Hey all, this is my first post to the TF forum.
I saw the "What was your prep for today" post and saw how many pages it was so I wanted to start a thread where people like me (I'm from Texas) could post some experiences on hearty/wild/drought tolerant plants. It's one thing to have a vegetable garden, but another to have a source of food that grows wild and doesn't depend on heavy downpour. I think the most critical thing for me is realizing how easy these plants are to grow and how quickly they grow. If/when the SHTF and you end up running out of vegetables or something was to go south I'd be extremely happy to know that I at least had something to nourish myself and my family while the other plants mature.
I am re-posting this from the other thread to bring more attention to this topic and to get other members feedback. I think that edible wildlife/plants are some of the most resourceful plants around. They grow like crazy without needing any attention aside from the occasional water. They spread naturally so that when you have one eventually you have 10 then 100 then 1000 so there really is very little reason to sew more seeds unless you're trying to exponentially increase your output and reserves. Okay I'll stop rambling! I do talk about composting some and a few other things in the post so bear with me. The plant are towards the bottom.
Thanks guys, hope you find it useful.
Hey all. New to the forum community but I saw this thread and thought it was awesome to see all the good ideas and information.
Prep for today was more silver... some gold and ammunition but that's not why I'm writing.
I think one of the most crucial things people can learn is how to grow food and how to compost effectively aside from conservation. I'm in Texas, it rained in Austin about a week ago and I collected enough water for about a whole weeks worth of watering. With composting I've been using a Bokashi indoor composting system along with my outdoor leaf/earthworm pile (dump all your old used oil on your paper towels and throw it in the compost pile and watch the worms come) The neat thing about the Bokashi system is that you put your scraps in and pour this bran on the scraps. After you fill it up you can put it in your outdoor compost pile and increase the nutrient content of your pile. Bokashi system's have spouts on the bottom of them so you can release the juices from the microbes that are in the bran. These little guys go crazy on scraps and break them down into an anerobic process. In a bokashi system compost ferments, it never rots. The microbes digest nutrients and "void" them similar to earthworms. They increase the nutrient content and density like earthworms do but in liquid form. You can drain this liquid and mix 1 part compost tea with 50-100 parts water and you've got yourself a weekly fertilizer that WON'T kill your plants. In a controlled study a farmer at the farmers market I go to planted 2 beds. 1 he fertilized with regular fish emulsion/synthetic fertilizer and the other he fertilized with and used bokashi. The bed with the bokashi yielded 3x as much produce and grew almost 3x as big. He also said he uses epsom salt (it's not actually salt) for his tomatoes. Epsom salt increases moisture retention in soil and plants and works. I was trying to grow tomatoes in Texas and couldn't. I finally found Porter tomato seeds so planted those and used some fresh compost as base soil. Before I knew it I had a steady stream of tomatoes.
Oh yeah and the scraps? Bury'em. Within a month you have fresh, perfect soil ready to be planted in. It's miraculous what those little microbes do. Better yet though, the soil retains roughly 30-60% more moisture using the bokashi system.
I'm new to gardening so I'm sure this isn't the only thing out there. Just my personal experience.
You can read more/learn about bokashi here (I got mine at the farmers market and I own 1 of these things. I don't have a single damn stake in the company other than the fact that they're really awesome people and have helped me produce a lot of my own food)
http://www.microbialearth.com/ -- and if you live in Austin you can buy their $100 system and the city will send you a cheque for $75. In effect you pay $25 for a standby bin, bokashi system and 2 bags of bran (lasts about 4 months)
Back to growing food and the point initially of my post. As I've said already I live in Texas and we've had the worst drought of my life this past summer so most of the summer garden got slaughtered aside from a few plants like peppers, okra, cherry tomatoes, etc.
The thing that I want to point out is everyone should be learning about edible wildlife. I've begun growing 3 plants which I think are grossly under grown and could have an enormous impact on your long term food self reliance. Like I said most of my plants died or produced nil the ones that didn't were:
- Malabar spinach (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basella_alba) In fact, it grew up the entire side of my house and just yesterday I cut off about 10 pounds of it. The entire thing is edible and if you want to start more simply cut off a tip, bury in the ground water it and wait. It's a climbing vine so if you string it upwards you can literally grow shade and food a the same time which is what I'm doing. It's highly drought tolerant and requires little to no watering. Some times I'd be out of town for a week (was in California) and I came back and it was just fine. It's rapidly growing and has some very potent vitamins and phytonutrients. If you had to, you could survive on this plant alone for awhile.
- Tree spinach or Chaya (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cnidoscolus_aconitifolius) - This is an AWESOME plant that tastes DELICIOUS. The leaves are believed to be highly toxic though unless boiled, but if you boil them, from what I've read the brew (called chaya mansa sometimes) that remains can essentially be a substitute for insulin in people with diabetes. This plant is a ferocious grower and requires very little watering as well. It grows like a shrub and the leaves are delicious once boiled. I have read there is 2 strains of Chaya. One that is toxic (but can be boiled) and one that is not toxic and the leaves can basically be eaten raw. I haven't tried it, but I would if I was hungry enough probably. You can restart plants simply by cutting stems that are about 6" wide. It spreads like crazy though. I didn't really have to do much besides plant it and water it. Now I have a huge shrub that could literally be food for at least 3 months if I was to pluck the leaves (they just grow faster and faster anyway) girlfriend made veggie lasagna with the leaves and man was it good. Oh yeah -- and it's 3x as nutrient dense as regular spinach.
*Tree spinach study on diabetes: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/proceedings1996/v3-516.html
- Magenta spreen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chenopodium_giganteum) - This plant is delicious too. It grows massive (giganteum) and has a really pretty magenta powder center that's edible and could be used for color... or whatever. It's basically wild swiss chard. It grows like crazy in droughts too.
Just wanted to share some of my gardening experience. I was so frustrated with traditional spinach/veggies I went out looking. This is what I've found so far. I also avidly collect heirloom/second generation seeds and chronicle what works/fails.
Whew. Hope this helps. I've also experienced awesome results with Porter and Porter improved t0matoe seeds as well as Phoenix seeds.
I agree wholeheartedly with a few others wisdom earlier. Get to know your neighbors and closely. I BBQ/share/eat with my neighbors almost 3-4 times per week. We all combine fiat and whatever's going bad in the fridge/freezer so as not to waste anything. Neighbor's a mechanic too so, I get my breaks changed at cost so it works out in more ways than one. Chances are if I'm not in the garden on the weekend I'm with one of my neighbors doing something.
Just my two cents. Looking forward to contributing more here.