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Old 02-18-2018, 07:27 AM
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Default How Prepared Are You Really To Live Off Your Gardening Skills Alone?



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The grid is down long term. Industrial production no longer exists. There is no more buying cheater / shortcuts to grow your food like starter plants, seeds, fertilizer, soil, mulch, no city water or electricity, no gas for tillers... everything that we currently purchase to grow food is no longer available other than possibly thru barter.

Don't bother with all the other realities such as mass die off, looting provisions etc that would come in such a scenario. Just stick to an HONEST evaluation of your actual level of survival gardening skills.

Things to consider:
How many seeds do I have on hand
Do I know how to start from seed
How skilled am I at saving seed
How will I water and feed the plants
What do I know about soil management
If I'm utilizing solar set ups for power, am I prepared for when the parts fail
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Old 02-18-2018, 07:28 AM
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For my part, I fully admit it would be a challenge to grow enough to meet my families' needs. I already use stripped down methods, and my volume of growth is, IMO, pretty meager. Part of that is due to the smallish garden plot I have which could be expanded. But part is also lack of skills, knowledge, experience, and the time to spend getting better at it. I have trouble growing tomatoes and potatoes in bulk for instance.

My wife even commented that it "seems like everybody else grow a lot of tomatoes". My reply was... "yeah, but how are they doing it, and what products are they dependent upon to achieve that volume of growth?". I also remind her (and myself as well when garden envy sets in) that most gardeners aren't growing food with prep skill building in mind, to be able to feed their families using methods like the pioneers, which is what we, as preppers and self reliant folk, would be faced with in a long term, grid down situation.


I'll add more thoughts as others chime in.
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Old 02-18-2018, 08:18 AM
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I would say zero percent prepared. To survive off a garden one would have to plant a lot of high yielding carb crops (squash/potatoes/corn) and I am not growing any of that.

Corn takes up a lot of space, isn't as easy as it looks, and each huge stalk usually only produces 2 small ears. I don't really like squash. Would like to grow potatoes one of these years, but they are so easy to buy it is not on my list.
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Old 02-18-2018, 08:23 AM
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Having what I have on hand, if SHTF tomorrow, I could plant a 2018 crop. From seeds saved from last years harvest, excess seeds that were never planted, & starting material, I'm good. I don't water my garden, no commercial fertilizers, and don't have to buy vegetable plants. I would not be able to plant everything that I've enjoyed growing due to location, and weather. Some vegetables take two growing seasons to produce seeds.
We have the equipment to can & process everything we raise.
I too believe it would be a challenge, with everything going on around you, it would be hard to devote 100% to a survival garden. Even with my experience, it will be hard to do.
I would plant every inch of space available & then some. Any extras or abundance could be traded for necessities.
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Old 02-18-2018, 08:52 AM
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Not at all. I'm a miserable gardener. Much, much better with livestock of all kinds. I'm probably gonna die of protein starvation. Or I guess I could barter.

I have had a congenital condition that has kept me from doing much leaning over (kinda a must do when gardening) or lifting stuff. I had surgery last year that went a long way towards correcting that so hopefully this year I will be able to at least give a garden an honest effort. I'm looking forward to it.
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Old 02-18-2018, 09:12 AM
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100% prepared to grow our needs without supplies other than what we have on hand.

(except coffee which can't grow here)

30% prepared to preserve what we harvest without the grid.

LP gas gets filled late July or early August. What if our shipment of gas didn't show up? Without gas or electric we'd have to can over a wood fire. Not sure I'm ready to do that.

Our dehydrator is electric. We would need to air dry or sun dry produce. We would have to build some racks or tables to do that. We don't have any constructed yet.

Freezer without the grid won't last long. I'd have to depend on a root cellar and/or clamps. Never have had a root cellar, would need to construct it. Clamps are easy enough but I've no real experience using them.

There would be alot of waste I suppose, though it would go to compost.

You get the idea.
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Old 02-18-2018, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by thyme2bprepped View Post
Our dehydrator is electric. We would need to air dry or sun dry produce. We would have to build some racks or tables to do that. We don't have any constructed yet.

Just lay it out in a car. Cars that get a bit of sun dry things out amazingly fast even in the super humid South (likely much faster than any other non-electric method).
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Old 02-18-2018, 09:29 AM
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Just lay it out in a car. Cars that get a bit of sun dry things out amazingly fast even in the super humid South (likely much faster than any other non-electric method).
I couldn't even imagine gardening in the South. I would die of heatstroke.
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Old 02-18-2018, 09:48 AM
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I'm not.


I AM prepared to live off my garden, what I have stored (grains, beans, rice, salt, sugar, other dry goods) and home canned, And FD, and pocked fruit, and livestock, and.... for several years.
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Old 02-18-2018, 09:49 AM
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I couldn't even imagine gardening in the South. I would die of heatstroke.
I don't know where you are but that's kinda how I feel about every place north of the Oklahoma-Kansas state line. I LOATHE wintertime!
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Old 02-18-2018, 10:06 AM
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I could do potatoes, tomatoes, beans, (already do), and herbs, but anything else would be a challenge round. I just don't have space enough here. Sure, the garden beds could be expanded and I could prolly do most root veg and greens, but grains? I'd be a hurting puppy.
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Old 02-18-2018, 10:11 AM
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I don't know where you are but that's kinda how I feel about every place north of the Oklahoma-Kansas state line. I LOATHE wintertime!
I'm at the most northwestern corner of Illinois. We plant outdoors mid-May to early-June. Harvest around September, later than that for field corn and such. Sometime every summer we have a week or two over 90 degrees, awful, and I stay inside as much as humanly possible. I have a serious aversion to sweating.
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Old 02-18-2018, 10:18 AM
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Not at all. I'm a miserable gardener. Much, much better with livestock of all kinds. I'm probably gonna die of protein starvation. Or I guess I could barter.

I have had a congenital condition that has kept me from doing much leaning over (kinda a must do when gardening) or lifting stuff. I had surgery last year that went a long way towards correcting that so hopefully this year I will be able to at least give a garden an honest effort. I'm looking forward to it.
With livestock being a source of manure, you might be able to trade with the gardeners. Meat, eggs, manure in exchange for fruits, veggies, and grains.
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Old 02-18-2018, 10:30 AM
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How many seeds to I have on hand – Enough for several years, not including saving seed from what’s in the ground.

Do I know how to start from seed - yes

How skilled am I at saving seed – pretty good

How will I water and feed the plants –

Watering plants would be a challenge during the hot and dry summer months here. There are two ponds close by for toting water but that would be pretty labor intensive. I have saved a LOT of older hose that needs some repair and hopefully it could be used as a siphon to draw water somewhat closer from the uphill pond. It would be a pain but I could also move some of the beds close to the pond within siphin hose reach and also out of sight from the nearby road. It’s on someone else’s land but he’s a good guy, lives 3 miles away and most likely wouldn’t mind especially if offered some produce. We are also prepared to deploy big tarp funnels to collect rainwater in barrels near the garden.

Feeding plants would entail very judicious use of the remaining fertilizer in the shed, compost and horse buns or cow patties gathered from the adjacent pastures, depending on whichever the pasture’s owner has there at the time.

What do I know about soil management – Enough to include strict three year crop rotation and mulching. Plenty of leaves for mulching and composting. Been using that forever.

No solar. Yet.

Canning - In one year’s time the 100 gal LP tank (filled to 80% at delivery time) is half full when the annual delivery comes. The stove is the only thing using LP so it should last at least a year. But if for some reason it ran out I’d learn fast how to can over a wood fire, probably using the barrel grill as the stove. We do need to bump up the supply of Tattler lids.

Dehydration – We too have an electric dehydrator but there are some big screens and rolls of screen material in the shed to fashion a dehydrator with. And as S610 said, down here one can dehydrate stuff pretty fast in a car on a hot summer’s day! It works.

Crops – Corn is too fert and water needy in this area to fool with during SHTF. I suppose we could dig a small rudimentary root cellar hole and put some coolers in there for Irish potatoes, turnips and daikon radishes but sweet potatoes are much better suited for here and would be the carb of choice. There are a lot that were dug in June, kept in a cool closet and they’re just now showing signs of wanting to start sprouting. Still in great condition.

Summary – Between what is already put up and what’s in the garden at any one time, we would lose weight but I believe we’d survive. That’s why I try to keep stuff growing in the garden all year and try to stagger harvests of some things so there’s always something to have. That’s why I’m constantly experimenting with heirloom varieties that do better here than what I’m already growing and for seed saving. However, push come to shove I’d save hybrid seed for a last resort. The leanest time would be that period waiting for ramped up crop size to come ready.

Quote:
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I couldn't even imagine gardening in the South. I would die of heatstroke.
Gardening happens before 11:30am and between 7pm and dusk. You kind of get used to that. The Mexicans and other hot country cultures have it right with midday time out.
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Old 02-18-2018, 10:31 AM
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Call it 50/50 if we had to suddenly expand things to planting 8-10 acres. We have the materials and to a large degree the knowledge but no plow or planter for the tractor so a ton of physical labor. And Lord help us if there was no fuel for the walk behind tiller.

Long ago I knew an old woman who grew up living off what her family could grow during the 1930s; potatoes mostly along with some grains. She said "give her 2 good acres down by the creek and she would never starve". Around here the farmers use Round Up to kill the weeds and grass before plowing and planting. I suspect most people (including myself) don't keep enough Round Up to clear 2 acres per person or even have 2 acres per person of good soil.

As far as solar backups we should be ok.
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Old 02-18-2018, 10:38 AM
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I can, I have the background and several years recent practice on my own 30x60. I grew up with a 30x70 in our suburban backyard and helping a buddy do daily upkeep on his families 2 acre for extra meals and fishing/hunting time with him. With my available seed, I could do 60+ tomatoes with sweet potato ground cover, several hundred pepper plants, a couple rows of sweet corn with runner beans, a small field of feed corn from my sacks of deer feeder corn, not much collard greens this Spring but a couple hundred from seed by mid-summer with a late Fall harvest. I would be hurting for grains, especially wheat and barley, as both have been germinated and toasted in prep for fermentation and might not grow. No carrot or onion seed. Next year it would be 2-3 acres, easy, and need a couple people to hoe and hoof water in the evening.
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Old 02-18-2018, 11:16 AM
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I can, I have the background and several years recent practice on my own 30x60. I grew up with a 30x70 in our suburban backyard and helping a buddy do daily upkeep on his families 2 acre for extra meals and fishing/hunting time with him. With my available seed, I could do 60+ tomatoes with sweet potato ground cover, several hundred pepper plants, a couple rows of sweet corn with runner beans, a small field of feed corn from my sacks of deer feeder corn, not much collard greens this Spring but a couple hundred from seed by mid-summer with a late Fall harvest. I would be hurting for grains, especially wheat and barley, as both have been germinated and toasted in prep for fermentation and might not grow. No carrot or onion seed. Next year it would be 2-3 acres, easy, and need a couple people to hoe and hoof water in the evening.
Hi, I like the idea of using sweet potatoes under tomatoes, but do you have a good way, other than daily control of the vines, to keep the sweet potatoes from growing up into and over the tomatoes? I planted my sweet potatoes near my blackberries and they happily used them as a trellis. Looked pretty funny by the end of the year, with the volunteer cherry tomatoes mixed in. It did shade the ground well to conserve water though.
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Old 02-18-2018, 11:30 AM
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Lots of factors to consider. Weather, blight, predator damage. Lots of folks dependent on gardens or their crops alone have starved to death in bad years.
Now if all of those factors are controlled and we have an ideal growing season, I feel pretty confident I could feed us by expanding my garden. I use heirloom seeds and have a years supply on hand as well as one of those “survival garden” packages. Plenty of manure from the animals to recharge beds annually and a compost bin too.
Diets would definitely change. I grow potatoes, corn, squash and other things too each year. Throw in a little livestock protein, milk, eggs, meat and we could make it IF there were no major hiccups.
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Old 02-18-2018, 01:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weedinhoe View Post
How will I water and feed the plants –

Watering plants would be a challenge during the hot and dry summer months here. There are two ponds close by for toting water but that would be pretty labor intensive. I have saved a LOT of older hose that needs some repair and hopefully it could be used as a siphon to draw water somewhat closer from the uphill pond. It would be a pain but I could also move some of the beds close to the pond within siphin hose reach and also out of sight from the nearby road. It’s on someone else’s land but he’s a good guy, lives 3 miles away and most likely wouldn’t mind especially if offered some produce. We are also prepared to deploy big tarp funnels to collect rainwater in barrels near the garden.
So you are on city water? That sucks.
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Old 02-18-2018, 02:00 PM
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Depending on where you live, you really need to try and get in more than one planting. We're in Virginia and the last two seasons we got in a good three plantings. and are still using cabbage and green beans from last summer and fall. And our plot is only 20 x 20.

No we didn't plant any tomatoes - don't go over big with us. Beans, Squash, cabbage, peppers and turnips for the most part.
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