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Old 01-17-2009, 03:46 AM   #1
Baggywrinkle
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Default Survival Gardening: Growing Food During A Second Great Depression, by H.I.C.

Survival Gardening: Growing Food During A Second Great Depression, by H.I.C.

By Godís grace I was born and raised on a small family farm. During the 1960s and 1970s we were trying to pay off a 340 acre corn and soybean farm in northwestern Iowa and we were flat stinking broke. So we raised nearly all of the food to support our family. This required a large garden (80ft x 120 ft), an even larger truck patch (48 ft x 1,200 ft), a small fruit orchard (12 trees), livestock (caves, sheep, hogs, and 300 laying hens).

With some of the best and most productive farm land in the entire world, with better than 30 inches of precipitation, 165 frost free days, real farm tractors, planters, and cultivation equipment it took us 20 ac to feed six people. That breaks down to a 1/2 acre garden, 1 acre truck [farming] patch, 8 acre pasture, and 10 acres for hay ground and animal feed.

My point for you non-farmers out there, is that you are not going to feed yourself with a Mantis tiller and 1,000 square feet of sandy dirt that requires you to pump endless ground water irrigation just to keep your crops alive. If you committed enough to surviving that you purchase over 20 firearms and 20,000 rounds of ammo (a good start) I am suggesting that you need to consider a similar commitment to growing food.

I do not discount the importance of purchasing and storing up bulk staples, dried grain, canned goods, and freeze dried entrees, I have them as well. But I am telling you straight out that if the economy tanks anything like the 1930s, and I think it will last longer, you are going to run out of grub mighty early.

Now everyone has different skills, resources, and family commitments, but let's consider some of the basic requirements for growing food:

Yearly precipitation
Up to a point, more is better. You typically need 12 inches to grow grass, 20 inches to grow trees, and 30 inches to grow corn. If you want to raise a really big garden without irrigation you need about 8 inches per month through out the primary growing season (May-June-July-Aug). Except for a few areas defined as microclimates I recommend that you consider living east of the dry line (100th meridian, i.e. Wichita, Kansas). Rainfall beyond 12 inches per month or 48 inches total will only make it harder to control the weeds and bugs. A maximum of 48 inches leaves out Louisiana, Florida, and the Coastal areas of the deep south A good source of local area climate data is City-Data.com.

Frost free growing season.
See these maps at the NOAA web site. Anything less than 120 days severely limits what you can grow. Remember that the folks scratching a living from the Dakotas, Eastern Montana, and most of the Rocky Mountain States are not multi crop farmers, they are either ranchers or specialist who grow crops like hard winter wheat. Any climate with between 165 to 240 days is about perfect. This translates into south of the Dakotas and North of Dallas, Texas. This is enough of a growing season for row crops and all vegetables and allow a little wiggle room for getting every thing planted on time. In the south you will be able to plant every thing directly in the garden, on the northern edge you will be starting many of your plants in a greenhouse. That said, starting plants in a green house gives them an important jump start on weeds and bugs. You should plan on one.

Microclimates
While I suggest that you should consider living in the mid-southern region of the short grass prairie, there are a number of smaller areas that provide the basic conditions for productive farming. I suggest some fine areas such and La Grande Oregon, Rathdrum, Idaho, Montrose, Colorado, where the local rainfall and warmer winters make favorable microclimates. The easiest method of evaluating an area in the arid west is to look for big commercial fruit orchards. If it grows both apples and peaches the temperature extremes will be acceptable and if you can grow fruit without pumping ground water they must get enough rain. The reason that I concentrate so heavily on living in an area with rainfall is that I anticipate that no matter what the trigger event (WMD terror strike, economic crisis, destructive natural event) we will not have enough electrical power or fuels to pump large volumes of ground water for a really long time.

Soil productivity
Black, gray, brown, and even red soil is fine as long it is loam. This means that it has organic particles (composted twigs, leaves, wood, bark, and stems) to help hold the moisture and feed the worms, bugs, and microbes that make soil really productive. Sand and gravel are fine structure but if you donít have the worms, bugs, and microbes to aerate the soil and fix atmospheric nitrogen for the plants roots you will have to do this mechanically and ultimately you will have to add nitrogen fertilizer. [JWR Adds: It is wise to have the soil tested before making an offer on a retreat property. Soil testing is usually available at colleges and universities that have agriculture programs. You can also contact your local NRCS office or USDA Extension Office, and they can. provide information on soil testing labs in your region.

Equipment
My whole family might be able to plant and cultivate 1/2 acre without equipment. But I donít plan to find out. For my own use I bought a 25 hp diesel tractor and basic tillage, planting, and cultivating attachments. I also bought an old Ford 8N plus 4 attachments for under $2,000. A small tractor should only burn 20 gallons per year tending a small garden and truck patch. Gas and diesel may still be available during a deep depression, it may even be cheaper, but I have 500 gal of stabilized diesel in a farm tank.

Seeds, Fertilizer, Weed & Pest Control, and Livestock
Most folks have heard about Heirloom seeds. Plant varieties that will reseed themselves true year after year. But just as important, livestock will allow you continued farming success without access to petroleum based fertilizer, weed, and pest control. I use a wheel hoe in the garden and a tractor mounted cultivator in the truck patch to kill weeds, but I would rather use sheep, goats, and poultry to eat the seedling trees and weeds when I can. Livestock manure is the ultimate fertilizer and Poultry, particularly ducks, geese, and guinea hens will help control the bugs and deliver the fertilizer at the same time. Personally, I can not imagine trying to control weeds and bugs without my livestock.

Fences, Shelters, Ponds, and Trees
These are some common land improvements that are best built and planted before the crunch. [With most common soils] an agricultural pond will not efficiently seal and hold water for 2-3 years, fruit trees take 3-5 years to bear fruit heavily, and my Pecan grove will likely take 10 years if the deer and bugs will just leave it alone for a while. Building these improvements is really not difficult unless you try to do it yourself without power tools. I suggest that you build them now so you can borrow or rent tractors with PTO augers, bulldozers, backhoes, cement mixers as needed.

Academic Classes and the Extension Service
Many community colleges and land grant university extension services offer free information and classes to teach you to raise gardens, fruit, and livestock, and how to store your produce using a home canner. I took a great class titled ďbackyard food raisingĒ. The skills needed to raise and store food are a lot like the skill to shoot a gun or reload ammunition. You canít just read about it, you learn by doing.

Practice
Growing a garden is not like riding a bike. It is different for each area and the weeds and bugs are scheming right now to eat you out of house and home. I suggest that you start now and learn each new plant, animal, and pest while you can still buy food at the grocery store. While you can grow a lot the first year, my experience is that it will take 3 years practice before you are confident and fully successful
.
Some Useful References:
Homesteading, Gene Logsdon, 1973 Rodale Press
Basic Country Skills, Storey, 1999, Storey Publishing
Emergency Preparedness and Survival-Section 3, Jackie Clay, 2003, Backwoods Home Magazine
Organic Orcharding, Gene Logsdon, 1981, Rodale Press
Introduction to Horticulture, Shry, Reiley, 2007, Thompson Delmar Learning
Backyard Fruits and Berries, Miranda Smith, 1994 Quarto Publishing
Animal Science, Ensminger, 1991, Interstate Publishers Inc.
survivalblog.com
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Old 01-17-2009, 08:01 AM   #2
Carmen
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Default Re: Survival Gardening: Growing Food During A Second Great Depression, by H.I.C.

A really important thread Baggywrinkle and a timely reminder. Another excellent method of gardening and farming is the permaculture system. Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison is inspirational reading.
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Old 01-17-2009, 08:04 AM   #3
Carmen
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Default Re: Survival Gardening: Growing Food During A Second Great Depression, by H.I.C.

I should also have mentioned Acres USA as a great source of natural/biological methods and equipment. I subscribe to Acres USA here in New Zealand.
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Old 01-17-2009, 07:12 PM   #4
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Default Re: Survival Gardening: Growing Food During A Second Great Depression, by H.I.C.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carmen View Post
A really important thread Baggywrinkle and a timely reminder. Another excellent method of gardening and farming is the permaculture system. Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison is inspirational reading.
It's his 500 gallon farm tank filled with stabilized diesel that catches my eye {sigh}

With gasoline down around two dollars a gallon stateside
I've been researching keeping a store here on the property. You don't really expect it will stay that low for
any length of time, do you? Gerald Celente is calling for
200 dollar a barrel oil again sometime down the road

We live on forest land which is unsuitable for tilling. About all it can be used for is pasture. That didn't stop me from trying. I figured that a 100x100 foot wheat patch had a theoretical yield of 900 pounds of wheat.
The two of us consume 150 pounds per year in bread.

That same patch sown into a three sisters garden (corn beans squash) had a theoretical yield of 1000 ears of bloody butcher corn and squash coming out your ears.

Another use for that 100x100 foot patch is meat chickens. Raising just over 100 chickens for the pot
takes about six weeks plus the time needed to slaughter
and can them. The yield is two chickens per week for a
year. This does not account for raising their feed. Our
thirty chickens eat about 150 pounds of feed per month
at a cost of about forty dollars. The cost to feed 100 chickens to slaughter age would run about 250 bucks plus the cost of the chickens themselves at about 1.41 per chick. Total cost is around four dollars for a chicken dinner not counting their shelter costs.

This is not even close to being food independent. These
are only supplements. The cost at the grocery for a
chicken can equal or even surpass what you can do it for
on your own. The advantage to doing it on your own is having 100 birds canned in your larder (would you REALLY want to trust all that meat to a freezer?) or a several year supply of wheat berries for your bread. Then foraging at the market for what you cannot grow
yourselves (salt).

Notice that this fellow is raising cattle. Goats can substitute nicely on much less land. Button quail take up
next to no room at all, and one 5000 gallon swimming pool can raise hundreds of pounds of fish.
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Old 01-17-2009, 08:09 PM   #5
Carmen
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Default Re: Survival Gardening: Growing Food During A Second Great Depression, by H.I.C.

What about chook tractors in the veg patch Baggywrinkle. Put the critters to work. They are really good at digging up weeds and fertilizing. Also have people considered other grains than wheat, such us quinoa and amaranth from South America. They may grow in places unsuitable for wheat. Here in New Zealand a great source of sheep manure is under the grating of woolsheds where the sheep are shorn. Do you have those in the States?
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Old 01-17-2009, 10:24 PM   #6
Carmen
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Default Re: Survival Gardening: Growing Food During A Second Great Depression, by H.I.C.

A few comments about cows and goats to add to this knowledge base.

I only milk my cow once a day and she keeps up the supply very well. Next season I will, what is called in New Zealand "share milk" her with her calf, but still only milk her once a day. I will shut the calf up at night, after its a few days old and established in its drinking. I will then milk the cow in the morning and let the calf out to be with mum all day. This system works well, the calf is happy and does well and my cow gets to keep her calf.

With milking goats its important to keep the minerals up to them all the milk will taste goaty. Otherwise goats are great to milk and don't have the volume of cows.
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Old 01-18-2009, 04:24 AM   #7
giovonni
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Default Re: Survival Gardening: Growing Food During A Second Great Depression, by H.I.C.

Thank you> Ms Baggywrinkle and you also Carmen,
Yes this is an excellent thread concept and beginning!
I'm now looking forwards to you both, and others here on this forum, to come forth, with their future visions of the possible realites> we Ground Crew members, most probably will face?
Maybe in this way, with some wit and a little humor, we all can be eased and guided into> the unknown abyss; Which might end up resembling a paradise?
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Old 01-18-2009, 08:33 AM   #8
Crest
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Default Re: Survival Gardening: Growing Food During A Second Great Depression, by H.I.C.

Thanks for this important topic.

I already tested this method on a 3 ft by 3 ft little patch.

This is a high intensive low maintenance system which works and uses up no space and very little soil.

http://www.squarefootgardening.com/

Very interesting to look at...
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Old 01-18-2009, 09:56 AM   #9
henners
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Default Re: Survival Gardening: Growing Food During A Second Great Depression, by H.I.C.

Great thread Don.
I just found this site that has the best time to plant seed for your climate zone. It includes Australia, New Zealand and the U.K.

This is the link. A must save http://www.gardenate.com/
And several more links on growing vegetables in different seasons.
- http://www.naturalhub.com/vegetable_..._in_autumn.htm
- http://www.homeimprovementpages.com...._veggie_garden
- http://www.thegardenhelper.com/vegetables.html

There are lots of videos for those that don't like reading on Google/Youtube.
Henry
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Old 01-18-2009, 05:05 PM   #10
Baggywrinkle
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Default Re: Survival Gardening: Growing Food During A Second Great Depression, by H.I.C.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carmen View Post
What about chook tractors in the veg patch Baggywrinkle. Put the critters to work. They are really good at digging up weeds and fertilizing. Also have people considered other grains than wheat, such us quinoa and amaranth from South America. They may grow in places unsuitable for wheat. Here in New Zealand a great source of sheep manure is under the grating of woolsheds where the sheep are shorn. Do you have those in the States?
Chicken tractors I can talk about.

We live on 4 1/2 acres of rocky forest land. One acre is
cleared and fenced. Another acre is overgrown pasture
with an old hog pen. The rest is evergreen forest.
We free range our 27 chickens (was 32 yesterday. I just finished culling five roosters) inside the fenced acre.

I rarely need to mow since we started the chooks. They stomp down the ferns, eat the flowers, steal our strawberries, and look in the window mooching for bread. Two or three times a summer I will scythe the grass inside the fence. I have not used my tractor to mow in two years now.

We did this project on the cheap. Their housing is a hoop house made from a cattle panel mounted in a wood frame and covered with tarps. It is not ideal, but it has worked through two winters now. Their hoop house is surrounded by a Kiwi style electric net. This was the result of hard lessons learned. Our barn has an enclosure
that is eight foot high wire topped with barbed wire. Our first flock lived in there. It worked for about 5 months until a raccoon figured out how to get in. He killed a chicken each night until we moved them.

It was with great delight that I heard the raccoons, possums, coyotes, cougars, and the occasional rabbit
scream when they tested the electric net in the night.
Now the local predators have been trained and they leave it alone. The chickens in their exposed hoop house
sleep in peace. I don't have to sleep with one ear open
or creep out in the dark with the shotgun any more.

We just did cheap and cheerful shelter for our chooks. Total cost was seven hundred dollars. One hundred for the hoop house and six hundred for the net and it's solar powered charger (run by a car battery it will shock the snot out of you!) I thought about overwintering them in a straw bale house in our garden
but safety from predators is paramount if you want to keep them alive. The net is positioned in a clear area away from all trees. I have read of raccoons being smart enough to climb a tree outside an electric fence then transition to a tree inside a fence to do his dirty work.

I would love to move them out of the fence area and away from our strawberries and the house. The pasture is too overgrown for that. It is a job for goats or heavy
equipment, not chooks. It should also be properly fenced to keep the predators out and the chooks in so they aren't eating the neighbor's strawberries.

Our hoophouse is a "garden tractor". It is light enough to
be easily moved. Indeed it needs to be anchored with concrete blocks. The first year it took flight during one of our winter hurricanes with some chooks inside. I found it upside down outside the net with two very upset hens inside. They were unhurt, but they demanded crash helmets and hazardous duty pay to continue in my employment. Indeed it was written into their union contract when it came up for renewal!

The original design lined the cattle panel with chicken wire, had a wooden frame on both ends with a door for access. It also had a wire apron at the base to prevent predator digging and provisions for an electric wire around the base to discourage predators. The ideal environment for this tractor is a fairly flat open paddock with close cut grass. It is the only design that is tall enough for a person to enter and stand almost upright and it is large enough to raise fifty meat birds if it is moved to fresh grass every day.

Our cheap and cheerful design has been sleeping quarters only. The hens lay everywhere in the yard except where we want them to. Every day is an easter egg hunt and they are very good at hiding them. The ideal egg mobile would be a trailer that had living quarters with laying boxes inside that could be moved about the paddock and closed securely up at night. This avoids the traditional chore of cleaning up after them

Predators are the chief issue. One dog loose in your paddock will kill an entire flock just for the joy of it. I chased a beautiful husky out when the gate was left open. My alpha rooster challenged him giving the others time to run for their lives. He escaped with his life loosing only his tail plummage. It gave me time to get outside with the rifle and encourage him to leave. No, I did not shoot him. He just thought he was shot and left at high speed with his tail tucked. Had I seen dead chooks it would have been another story.

We keep Buff Orpingtons because they are winter hardy, are very good mothers, are fabulous meat birds,
and they are reasonably people friendly - with the exception of El Bastardo who lived for the day he could spur me to death. May he rest in peace.


Cattle Panel hoop house
http://www.plamondon.com/hoop-coop.html
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Old 01-18-2009, 08:57 PM   #11
Carmen
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Default Re: Survival Gardening: Growing Food During A Second Great Depression, by H.I.C.

That was a delightful post Baggwrinkle. I have had similar experiences with my hens. Had a great permaculture book written by an Australian lady (can't put my hand to it at the moment so can't give you the name) .I made a chook dome from the design in her book and thought this is it, the ideal system. It was really light to move and the whole system was designed to be part of the veg garden. I would work really well too, but it gets quite windy here at times and the damn thing kept getting blown about. Last year also, we had lost our old dog, and I didn't appreciate till after she was gone, just how her presence kept away unwanted predators. It was a nightmare trying to protect the hens. We don;t have many predators here, actually none at all except the introduced ferret. Bad idea, they are real little killing machines. Can't help admiring them tho, they are very courageous when confronted by dogs. Well, anyway we had ferrets, wild cats, even hedgehogs taking chickens. We now have a large Mareema (Italian sheep dog, and he keeps anything away.

I was thinking about gardening while feeding chooks and milking cow this morning. There are lots of great gardening methods and they all work. The touchstone for me is that your soil in your garden should improve every year. Your farm should improve every year, the depth of soil and the micro-organism/worms should be more abundant every year. Your crops should be healtheir every year. Then you will know that "nature approves" of what you are doing. Farming and gardening in the conventional manner is not farming or gardening, it is "mining" and the soil is being depleted, or blown away, or salted. Its absolute madness. The principal of planning for the seventh generation is an excellent one.
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Old 06-27-2009, 08:10 PM   #12
WiNaDeYo
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Default Re: Survival Gardening: Growing Food During A Second Great Depression, by H.I.C.

Just wanted to bump this back up ......too important to forget!

Peace and Good Will!
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Old 06-27-2009, 09:45 PM   #13
Carmen
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Default Re: Survival Gardening: Growing Food During A Second Great Depression, by H.I.C.

Thanks WINaDeYo, It is an excellent thread, solutions are what we need right now and inspiration.
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