Survival Skill – Learning to Grow Food
By Sage Shannon
If you can’t grow food now, you will have a difficult time growing food when hard times hit. Start today to get the basics down so that within the next month or two you can read up and get your soil ready for seeds.
Gardening is as rewarding and frustrating as nature will allow. Growing food for survival could be heartbreaking, so learning now will allow for mistakes. The benefit is, with this survival skill there is delicious produce to eat.
The first thing to do is your homework
Start by reading and watching videos and connecting with gardening clubs, local agriculture organizations and even college classes. A pamphlet published in 1918 by the National War Garden Commission is a good resource to start. Available free online “War Vegetable Gardening and the Home Storage of Vegetables” offers practical instruction from an era of hand tools and hard work. Download the booklet here: War Vegetable Gardening
A great book to start with
“Gardening When it Counts, Growing Food in Hard Times” by Steve Solomon is a good first book for gardeners. In it, Solomon instructs the reader in proper tools, how to start a new garden, buying quality seeds, watering, compost and insects and diseases. Solomon’s book is available at http://www.territorialseed.com/ and other online bookstores.
Peruse their website of seeds, order a catalog and try their garden planner for free. Buying quality seed is important. Solomon explains how seeds are grown (he founded Territorial Seed Company) processed and sold. It’s an eye opening experience for those not in the know. Spending all the time, effort and money to grow a garden should not include disappointment with seed germination or poor quality vegetables.There are also good tutorial videos on the
The next step
The next step is to get out there and start turning soil. Put up some fencing to protect your plot from rabbits, squirrels and deer. Water and weed it regularly and if you planted radishes, in about 35 days you can taste the fruits (or vegetables) of your labor. Community gardening is another way to gain experience. Some municipalities offer garden space for a fee. Check with your city hall or community center to see if there is one in your area.
Another option is calling local small farmers who might be willing to let you work on their farm. Realize that it is not easy. You will be expected to weed, hoe and plant but it is experience and maybe some free vegetables. Though be careful, this is their livelihood and you need them more than they need you.
Learning to tell when a vegetable/fruit or herb is ready for harvest is a skill as much as knowing how to grow your own food.
Leave a zucchini on the vine too long and it goes from the size a microphone to a club in just a day or two. Corn left on the stalk can become tough and chewy. Getting to the tomatoes when they are red but before the birds do is a matter of timing. Over time you will learn to cut basil to discourage bolting, to gather in the cool of the morning so the produce stays fresher and be picking off tomato hornworms with the best of them.
Article by Sage Shannon Sage Shannon lives on a couple of acres in Southern California with her husband, three dogs, ten hens and one happy rooster. She writes, gardens and loves to cook. A former journalist for a daily newspaper, Shannon considers prepping an highly underrated skill in today’s world.