The Frugal Zone
26 May, 2009
The promise of skyrocketing food costs is being kept by the New World Government. Whether it will be a result of commodity futures speculation, crop blights, biofuel production, rising energy costs or inflation from printing money from thin air, rest assured that we will all be paying more for what we put on our dinner tables as time goes on. So again, I urge you to grow as much food as possible and store as much food as possible. There is no such thing as growing too much food or having too much food in storage as long as it is properly rotated. If you think you have too much food coming from your garden or have more food stored than you can consume before it expires, then share some with those less fortunate than yourself.
This is my third year of vegetable gardening and I am pleased that each year my tiny plot is more productive. I’ve learned that growing plants that continue to produce for many months is very important in order for me to be able to feed the people who live in this household. Personally, I don’t like growing things that are one time only producers, the ones that when pulled from the ground or pot ends the plant’s production. If you have a larger growing area, then by all means plant as many different types of veggies and fruits as possible. Since I am an urban prisoner with a very small area in which to grow, these are the crops I am concentrating on these days and why:
Squash (winter and summer types)
Asian Long Beans
Okra loves hot weather and the sun. It grows in just about any type of soil and requires little care, other than picking the okra every couple of days once it starts producing. Picking encourages more production and okra can be pickled for long term storage. Six well producing okra plants can keep four people abundantly supplied for many months with some left over for pickling.
Eggplant is not a vegetable that stores well, so if you choose to grow it, expect to eat it fresh. Three Japanese eggplants, the type that produces the long, purple colored type of fruit, will supply a family of four for many months. As long as you have sun and warmth, the eggplant will continue to produce. Eggplant must be harvested often to encourage production, if your climate is mild and the plant survives your winter, you will not have to plant more eggplant the next year. Just fertilize and water and it will produce again.
Cucumbers are easy to grow and produce prolifically and quickly. There are even bush hybrid types that can be grown inside pots that do not require trellising. Six cucumber plants will keep a family of four in fresh cukes for months and there will be plenty left over for pickling for long term storage. Almost any type of cucumber can be pickled, not just the ones recommended by seed companies. The Lemon Cucumber, which is an heirloom, can be pickled the same as any elongated green cucumber.
Indeterminant tomato vines will continue to produce until frost kills them. Twelve tomato plants will produce enough tomatoes to feed a family of four with fresh fruit for many, many months and there should be plenty left over for canning if you choose the variety based on heavy yields. There are hundreds of different types of tomatoes and every one of them can be used to make sauces, catsup and salsa, not just the roma types, though roma types have fewer seeds and are usually sweeter than other types. My point is that you do not have to have a different type of tomato for every use, you can use the same ones for sauces, etc. that you enjoy sliced and served fresh on the dinner table. Determinant tomatoes are plants that have a pre-determined number of branches and will stop growing and producing at a pre-determined time. Examples of determinant tomatoes are the Patio Tomatoes and most determinants are small and compact hybrid plants for growing in very small spaces. However, I am growing two types of deteminants, Koralik and Pearson Improved heirlooms, that are very large plants, so there are exceptions to every rule, it seems.
Summer squash will produce lots of fruits and will produce all summer long. Freezing squash is about the only option for long term storage, though some types may be pickled. Winter squash will produce abundantly and can be stored for many months if kept in a cool, dark and dry location. Winter squash may be frozen or canned, but do find a good recipe specifically for canning as pureed squash is not recommended for canning purposes.
Banana peppers, sweet or hot are great, long term producers. The more you pick, the more the plant will produce and a shot of fertilizer when the plant seems to go dormant will bring it back to blossom and fruit. Four sweet banana pepper plants will keep a family of four in peppers for many months and you may want to grow a few more if you wish to pickle some for long term storage. Bell peppers are more difficult to grow and are not as productive as the banana pepper plants, in my experience. Pepper plants are perennials, meaning they will live from year to year, so if your plants can survive your winters, you will not have to plant new ones each planting season.
Asian long beans will produce for months. They are similar to green beans, but have a much milder flavor and grow to outrageous lengths. These vines can be trellised and are great space savers. You can do anything with the Asian long beans that you can do with green beans, they may be frozen or canned for long term storage. The plants are quite small and seven of these bean plants can be grown in a five gallon pot. Twenty of these plants will keep a family of four in beans for the entire spring and summer season if well cared for. There should be some left over for freezing or canning as well.
With just these seven different plant species, you can have fresh vegetables for many months and if Mother Nature cooperates, you will have food for the winter as well.
Food independence is the best way to fight back against anything or anyone that threatens us. Job loss, natural disasters, illness, inflation or even martial law are no match for those who are prepared.