SURVIVAL GARDENING

We come from a long line of survivors. We have prospered off and on for several millennia prior to this present embodiment of civilization. Considering the apocalyptic headlines frequently seen in the news, it often seems that instead of helping us survive, civilization is trying to annihilate us. The food supply in America .;_# is abundant but would be of J short duration in any large-scale emergency. It is unlikely that. this will change anytime soon, simply due to the logistical nightmare of storing enough • food, rotating the stock to keep it fresh and then attempting to distribute it under the typical strained scenario of a bona fide emergency. When any government wants to subjugate a people, they know from long experience that food is more strategic than weapons. This has already been done in this very country. If you'll consider the example of the Buffalo and the Indian, you will see that I'm right. The grocery store has only a couple of days in stock which would disappear even more quickly than that in an emergency. Being prepared is not only important, but truly necessary if you want to survive a calamity. I would advise everyone to lay in a stock of canned foods even if you already have a garden in progress. The past is the best indicator of the future, and food emergencies are commonplace in the history of our species. Gardening, which presidents Washington and Jefferson considered to be the noblest of occupations, is the cheapest, healthiest, and most dependable way to provide your own squash and beans fulfill these requirements as no others in history. These possess a synergy when grown together which results in improved production in all three and much less work for the gardener. This mutual, "greater than the sum of its parts" sharing is exemplified by the name "Three sisters". It works more or less like this: Corn is very productive but ^ needs fertile soil and something to keep it from blowing down in a storm (lodging). Pole beans are a legume whose roots put nitrogen (fertilizer) back into the soil, but it needs something tall to * climb on in order for it to produce -;ii'- abundantly. The corn benefits greatly from the nitrogen and from the vines acting as tie-downs to keep A depiction of the garden described in this article. it standing. The corn stalks provide a natural trellis for the beans to climb food on a long-term basis. The num- on, one which you will not need to ber of useful publications about gar- spend time and effort building. dening are legion, but you don't see Vining squash planted among these that much about "survival garden- two shade out weeds with their broad ing", which is to me the most impor- leaves as well as retaining extra tant of all such considerations. Due moisture by restricting air flow and to space limitations, I can here only sunlight which dry the soil out. This describe the best of low-tech, effi- cuts down on the amount of weeding cient modes of producing an abun- and watering that you must do. To dance of vegetables. This system has me this is all very pleasant and "zen" been used for thousands of years to think about. Gardening does not basically unchanged over much of need to be as hard as we sometimes North and South America with imagine it to be. remarkable success by a diverse colPreparation of the soil is very lection of un-matched survival important but not so hard if we coopexperts. We know them as "Indians". erate with nature instead of trying to The system is often referred to as the conquer it. All you really need to do "Three sisters of the Cherokee," is mulch. Mulch can be nearly any even though it was widely practiced kind of plant material including hay, by many other tribes. leaves, grass clippings or even paper, The main considerations in sur- wood chips and sawdust. Just pile it vival gardening are; productivity, 6-8" deep where you plan to put your nutrition, store-ability, and ease of garden. Mulch prevents the soil from cultivation and preparation. Corn, drying out too quickly and loosens 33

by Robert H. Miller

0 Covn the texture of the soil as well as helping to keep weed seeds from • sprouting. Gardens should always be located in full sun in the deepest soil you have available. Earthworms will gradually work the mulch into the soil as they eat and eliminate which further fertilizes it. Earthworms are a gardener's best friend, unlike most grubs. If your soil is compacted or contains a lot of clay it should be broken up with a garden fork before planting. If mulch remains on the surface when you are ready to plant simply push a small spot of it somewhat aside and insert the seeds. Gardens need not be large to be productive. An area about 10' by 30' properly planted and cared for will produce a lot of food when employing the "Three sisters," but probably not enough if it is to be the sole source of food for more Vat to scale than one person. I doubt that many Diagram of planting pattern viewed from above. of us are strict vegetarians anyway. Repeat this pattern to expand garden to any The planting schedule goes desired size. something like this. Keep in mind that everything I say here is an possibly productive by the time sumapproximation, you do not need a mer's heat and drought become a factor. tape measure! Corn is a heavy-feeder with Plant the corn about 1" deep in short, shallow roots and will benefit "hills" about 20" across with 12" between hills, hoping for perhaps 2 greatly from the light application of or 3 seedlings in each. Do this only aged chicken manure. Do not be too after all chance of frost is past. Never generous here, as it is easy to stunt or tamp the soil firmly over the seeds, kill the corn with too much fertilizer. just cover them with loose, moist You can always add a little more soil. When these are up eight or nine later if needed. Too much fertilizer inches plant a bean seed about 1" will cause the plant to shade yellow. If you have easy access to small deep at 6-8" spacings around the fish, you can plant one or two in the perimeter of each hill. When these have been up for about a week, plant hill when you plant the corn. In the the vining squash (or pumpkins) fall there is sometimes a mass-death around the hills about 1" deep and 6" of crickets or grass-hoppers, which away from the beans and 24" from may be gathered and used in the each other (see illustration). They same way. Use nature's bounty should be well grown-out, leafy and whenever you can. Wood ashes can 34

also be sprinkled at planting time to "sweeten" the soil, making it easier for plants to absorb the nutrients. Don't over-do this either. There are of course other wonderful things you can plant such as okra. sweet potatoes, watermelons and tomatoes. Okra is rather easy to grow on nearly any well-drained and weeded soil. It is highly productive if you pick it every other day to avoid tough, over-mature pods. You will get a lot of them anyway but don't throw them away. Pigs love them and you can make a tasty coffee substitute from the dried seeds by roasting and grinding them. If you don't like the mucilage in fresh okra, simply keep the pod un-opened however you cook it, or slice the tender ones, roll in cornmeal and deep-fry until semi-crisp and browned. My mouth is watering. Sweet potatoes are one of the single best crops you can grow. It is a marvel of nutrition, flavor,
productivity, store-ability and ease of cultivation. The entire plant is edible,

leaves as salad or cooked greens, stems and roots as a cooked vegetable and tubers as nearly anything either raw. baked, boiled or fried, including dessert casseroles and pies. If I could grow only one plant for survival, this one would be it. I did get some damage from deer, so you might try planting inside a boundary of okra. I would expect it to shade the ground like squash, possibly advantageous in combination with okra or corn if you don't like squash. To propagate it. simply put a sweet potato in a shallow basin of water and place it in a warm, lighted place. This should be done in late winter or early spring. It will eventually produce sprouts which are called "slips". When they are 4-6" long, gently break them off where they

join the potato. Plant these in moist soil, burying the stem end at least 2" deep, preferably deeper, and water them well for the first couple of weeks. They tend to produce better in soft, loose soil maturing in about 90 days. They will store easily until spring at which time they will probably sprout on their own, providing you with more slips. White potatoes are very productive also and may be used, but only the tubers are edible and they do not contain as much carotin. Sweet potatoes are not in the same family with white potatoes. Melons are a source of sugar, healthy water, fiber and potassium. With fermentation it becomes a refreshing, tasty wine (and if exposed to air for a while, useful, healthy vinegar). Plant after frost in a well weeded and drained area or a burnt-off spot in full sun. Melons are nature's "gatorade" and can keep you healthy (and alive if you're sweating a lot). If kept indoors, they will store well into the winter. Tomatoes are tasty, full of vitamin C, potassium and fiber, good either raw, cooked, dried or in sauces. They can be very productive in full sun but are subject to damage from deer, so plant in a protected area or close to the house. For cooler seasons of the year, I would recommend turnips, beets and cabbage-type crops, as they are nutritious and store well. Fava beans can provide wind breaks and a good protein source. They will even take a light freeze, unlike nearly all other beans, but like most beans, they will put nitrogen fertilizer back into the soil. Do not forget perennials, such as fruit trees and berry vines which are suited to your area. Cactus is an excellent choice for warmer, drier climates. Often you can find pads in

ethnic food stores which are nearly thornless. Simply plant the pad in moist soil stem-end 2-3" deep. The young tender pads are excellent, nutritious food and also have medicinal and other uses too numerous to deal with here. Many varieties produce delicious "pears" or tunas. All known species of flat padded cactus are non-toxic. Spiny species of "prickly pear" can make a very effective living fence around areas you wish to protect, providing both food and boundaries. Perennials such as cactus can be very productive, requiring little input of effort or time and I really like that. With regard to insect pests, just keep an eye out to catch infestations as early as possible. Squash bugs can controlled by hand-picking both the bugs and their eggs on the underside of leaves. Tomato horn-worms are large and easily located by their droppings on the ground. Large locusts on the corn can be shot with a B-B gun and fed to the chickens. Concentrations of aphids can be gently rubbed into oblivion on the plant stems they infest. Aphids are the servants of ants. Pour boiling water on nearby ant colonies as a pre-emptive strike. Everything I mention here can be eaten raw, which is an important factor in a survival situation. Corn, however, needs a simple treatment when it is to be consumed by humans. Failing to do this will not hurt you at all in the short run but can become a nutritional factor if you depend heavily on it. Corn is very rich in niacin but it is unavailable to the human digestive tract unless a small amount of wood ashes are added to the water that it is to be cooked in. Native Americans knew this trick very well, but when corn became a staple in Africa, this tradition was not known or practiced 35

there. The population began falling ill to Beri-Beri, which is caused by a niacin deficiency. Putting a pinch or two of wood ashes or a bit of lye in the water beforehand will prevent this and give corn much more complete nutrition It is also possible to make dextrine glue from corn by separating the fine white flour or starch from the outer hard shell. Grinding and then straining through a cloth is one possible way. Then heat the dry flour until it darkens somewhat. If done correctly, the resulting powder can be mixed with water to form a syrupy paste that will firmly glue paper, wood or leather. I used barrels of dextrine glue while I was a taxidermist but have never made it directly from corn starch as described above. I just read about it recently and have not tried it yet, so some experimenting may be necessary. With regard to specific varieties to plant I encourage you to plant, only open-pollinated or heirloom varieties. Avoid hybrids like the plague, as they will not grow true from seeds that you save for the next planting. This makes you dependent on seed companies which might become defunct in a long-term crisis. It will also save you the considerable cost of buying seeds every year. There is an incredible variety of perfectly wonderful, old-time favorite vegetables that will take care of your needs. There are many good seed suppliers to be found in advertisements in gardening magazines, but I have found Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. to be first rate in variety, prices and helpfulness. For a beautiful, free, descriptive, full-color catalog, call 1-417-924-8917 or write: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co., 2278 Baker Creek Rd., Mansfield, MO 65704.

As a controversial afterthought, allow me to say that a garden also attracts birds and animals that can act as a dual-crop. I would encourage everyone to follow game regulations, but in many places it is legal to shoot critters that are causing damage to crops. It would be a shame to waste them after they are harvested. In a true survival situation, game laws might not be much of a consideration anyway. Along this same line of thought, I would encourage everyone to become familiar with any wild species of plants in your region that are edible. Indians also foraged in addition to their gardens, which gave them an excellent "plan B". The greater the variety of items in your diet, the better your nutrition will be.

Adding a few fruit trees appropriate to do! Ha! for your climate is also an excellent All of the vegetables mentioned idea. here can be easily preserved by dryI wrote this article in hopes of ing, canning or pickling. Melons and encouraging my Backwoods sweet potatoes as well as some winBrothers to eat better and cheaper for ter squash will store a long time just the present and to be prepared for by protecting them indoors. future uncertainties. Sharing seeds It may not be as glamorous as and trading vegetables with neigh- hunting, but it sure is satisfying to bors will foster friendships that can watch something you planted grow be very important in normal times or and produce such an abundance of a crisis. It is just impossible to give delicious, nutritious food. It is also any more than a brief overview of nice to come home to a full plate what is possible in an article of this even if hunting or fishing didn't go length. But don't be intimidated by so well. For survival purposes it is what you don't know, and just plant important to start now, or maybe the seeds. Seeds have been planting even yesterday! You can't expect an themselves since the beginning and abundant crop until after you have have survived, so just think of how planted, so get with it amigo! Who well they'll do with some help. Just knows? You might even survive the put them in the soil; they know what next "Crash". Good luck!
Making Small Hinges Small hinges for various purposes can quite often be made from larger ones by cutting off the superfluous parts, and illing and countersinking new holes for the screws, as suggested by the examples shown in the upper left-hand corner of the illustration, the dotted lines indicating the parts cut away. A simple hinge for poultry coops, rabbit hutches, and similar uses can be made from a piece of strong wire or iron rod and a few staples. The wire is bent into the shape of a "U," and the ends are bent at right angles, the bottom staples

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on the door resting on the projections thus formed. Staples are used for attaching the hinge to the frame, as shown. A very strong, though simple hinge of the thief-proof type is made from two U-shaped pieces of flat iron, one of which is fastened to the frame and the other to the door or window on which it is used. A pin of the proper length and diameter is put in place, the grooves for the recep. lion of the pin and hinge ends are cut in the woodwork, and the hinge is fastened with carriage bolts. The nuts of the bolts should, of course, be placed inside.

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