The Lure of Self-Sufficiency

Published by Lois Clymer on

Some years ago I enjoyed the book, The resilient Gardener, Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times, by Carol Deppe. Carol tells us we need to learn how to grow, not just salad foods, but staples with protein and calories we could depend on. She suggests that the 5 essentials are Potatoes, Corn, Beans, Squash, and Eggs.

Last week I read an article on self-reliance which suggested one should not wait until a need arises to grow food, but should start now as there is a certain learning curve involved. Our generation has been losing skills known to our parents and we are not teaching our children.

Gardening can be such a rewarding hobby and you learn from the mistakes you make each year. I suggest you start by learning how to grow potatoes and beans and whatever else appeals to you.

Potatoes and dry beans are two very basic staples that are loaded with nutrients such as potassium and they are delicious and can be cooked many ways. They store well.

It doesn’t take much space to grow a basket of potatoes and once you have that skill you could grow as many as you like. Potatoes store well and they yield a large amount of food per square foot of garden space. Plant a few this year and start learning.

The second crop I recommend you learn is beans. Plant a short row of “jade” green beans or whatever grows well in your area. You will be amazed at how loaded your plants are with handfuls of long green beans. You may be able to harvest both green beans and dry beans from the same plant, but I recommend you also plant a short row of certain beans which are very reliable as dry beans.

There are 2 varieties I am trying this year called “Calypso” and “Borlotto bush.” When you develop the skill to grow dry beans, you will find that several jars of colorful and speckled dry beans on a wall shelf add a nice conversation piece. Growing dry beans is not difficult but it does take a little learning. You harvest them when the pods are dry. Threshing can be as unique as running over the pods with a car or truck and then winnowing by pouring the beans and chaff in front of a box fan. I am trying it this year and will report back.

I blog on topics related to my book, Sacred Strands, the Story of a Redeemer Woven Through History, which you can purchase here. Sometimes, however, I blog on my hobbies of gardening and stargazing.

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