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  1. So in order to process grains into a basic end product (reaped, threshed, winnowed), you need a lot of time and equipment. Conversely, to utilize potatoes, you dig them out of the ground and wash them off prior to use.

    I don’t think the author or I are advocating sole sourcing our food consumption to either grains or potatoes. Rather, the point is what it takes to be self sufficient, with either grains or potatoes or a combination being a primary caloric source. I think the author’s point is to show what is practical for one or two given crop productions for the average schmo, and my point is one of economics of scale and simplicity by comparison for a similar output. To each subscriber, their dietary needs and desires may vary.

    Crops fail, and there are no more guarantees that a grain crop will be harvestable in Alaska than a potato crop might be. In fact, history would tend to indicate that potatoes have done far better over time than grains have there. There are no sure things in any crop. However, potatoes are arguably a much more reliable and efficient primary crop that can be grown there. I don’t know anyone who grows just barley, or oats, or potatoes. A decent and variable fruit and vegetable crop combined with hunting/fishing and forage would at least be highly desirable, if not outright necessary, for sustained subsistence. What we are talking about here is one major element of several that need to be considered for self sufficiency in what can be a very difficult region to survive in. In a SHTF or rudimentary self sufficiency mode of operation, average well prepared Alaskans are going to be overwhelmed with labor needs almost to the point of failure. Having the where-with-all in place ahead of time to provide a chance of success is a huge step toward surviving long term. Making the most of the time and resources you have access to is another huge step in the right direction. Being able to successfully grow and harvest primary crops in Alaska sufficient for your needs in perpetuity is the former. My emphasis on making that primary crop potatoes instead of grains is in my opinion the latter. But then I tend to consume more potato products on average than all grains combined in my diet. YMMV.

    1. Benjamin, I think, perhaps, you skipped reading some of Part 1 of this article. In Part 1, I proposed for discussion purposes that food gathering can be subdivided into protein harvesting, vegetable gardening, and grain gardening. This article was intended to focus on grain gardening, period. I also grow a sufficiently large vegetable garden to be self-sufficient in root crops (especially potatoes, carrots, onions, beets, and turnips, our favorites among vegetables) and greens such as kale, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, cauliflower, celery, lettuce, and sweet peas. We also have a solar-heated greenhouse that produces, cucumbers, zucchini, herbs and especially tomatoes. But addressing those aspects of food self-sufficiency was outside the scope of this article.
      As I said in Part 1, “Vegetable self-sufficiency (including root crops, such as potatoes, carrots, and turnips, as well as greens, such as brassicas and spinach) is fairly easy to attain, even with Alaska’s short growing season.” I did not say that grain gardening was intended to supplant vegetable gardening.
      Perhaps, you can help here: From what I can remember of history, I cannot think of any civilization that was dependent on vegetable crops only – all that I can recall were primarily based on grains (rice, wheat, rye, barley, oats, etc). There were reasons for that.
      Grains store indefinitely if moisture content is kept low; try storing potatoes longer than one year.
      A failure in a potato crop is a failure in next year’s seed potatoes. Yet, most people who base self-sufficiency on vegetable-only gardens, assume that seed potatoes will be available commercially. If seed potatoes are not available from storage of your current crop or the lack of commercial seed potatoes, you are in “hard times”.
      I usually have to hoe my vegetable garden up to 7 times during the summer. After grain is planted, it is care-free until harvest time.
      One of the negatives of “mid-scale grain gardening” as I’ve described it is that it takes a lot of equipment as compared to gardening with a rototiller. Yet that equipment makes possible a whole different scale of gardening. I used a rototiller for years, and I could not grow but a small part of the vegetable and grain gardens that I can grow now with ease, using tractor-mounted equipment. Typically, it takes me longer to mount, adjust and lubricate the equipment than it does to till the garden plot with whatever implement I’ve mounted. Gardening equipment can be used for multiple purposes – much of the same equipment is used for grain and vegetable gardening, and is also used to haul firewood, as well as general towing and carrying. The equipment, including the tractor, seems to last forever on garden-sized plots – I have under 400 hours on my tractor in 7 years of use, with little signs of wear. By contrast, I grew up on a farm where my father and I would more than occasionally work shifts, all night long, to get plowing or planting done ASAP. Still, tractors and equipment lasted decades.
      Another negative is that currently, oats out of the grocery store are cheap, cheaper than can be produced by cropping. However, people buying equipment for “hard times” are looking at probabilities in the future, and they expect oats to possibly be unavailable in local grocery stores, or they don’t expect it to be cheap because of depreciated dollars due to inflation or because of disappearance of the “petro-dollar” (whose future existence is currently becoming tenuous). They are trying to look ahead and mitigate the personal and family impacts of “hard times”.
      You’re right that grains cannot supplant potatoes in terms of easy calories produced, but that’s not the issue for me. Why not have it all: food self-sufficiency to mitigate “hard times”, sufficient equipment to make extensive gardening much easier, an oat crop for oat meal and granola; barley for supplementing stews and mixing with wheat for bread; root crops such as potatoes, carrots, onions, plus a green vegetable such as broccoli, sweat peas, or kale for supper; don’t forget the salad with your greenhouse tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers. We really enjoy our greenhouse zucchini, too. The goal is to make “hard times” better than just survival; we enjoy our gardening and it’s products.. We enjoy the minimal labor that farm equipment provides for us seniors. Much of the specialized equipment can be hand-built at minimal cost – as I’ve demonstrated in this grain gardening article. Greenhouses, even more advanced ones, can be built easily. One simply needs conviction of the need, a willingness to sacrifice some impulse buying to pay for the basics, and spare time to build.

  2. I think it is always good to remember the importance of diversification be it investing or growing food for self-sufficiency. If you place everything into one basket you are bound to fail at some point in the future and if the failure is food that will sustain your family the results could be deadly.

  3. Alaska is divided into a few regions; southwest or south east coastal which are rain forest type areas. Central region is more moderate and the Mantnuska valley falls into that region and is well prepared for those 35 pound cabbages one sees … then there is the interior where I live. To grow here will take intense green house and skill set work. For a perpetuity type SHTF scenario; maybe “go south” is the best advice.

  4. Question, would the crops be enough in sales to pay the property tax on your land.

    One thing I see in history is Governments never really die but change leaders. But all of them tax. And unless one has barter equal to what is owed on your property each year, the government “will” confiscate your property

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