August 23, 2016 at 4:59 pm #49792
With the annual transition from summer to fall starting, it is now pretty clear that my garden won’t yield any of the melons (honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon). I had tried growing them in the past too but we run out of season before anything is ripe. I won’t bother trying to grow them anymore. What is odd is pumpkins grow well as does anything in the squash family. Just not melons. Come SHTF though, melons would be a good use of garden space anyway.September 25, 2016 at 11:04 pm #50052
We had a pretty good frost last night and will have another tonight so I suppose the garden is about done. Some things learned this year:
– Two rows of fishing line strung on simple wooden garden stakes worked wonderfully. Deer bump into it, don’t like the feel, and back away. Prior to this weekend, I only had two intrusions by a single deer going by the tiny bit they ate. Ironically last night there had to of been a bunch in there by the sheer volume of stuff they ate. This sounds strange but I’m thinking they knew there was going to be a good frost and so they jumped in for a feast before the frost got it.
– Garden fabric worked wonderfully reducing the amount of weeds, but the exposed rows still need to be weeded. Given the size of the garden I only weeded once (except the cabbage which got a 2nd weeding). Come SHTF, regular weeding will be necessary if you are to maximize yield.
– This summer’s drought required a lot more watering than I did. Again, come SHTF its all got to watered well if you are to maximize yield.
– The permanent marker I used to keep track of exactly what variety was planted where faded away in the sun.
– I somehow missed that one of the bush bean varieties I planted was really a pole bean. The result was a tangled mess that made it twice as hard to pick beans, and surely a greatly reduced yield. Come SHTF pay attention to exactly what you are planting.
– On the theme of paying attention, I somehow missed how large the acorn squash vines would grow. Not only did they grow all over each other, they also grew right through the tomatoes. The acorn squash did yield prolifically though. Butternut squash did too as did the tomatoes.
– Speaking of tomatoes, some volunteers grew in the midst of the bush beans. Neither side won that battle.
– Come SHTF, the objective is to grow as much food in the allotted space as possible, with that food being of a nature that can be preserved. I tried growing watermelon cantaloupe, and honeydew which for SHTF purposes is a total waste of space given how little you get per unit of space, and the fact it can’t be preserved. Up here there is as well the matter of a short growing season. I did get a couple watermelons and some cantaloupes but no honeydew. Most of what was trying to grow of all three items has now run out of season. The rest are not going to ripen.
– Peppers have proven to be kind of a waste of space given how little you get per plant.
– On the maximize food capable of being preserved, beans probably take top prize. Huge yields and easily preserved. Cabbage and potatoes are good choices too, though I am guessing a bit on the potatoes as I haven’t dug them yet. I haven’t pulled the carrots or onions yet either.
– Pumpkins take a lot of space too but they grow well up here and the eating variety is easily preserved.
– Zucchini and summer squash grow prolifically but they don’t lend themselves to practical preservation, so growing more than you are going to eat fresh is a waste of space. Cukes can yield a lot too but beyond what you eat fresh, you only need so many pickles so best not to over-plant cukes too.
– Corn is easily grown and easily preserved so that’s a winner. Unless you really like sunflower seeds (and are going to fight off the birds and the deer), growing several hundred 10′ tall plants like I did probably isn’t a great idea. I suppose you could make a sunflower oil out of them though so maybe lots is OK.
And so another season begins to wind down. It will be a lot of work to put the garden away though given all that weed fabric that I need to take up, and the thousands of 6″ staples that held it down early in the season. Now it is mostly overgrown with plants of course.
One more thing. There is a mystery that I have yet to resolve. My zucchini plants which I grew from seed also grew this small (6″ roughly and green, some of which turn orange eventually but most stay green) pumpkin-like things. They are decorative and neighbors have taken a bunch for that purpose but what are they and why did they grow on the same plants as the zucchini? A neighbor was going to cook one as an experiment.September 26, 2016 at 2:43 am #50053
Thanks for the great insights projecting results into needs for SHTF conditions. Good things to ponder.
No deer issues here, but squirrels and chipmunks have a much wider variety of appetites than we’ve ever seen before. And figs? Forget it! Between the birds and the squirrels, I think we got two decent ones! Nice quick snack. LOL
As for maximizing space, I presume you’re aware of the Square Foot Gardening method. If not, it’s worth checking out. Also there are a few good books on companion planting (what works well together, and what NOT to pair together). And I presume you’ve seen some vertical growing methods for some melons and squash – we’ve had varied and mostly limited success, but I think it was more our design than the concept. We’ve had very good success with tomatoes vertically, however, using frames I built out of conduit pipe about 6-7 feet vertical (using longer sections driven into the ground for stability of course) and about 4 feet wide, using 90° connectors at the two top corners. Just drive ‘em down deep and then cut off the top inch that has spread out from the hammering, secure the 90° connectors, and put in your cross piece of conduit. Then use some heavy duty netting designed for heavier crops such as squash, larger tomatoes, even some melons (available through seed catalogs, is the only place I’ve found suitable netting).
Frost?!? What’s that? I was pleased to feel very high 60°s early this morning – first time since spring I think! The heat, plus the drought, has been a real bummer – you did much better with what you had, than we did with ours – congratulations.September 26, 2016 at 10:04 am #50055
FYI, one can dehydrate cantaloupe and watermelon. It’s different but good.
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