When the SHTF, and the production and distribution of food is disrupted, you can only possibly have three sources of food:
1. Food that you buy, as it becomes available, now and then; 2. Food that you produce yourself, from a garden or your own livestock or hunting/gathering; 3. Food that you have stored.
So when the food supply system runs into trouble, I suggest to you that many more people will decide to start or to enlarge a backyard garden. This happened during World War 2; the gardens were called “victory gardens”.
“An estimated 15 million families planted victory gardens in 1942, and in 1943 some 20 million victory gardens produced more than 40 percent of the vegetables grown for that year’s fresh consumption.” (USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, About Us)
The amount of food produced was substantial — not enough to live solely off your garden, but well worth the time and expense to grow.
But you know very well what happens when a hurricane or other storm is approaching, the stores sell out of batteries, bottled water, plywood, and similar storm-preparedness items. And what happened when it seemed like the federal government, not quite a year ago, might increase gun control substantially? A run on guns and ammunition that is still affecting the supply.
What will happen when the food supply is disrupted, and many people turn to gardening as one source of food? A run on gardening supplies, especially seeds.
You can obtain some seeds for gardening from the grocery store. I tested many types of seeds for my past post: Grocery Store Sources of Gardening Seeds. But there will probably be a run on many foods in grocery stores, so you might not be happy with the selection that remains on the shelves.
Storing gardening seeds in advance of any food supply disruption is only common prepping sense. But which seeds should you store? I’ll make a few suggestions.
The rule-of-thumb for storing food items is “store what you eat”. But that rule is not entirely applicable to gardening seeds. To some extent, you can store seeds for garden foods that you would like to eat. But you might also need to make some adjustments to your diet. The typical American diet can’t be obtained solely from a garden.
Grains are the staple food for many persons: wheat, rice, corn, etc. But wheat and rice need to be hulled, and that process is difficult for the ordinary backyard gardener. So store wheat flour, pasta, and rice. Then use your garden to grow grains that are easier to harvest, like these:
1. Corn (maize) — a good source of carbs and a relatively good source of protein; supplement the protein with legumes and seeds for a complete protein. Corn is easy to grown and harvest. It does not require hulling like wheat or rice.
People usually grow sweet corn. But as a source of protein, the flour corns (dent or flint) are a better protein source. The only disadvantage is that the flour corns need to be ground in a mill to produce cornmeal. Here’s my review of the Victorio Hand-Operated Grain Mill, and my past post on growing maize.
2. Quinoa — technically a pseudocereal, quinoa is high in carbs and offers a high quantity of a complete protein. Here’s my post on growing quinoa. The crop does not need to be hulled, but you must wash the quinoa well to remove the bitter saponins.
3. Grain Amaranth — also a pseudocereal, also high in a complete protein, also does not need to be hulled. Of the two, I prefer quinoa because it can be cooked easily, like rice. Amaranth is more difficult to cook, and so you might be better off milling it into a non-rising flour. Survival Gardening: Growing Grain Amaranth
4. Legumes: beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans — these are all good sources of protein, of the essential amino acid lysine, and some are complete proteins. They complement a grain-based diet well, and are easy to grow and harvest. No survival garden should be without soybeans: they are very high in a complete protein, and they offer omega-3 and omega-6 dietary fat. See Survival Gardening: beans of every kind.
5. Peanuts — you can grow your own peanuts from raw peanuts in the shell. Peanuts are high in protein and dietary fat. They are a good source of healthy mono-unsaturated fat. Peanuts store well — but be sure to dry them thoroughly to prevent the grown of aflotoxin.
6. Hulless Pumpkin Seeds — be sure to get the variety that is hulless, like Lady Godiva, Kakai, or Styrian. See Survival Gardening: pumpkin for my notes and a list of hulless varieties. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of protein and dietary fat, including the omega-6 essential fatty acid. The hulless seeds are particularly easy to harvest, dry, and eat.
7. Potato — you can plant the types of potatoes that are sold in supermarkets. Organic varieties grow best; other types may have been treated with a chemical to keep them from sprouting in the refrigerator. There exist potato seeds, but the yields from seed are nowhere near as good as the yield from planted tubers. However, the seeds store well and the tubers do not. So if you have some true potato seeds stored, you can plant a crop, the use the tubers from that crop to plant all successive potato crops. See Survival Gardening: potato and sweet potato for more info.
With the above 7 crops, you have good sources of protein, fat, and carbs — the three macronutrients. For vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, fiber, and just plain enjoyment of food, I’ll suggest a short list of additional garden crops.
8. carrots — for beta-carotene, other vitamins and minerals
9. berries — for vitamins and anti-oxidants (and flavor). See Survival Gardening: Berries from the Backyard
10. brassicas — The Brassica genus contains most of the more common cruciferous species and cultivars: rutabaga, kale, mustard greens, turnip, broccoli raab, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, etc. All of these crops are frost tolerant, and some will survive hard frosts and snowfall.
11. Other root crops — Advantages of Root Crops. Root crops are easy to grow and harvest. They provide fiber, some carbs, some protein, and vitamins and minerals.
12. Other anti-oxidant crops — See Antioxidants from the Garden.
13. Salad fixings — lettuce, cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, and similar crops. These are not substantial sources of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, but they provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and they make any meal more enjoyable.
Combine a moderate-sized backyard garden with a good supply of stored food, as well as whatever foods are still available for sale (probably at much higher prices), and you should be well set with the Food hits the fan, so to speak. – PrepBlog