Most folks, who garden and/or farm, are familiar with the standard vegetable crops, such as corn, beans, tomatoes, and the wealth of other vegetables available to us.
The tried and true, old and familiar vegetables, are great, and are so very necessary, for long term survival, after the SHTF (Stuff Hits The Fan).
My intent, with this article, is to possibly introduce you to an additional way of utilizing some vegetables, and possibly give you some additional and unfamiliar vegetable sources of domestic food.
Have you every grown Sweet Potatoes? If you have, then you already know, not only how delicious and versatile the tubers are, but also how beautiful and prolific the vines are!
Did you also know, you can eat the leaves, of the vines?!!! Wild rabbits sure love them, and eat them down to the ground, if they can! Scwewy Wabbits! 🙂
Of course, the Sweet Potatoes, need their leaves, to grow large tubers, so I wouldn’t use the leaves during growing season. However, when the tubers are harvested, right before the first frost, as they should be, so they will keep until the next growing season, it is also time to harvest the leaves!
Strip the Sweet Potato leaves from the vines, and plunge into a bucket of cold water, right there in the garden. This gives you time, to lay out the tubers, in the shade, to air dry, and still keep the leaves fresh.
These Sweet Potato leaves, can be handled, the same way as Spinach or Chard. Eat them fresh, in salads, can them, or…….one of my favorites, blanch them in boiling water to soften, then fill with cooked rice or wheat berries, chopped and presauted onions, with some cheese or sausage, to make some of the most delicious, seasonal, stuffed leaf rolls! I also make these, and throw them in the freezer, for out-of-season deliciousness!
Sweet Potatoes, also grow well, in a greenhouse! They can provide vertically grown greens, all year long!
You also may already realize, you will need a field of Alfalfa, and a field of Clover, to keep all your post SHTF bees and livestock healthy. Those two crops, will also help to keep you, and those you love healthy!
Harvest the purple Clover tops, with a bit of the stem tip, dry, and use for a delicious, blood cleansing, and mineral infusing tea, for human consumption! Add some fresh, mashed Alfalfa leaves, to the infused and cooled Clover tea, let set for a couple of hours, strain and drink. You will have a high, macrobiotic, enzymatic drink, that will sustain you through a long days work!
Throw Rutabaga or Turnip seed, in the Alfalfa field, after the last hay cutting, in July. You will be stunned, at the giant size of the roots! This is the way Dad grew Turnips that were the envy of everyone around! Dad knew the previously cut scraps of hay left, provided all the nitrogen and other minerals needed, to grow monster-sized Turnips!
Just because the SHTF, it doesn’t mean, we cannot have sweet stuff any more. Bee keeping, immediately comes to mind. They are an essential part of long-term survival, for their pollinating ability, their honey, and their honeycomb. However, the post SHTF sweet stuff, doesn’t stop there!
Molasses comes from Sorghum cane, which grows easily in a small field. Cucumbers, Pumpkins, and other long-vine crops, love to grow with the Sorghum cane, and the cane doesn’t mind the company a bit!
An old, junk, yard chipper, can be converted to run by either a small gasifier, attached to a horizontal shaft engine, or by human pedal power, or even a goat on a treadmill, to chop the cane, and extract the juice.
The chopped, spent cane, can be dried in a homemade solar lumber dryer, or homemade solar crop dryer. That dried cane, can then be mixed with good hay, and other feed, to keep farm livestock, fat, happy, and healthy!
The same, can be done with Sugar Beets, which get huge, plus, both animals and humans can eat the greens!
Mangels, a first cousin of Beets, while not normally a human food, grow enormous, and a can be ground and dried, for winter animal food, or can be kept fresh, in a root cellar, then chopped, and fed to animals. A little ground Mangel, can even be added to your homemade dog food mix, for drying, to stock up food for the farm dogs!
Stainless steel appliance skins, can be scavenged, cut, then made into a large, long simmering pan which is put together with either nickel-plated or stainless steel rivets.
This simmering pan, needs to be at least six foot long, and sets over a Rocket Mass Heater-type burner, with the pan, not setting directly over the fire, but over the long, exhaust pipe/combustion chamber.
A permanent roof, is recommended for this equipment, as cooking the sweet juice down, to a syrup, takes about six hours.
This work, is done in the fall, at harvest time, right before frost, while canes are still green, and the frost has not touched the Beet leaves yet. Cooking the syrup down, in fall, also helps to keep the bugs out of the syrup!
As a young woman, I took part in growing Sorghum cane, and cooking Sorghum syrup, down to become Molasses. It was one of the most memorable times of my life!
Post SHTF, all this work, to keep all sweet tooths happy, through the winter, may be a good time to start a tradition of a village syrup harvest festival! All can enjoy this sort of activity, and provide, more than one person, to occasionally stir the syrup, as is necessary, throughout the whole process.
Oh! Stirring reminds me! A syrup stir paddle, can be made with stainless steel, from the inside, of a junk dishwasher. Just rivet the pieces together, to make a rectangle, that almost touches both sides, of the syrup pan. Drill a few holes, in the stir paddle, for ease of flow motion, then weld a handle in the middle, at the top. Stir the syrup, occasionally, by pushing and pulling the stir paddle, back and forth!
Want to know more about how to build and use all this stuff? (See my other articles on SHTF Survival Library).
It is also a good idea, to have, what can be called, a living food stash. This sort of food stash, is handy, in case of a SHTF event, where the living food stash can go un-noticed, by those who would take all the noticeable food, or to be used, for any situation, where food crops are not available, for some reason!
First and foremost, is the heirloom seed stash. This should be a large supply, of a variety of heirloom seeds, that have been saved from previous crops. The seed stash, should be kept, in a watertight container, such as a plastic tote, sealed well with waterproof tape, then buried three feet below ground level. This will keep the seeds, at a constant temperature, and viable for years!
A bay leaf, previously placed, in each plastic bottle of seeds, will prevent bugs from hatching out, and eating up your future food!
Stashing seeds, is not the only way, to have a secret food stash!
Jerusalem Artichokes, planted out, away from the house, will appear as common weeds. Yet, just below ground, are tubers that will sustain you, and those you love, until more crops can be grown, from the stashed heirloom seeds!
Caution! Jerusalem Artichokes are invasive! They will take over any place where planted, so posing as just a weed, out away from the house, is exactly the way to treat them!
There are also the tubers of the lowly Spring Beauty. These are available from May on, you just have to know where to dig, after their leaves die back, at the end of May! The tubers are small, about the size if a marble, but are prolific and delicious fried. They are invasive, but not harmfully so. They will grow happily, amongst any permanent bed, such as Rhubarb, that gives them a little ground room. They don’t grow too deep, so it doesn’t disturb the Rhubarb, to dig them!
Common orange Field Lilies, are an excellent, secret food stash! They grow prolifically, along road banks, and out-of-the-way places, or give long driveways, a pleasant appeal. Both the tubers, and the lily flower buds are scrumptious!
A trick, I have used, in the orchard, is to plant Wild Violets, between the trees. In just two years, the whole orchard floor, is covered with the Violets. I am basically lazy, so this keeps me from having to mow the orchard! (Me lazy? Yeah! Right! I wish! :).
These Violets provide an abundant crop of greens, that can be eaten, and even canned! When the fruit trees need side dressed with manure, I just throw it around the trees, right on top of the Violets! The Violets are so prolific, sacrificing a few, as additional fertilizer does no harm at all! Plus! No one would know…… I have all the greens I need, in a pinch!
Dandelions, Jerusalem Artichokes, Lambs Quarters, Purslane, and Violets can be other sources of food, that would go un-noticed, by others. These are a good, secret food stash! Of course, the fresh greens are only a warm weather food source, but that is why I dry them every year!
A word about Purslane. Purslane makes wonderful fried patties, with cracker crumbs and eggs, makes mouth-watering pickles, and is delightfully titillating in Chinese dishes! That is, besides being the perfect dried herb, to provide a large source of Omega 3, minerals, and vitamins!
Bad guys would most likely, completely ignore jars of dried herbs, when stealing food! They wouldn’t know that jars of dried, homegrown Dandelions, Alfalfa, Lambs Quarter, Purslane, Spirulina, and Violets, will provide all the Omega 3, protein, minerals, and vitamins needed, to sustain life, for an indefinite period of time!
Please do your own research, on the nutritional value, of the foods mentioned here. You will be more prepared, with knowledge, by doing your own research, and printing out what you need, for your SHTF Survival Library! (See my other articles).
Let’s hope we never have to have our over-looked and secret food stashes, put to a bad scenario test. However, it is always a good thing, to educate ourselves, to deal with the bad guys. It is too late, to take precautions, after the fact!
How we view and utilize, often overlooked food sources, can mean the difference between short-term and long-term survival for us, and those we love!
I hope this helps you, and those you love!