagus that can handle the heat and drought. A Granny Smith apple would be good.

      I stopped to ask a neighbor if I could have his grass clippings (dead Bermuda grass, actually 🙂 He’s a gardener, and his wife has things from Mexico that do well here even in the heat. I now have a rue plant and chilitepines she grew. We called the pea-sized chilis bird peppers, because they’re wild/native, and all animals go wild for them, especially birds. The heat index is about like a habanero. The standing joke is that God invented them to torment sinful Yankees 🙂 She also gave me three pads from a type of prickly pear developed in Mexico for the pads and fruit. Jumbo fruit and the pads are over half an inch thick, with no thorns. I didn’t encounter any glochids (the hair-like thorns) either. And, a pound of nopalitos she froze.

      What breeds of chickens and rabbits do you have? I’d like some, but Bubba would wipe them out. He’s the best at getting rid of rodents in the yard and scaring off people sneaking around the place after dark. BTW, the best ducks I ever saw were Muscovy. Hens would sit a dozen or more eggs, and when they hatched, we stole them, putting the ducklings in a brooder house. The hens went right back laying eggs, then brooding them. Heat, snow, sub-zero temps, hot sun, nothing seemed to bother them. And, they taste great without a lot of fat. Muskies are now the most popular duck in the world. But, if you get them, they like to roost at night. And they have very sharp claws, but are smart enough to know what side their treats are buttered on. They’re the little black duck we used to see in story books and cartoons, they were that common.

      Yeah, I left a lot of wild amaranth go to seed. It’s ripening now, and I need to harvest it before the ants do. No lambsquarters. In this dryness, they only accumulate nitrogen, anyway. The neighbor ladies have morning glories and the seeds sprout regularly in the roses on my side of the fence. They went to the mountains for the summer and if I could, I’d have a pig root out every one of their vines. The roots, to pigs at least, are sweet and they’ll root as far as they have to to get every one. A cousin in Penna had bindweed that was herbicide resistant. He couldn’t get rid of it and asked me, and I said, what would your pappy do? He’d put pigs in the field for a summer. Next year, deep, deep holes all over, but no bindweed. Yeah, they’re nice, but grapes have nice blooms, too, and tasty fruit.

      Look up Seed Search and see what they can do to help. We’re at about 3,700 feet, mid-desert, so I can usually raise both high and low desert stuff. The new garden trench is 30” deep, 3’ wide, and God knows how long. If the doc saw what I do for a garden… 🙂

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  19. Clergylady September 30, 07:11

    I’ll have to look up seed search that you mentioned. Might be the cone I gave seeds to 30 years ago. I have bought a lot of samples from seed search but its been 20 years or so. Lost some things I’d like to try again.
    Lol if the docs only knew. .. I’d never hear the end of it.
    Seasons from frost end to frost beginning. Varies from 4 to 6 months. Cool nights so tomatoes and corn are iffy crops except the locally developed dent corn the Pueblo tribes of NM raise. My uncle that lived in Brownsville Texas gave me wild chilitepines and a tiny wild tomato he’d collected and had growing in his yard. Over the years I’ve lost my seed. Used to always have some growing inside or outside depending on the time of year. Currently I have tiny Thai chili’s in a pot.
    The kale and some other things are about to expire from neglect. Last surgery on The wrist and forearm was 10 days ago. Just taking care of the critters and necessary things toward moving has taken more energy than I have right now.
    Rabbits are NZ / Cal cross. Quickly grown, nice size and easy care. Chickens are mixes that include Aracana, Americana, RI Red, Astralarp, most gifts and now even more thoroughly blended. Ducks are a mallard drake, mallard mix hens, and a big drake I was told he is Japanese. I enjoy all the critters.
    Neighbor was to hook up the water last week. Things happen so rescheduled for tomorrow afternoon. Monday gas company guys will come to give the estimate for risers, pipe et. to connect to my propane tank. Should be done next week. Then we can finish moving in.
    Today was our village area clean up. Hubs and I loaded a pickup load of trash and dropped it off at the dumpsters. Free trash days are nice.
    Carried a few arm loads of kitchen stuff to put in cabinets. Planned a new top for an old cabinet a friend gave us yesterday. It will be our tv stand. Monday it will be back to work. The kitchen cabinets are ready to have the freshly painted doors rehung. The bathroom cabinets are ready to paint to go along with the freshly painted room. Also going to paint a dresser to match the room.
    Usually at this time of year I’d be moving plants from garden to the pit greenhouse. Now I’m needing to get one dug but not up to doing too much so it can wait. Glad I had bumper crops the last two years and I was able to get a big part of it canned. It will carry us this year then I need to get greenhouses and raised beds going so we can replenish what we’re eating.
    I need to work on the tractor but without the ability to use the hand it will have to wait or take it to a shop. I’m not inclined to do either. I’m itching to tear into it.
    Right now my focus is getting the home finished inside, skirted , and moved into before it’s getting too cold. Where we are living right now we have no hot water, just a small area heatable, and drafty rooms. It was one miserable place last winter. The newer home is well insulated has built in storm windows, and I can move my rocket stove with pellet hopper to the livingroom. No holes in the floor and hot showers will be pleasures.
    I’ll keep a mix of herbs, chili’s, tiny yellow tomatoes and flowers in the ample kitchen windows. Maybe move in some swiss chard as well. I often cook dinner planned around what’s ready to use in the window. I’ll have a nice area for plants on metal shelves in front of the Windows. Sometimes I supliment the natural light with a few hours of grow lights.

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    • red September 30, 22:30

      Sounds cool. I got the nopale planted today as I have to make a run East. Brother-in-law passed away. Ain’t that just like Navy? He had a lung infection from living in a damp area. I’m a little out of whack now, sorry, but at least now I know why the dog was acting sick. Bubba always knows. Now I need to unpack the winter coat, good pants, and socks, things I have not needed since I got to New Mexico/Texas line. It made it all the way to 70 degrees in Penna.

      I planted a mess of wivian tobacco seedlings out in the brush. these are from seeds taken from plants down in the wash. Funny thing, some plants came up on their own in the edge of the garden. A blessing, to have such a great healing plant around.

      A lot of the stuff Seed Search has is from the Hopi and Tarahumara, mountain peoples. Much of what I have that thrives, tho, is Apache, from their mountains. Started a mess of kohlrabi, turnips and so on, and hope it rains enough to keep them going till I return. Then, black radishes and so on. As God wills, so am I.

      I still haven’t turned on the gas. Water line runs under the road to my place, so by late after noon, the cold water is pretty warm. Soon, of course, I’ll need a heater. But, I hope before New Years, I’ll have a solar water heater on the roof. I lived a Penna winter with only a small electric heater and lived in a snow suit. Thank God, I could go to the Y to swim and shower, and use the sauna.

      I’m thinking of getting a mornina tree. They put a lot of nitrogen in the soil, and can be coppiced for mulch and greens.

      If you would, please ask the Lord to comfort Susan. She’s 60 now, and taking it hard. God’s peace to you. Niio.

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  20. Clergylady June 25, 00:38

    I was reading older posts today. Saw the mention of black radishes. I have seed for those to plant as soon as the dirt clods are smoothed out and the new planting area can be used.
    I see how many things I either planner or was promised and didn’t happen. That’s ok. Still plodding along. Body is healing. Hubs mind getting worse and younger son wonderfully alive. Pretty amazing since Hubs heart stopped late in 2018. Son flatlined in the ambulance in April of this year.2019.
    My arm surgery was still quite new when Hubs needed CPR and needed surgery to replace a broken pacemaker lead into the heart.
    I laughed that my prayers must work better than my CPR. I did one handed CPR with him leaning up against a wall seated on an old bar stool. I couldn’t budge him so prayed and hit the pacemaker then CPR till he started trying to come back. Then yelling at him to stay with me. Slapped his face when he’d start fading away again. All while calling 911 with my almost useless right hand.
    God is good.
    We still don’t have a gas line put in. The company guy was seriously injured and they aren’t replacing him. They are waiting for his recovery. My tractor hasn’t run most of the last 8 or 9 months. That may be a soon project we’ll dig. They still have to lay and hook up pipes. It will save me money and the hook up can be done.
    My solar array and batteries should be back up again soon. It’s been rebuilt and redesigned. Took my ideas and engineers have made it happen. New batteries are in now. Back up batteries will hold 5K with over 4K available. I should finally be able to have a refrigerator.

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    • red June 25, 15:32

      Are they winter radishes? All winter radishes are short-day producers; if planted in the heat usually make a lot of seed pods (good for snacking on and in salads). Black Spanish and -Schifferstadt, China Rose, daikon all make good roots and will go as deep as eight feet (skinny tap root) to access fertility and will break up plow pan. Any that survive winter, I keep only so many of the best (6-10 plants) and cut the rest off right below the ground. Other garden plants will follow the decaying roots deep into the soil. Farmers using them say their soil is a lot softer deep down, and water soaks deeper. Turnips are good, too, for the spring and kohlrabi.

      I’m interplanting 6-shooter sweet corn and peanuts. They mature about the same time, 120 days for dry corn. The moringia (thank you, Claude, for encouraging me to try them!) is now in a larger pot, waiting for the monsoons. And, I planted love-lies-bleeding amaranth instead of red merlot or Tarahumara. The Tarahumara didn’t set seeds, and the merlot blew over in the winds. I always had a good crop of greens and grain from the loves, with short, wooden stalks. No one ever swiped one like they do the others. People think it’s only a flower, you see 🙂 and too big to steal.

      Good! I’m glad you’re blessed and healing. You sound like a great person to have around. God helps you and blesses you. Get that tractor running before it freezes up. I have little idea how to rebuild one, we used horses. Dad, though, bought an old caterpillar farm tractor at a farm sale and it had sat in the weather for a few years. He went to the library and they found him manuals and so on. He spent the winter taking it apart and rebuilt it. Come spring the last nut was tightened down and he filled it with gas. Then tried it. Yo, it ran and is still running. It has to be 80 years old by now, but the cousin who bought it said her husband about worships it.

      Once this crap with the aorta is healed, then we can start pouring concrete for the compost pit/gray water recovery. Running that through compost kills any stink (from grease and food), and turns it into a high-power fertilizer. I have no clue why this isn’t common. Most people throw away the kitchen water. The pit is going to be filled with woody material and some hay, if I can get it. With all that moisture, it won’t last long. Adding red worms will make it even better. I need a good stone chisel (mine all disappeared after the brother-in-law passed away) to cut into the sandstone floor for a drain box, to put in a sump pump. From there to the garden. It’s cool here, that we can garden year-long, with only a few weeks of frost in the ground.

      I had what I thought was a very coarse grass coming up in one bed. Um, no, it’s pygmy dates coming up from seed that was mixed with all the fronds and so on I cleaned up for a neighbor. I can use one or two and the rest will become fertilizer. The dachshund found a squirrel hole near them and tried to dig it out. No luck, so I added a half-cup of sulfur pellets to break up more caliche, and flushed that into the hole with the hose. It was right under where two chayote were thriving, then just died off. and, pretty much all else planted in the bed. Lady and Hubs, be healed! Niio!

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      • Clergylady June 25, 19:29

        All I know about the black radishes is they are Mexican. I haven’t planted them yet.
        Tractor is running. I’m wanting to dig a room about 8’x8′ or maybe an 8’x12′ space for a root cellar. I’d like to store the things I’ve canned in glass jars there and some dry storage things as well. I plan on a pretty good flat roof then the chicken coop with an angled metal roof on top. Dirt at the bottom will be up against the cement block the beams will rest on. Let rains drain toward the garden. My second well will be in there. I may tie in a water line to the line feeding my home. I’ll take a line into the walapini when its dug. -10 is a normal low for winter here but I’ve seen colder. Water below frost line seems like a good plan. Our water lines are deep enough but occasionally the water lines at the top of the main well freeze. Then we have to put a heater in the well house till it is unfrozen.
        Lots of plans. Inching along till they eventually get done. I’m more interested in getting the walapini dug than building a traditional type of greenhouse. I’ll build a low cement wall at ground level to keep water controlled and sent to a storage container in the walapini or let it run on to the berry plantings or the main garden area. The low wall will carry the saved 12′ long mobile home trusses. The cover will be plastic sheeting. My last one did fine even without a heat source or covering. This will be bigger. I plan a mud built rocket stove with a long run to the venting pipe. It should create heat and store heat to radiate during the night. I have some grow lights. I’m hoping for a winter garden.
        I have 5 solar motion sensor lights. Panels will go outside and the sensors and lights inside. I have one in the room with the rabbits. I can walk in, shut the door and wave my hand and light comes on. If I’m there longer than the time set it goes off and I wave my hand again and it comes back on. Very handy and no long wire run in a ditch back to the power pole. I want one in the chicken coop, outdoor pen, root cellar, and two in the walapini- one toward each end.
        My old grape vine is hugh and cover 2/3s of the arbor. It is full of blooms and the wild plums are setting a nice crop. The apple I planted 42 years ago is set full. Its a funny looking tree with a dead center sticking up about 6′ tall. The neighbors horses kept eating it off but it survived anyway. I planted two but they did kill the other one. No apricots and just a few wild cherries on the young seedlings around the dead parent trees. I’d like to get those dug out and plant them somewhere else. I have to wait till a break in the weather before spring. Move them and water deeply once in a while till spring then let them grow out with Waming weather. That seems to work best when I need to move trees.
        I’ve never heard of Pigmy dates. I’d bet they could grow in the walapini. I’d like to try a moringaa there also. I don’t know how tall they normally grow but they could always be kept trimmed to a height that fits the space. It sounds like a very useful tree. I want to try dragon fruit grown in 5 gal buckets. I may try a fig as well. I love fresh figs and dried figs keep for years and are wonderful in baking.
        I’m looking forward to fruit on the mulberry. I just planted it but its growing lots of leaves and is a strong healthy young tree. I’m not seeing much signs of life from most of the other trees we just planted. One cherry has a lot of leaves just budding and I see one green bud on a pear tree.
        You description of compost pit and gray water use sounds interesting. Many places I’ve used shower, hand basin, and laundry water. Not so much kitchen sink water because of the grease. Still it’s a shame to waste any water here on the desert. I’ve thought about just letting it run out to a little plot of grass. I don’t want a grass lawn but chickens love green plants and they could just be turned out into another pen area where they can have the green grass then close it off and let it regrow. From late spring till late fall I cut arms full of alfalfa growing along the community accecacia next to my property line fence. The rabbits, chickens, and ducks all love it. The bare stems go in the compost when they are done with it. I even make tea from the growing tips. Not much goes to waste.
        I use our wild red amaranth and lambsquarters. Cooked greens then I save seed. We use it like a cereal grain. Amaranth seeds can even be popped like popcorn but they’re tiny. I sometimes sprout seeds during the winter for sandwiches and salads. Popped amaranth is even a pretty good breakfast cereal with milk and a bit of honey or dried fruit to sweeten it.
        I like amaranth seeds in a stew also. They take up the flavor of the meat and add to the richness of a good stew.
        You can’t beat stews with fresh bread. I need to get an outdoor oven built. I love the crusty bread baked in them. The local prune pies that are more like a filled bar cookie are wonderful. Best baked in the outdoor ovens. I worked with a lady on the reservation just east of us making oven bread to sell in the reservation grocery stores. We used hot pizza ovens to get the crusty bread. It did it beautifully.
        Well time to get a fire started in my homemade half barrel bbq. Going to fry red potaoes with peppers and onions. Then grill a couple of small sirloin steaks. Simple meal but keep the heat out of the house. Ill water trees then rest a while till it cools then get back to work on the garden. I need to finish planting this week.
        The female rains are due soon. Everything comes to life when they arrive. They will help make up for such a late planting season. This week north of here several villages were at 27F one night. We were 37F. Cold but not freezing.
        Walk in blessing.

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        • red June 26, 06:01

          The Spanish are as hot as the Schifferstadt. If you like horseradish, you’ll love them. How is the smoke, now?
          8X12 sounds better, but this is your project. If it gets to -10, smaller might be better. Where I lived in Penna, we didn’t get a lot of frost in the ground till late winter, after snow melt. There, it could go down to 5 feet. After Christmas, the temps usually dropped below zero, but snow insulated the earth.
          My bad. These are Canary Island dates, not pygmy, and get are half the size of a regular date, growing to 50 feet. But, they grow slowly. The problem in a greenhouse is the part of the frond the leaves are sharp spikes. Those can be trimmed off but the fronds can reach twenty feet (I took some back to Penna for the church and they went gaga over them 🙂 They’re fertile and usually always bear a heavy crop if a male is close. I have no idea where a male is close to the neighbor, but it gets pollinated every year. The fruits are smaller than regular dates but sweet.
          Sorry, I get tired easily. Good news, a neighbor is going to babysit the dog while I’m gone. That’s a major load off my mind. I spent too much time in hospitals and want this over with. But, it has to be after the rains start, so there’s plenty of moisture deep in the soil. According to the forecast, it’s supposed to rain each week till late August.
          Figs can be cut around the roots and buried to save them from freezing. An elderly man in Penna did this with his. After frost killed th leaves, he would take an ax and chop the surface roots free, then pull the tree over in a trench, wrap it in burlap and leaves, and bury it till May or so. He always had good figs. If in a planter, Texas Everbearing is good for the house. They get more bushy than tall and can be trimmed back.
          Apricots are good, and while I like them, I think I need an almond, first. It’s too warm here for Manchurian sweet heart apricot.
          Our native amaranth is called prickly. It has a lot of small thorns. Best place for it is in the compost or as mulch. That’s the only good thing about ants, they grab every seed of it they find on the ground.
          Got more peanuts and corn transplanted. Something got a few corn plants, but not many. I dosed the rows with aloe water. It makes it taste bad, smell bad, and is supposed to make the plants thrive. One bad thing, the year is dry and windy so far, and I have to water the aloe. Some of the Mexican nopale cactus looked wilted, haha, that’s how bad it is.
          Past bed time, so I better end this. It’s good to hear from you and it makes me happy things are going well.
          God provides. The winds will drive in the rain. Walk in beauty.

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  21. Clergylady June 26, 02:41

    There’s an interesting ask a proper article. How I survived 10 months…. Any comment?

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  22. N W August 13, 22:03

    I recall reading a study that showed that the Indians of Central America ate chilies with their corn and beans,
    Seems the chilies caused the corn to make proteins since corn has none.
    I don’t remember where or when I read it, but it explained how the Amerindians were able to thrive on a nearly meatless diet.

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    • red August 19, 07:57

      Not chilis, but chia. Chilis are fruit and the protein not that high. Chia is high energy, as is mesquite and a lot more. Chia is probably the best. Protein in corn and beans compliment each other. What corn lacks, beans have and so on. But, first chance we get, lots of meat because we need it. With lots of chilis, of course 🙂 niio

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