GARDEN

Self Sufficient Food Production | Crop Failure Risk

Crops flooded in the midwest.

Lets say you’re into preparedness level 4. That would include the ability to live self-sufficient to an appreciable extent. One of the biggest challenges in that regard will be food production in its various sources and methods. Enough of it to sustain throughout a given year!

That sure is easier said than done. One needs to be fully skilled, experienced, equipped, and adequately covered in the ‘labor’ department to get it all done. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be successful! Even the best of gardeners and farmers have failure.

This year’s Spring (and now early Summer) has parts of the nation in very wet conditions. That, and extensive flooding has evidently really hurt farming in widespread regions. Lots of crop did not get planted, failed, or has started late.

It got me to thinking… Imagine “if” you were relying upon your own food production for SHTF survival, and you experience horrific weather conditions that wipe out your crop or prevent you from getting started in time to make a complete growing season?

If there’s no grocery store, you are going to be in big trouble!

Where I live it has been very wet and comparatively colder than other seasons. Most people in my region grow gardens. Many have complained how seeds or starts have rotted in the ground from all the moisture. The wet and cool weather caused me to start late with my own gardening.

Not only is it difficult to grow and put away significant calorie food production from a garden, but there are all sorts of things that could ruin it. Bad weather is just one of them.

Why do I bring this up? Because in the event of poor crop production, you are going to need backup plans for food. And not only that, but we’re talking about enough for an entire year!

Yes I am hypothesizing worst case scenarios. If you’re truly attempting to be prepared for ‘end of the world’ survival, you’re going to need backup plans for failed food production.

This is one reason why having a entire year of food storage is not something to scoff at. Not only is it practical, sensible preparedness, but it might not even be enough!

Self sufficient living and food for a year is a multifaceted thing. There will be food from your gardens. Some meat will come from various game. Fish will be caught. Foraging the natural edible growth in your region. And then there’s your very deep food pantry that you stocked up during ‘normal times’, right?

Anyway, I thought I would throw it out there – the notion that one’s entire crop could be devastated due to weather (and other) circumstances that are out of your control. It’s something that should be planned for.

Continue reading: Garden Vegetable Calorie List

When The Garden Fails While You Need It Most

You might consider supplementing some of your long term food storage with the various options from Ready Made Resources.

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37 Comments

  1. Maintaining a food inventory system would be fundamental to insuring you’ve got what you need.

    1. This is my year to plant, more than EVER before. I feel a quickening in my spirit to do so. I ask what after grapes are all in? Know, while money still works and there is ground enough to add more; then I shall do just that. This is a personal challenge to me, but when crops fail, and they are and will, then this period of time is our years of plenty/preparation time ( as did Joseph for the seven good years, before famine struck and Egypt and surrounding areas starved.)
      I am thinking adding more berry bushes next and agree with Lauren, maybe add onto my small greenhouse (it is only 10’x10′.) Built it onto the back door of the basement (south facing) which gives an extra layer of security; as you have to break into the greenhouse, which has hog panels on inside of windows and steel bar for door, then you can access basement door, which also is solid steel door with steel drop bar on inside.
      I ask myself what to plant next each day. MSB family are you asking yourself these questions? Now is the time, not next month or next year. Plant on!
      If I can find two more apple trees, maybe down the side of garden area.

      When I plant, I do not ( put all my eggs in one basket, so to speak.) Example: horseradish ( which is an ingredient in anti bacterial remedy) is planted in four different areas in different locations from the house. Fruit trees are spread across the farm, four apple, two pear and one peach out the road near rental houses. Four apple, three peach and two plum on lawn in yard with the bird dogs. One plum in out front garden. Two apple one plum and two peach next to garden behind eight foot security fence. Then a new fenced area, away from Jerseys, out in a field with three apple, one peach, and mulberry trees. Get the picture? Someone or persons would have to travel, and carry fruit a long way to get to roads and carry all my fruit away. Yes, three gardens also two in different directions from house and one inside 8′ security area. Food Opsec anyone.

      Get to planting. Food, like ammo, and yes Ken, I too ordered two extra boxes of Baeofeng s/w radios. For barterability.

  2. Alternative means of growing would be a must–inside, in a greenhouse, hydroponics, whatever. Grow boxes, grow bags, wicking tubs, even dry gardening. Last year we had greenhouse tomatoes through December. Not much, but something if other means of production aren’t working.

    In my area drought is far more likely than excessive flooding, so I’m cultivating drought tolerant plants like sunchokes that just grow and do their thing but have edible roots.

  3. Having grown up within an asian household, 6 people would go through about 8-80 lb sacks of short grain rice per year. The pantry was in a temperature controlled interior wall pantry with the outside patrolled by a cat.

    When I left home I knew of a tendency that I developed: food fatigue.

    In my early years of work, school and travel, I learned to become an omnivore and I would try just about every kind of food when given the opportunity. My parents tried to teach me good manners.

    The table manners stuck. Yes ma’am/sir have served me well over the years. I dislike golf so I traded the golf clubs for a shotgun and rifle which helped me in my adventures in being an omnivore.

    If you are going to live/work/travel to different areas, you cheat yourself if you insist on eating turkey sandwiches and cheeseburgers where ever you go. In times where money is short, one cannot afford to be a picky eater.

    When cooking for the fire crew: some 50% of the crew were Mexican so I learned to cook Mexican food. ( sauces were out of a can- they were ok with that.). The folks from the southern states wanted biscuits and gravy and a fellow from Texas showed me how to make pan gravy from sausage grease.

    I never learned to fix, much less eat, these items growing up in my household. Learning to eat it meant I was never hungry. Learning to fix it meant I was popular and it got me out of some of the dirty jobs like scrubbing firehose.

    My favorite cookbook these days is The Joy of Cooking. ( even the ethnic Mexicans and Italians will grudgingly acknowledge the recipes are good. The one group that will never say anything is good are…the French.).

    1. Growing up in a large family we all learned to cook early on, one brother was best at pie making, another at bread making and others at grilling and so on. I was the fry meat and potato man, learned how to make the flour gravy from the bacon grease or fry grease with milk or water(sometimes out of milk). No recipe, was just shown how, never saw a gravy recipe till I was married. Could not tell anyone how to make gravy, had to show them.

      Cali, The Joy of Cooking cookbook is my go to book. Everyone should have this cookbook. An East Indian doctor once told me that one thing he had learned about Texans is that everything they cooked had bacon, onions and garlic in it.

  4. Become an anthropologist for your area. Learn how the ancient peoples of your land lived, what they ate, what foods sustained them.

    If you live near a river, lake, or pond study the foods these generate. If you live in a conifer forest, learn how to eat and harvest such things as pine cones, pine nuts, inner tree bark, and new needles. If you live in Florida, where the growing season is 24/7, where there are more edible plants than just about anywhere else on Earth, where massive flocks of birds arrive every year, where fish abound, gators abound, snakes abound, and the SEA is always nearby, where pastures and fields are always green. Where they raise cattle and horses cheaply as their natural foods abound all the time. Where fresh water is always within walking distance, or just a few feet below your feet. Where it does not snow and storms pass quickly. Where the Seminole Indians were never defeated and still live. You really do not have to worry about food, water, and shelter, very much.

    It is why I live in Florida, in a hurricane proof cement home, within walking distance of a fresh water spring, which has continually flowed for the last 15,000 years. Heck, you could eat just the insects and get fat.

    1. That’s sounding good, Ision!

      One thing that’s a big problem (a potentially big problem) where I live (northern NH) is a very short growing season. That would not bode well for a true EOTWAWKI situation compared to other geographical locations. Though I do enjoy the relatively low population density here.

      1. Ken,
        Have mentioned Elliot Colemans books before, if you have not read them, i would say get em and read em, well worth it and can easily be adapted to homestead garden scale, season extension info is priceless. Amazon has them

    2. Ision, Thais a good assessment of Florida. This is my AO too. The only thing you have to worry about are the zombies from the urban centers. Gotta put a lot of swamp between you and them to keep them away.

      1. Well, the zombies are a problem for a time, but not for a very long time. The population of rural Florida is made up of older, retired, folks, cattle ranchers and horse breeders, living in homes and estates, with not many living in apartments, crowded together.

        The zombies of Miami and Tampa and Orlando…will all stay put until way too late…expecting things to get better, as they look around for the helicopters and planes dropping supplies. When the food drops do not happen, those fleeing will be mostly people seeking to avoid the violence of the warring tribes, as they squabble for resources…mostly families. By this time fleeing people would know more about the nature of the catastrophe and understand there is really no place to go…save away from the violence…and into the nearby countryside.

        In rural Florida, by this same time, every home would be akin to a “pill box” and this will make it very tough to make a living going up against them all the time. If the raiders are that desperate, they are already weak…and the boldest of them will be the first ones to attract the front site post of an M4.

  5. I posted in the Open Forum this weekend about my crop failures this year. Just as in Ken’s locale, we have had cool, wet weather and I think that might be the reason. As I stated in the Forum, possible crop failure is one good reason to store 2 years of food and seeds. Actually, rice and pasta are cheap and store well. If you have room, you could store two tons of it (about 4 million calories if my math is correct.) Enough to supplement the diet of 2 people for 3 or 4 years.

  6. Guadalajara, Mexico woke up this morning to an accumulation of 3 feet of hail. From what I recall from visits to Mexico, many households had small gardens. What would 3 feet of hail do to your garden?

  7. Ken
    We have had odd weather here as well, the windward side has had little rain, bad news for the water catchment system the county relies on so we have been placed on stage 1 water shortage, voluntary cutbacks,
    Here at our place it has been cooler than normal, is starting to warm up though, we have been getting light rains in the late afternoon evenings so that has been nice, yesterday we got about 2/10.
    Food production wise, it has been rough, higher disease incidence plus poor growth on the stuff i had planted, from talking to a few friends im not alone, so found that interesting, i have been concentrating on getting medicinals growing though, and cleaning up the garden, it had gotten pretty wild there for a bit but is back in control. There is an odd white film on the leaves of all the plants after they dry out from rains or from watering, really odd, never seen it before so not sure whats up with that. I think its something precipitating out of the atmosphere but not sure if it is rain borne or air borne and just evident after the water collects it. Others have noticed it as well.
    My .02
    We are going to start seeing really high prices. Everything here seems to have jumped by 20-30% or more already, prices for inputs has been going up steadily, going to get fuel over the next few days so will see what thats at but am betting i am looking at 4.80/gal or so diesel.
    I think we are in for a bumpy ride.
    Have the second named storm of the season spinning up to our east so will be interesting to see how that plays out, everybody keeps saying “they will never hit us” regarding hurricaines,
    Yet is all i have to say, i think we will get to see this year perhaps, sea surface temps are higher and there is a warm pool near the islands, so could sustain a good storm, all it takes is one.

    I find it interesting that living in a place that less than 11% of all food consumed here is produced here, few people even give a second thought, heck, they dont even give a first thought to where they will get food if there is a disruption in supply. I hear the “we will always have Costco” reply a lot and “why would we need to have more than a few days of food” as well.
    I just nod and smile and mention that we live on an island in the middle of the ocean.
    I doubt our island will be a priority, dont really care either, could get sporty at some point.
    Who is John Galt!

  8. Our garden has been very slow to grow this year. We think due mostly to the cool weather this spring. Our goal is to have about 2 years of food available. We have no livestock so we buy meat from local friends ( pork & beef) . We can garden produce and we also can meat, mostly beef & chicken .We also have spam, canned tuna, salmon and sardines.
    We too are seeing higher grocery prices and I think they will continue to rise as time goes on.I think canned/storage foods are a good financial investment. I feel there will be food shortages as well in the future.
    Dicey times as we move toward an election circus in 2020.

  9. Something odd is happening here in Texas. We have good rain, not too much. Temperature is normal. The plants in the garden look super. But, but, but, nothing is bearing vegetables even though the plants are mature (lots of flowering and lots of bees at work). My garden seeds came from different sources. I have never seen my garden produce nothing. Question, has anyone ever seen this problem? I have been gardening for years.

    1. I realized this week that a lot of my plants are showing signs of scorch, and others are trying to grow INTO the shade–specifically the squash, watermelons, and sweet potatoes. These are things that love the sun and usually want more, but this year they’re traveling away from the sunny areas.

      My thought is that UV has been exceptionally high this spring and the plants are trying to protect themselves. Maybe check UV levels in your area?

      1. Lauren, maybe more cosmic rays getting through the atmosphere due to the GSM? Just a guess.

        1. That’s my guess as well. Both cosmic and solar. For now I’m going to let them protect themselves and see what happens.

    2. Texas Boy
      High nitrogen
      Can happen if the rain you been getting is high in nitrates, or too much compost

      1. Tommy boy,
        High nitrogen – makes good sence, since i fertilized my garden with a lot of chicken manure that I got for free. This shows the benefit of talking to other preppers. Thanks.

        1. Texas Boy
          That sounds like your culprit right there,
          Chicken manure is really high in urea/nitrogen
          Plus rain can have more depending in atmospheric conditions, its a real fine line too so can easily be too much, i have had that problem before with squashes and peppers and such, just dump a bunch of phospate and potassium on those things and it might help, might, doesnt always work,

    3. Texs boy,try increasing phosphorus and potash … with something like a tomato fertilizer. every time i had that happen i had too much nitrogen available…

    4. Texas Boy, same here in central Texas, pollinators slow, abundance of flowers and they ignore the garden. If it were not for flies garden would not make it. Look to the sky?

  10. Our garden is not doing so good this year either. Too much rain and late planting so everything is behind schedule. We are just now beginning to get tomatoes. Our corn was blown over for the second time this year by a thunder storm that came thru last night. I hope it stands up again. But our raspberries are doing great.

    1. It also has to do with diversity of planted foods too. Like you said, your raspberries are doing great while other crops have been negatively affected. Like they say, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”!

  11. I can not speak enough about diversity. IF you get hit with a flood takes out your ground veggies or drought. Wind storms knock down fruit trees. Especially week wood pears and plum.

    For me Insects are more of a concern right now. I make sure not to plant the same crop all together. in nice neat little rows. Instead I spread the crops out mixing and matching.

    Mint for my mojitos sprawls through the onion patch. Container tomatoes hang out with bucket sweet potatoes. Bucket Pineapples grow next to raised beds of beans and water melon. Trees are random through out the property and tightly planted and pruned to help mitigate wind storms. Mango with Avcado. Sugar Apple with Jack Fruit. Topiary citrus on fencing.

  12. Not much fruit set this year. Weather has been off but not severe. Overcast, cooler, but drier than normal. Hardly any bees around, nor wasps or hornets, which are usually a real problem. Almost no hummingbirds. But trees bloomed well and acres of blackberries are now in bloom and will be for some months.

    Bees here are natives mostly, solitary ground dwellers. We did have some real cold and a bit of snow last winter so maybe they were weather stressed? Got dogs this past winter, and they live outside. Haven’t noticed them going after spicy sky raisins, though. DFM on the other hand has trees loaded up at the cabin. However, neighbor installed a bee hive.

    Maybe I need to get a hive. Although I don’t use much honey, and would have to have someone else manage it as I am allergic. Pollinators required for food security, that’s for sure.

    1. Anony Mee have you looked at Mason Bees yet? They tend to be less affected by what neighbors are spraying as a Honey Bee travels miles seeking pollen a Mason Bee travels a few hundred yards if enough pollen is available.

      Mason Bees don’t make honey, very gentle, almost never sting and very good pollinators. If you Google them for your area I suspect you’ll find plenty of good advice as to disease control, care and feeding and over wintering them.

      Grinning wildly “spicy sky raisins” eh? What a cool way to say bees.

      1. me2 – how ya doin’? Lots of good prepping going on I hope.

        Beloved offspring has a dog that loves to chase and eat flying bugs. Calls flies sky raisins and stingers spicy sky raisins.

        Mason, orchard and other naive bees usually abound, and have left a pile of branches against a fence for their use. Just concerned that haven’t seen many this year. Usually can’t wear sandals for fear of getting stung, but not this year.

        1. Doing well Anony Mee thanks for asking. While I too have a brush pile at the corner of my property (actually a few scattered about) I noticed a few years ago when my bee keeping neighbor lost his hives to “Scotts Yards” my garden suffered. Tomatoes and Peppers worse of all. Then I talked to a gardening neighbor (about 2 miles away) about lack of bees and she showed me her Mason Bee House.

          Instead of hoping the local Mason Bees do well over the seasons she chose to raise them for her garden and fruit trees. Thus a little research will give you the knowledge to have healthy Mason Bees for you.

          They work pretty well so far for me excellent pollination last year a banner year for tomatoes, no spray losses so far. Like I said they roam a far smaller circle for pollen than honeybees. Often they land on me for a rest and I just pause until they go onward.

          If you choose to become a Mason Bee Wrangler maybe you can move those sting inducing branch piles further out for your safety?

          Prepping more everyday. Bought a couple more 40 gallon olive barrels today and will see next week just how much whole corn and such I can put in them. A little food grade DE and good rolling around mixing will snuff out bugs. If I don’t eat it I bet the chicken sure will.

    2. AnonyMee, I set up some mason bees a couple years ago for pollinating. They are a quarter of the size of a honey bee but pollinate at a vastly greater rate and tend to stick around. They don’t sting either. I did this because I was concerned about the pollinators dying off. The males mate and then die but you continue to see the females pollinating.

      We also have a wild hive in the woods of our land which is nice. So far I haven’t been stung by them even when they swarm.

      This year I watched as the mason bees, honey bees, and bumble bees all pollinated bishes together. I was quite interesting.

  13. The farmers in the flooded area should be growing rice. I really am interested in aquaponics system. Does anyone here have one ?

    1. like Lauren, the cukes are going in a hydroponic system with fertilizer water and mico minerals.. have planted in solo cups 2x. 2 kinds should be coming up any day… My plan is to use a 30-35 gal. start with it full… and add small amounts 3-8 gal, of water mid season to keep from drowning out air roots.will do two hills per container…. gardening with Leon, wicking tubs has the fertilizer ratio’s for EAcH STage of growth on the one he addresses fertilizers…he uses potting soil that has very little nutrients…
      for those with blue barrel access. each one will make 2 tubs and last 10-15 year.

  14. Cold dry spring in our area of the Canadian prairies. A lot of garden didn’t germinate & had to be replanted. Tried collards this year & I have 1 plant. Tried tatsoi & have 0 plants. Flee beetles got most of the rutabaga & some turnips. Since we got rain what is up is booming. Corn hip high, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers peas blooming, beans in bud. Got frost when the apples were in bloom so not too many set. Raspberries & saskatoons look good. Every year is different so when I get a good crop I can or freeze more than I need as next year may get little or nothing. As I look at the crop failures all around the world I am concerned as we seem to have drawn down our surplus. Just heard that Australia is buying wheat from Canada this year & usually they are an exporter. China is buying all they can from the “stan” countries so don’t let up on the stockpiling & learning.

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