Posts tagged: survival garden

Hay Bale Gardening: How To Grow Your Own Veggies Without Fertilizer And Weed-Free

Hay Bale Gardening How To Grow Your Own Veggies Without Fertilizer And Weed-Free
Hay Bale Gardening: How To Grow Your Own Veggies Without Fertilizer And Weed-Free. Photo – Wikipedia – lic. under CC 2.0

I’ve been really into gardening lately, trying to find the best techniques and methods for growing fruit or veggies with as little effort or resources as possible. One method that really caught my attention was the straw bale method, a method that is based on planting into straw bales rather than in the ground. You prepare the bales thoroughly and that’s pretty much it. It’s cheap, requires very little care as the method is not pretentious at all and another bonus is that the plants are raised above ground level, which puts them out of the reach of various critters that could take a liking in whatever it is you planted. And not only that, picking the plants will from the straw bales, will be a lot easier than picking them from the ground. The seemed perfect, but only until I stumbled across the alternative: the HAY bale gardening method, which made the straw bale method seem less appealing all of a sudden.

Hay Bale Gardening vs. Straw Bale Gardening

For those of you who have very little to do with gardening, there is a major difference between the two. Straw bales are usually comprised of cereal crops stalks (corn, wheat, oat, rye, barley etc.). It’s mostly used for bedding livestock, and apart from carbon, it has no real nutritional value. It’s not inefficient as a surface for growing plants, but it will require regular watering and fertilizers to get the job done. Hay, on the other hand, it’s nothing but rich grasses that are mainly a source of rich and nutritious food for cattle during cold periods (winter time), when the fields are empty. They are filled with nutrients and minerals like nitrogen, potassium, phosphates etc. that vegetables require to grow. It’s exactly this natural cocktail of minerals and nutrients that require no additional fertilizing methods when it comes to hay bale gardening. Hay also holds water more efficiently than straw due to its density and chemical structure. So a hay bale garden requires watering once a day, whereas a straw bale garden will require watering 3 times a day.

Getting Started

The first thing you’ll need to start your very own hay bale garden is getting your hands on hay bales. If you have nobody to turn to in your vicinity that could sell or give you the hay bales, you can always go on the internet and find farmers that have hay bales for sale. Once they’re delivered to you, pick a spot to your liking (preferably in your garden) and set them as you see fit. Next, you’ll need to prepare the hay bales for the planting process. What’ll you’ll need is some 42-0-0 or even better, some nitrogen. You’ll treat the bales with nitrogen for 5 days; the nitrogen will break down bacteria, fungi, and insects into nutritious compost that will serve as “fuel” for your growing plants. If you’re not that keen on spending money on nitrogen or fertilizers, you can just pee on the hay bales for the 5-day period; pee is rich in nitrogen and it’ll get the job done just as efficiently. However, the daily dose of pee a person produces will not be enough for this endeavor, so I suggest you start saving your pee in bottles or containers.

The preparation of the bales will be done over a period of 10 days total before planting. In the uneven days, the bales will be treated with half-a-cup of nitrogen and sprayed with water. During the even days of the 10 day period, the bales will be watered only.

During this process, the temperature inside the hay bales will rise dramatically, most likely to 120°F – 140°F. Although is very unlikely that the bales will simply catch fire, the risk still exists. So water the bales regularly I order to avoid any unwanted incidents. When the “ordeal” is over, the temperature will subside, from how to warm. Once this happens, you can start planting your vegetables. Just add regular seeds, water the hay garden once a day and you’ll be able to pick the fruits of your labor in no time.

Accurate temperature readings using a professional thermometer

Professional Tips

1. The bales should be tightly bound if you want them to hold. Synthetic twine works great and holds the hay bales together just fine during the growing season.

2. A single bale of hay will hold about two tomato plants, two pumpkin hill, 3 cauliflower plants or 3 broccoli plants; plants cover the same amount of space in the bales as they do in the ground.

3. Growing tall plants (sunflower, corn etc.) is not advised, as hay bales do not offer such plants the support they need. If you won’t provide these types of plants with a stacking system, they’ll most probably fall over.

4. You shouldn’t water the bales more than two times a day. There is no danger of drowning the plants because the water will evaporate quickly; the hay bales will not get drenched like soil would.

This method is very interesting and it seems to give great results even for the rookies. You don’t need much to get started. Just a minimum investment and the willpower to get things done. If you’re looking for a cheap and fast alternative to gardening, look no further: hay bale gardening is the way.

By My Family Survival Plan

15 Essential Crops To Have In Your Survival Garden

15 Essential Crops To Have In Your Survival Garden
15 Essential Crops To Have In Your Survival Garden. Photos – Pixabay (PD)

In a survival scenario, the keyword is self-reliance. The weekly trips to the local food markets or stores will cease to become an option. And even if available, the prices will most likely sky-rocket so that it just won’t be convenient anymore. What you need to do is consider the possibility to set up your very own garden, which will sustain and provide for you and your entire family. It’s a rather complex task, but it’s nowhere near impossible. And once you’ll get the hang of it, it will become rather relaxing and enjoyable.

It’s something that can ultimately be achieved by the average Joe, with enough practice, resources, and dedication. You don’t have to be a professional farmer, you’ll just have to educate yourself a little on the matter. Be aware of the sustenance and nutrients each product has to offer, calculate how much land you’ll need for the endeavor and set your budget. Your best weapon (if you decide to pick up the shovel) is information: educate yourself on season crops, micro-farming, insect repellants, seed collections and storage and on the nutritional value of various crops.

And arm yourself with patience, because this type of activity requires a lot of practice if you’re starting from scratch. But you’ll get better at it with time, and at some point, you’ll be become self-sufficient, even though if you originally started gardening as a hobby. When it comes to choosing the right seeds, I strongly recommend getting non-GMO or heirloom variety seeds. These seeds will continue to reproduce, unlike the hybrid varieties that stop reproducing after the first season. Let’s have a look at different types of seeds that are suited for your very own survival garden.

Corn – it’s a warm-weather crop, very intolerant to low temperatures, so you should plant it only after the last frost. It usually produces two ears per stack and it’s loaded with calcium, iron, and protein. It’s easy to pick and to store.

Wheat – possibly the most common crop in the world, because of its large content of nutrients like copper, iron zinc and potassium. Spring wheat is planted in early spring and it’s the most common variety in the world. Winter wheat can be planted anytime from late September to mid-October.

Potatoes – they’re high in protein, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium. It’s best if you plant your potatoes 4 – 6 weeks before the last frost. An average plant will hold somewhere in the lines of 4 -6 potatoes per sprout. When storing them, just know to keep them in a very cool and dark place, away from fruit.

Peas – it’s one of the most (if not THE) easiest plants to grow, because most varieties are not pretentious and grow very fast. Peas are rich in fiber, protein, potassium, vitamin A, Vitamin B6 and more. The best varieties to consider are the snap, the shelling and the sugar and snow pod. They will do just fine even during a harsh winter, as they’re resistant to frost.10 Foods You Can Store For 100 Years

Spinach – considered the original super-food, it’s a great source of nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, iron, and thiamin. It’s easy to grow, and most species grow best during winter. There are a few though that stray from the rule, so inform yourself before purchase.

Tomatoes – once again, we’re dealing with one of the easiest plants to plant and grow. It’s very nutritious as it’s abundant in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, potassium, thiamine, and niacin. To make sure you get plenty of them throughout the year, just plant the first batch in late spring and the second one in late summer.

Beans – they come in many varieties, such as kidney beans, pole beans, bush beans etc. They are rich in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and Calcium. Pole beans require steak firmly planted in the ground, on which the plant can grapple and grow. Their grow cycle is shorter than that of the bush beans and the yield production is better as well. It’s easy to grow and staggering the plant will give continuous yields.

Carrots – there are very easy to grow and prefer cooler weather. So the best time for planting would be during fall, winter or early spring. They’re rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, which is excellent anti-oxidant which does wander for your eyesight, skin or hair.

Garlic and Onions – they’re a very rich source vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber and folic acid (folate). They’re best planted in mid or late October and can be pulled early in case you’re eager to have green onions or garlic.

Cucumbers – they come in all shapes and sizes, with many varieties to choose from. You can pick whatever you like, from large to small ones (which are excellent for pickling). They are very nutritious, as they are loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. They are a crop for warm weather and if you pick them regularly, you’ll get increased production.

Lettuce – not only will it be easy to plant and grow, but is also one of the earliest harvests you’ll get. It’s best if you plant it somewhere at 6 – 8 before the first frost date for optimum results. It grows quickly and you can pick it partially simply by choosing a few leaves at a time. The nutritional content differs in case of variety, but mostly all contain proteins, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, folic acid, and iron.

Eggplants – it’s one of the most versatile vegetables when it comes to cooking, as it offers a lot of possibilities. It’s a warm weather plant and doesn’t do well during winter. So you should wait after the last frost is over in order to plant it. It’s high in fiber, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, and anti-oxidants.

Broccoli – it’s a plant that grows rather easily. It’s usually planted mid to late summer and by the time fall is upon us, you’ll have your first broccoli harvest. It has, however, the tendency to give yields even after the first harvest. It can withstand mild frost, but won’t survive a harsher climate. A far as nutrients go, it’s most commonly packed with vitamin A, vitamin K, and protein.

Cauliflower – it’s a cool season vegetable, resistant to low temperatures. It’s quite fast to grow and gives extremely rich yields. It’s very nutritious and can be very versatile when it comes to cooking. It’s packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, and dietary fibers.

Turnips – the seeds are best sown in late may, but if you get caught in doing anything else and forget, early summer will do just fine. They’re easy to manage, as they’re very resilient to plant diseases. It’s very versatile too, as you can eat the whole plant, green and root alike. They contain calcium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and iron.

This list is a must for your very own garden, the plants that no survival enthusiast should go without during a crisis. Remember what I said before: take your time and practice, because it’s unlikely you’ll be successful right away. But once you get the hang of it, you and those close to you won’t go hungry a day in case SHTF. So get going, get your hands dirty and you’ll pick the fruit of your labor in no time… literally!

By My Family Survival Plan

The Survival Garden: Fundamentals

The Survival Garden: Fundamentals

In this article, I’m going to discuss the fundamentals of gardening for self-sufficiency. Most folks are grossly unprepared to meet their family’s food needs in the case of an emergency. At the same time, many underestimate what is required to grow or raise enough food to feed their family. This article will explain what self-sufficient gardening looks like, and how to get started.

The food supply is a delicate thing. While the US is one of the most agriculturally productive countries in the history of the world, a number of recent events have highlighted how vulnerable our food supply is to drought, pestilence, economics and government policy. Food prices have seen dramatic fluctuations in recent years, primarily in response to natural disasters, drought, and government mandates. And, according to all indications, this insecurity is only going to get worse. To complicate the issue, a smaller percentage of the population is engaged in agriculture today than at any other time in the history of the world. The result is a knowledge gap that has removed the knowledge and ability to farm from a majority of the population. In essence, we’ve forgotten how to provide for ourselves, and we take for granted that the supermarket shelves will always be stocked with affordable food.

Some folks realize the potential danger in over-reliance on a potentially insecure food supply chain. To compensate for the potential disruption of this supply, many of these people choose to store food, relying upon a fixed, finite resource to feed their family. This is a fine short-term strategy and will supplement or replace food purchases for as long as supplies last, but usually isn’t a viable long-term strategy. Stored food also raises certain health concerns when consumed for long periods of time. Whether food stores are stolen, spoil, or simply run out, they are no substitute for a long-term, sustainable food production plan. For people interested in being able to provide for their family’s needs, a better solution must be found, one that provides a consistent source of nutrient-rich food year after year. Imagine knowing that all of the food you need for the year is stored in your root cellar, or still hidden in the soil of your garden. This has been the comfort of small farmers for thousands of years, and it is a peace of mind that many today should consider reclaiming.

A large garden or small farm can typically provide almost anything a family needs. Depending on where you live, and the crops that you can cultivate, most people require between 0.4 and 0.6 acres of fertile land to grow enough food to meet one person’s dietary requirements for a year.

Unless you live in a temperate climate where year-round production is possible, you will have to focus on crops that can be stored or some type of controlled environment agriculture, i.e. growing in a greenhouse or high-tunnel. With something as simple as a high-tunnel, the growing season can be extended with very little energy inputs. There are also many passive greenhouse designs out there that enable low-cost year-round production.

To know what you must grow, you must know what your family will need to survive and stay healthy. A good assumption for anyone trying to meet their families nutritional needs, each person will require around 2000 calories per day. To achieve this, we will have to grow enough produce that this need can be met. This means that we’ll need to grow high-calorie crops in addition to nutritionally dense crops.

To start, you must put together a crop lineup that offers the maximum productivity (in calories and nutrition) and minimal input per square foot of garden space.

Here is a list of productive garden vegetables that I would recommend based on that space available and the amount of labor required to harvest and cultivate them:

Calorie dense crops should compose around 80% of your garden. These crops should be a mixture of potatoes and grains. In areas where grains cannot be grown, potatoes can be substituted, and in areas where potatoes cannot be grown grains should be substituted.

Calorie Dense Crops:

Potatoes: Potatoes are at the top of the list. Potatoes are one of the most calorically dense crops you can grow per square foot of garden space. Fairly easy to cultivate, harvest and store, they grow well everywhere from Alaska to the Southern United States. Potato production should compose between 50-65% of your survival garden (around 11,000 square feet).

Grains: (15-30% of garden area, around 6,000 square feet)

Corn: Corn is a productive grain that’s much easier to harvest for beginners. Corn is a calorie dense crop that stores well and grows well in most of the US. Corn and other grains should compose between 15-30% of your survival garden area.

Barley:  Barley is a hardy, grow-anywhere grain that fed much of the northern hemisphere before the introduction of wheat. It’s highly tolerant of a number of soil conditions and is adapted to a number of climates. Barley also takes up a great deal of room though and requires specialized harvesting and processing. If you have plenty of room, barley is worth considering.

Winter Wheat:  Similar to barley, winter wheat is a great northern grain crop that is calorie dense. However, like barley, it requires a lot of room for cultivation as well as special processing.

Legumes are another important part of a survival garden. These crops are typically beans, and they are an excellent source of protein as well as nutrients. In addition, these crops fix nitrogen, so using them in rotation with other crops improves the fertility of your garden.

Calorie/Protein Crops: 

Peas: Shell and snap peas are a valuable addition to the garden. As nitrogen-fixing legumes, they also increase the fertility of the soil that they are grown in. They are relatively nutrient dense and are relatively simple to grow.

Soybean:  Another legume, soybean is easy to grow and productive. The protein-rich beans from this crop are easy to store and can be eaten in a variety of ways, including raw, cooked, dried and ground. This plant also increases soil fertility where it is grown (380 calories/cup of soybean).

Field bean:  Field or dry beans represent many different types of dry bean, with different types well adapted to environmental conditions in a variety of locales. Dry beans store well and are nutrient and calorie dense (610 – 660 calories/cup of dry beans; excellent protein content)

Nutrient Crops (10% of garden area)

Carrot:  Carrots are an excellent easy to grow root crop that stores well and are nutrient dense. They are an excellent source of beta-carotene.

Beet:  Beets offer a nutritional double whammy, offering a great deal of nutritional value in the form of beet tops or greens, while the storage-friendly beetroots offer calories and nutrients.

Brussel Sprouts:  Brussel sprouts are a good spring and fall crop for survival and victory gardens, tolerating cool and cold weather, and keeping well into the cold months- often on the stalk. Some varieties bear prodigiously, offering excellent production per square foot of garden space. Brussel sprouts are a great source of minerals and nutrients and a great addition to any survival garden.

Cabbage:  Cabbage is another cold-tolerant crop that will tolerate a frost and stores well. Some varieties grow heads up to 22 lbs in size, offering excellent productivity per square foot of garden space.

Garlic: Garlic has a surprisingly high-calorie density, can be grown in a broad variety of climates, is simple to cultivate and stores very well. It also has health benefits and tastes great. Consider adding garlic to any survival garden.

Squash: Along with beans and corn, squash was one of the original “three sisters” in American Indian agriculture. Squash are vining crops that store well and have a good balance of nutrients and calories.  Consider trying pumpkins and melons in addition to squash.

Other Crops:  There are a number of other great crop selections for victory gardens and survival gardens. When choosing crops, take into account the caloric density of the crop – i.e. how much energy is stored in the crop, and nutritional qualities of the crop. Remember that staple, calorically dense crops will form the core of your diet, with nutritionally dense crops keeping you healthy.

Also, consider how densely the crop can be planted- i.e. how much you can produce per square foot of garden space.

Growing these crops in these proportions will supply a single person with all of the calories and nutrients not just to live, but to live well. More Americans need to consider supplementing their food purchases, if not replacing them. Most folks are not prepared to provide for their family if the food supply is disrupted. By planting these crops, you can take charge of your food future and take part in this old American tradition of self-sufficiency.

So here are the beginning plans for a victory garden, the launch pad for taking charge of your food supply. You do not need to depend on an unreliable or overpriced food supply. If you follow these guidelines you’ll be on track to produce enough to feed yourself. The results may not just be life-saving, but life-changing. There is a great deal of power in having a garden.

By Nate Storey