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  1. FYI here in NW VA, normally easy CRUCIFEROUS vegetables have started to need being sprayed with BT starting in early June and all thru the summer. Otherwise ‘cabbage worms’ will quickly turn them into lacework. Before June and after September the BT is usually not needed.

    1. BT is a soil bacteria, has anyone tested to see if it is recoverable from sediment after treatment of puddles, etc?

      I really need to research more and cultivate my own, if it’s possible.

  2. Decades ago my Dad fought against cut worms when planting tomatoes by taking newspaper and wrapping it around the stem a couple inches ABOVE ground and a bit BELOW ground. Worked well. The crows could be a nuisance when he planted rows of eating corn. Just as they came up, they would walk along pulling them up and eating the seed. He even coated the seeds with tar, did NOT work. They still pulled them up and left them. So he just planted MANY rows, and that is how we ate corn almost daily, froze some, gave some away, and sold at little road side stand. He always grew a LOT more vegetables than 7 people could eat and put in the freezer. The 1805 house had a cold cellar, and I remember well pulling the sprouting eyes off the potatoes sitting in the large bin, in winter. He also “grew” 5 healthy “field hands” – 3 boys, 2 girls! We learned about “hard work” at the feet of a “master”, and my Mom worked just as hard, freezing, canning, cooking 3 meals a day. I did not realize 70 years ago how lucky I was.

    1. I love this comment. Younger preppers would do well to realize the storehouse of knowledge available from those of us in our senior years. We grew up at the feet of people to whom electricity and indoor plumbing were a novelty, who listened for the sound of the ice man’s wagon, and who saved bacon grease in a can on the stove! They lived in a world much like what we may be headed for, and their knowledge, experience, and skill set still echo in our families.

    2. Exactly, HI. My grandparents went through the Depression on this middle Tennessee farm. I was a college kid in the 1970’s when I asked them about it. My grandad said “we didn’t know there was a Depression”. They had their large garden, pigs, chickens, cows. Therefore had milk, butter, beef, pork, eggs, vegetables, corn, molasses, etc. The luxury for grandmother was when she could finally buy pre-baked loaves of bread, since that saved her a lot of time in a perpetually warm kitchen (wood cook stove). Lots of great memories of them, this land, and the heritage of freedom associated with it. This year one century of family on this place, but my son, a physician in Colorado and fairly liberal, has no interest in it.

  3. You really need to also grow grains — wheat, corn, wild rice, etc. Grains plus beans are the essential, vital foods. But there ain’t no free lunch — grains are high value but really consume the fertilizer.

    Plus Potatoes are good for carbs (energy). You also need a source of fats — vegetable oils like olive oil, nuts,etc.

    Carol Deppe’s book “The Resilient Gardener” is also good.


  4. A good way to save the yellow summer squash, as well as zucchini squash, is to pickle them. I add baby green beans and very thinly sliced carrots as well as diced onions to the mix. It is very colorful and delicious. I use a bread and butter sweet brine.

  5. An alternative to spraying your brassicas (cruciferous) is to cover them with floating crop cover. I make mini-hoops out of pvc conduit and drape the crop cover over and secure with bricks or clamps. It lets air, water, and sun in while keeping the egg laying moths out. This is a must for organic growing. DE is also a must.

    1. Never thought of that. Brings up a weird thing I’ve been noticing. There are so few natural pollinators here that in a way, I WELCOMED seeing the cabbage moths around, apparently pollinating hot peppers and perhaps other things.

  6. The book referenced by JWR, Gardening When it Counts; Growing Food in Hard Times, is packed with relevant information and can be read and studied even before you are living on your homestead property.

    Before I moved to the redoubt I had my bug-out bags all packed with essentials including thousands of heirloom vegetable and grain seed. Check that off the list, got the long term food part covered. Boy, was I ever naive. Once I moved up north and got my first year’s crops in the ground, I realized how utterly clueless I was. Next winter I took a four month Master Gardener class to supplement my knowledge base. That spring, I realized how clueless I still was. It takes years to learn it all, and many failures along the way, failures that could mean disaster in hard times. If you can’t grow your own food you become dependent on others, and vulnerable.

    Here are a few things I now know:
    ** Plant at least two varieties of each desired food. Finicky weather patterns and pests that show up out of nowhere may decimate one variety yet leave the other untouched.
    ** “Days to harvest” printed on seed packets doesn’t necessarily apply in higher altitudes and higher latitudes. The reason is that temperatures drop to 50 degrees at night which essentially stops plant growth at night; the plants have to warm up to start growing each day which means you need more time than “days to harvest” declared on the packet. Season extenders in the form of row covers and growing hoops make a huge difference in the cooler climes. Even if daytime temperatures are in the 90’s all summer, you must factor in the nighttime temperatures as well.
    ** Local farmers and gardeners are your lifeline. They tend to be not too communicative, but if you can befriend one of the local experts and gently pry the information out of them, they can be the most effective medicine against failure. They know about local soils, sources of composted manure, what varieties do well in the climate, when to plant what, how to start seed indoors, and a hundred other things you never thought to ask about. These are all things that you would have to learn by failures, so cultivate your local experts. You can find them at the farmer’s market.
    ** Good soil is the basis of a good garden. Good soil is precious and rare. This aspect of gardening cannot be overstated.

  7. If possible start now building up your condiment storage items, think ketchup, dill pickles, mustard, strawberry jam, hot sauce, instant hot chocolate mix-, instant coffee-once the poo storm starts those beans potatoes and spam are going to be mighty bland without something to zing them up. Over Labor Day I plan to add more condiments while they are on sale. This will tide you over until you can produce your own home versions a year or two down the road.

  8. My small novice garden in NW Montana is test bed to see what will grow best in my soil using frost tolerant open pollinated (OP) only varieties. Hybrids would produce more, but long term they will not produce at all, so scaling the garden up, and planting only be best producing OP is a strategy for sustainability. Hold hybrid seeds in reserve.

    Potatoes are easy, Yukon Gold is the best of four types tried. Giant Swiss Chard is the clear winner for leafy greens, and Bright Lights does well too. Planted densely, one can graze daily on a small patch about 3′ x 5′. Kale is much slower. OP Giant Spinach was the best early in the season, but bolted early. Turnips easily out did beets. And as a substitute for potatoes, rutabaga is going strong. Diversify trying different varieties as well as different soil types, finds the hardest. I need ‘stupid easy’ to grow in cold weather only. Will see how far these plants will do going into this winter as well.

    There is more to report. There is much to learn from even a small garden.

  9. Its already been mentioned but I have slicing my zucchini into wheels and pickling them for 20 years. Mostly as dills. One slice covers a hamburger bun or slice of bread. Never fails to be a big hit at Bar-B-Ques and Church picnics. If chopped up you can make one heck of a sweet relish!

  10. I’m curious for your opinion, fellow readers.

    For years I have read authors in many venues refer to people “growing” vegetables. Now, I’m of the opinion that I plant, tend, water, and harvest vegetables.

    The growing is done by an unseen hand, a divine hand. A process that we unthinkingly take credit for.

    Am I being too fussy? Or, is there something here regarding humility?

    Carry on

  11. We enjoyed this two-part, thoughtful article. Great advice from a knowledgeable source. Over the years we have experimented with many varieties, lured in by the yellow tomatoes, purple carrots & odd foreign fruits. Our experience is that most of those do not work in our growing zone (which is conveniently not on the seed packet of the biggest company hocking this stuff through You Tube homestead channels). For all future years we will mainly be growing tried & true, loved varieties in our garden, still leaving room for one or two well-researched trial varieties. For example, this year we tried a new-to-us heirloom tomato called German Johnson – it has beaten our beloved Brandywine in production and blind taste tests so it’s a keeper.

  12. The major overlooked item is the growing medium;soil,hydroponic,etc. If growing in local soil;ph,clay,sand,nutrients,humus. Few places have really good soil, most soil needs to be improved for the intended crop. Don’t forget the soil microbes that make dramatic differences to the gardens yield.

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