Letter Re: Gardening in Plain Sight

Dear JWR:
A few years ago I started food plots for wild game on my ranch.   Since then, I have noticed that the game have returned in greater numbers. The reason is the variety of plants from the seeds sown. One of the plants in this mix is the turnip.  The seed mix allows there to be food from spring to winter, with the turnips being the last food consumed. I find deer, elk and bears eating them first thing in the spring. 

I got an idea from this last year. If turnips grow this well in the wild with no care, and humans consume turnips, what other food would grow with no care and would be a real resource for human consumption? So last spring I planted my regular food plot mix that you can buy at any sporting goods store.  I planted the seeds along the roads on National Forest land on the way to my ranch at three different elevations and added a new plant, one I have never planted before; the lowly potato. I planted them along forest service roads and I was amazed at the results. My food plots at all elevations, (3,300 ft, 5,000 ft, and 6,800 ft) all produced more potatoes and turnips than my family or five families could eat in a year. Also, the potato is not as attractive to bears and wildlife.  They were virtually untouched.  The turnips, on the other hand, were consumed by deer, elk, and bears, so there was some competition for some of the resources planted. This spring I have gone to the store and found some hearty carrot seed, and I am adding this to my private garden along forest service roads.  I am hoping to get a positive result. 

Another discovery I found amazing is that not one human intruder had found, disturbed, or messed with these any of these food plots. They are in plain sight, just not planted in rows, but planted sporadically along the road, creek, or drainage. My only explanation is that the plant’s nutritional value is under ground, and how many people know what the tops of a potato plant looks like? 

My goal this year is to see how dry land wheat grows wild at these different elevations. I know it grows well at 6,800 ft, because it is a part of the food plot on my ranch.  This year I have planted a lot of it to see how much could be harvested if one wanted to in the fall, with no human care until harvest time. 

The reason for this experiment is simple. How much food can you grow in the wild, with no care, how much work is involved, and can you produce enough for a family of four for an entire year?   And can you do this in plain sight and get away with it undisturbed? The answer is yes, with no real effort. 

This is a simple plan of insurance in addition to your TEOTWAWKI preps, with no cost but seed, and no labor except planting and harvesting, and nobody knows where your food plots are, except you! Simple and basic.  Of course, this will only work in areas were you can “dry farm” like in portions of the American Redoubt.  – M.O.

JWR Replies: I encourage readers to check into the legalities before planting any crops on public land. You wouldn’t want to create a “weed” nightmare that would displace native species!