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What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

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What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  dstack on 5/12/2014, 10:05 am

If you knew that you need to plant a summer garden for some sort of "apocalyptic" survival, what would you plant? What do you consider a "sure thing" when growing for food in our zone 10, and is it a specific variety of it that's sure to give you and your family a bountiful harvest? 
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Re: What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  H_TX_2 on 5/12/2014, 11:51 am

I can't say I have had a bumper crop of anything just yet. My first problem was my fault in not following the directions for MM. Pests, water and some other issues have come up. Just this year I had a day off and noticed that the back of my beds was still shaded at 11:00am; not sure if that could be stunting my garden a little bit.

First thing I would do is to get some rosemary in the ground. In my area it survives the winter and the hot summers without my having to do anything with it. Rosemary doesn't exactly make a meal by itself but in an apocalyptic type situation it would definitely be useful to add some flavor to whatever you had to cook and eat even if it that something wasn't all that appetizing by itself.

I also had good luck with yellow pear tomatoes and they also survived the winter. They are heirloom so seeds could be saved. 

my squash never quite get pollinated enough but I could always teach the kids how to do it by hand in case of an apocalyptic event and school was forever canceled.
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Re: What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  grownsunshine on 5/12/2014, 12:56 pm

I like the question! It really gets to the point. I'm too new to sfg to give experienced advice, as I haven't yet had a "bountiful season", although my zukes are really producing well this year. My guess is good sun, water and high quality compost. So far I've learned the right amount of nitrogen gives good plant growth and the right amount of potassium gives good fruit growth, but you need the right balance. I'm thinking the right balance should be in quality compost/MM.

I purchased my compost from a guy on a small ranch that made it. He had a lot and used a small tractor to mix it.  He said he put llama, horse, chicken manure in with wood chips. He also said it got really hot and was steaming. Since I didn't have any control over it I don't know for sure, but I'm assume it was good. It broke down really well with the exception of some wood chips and it's worked nicely so far, but I still amend it with worm castings, fish fertilizer and will soak some banana leaves in my water for the potassium.

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Re: What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  yolos on 5/12/2014, 1:38 pm

I am not in zone 10 (8A) but my best producer is Dragon Tongue Beans.  This year I am trying two different types of soybeans to see how they fare in this warm summer.
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Re: What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  camprn on 5/12/2014, 1:43 pm

I was going to answer but then realized this question is directed specifically to the folks of south Florida/Tropical area.

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Re: What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  Windmere on 5/12/2014, 2:37 pm

dstack, I know I am a bit north of you here in Georgia, but we do have blazing hot summers with high humidity... much like you.  The one thing that thrived exceptionally well in the burning sun was my genovese basil.  It provided much pesto and many caprese salads.  One caution:  Try not to water from above so that the leaves get excessively wet.  Basil, from my experience, does not like being too wet.

Also, I've heard basil makes a good companion for tomatoes.  This is debatable I'm sure, but I tried it myself and they grew well together.
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Re: What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  rabbithutch on 5/12/2014, 5:26 pm

Howdy, DStack!

I doubt anything I could tell you would be worthwhile because I have no experience gardening in the tropics.  The closest I came was a couple of years in Pinellas County.

Senility prevents me remembering the county you are in.  Is it Dade?  It really doesn't matter because what you should do is call your county extension office and ask them about varieties to plant.  They might even be able to suggest what plants would fill your bill, but the ideas AtlMarie gave you are well informed.  Be sure to ask them if there is a Master Gardener program in your county and how to contact those folks if there is one.

I doubt that you could bug out from Ft. Lauderdale, roads in FL being what they are and population being what it is.  Your 'survival' planning must surely range beyond food and water given what I have experienced in South FL.  Maybe you could get real good at catching, cleaning and selling Burmese pythons.   Shocked
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Oh dear

Post  Windmere on 5/12/2014, 5:53 pm

dstack, oh dear, I just realized what you are asking.... more like what you could survive on.  And I metioned basil?!!  Ha ha.  Sorry about that.
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"Sure Thing"

Post  GloriaG on 5/12/2014, 7:40 pm

dstack,

It sounds like you're interested in survival planning.  For that purpose, I would start with beans that can be dried.  They are one of the staples on most survival planning lists.  I know there are lots of good dried beans varieties so perhaps someone can recommend a good variety for your specific area. Basically anything that can be dried (onions, garlic, some fruits) has a long shelf-life and properly packed can be kept until the next crop is ready to harvest.

Also root vegetables and potatoes - both white and sweet. They also are useful in survival situations because of their storage ability.  

For sweet potatoes, we grow Vardamen because the plants are relatively small. They have a very nice flavor and produce very well (66 lbs in three grow bags last year). They do best in hot climates.  We grow russet and Kennebeck white potatoes.  Russets are good bakers and Kennebeck are a good all-around variety.

Another good survival crop would be winter or hard squash.  They don't store quite as well as root vegetables, but have a relatively long shelf life and are prolific. 

I'm sure there are other things as well that would work, but these are the ones that I believe are on top of the survival planning lists.   You might check some survival sites to see what else they recommend. 

Hope this helps,
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Re: What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  dstack on 5/12/2014, 8:50 pm

Wow!  There are so many good ideas, and I wish I had more time tonight to ask individual questions. I'll have more time tomorrow. BTW, even if you don't live in zone 10, I don't mind hearing your answer. And I enjoyed reading about the basil, even though it's not a survival staple. When I visited the Seminole Museum in the Everglades I expressed to their management that I would have been interested in buying their heirloom seeds, and eating their authentic foods. I was told that they'll definitely work on that, and seemed very appreciative of the advice. I think they were already considering an authentic restaurant, but hadn't considered the sale of seeds. They call their three stables "the three sisters". They are: squash, corn, beans. I already grow Seminole Squash.
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Re: What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  Marc Iverson on 5/13/2014, 12:39 am

Just a thought -- are chickens and things it would take to help feed and maintain chickens on the table for inclusion in your survivability plans? It's hard to beat eggs for easy and immediate high-quality protein, and chickens can live off a wide range of foods, including scraps. Eggs and/or chickens would probably be a high-value barter item too.
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Re: What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  plantoid on 5/13/2014, 6:56 am

I think I'd do some sensible research before hand and see what weeds grow profusely locally that are edible as foliage , seeds & roots for me and my stock . Then I'd go for beans & peas & other pulses as they contain all manner of protein nutrients & trace elements as these can be easily dry stored

I might go for maize and sunflowers giving the other corns a miss unless they are naturally sown for the maize sunflower stalks  make for fodder that is easy to store & not so difficult to harvest .
& again the dried seeds full of goodness are easy to store & move around.

Reasoning behind the statement .
It has taken the weeds thousands of years to successfully grow there year on year without mankind's interference & not be consumed by voracious insects or suffer from end of plant life diseases .
 So why waste survival time growing what nature consistently supplies for free.


I guess I could get used to eating boiled nettles, wild carrots , wild celery , fir tree tips etc. etc. so long as I could get fish or meat at least once a week .
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Re: What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  dstack on 5/13/2014, 10:15 am

@Windmere wrote:dstack, oh dear, I just realized what you are asking.... more like what you could survive on.  And I metioned basil?!!  Ha ha.  Sorry about that.
No problem Windmere. I've been interested in trying other varieties of basil lately, so I may try that one.
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Why I posed this question.

Post  dstack on 5/15/2014, 5:21 am

The reason I started this post is that I'm still in my first year of SFG-ing (as of last September), and I still have so much to learn. The thought occurred to me that if I needed to feed my family in the event of some horrific catastrophe, we would starve!  Even if that horrific event never comes, I want to cut our grocery bill as much as I can. 

As many of you know, gardening in Florida is a challenge with the humidity, fungi, and bugs galore!  So, each season is an experiment to see which varieties do best and what time of the year is optimal for those varieties, etc. I may start focusing of tropicals like more pineapple, passion fruit, papaya, etc.  Although potatoes and sweet potatoes aren't tropical, I should grow it. I've got three varieties of sweet potatoes going in large pots that I just planted.

Good news: This is my first season of pole beans and they're doing very well!
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Re: What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  AtlantaMarie on 5/15/2014, 8:20 am

You bring up a good point, dstack.  Many folks are in that situation.

At Sanderson's suggestion (so we don't hijack your regional forum area) I've started an Emergency Prep Gardening thread.  Can't promise that I'll keep on it every day, but I'll try.

I think I may start a Medicinal Herbs thread as well.  If things DO "go south," the meds will run out quickly as well.

I think the big thing to remember is that there will never be a SURE thing from year to year.  Just depends on the weather, drought vs flooding vs just right, too hot vs too cold, bugs, diseases, etc.  Of course, this is all stuff we can't control...  sigh...  And you DO live in a rough area for heat and it's related issues.

I would think sweet potatoes would be good in your area.  And Plantoid brings up some good points about "weeds."

May be time for a library trip!  (BTW, if you ever quit learning, you're probably dead, lol!)
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Re: What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  dstack on 5/15/2014, 10:18 am

@AtlantaMarie wrote:You bring up a good point, dstack.  Many folks are in that situation.

At Sanderson's suggestion (so we don't hijack your regional forum area) I've started an Emergency Prep Gardening thread.  Can't promise that I'll keep on it every day, but I'll try.

I think I may start a Medicinal Herbs thread as well.  If things DO "go south," the meds will run out quickly as well....

... And Plantoid brings up some good points about "weeds."
Absolutely, and like I inferred before, we could learn a lot from the Native Americans about herbal meds/remedies from weeds.  The nature tour just outside of the Seminole indian museum in the middle of the Everglades is FULL of that information. If they haven't published a book on this they really should. One thing we noticed is that they had more herbal remedies for diarrhea than anything else. LOL

Anyway, the nature trail is a mile long boardwalk with educational stops along the way that explains what uses they had for whatever plant or tree that is in front of you.
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Re: What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  Marc Iverson on 5/15/2014, 4:46 pm

The only thing about growing beans for drying is that they are already so incredibly cheap and last so long. You can put up an awful lot of them already, the equivalent of years' worth of harvest, with minimal effort and expense. I suppose you could always have more, but they don't strike me as something it's easy to go missing if you're well-prepared.

It might be a good idea to set yourself up to grow through the winter -- hoop houses and replacement cloth and all. Gotta be able to eat no matter what the season, after all. Another thing that grows well in winter is sprouts. They are high-protein and it's nice to have something green during the winter that you don't even have to leave the house to get.

Love plantoid's ideas about learning the local edible weeds and other plants.

There's a guy on youtube who does tons of very long videos name under "growingyourgreens." His experience with community gardens is that nice veggies can attract stealing. So he recommends growing crops people are not likely to recognize as edible, or familiar crops in odd colors. Yellow or green or black tomatoes (people might think they're not ripe), for instance, instead of red ones.
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Re: What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  Pollinator on 5/16/2014, 10:11 am

Sweet potatoes would have to be my "sure thing" here in South Carolina. Highly nutritions, and will last a long time. Also can be canned or dried.
And broccoli can be harvested for three seasons (not summer) with a little extra work and luck.
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Re: What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  camprn on 5/16/2014, 12:33 pm

@Pollinator wrote:Sweet potatoes would have to be my "sure thing" here in South Carolina. Highly nutritions, and will last a long time. Also can be canned or dried.
And broccoli can be harvested for three seasons (not summer) with a little extra work and luck.
and the foliage is edible. Wink 

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Re: What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  walshevak on 5/16/2014, 8:06 pm

For more than 30years my summer gardens always included tomatoes,  pole beans, collards, cukes, and summer squash.   I've added kale, winter squash and swiss chard the past few years  Squash has always been twice a summer sowing process as the SVB or something always gets them eventually.  These may not be good "keepers" but they were reliable.

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Re: What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  TCgardening on 5/17/2014, 8:25 am

Like you I am a SFG newbie. I have my raised beds but also trying some blueberry, raspberries & blackberries. The berries have only been in ground a few months so I'll have to wait and see how these do. Also have some sweet potatoes in the ground. Plantoid has a good point because we have lots of edible weeds down here. Check out Green Dean's website;
http://www.eattheweeds.com
Really amazing info on the edible weeds you find just about anywhere down here.

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Re: What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  brainchasm on 5/17/2014, 12:49 pm

@Marc Iverson wrote:There's a guy on youtube who does tons of very long videos name under "growingyourgreens."  His experience with community gardens is that nice veggies can attract stealing. So he recommends growing crops people are not likely to recognize as edible, or familiar crops in odd colors.  Yellow or green or black tomatoes (people might think they're not ripe), for instance, instead of red ones.
Aha!  That's John from GrowingYourGreens!  I think he's based here in Las Vegas, but I'm not sure.  I know he's done multiple vids in Las Vegas.

Yeah, pretty veggies can attract thieves (or particularly nimble gymnast ex-girlfriends...).  My thought is to (soon) build some front yard raised beds, give them basic care, and if someone wants to come grab a tomato or a cuke, they should feel free.

But leave my backyard gardens alone.  tongue 

And honestly, if I plant peas, and the neighbor kids find them...well, at least I'll never have to pick them myself!

But back on topic:  my sure thing for a summer garden here in Las Vegas?  Judging by last year, it'd have to be crenshaw melons.  I was giving them away, the plants were so prolific.  And 8-12lbs they say?  I had at least three that broke 20lbs, and were delicious.

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Re: What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  southern gardener on 5/17/2014, 7:12 pm

For us it's been kale and garlic, can't seem to miss, and corn too and and and lol
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Re: What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  brainchasm on 5/17/2014, 7:30 pm

@southern gardener wrote:For us it's been kale and garlic, can't seem to miss, and corn too and and and lol
I can agree with garlic - 36 cloves in, 36 good plants.  That being said, from sow to harvest can be a bit much...

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Re: What's your "Sure Thing" for a bountiful harvest?

Post  southern gardener on 5/17/2014, 8:37 pm

@brainchasm wrote:
@southern gardener wrote:For us it's been kale and garlic, can't seem to miss, and corn too and and and lol
I can agree with garlic - 36 cloves in, 36 good plants.  That being said, from sow to harvest can be a bit much...
yep. For us, this year was our best for garlic, all germinated, but we got some really nice ones and one whopper! it was 4" across!!
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