Survival Gardens Forth Year

Survival Gardens Forth Year

As I recommended that everyone should have their own survival garden for the best teacher is experience. We don’t know the details how Native Americans grew their gardens 1000 years ago under our vary feet, but the early explorers were eye witnesses to some of their techniques. Using this information, my first year I used charcoal and ash to sweeten the soil but I actually made the soil more acidic. The yield was a corn stock the size of a blade of grass. The second year I used fresh fish for the source of nitrogen and my corn stocks grew 3 large ears of corn. The third year I used mulch that was not aged so my yield was one small ear of corn but I have learned a great deal in my forth year.

The first year, by surprise, what I thought was a weed ended up being a sweet potato that loved the acidic soil and grew everywhere. Note: threw out rotted vegetables near the garden a year before. By Summer the second year, they all died of disease. The third year I introduced a new sweet potatoes to my corn mounds and now I have an abundant yield of potatoes and corn. This year I learned the reason why they all died of disease two seasons ago, I did not harvest the tubers that grew large under the ground that I did not know they were there. They aged and rotted creating an infestation, scurf, a disease caused by a soil fungus. This Spring I harvested all of the large tubers and left strands of sweet potato vines and leaves that will start the next generation. There is agricultural documentation to harvest the tubers in the Fall, yet if you do so, you will have to store roots to plant for the next season. This depends on how cold the climate is in your area that could freeze the tubers. Sweet potatoes are mainly a vine with leaves, not tubers. The tubers form in Fall as a food source for new shoots in the Spring. If you let the vines grow out there will be no need to “plant” for the next season if you live in a warmer climate. Actually, you can regenerate sweet potatoes by simply placing a cute vine in a cup of water it will root on its own. I even grew these potatoes in the winter in the house near a window. When I collected the tubers in the garden, I left the vines in the soil. The corn mounds are ideal for this method of farming. Vary easy to dig your hands into soft dirt mounds to find the tubers.  See Figure (1).

Figure 1

Out of only 5 mounds, I collated a bucketful of nice sized potatoes with no artificial fertilizers and little to no maintenance other then the collection. See Figure (2).

Figure 2

Sweet potatoes can be eaten raw, tastes and texture is similar to carrots. If baked, they have a sweet flavor and great with butter.

The Inca Empire would collect tubers and mash them with their feet and let them freeze at night up in the mountains, then sundry them. The dehydrated potato’s can store for years. A great survival food through draught or economic disasters.

Conditioning The Mound

Creating a high yield corn mound takes years. First we must create a compost. My compost consist of mainly pine needles and oak leaves. See Figure (2).

Figure 3

This mound took three years to become similar to peat moss by letting bacteria/fungal do all the work creating nitrogen as well as adding magnesium and potassium. I aerate the by simply moving the mound with a simple hoe from top to bottom back and forth from two positions twice a year. I hollow out the corn mound like a volcano chamber and add the compost. After years of adding a small amount of compost to the mound, the mound becomes more productive as it ages.  I also add a small amount of natural lime. See Figure 4

Figure 4


From a bucket of oyster shells, calcium carbonate, crush and add to a fire pit. Start a hot fire with hot coals. Add the coals to the shells then add more wood for a hot fire and roast the pit for hours. The ash at the bottom to the pit mixed with brut oyster shells is lime. Mix just a small quality of lime into the mound every other season to raise the ph in the soil.  pH is, it’s basically a measurement comparing how much hydrogen we have in our soil with other nutrients; calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium and aluminum.  The more hydrogen we have, the lower our pH the more “acidic” the soil is. The more of the other nutrients we have, the higher our pH is, the more “alkaline” it is.

In Summary:

Water and allow the sweet potato grow wild all summer as the potatoes grow with the corn shading out weeds. There is no maintenance except for watering. In winter, depending to the region, leave the potatoes in the ground if the area around them can be protected from wild foragers. In spring, as stated previous, new leaves will shoot from the ground. Allow the new sprouts to re-establish the mound before  harvesting the tubers. Sweet potatoes have the highest source of nutrition of most tubers: Very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin B6, Potassium and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin A. Even the leaves can be eaten as a salad for a good source of Protein, Niacin, Calcium and Iron, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Manganese. Also, sweet potatoes can be dried for long term storage.

By the way, if you have the room, use crop rotation methods to avoid insect and fungus infestations is the best way to survival farm.

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