Short Season Gardening, by Tunnel Rabbit

I am known for my many articles about radio communication, but my secret passion is gardening. My mother grew up barefoot in a dirt floor log cabin built by my Grandfather on his 100-acre farm he worked with a team of horses that fed a family of 10 during the Great Depression. I am half hillbilly/farm boy as that is how I grew up in the country on a small ranch, and 100 percent American as my father’s side represents how the other part of America lived. I wish I had more time for gardening. But I strive to be well-balanced. Fortunately, I learned to be a jack of all trades starting at a young age, so I could have been a rancher or farmer. I talk a lot about radio because communications is greatly underappreciated and there are more experienced gardeners out there than myself. However, because we are faced with a potential nationwide famine as our country is intentionally collapsed, and because most preppers do not have enough food storage and the ability to grow a productive garden, I feel it necessary to discuss my experience with gardening and pass along some of the methods that have helped me most.

Getting Started

The hardest part of gardening is getting started. Plant some, anything, and you’ll learn something. I recommend using hybrid seeds when starting out since hybrids are much more vigorous and produce much more than non-hybrid seed. Save the nonhybrid or heirloom seeds for the following years, and after you are more experienced and you have expanded the garden and have developed the best quality soil possible.

There are micro-climates that shorten a season. For example, at higher elevations, the frost dates shorten the season. Along the foothills of the Rockies, high winds and cold air blasts over a day or two can cause a ‘flash freeze’ and kill an entire garden one month ahead of the predicted frost date and as a result the garden will not produce as hoped for. Somedayt, this could be desperately needed for survival. Traditionally, a farmer would always put by, or store at least one year’s worth of food for the family should a catastrophe arise, such bad health, injury,  drought, flood, or other weather events that cause an entire crop failure. Many family farms would have a thousand jars of canned foods in the root cellar. We should, too.

More Fruit With Less Space

I learned the hard way that year when I lost 18 healthy tomato plants that had just began to produce to a sudden and dramatic 70 degree change in temperature within a 24-hour period. It can happen here at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. I learned to risk less space in the garden to warm weather plants such as tomatoes, and to maximize the production of five plants. I reduced the space occupied by the tomato plants that can reliably produce a crop and produce more than the variety of tomatoes plants originally used.

Planting only five tomato plants that are fast maturing and grow vertically and fast in highly nutritious soil instead of 18 plants has produced more and in less space. The rest of the space was planted with cold-weather short-season veggies. Some cold weather and short-season veggies are frost resistant and will survive unpredictable weather. A tomato plant for example has no frost resistant or tolerance, but Swiss Chard, peas, and carrots can tolerate sudden drops in temperature. Swiss Chard will quickly grow back even after a hard and long freeze. Some years, growing seasons in the same location are longer than the next growing season, so it is wiser to put in plants that will mature in 90 days or less. It usually requires longer in cooler climates than the time to maturity that is stated on the seed package.

Tomatoes thrive when transplanted correctly. Getting them started early in a greenhouse is necessity in my microclimate. Here in northwest Montana, no greenhouse means no tomatoes. Even the fastest-maturing tomatoes need a greenhouse to get full production out of them. Most plants do not like to be transplanted like tomatoes do. Tomato plants will thrive and produce more if they transplanted more than once and the stem planted deeper on each occasion, as the stem will produce more roots. Another technique is a temporary hoop house or a poly tunnel that gets the plants sown directly going early and protects them from expected late spring freezes. When it comes to tomatoes, I prefer the fastest and most productive varieties that are hybrids, such as Early Girl, and Jet Setter.

Mostly I have adapted myself to growing without a greenhouse, so that I do not become dependent upon that advantage, but I have learned which varieties are the most productive given a short season, and do well in my particular micro-climate. With the bar set high, I can then attempt to extend the season with a variety of methods.

For example, I love tomatoes, but in my micro-climate, even the fastest maturing and the most productive varieties requires a longer growing season to bear the most fruit ahead of the official frost date. Last fall, I learned how to ripen tomatoes off the vine, delaying some of the tomatoes intentionally, and increasing the rate of ripening of another batch. To accelerate the ripening process off the vine, simply put a banana or apple in a paper bag with the green tomatoes and fold it closed. It works. The tomatoes will ripen when exposed to the gas released by ripening fruit. This technique allowed me to use tomatoes that were grown late into the season.

Five tomato plants produced over 100 pounds of tomatoes in an area measuring approximately 3′ x 15′, or 45 square feet. The area was specially prepared for the deep roots to the depth of two feet with a rich loamy soil. At the base of these plants was the best soil available in row not less than 18 inches wide. The wider, the better. Two feet down and two feet wide and overcrowding is less of an issue and the plant produces at its fastest rate, and produces larger fruit.

Plant A Cold Tolerant and Short Season Garden

In short season and colder climate regions that are similar to Northwest Montana that have mountainous terrain and where gardens can be at higher elevations, the most conservative approach should be taken to ensure that the garden produces. An unseasonably cool growing season at the beginning of spring and early summer will usually slow the plant’s growth primarily because soil temperatures are lower at the onset. Potato seed can be started early inside and transplanted once the soil temperature is warm enough. Choose the variety carefully. Yukon Gold potatoes were developed in Canada. It is a good choice for northern climates. Beware of publicized maturity dates. For example, if it says 60 days, it will actually be 90 days. If it says 90 days, then the plant should be frost tolerant, i.e. as are carrots, radish, peas, and Swiss chard, as it could experience at least one unseasonably cold dip in temperature during the night into freezing temperatures, yet the weather could be warm and sunny for another 30 days afterward. And cold-tolerant plants can continue to produce well into the fall as well.

In the valleys, the weather is more predictable, and the growing season is longer. A greenhouse does extend the season, but only if you know how to use it to your best advantage. Setting up your garden for success is an art learned from experience and with the experience, the garden becomes more productive and more reliable. If we choose wisely we can learn to grow without a greenhouse and therefore production can be greater because of the plant varieties chosen.

Potatoes and heirloom seeds harvested year after year and grown in the same location have adapted to the weather at our particular location, and are more likely to be more productive than plants and their seeds that have not been acclimatized to a location, or micro-climate. It is actually best to sow the seed outside of a greenhouse as it will germinate and emerge exactly when it should, and the plant becomes acclimatized to a microclimate and genetically passes along its experience to its seed. Sow directly in rows. This is time-tested, and roots are not disturbed when transplanted.  If roots are damaged, then this potentially stunts growth.

It is easy to grow a garden if the varieties chosen are appropriate for your location. In cold weather short- season regions, where native soils are generally poor, more skill is required to grow a larger variety, and to produce more in a limited space. Root crops are a better choice in this part of the country. The secret is mostly in developing a highly nutritious soil that is well-drained. Paying close attention to frost dates that dictate the variety of veggies one should grow is key. The better the quality and nutrition in the soil means more can be grown in a limited space. With the best soil, I can plant twice as many potato plants that produce potatoes the size of softballs or larger. This means approximately four times more potatoes can be grown in the same space that typical soils and techniques produce. Succession planting of different types of veggies one after another, and choosing fast maturing varieties for this purpose is another way to increase production.

Buy the Best Quality Seeds and Lots of Them

The advantage of buying from Seed for Security, LLC is that the seeds are properly dried and they come packaged in Mylar, so that one can freeze the seed and greatly preserve their vitality, or germination rate much longer than seed stored in the usual way. Temperature and moisture content is key and without the knowledge and experience needed to correctly package seed for long-term storage in a freezer, additional seed should be purchased to offset lower germination rates as the seed stock ages when stored at normal or ambient temperatures and in higher humidity environments.

Generally speaking, the smaller the seed, the faster it will lose its vitality and ability to reach maturity to produce. And we should buy from different sources and specific varieties that have proven themselves in our different micro-climates. Some high-quality commercial-grade seed I purchased from Johnny’s Seed, Inc. that was stored in a glass jar from 2008 to 2020 was given to friends who could not purchase seed after the Covid scare destroyed our economy and not enough seed was available for gardeners. It was Kale that is a small seed. It proved to have an acceptably high enough germination rate and was viable enough to grow to maturity. Johnny’s Seed grows their own stock and only fresh seed is sold to commercial growers and consumers. I can not prove it, but it makes sense to store the best available seed rather than store seed that may already be old and stored in less-than-ideal conditions. This kind of seed is sold in hardware stores in small packets. The price of bulk seed purchases is also greatly reduced as there is a huge price break when purchased by the pound.

Buy several times the amount of seed that you think you need. Over time, germination rates decline, and additional seed must be sowed (planted) to obtain a specified number of viable plants. And buy enough to distribute to neighbors who did not prepare well enough. Buying from specialized suppliers like Seed for Security LLC, or Johnny’s Seed Inc. helps assure the quality of the seed. They provide a high quality seed that has much higher germination rates that are satisfactory for commercial operations rather than the consumer grade seed that is offered in small packages at the local store. Those yield an approximately 20 percent or less germination rate even when ‘fresh’ as compared to commercial grade seed. Lower germination rates are directly correlated with the seed’s overall viability and ability to reach maturity.

Become a Warrior-Farmer That Founded This Country

Unity will be the hill we die on. Yet without food, there will be not enough fight in us to protect life and liberty from advancing Chinese hordes, sophisticated armies organized by drug cartels that will be led by a professional warrior class, treasonous officers, and regional warlords comprised of combat vets and various criminals. Here is my assessment of the current situation: In progress is a high and low-tech multi-level and multi-pronged 5th generation asymmetrical war on a scale never recorded in history. This has been a deep betrayal over decades that has eroded the foundations of this once exceptional country. Morally corrupting the people and destroying the nuclear family, destroyed the cornerstones of the country. The rest was an assured and controlled demolition that sucked the wealth, Christianity, and the ideas of freedom from this nation. Because of our lack of the love of the Truth, our apathy or indifference, we shall be judged. This is not just another article about gardening, but a plea, and a call for action. Without food, there will be no fight as there will be no one to unite with.

The Coming Global Famine

Micheal Yon is globe-trotting researcher who makes a strong case for a Global Famine never before experienced in written history. During naturally occurring famines, the population quickly crashes, and enough food becomes available to the survivors. Historically, civilizations that experienced famines were agrarian ones. Before WW2, the Soviets raided Ukrainian farms of food stocks and seeds, to intentionally starve 10.5 million Ukrainians to death within 15 months. There are fundamental differences in play in the coming and engineered famine.

The global famine that Micheal Yon foresees breaks the rules of past famines in scale, and duration because of the interconnected high-tech civilization that exists today, and because this famine has been engineered to be as devastating as possible. Notable, we are no longer an agrarian civilization, the vast majority of our population no longer knows how to be self-sufficient by producing food. Therefore, the coming famine will  likely last much longer than famines of the past and devastate a large part of the population worldwide. A 50 to 90 percent die-off in this country is possible. It will involve all the aspects that are associated with famine: disease, pestilence, war, and of course, starvation and death on a massive scale. There is now no way to stop what has been engineered to occur. It is too late. Fortunately, it is not too late to prepare, for those of us who are highly motivated.