Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunday Gardening News! The Self Storing Garden! July 3, 2011

Recently, I dug potatoes. A lot of potatoes, and I was thinking as I dug them up, about how nice it was to have so much food that didn't need any special treatment for storing. I have been thinking now a lot about what I would grow if I were in a situation where there was no electricity or, if I was without canning lids.
Think about it. How much of your garden requires some kind of preparation after harvest like canning or freezing or dehydrating?
just got a message from a reader and they suggested Tattler Lids for canning. They are reusable!
Here's a link to the website where you can order them. I had no idea there was such a thing! Thank you anonymous for the tip! 

Tattler Canning Lids

Our garden has traditionally been things like sweet corn, green beans, tomatoes etc...
Like most people we have always thought of gardening as a summer activity that produces summer time food and we've used various methods to preserve our harvests to have food for winter.
I think it might be a good idea to lean more heavily towards foods that store themselves. Like onions and potatoes, garlic, winter squashes, apples and pears, nuts and peanuts and sweet potatoes and lots of dried beans and peas. If you think about it, these foods give you a more calorie dense food too.
If you are working on honing your survival garden skills, I think it is a good idea to begin to include more of these foods in your list of veggies. You'll need a place to store your bounty too!
Earth House: Root Cellars
Probably one of the most important things you should think about building if you can, is a root cellar.
This old tech method of food storage cannot be beat if you are thinking of storing food. Many older homes still have good functional root cellars and modern homes can sometimes use a sectioned off area for root cellaring provided of course that the proper humidity can be maintained.
The best book I've ever read on the subject is
  Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables

Here is an interesting video I found on YouTube.

This spring, I planted some red kidney beans we bought at the grocery store. They came up and have grown beautifully! I'm so pleased. They are all full of beans right now and when they ripen and dry, I'll harvest them and have them this winter for chili.
When I did this, I asked myself, why in the hell hadn't I done this before???
although we do enjoy a mess of green beans from time to time, we eat far more dried beans but, for some reason, had never grown them. LOL
Now, I'll have the beans to eat and some to save for seed for next year.
I may be able to get 2 crops this season as well.
At any rate, here is just a short list off the top of my head that I think would be good things to grow for storage without electricity or special preserving techniques.
Here is some more information on storage vegetables.

Keeper Crops What to Grow This Summer for Healthful Meals Next Winter

(popcorn or dried corn for meal or hominy)
There are many good old heirloom and open pollinated corn varieties to choose from. Here, Trucker's Favorite or Hickory King are good choices and for popcorn we're trying Dakota Black. Check for varieties grown in your area and remember, you're saving seed for follow plantings as well as food.

You have to have  a pretty long growing season for these but if you can grow them the store beautifully and you can have roasted peanuts, peanut butter or my favorite, boiled peanuts!

Like I said before, I just dug up the spring planted potatoes but we could have  a second crop and if you are going to store potatoes you'll want to store your fall crop.
Look for good varieties that store well like Red Pontiac. That's what we grow here.
Here's a link to some good potato information.  
Popular Potato Varieties for the Home Garden

Dried Beans
Any of your favorite beans, pintos, limas, kidney beans. You can, just buy beans at the store and plant them like we did. Or you can buy seed and plant it.. Remember to save back some of your beans to plant next year.

I'm switching over to the yellow potato onions for our onions here. 
they will store longer than any other onion and you don't have to have seed. Just save back some of the onions to plant in the fall. With a long season, you can also plant these in the early spring as well.

Rather than use the garlic from the store, which I have done in the past. I bought garlic bulbs to plant and got them in the ground last winter and they have already been harvested and are drying in the tobacco barn.
This is another one time investment type of vegetable that you buy your starts and then save some harvest to replant.

Pumpkins and winter squashes
6 weeks: Delicata; 1-2 months: Acorn; 2-3 months: Butternut, Buttercup, pumpkins; 3-6 months: Banana, Spaghetti
Here is  a link to some info on best varieties for storage.
Pumpkins and Winter Squash- Harvesting and Storage When to harvest pumpkins and squash and what to expect

Turnips, carrots, parsnips and other root vegetables.
Ideally, you would want to leave these in the ground if you can but here, we are plagued by moles and so we have to dig and store them.
we have most often just put them in the freezer or I like to dehydrate carrots especially but this year, we'll be trying some different storage techniques.

Other foods you might think about are apples and nuts.
Nuts especially supply a lot of calories and if you have room for some nut trees, plant them! LOL
Here is some info on apple storage.
Purdue University: Storage of Apples .pdf

Backwoods Home MagazineHere are some simple tips on how to store apples for a long, long time

The more of these kinds of foods that you can grow and the more you can learn about storing foods without electricity, the better. It just makes good sense actually to have the bulk of your foods in self storing types of vegetables and fruits and nuts and have the canned or dried or frozen foods as "special" things to add variety.

I'm hoping that here, we can make the change to growing more of these types of foods and come to rely less on canned or frozen food from the summer garden.
Hope this article gets you started thinking about this approach to food production and if any of you have anything to add to this subject, please leave a comment!


  1. hay Pammy try Tattler lids they are reusable

  2. Oh dang anonymous! I never heard of those!
    will try and find some and post a link.
    thank you!!!

  3. planting store bought dried beans...... i can't BELIEVE i never thought of that before...goodness me.... LOL! thanks Pamela this is a fantastic post.!

  4. me too Wendy! I mean, I thought of it and knew you could do it, but just never did it! LOL
    Oh, and the green beans are good too. If you're planting to raise them for dried beans, you can still get a good mess of fresh green beans from the plants and have lots left over for dried beans. I'm excited about this experiment. We planted 1/2 lb. dried red kidney beans this spring, and I'm anxious to see just how much we'll get when I harvest them later.

  5. I would watch about saving the seed from planted store-bought seeds - there's a pretty good chance they would be hybrids, and would not breed true to type. Even the first-generation plants could be iffy. Of course, if you have the space, there's really nothing to lose...just don't bet the farm on them...

  6. good point and thanks for bringing it up ruraldream. I didn't think that beans were often hybridized but, was not for sure so off to wikipedia I went and found this for us.
    "Beans and peas are not commercially hybridized because they are automatic pollinators, and hand-pollination is prohibitively expensive."
    The same can't be said for most other veggies though Hybrids have pretty much taken over commercial food production.
    thanks for commenting!

  7. also havent bought seed potatoes just use old leftovers