If the world goes to hell in a hand-basket, it is highly unlikely there will be any grocery stores to go stock back up once a week. Sure, there is bartering and you might find someone well off enough to have some food to spare for your services. That’s because they read this article. You might have your two year supply of canned goods and non perishables, but what happens on year three? This list should help you figure out the best crops and how to cultivate and store them for you to sustain your family’s survival food supply as long as you need.
Corn is one of my favorite survival foods, it is easy to cultivate, process and is fairly nutrient rich. It is also a fairly robust crop that can be grown in multiple climate zones, making it one of the best survival crops. The downside is you need space, this isn’t a crop you can grow (easily) indoors and it requires steady watering and must be well drained, if this isn’t feasible for you, feel free to skip to the next one.
- Planting time for most varieties of corn is the early-mid spring (about 2 weeks after the last frost)
- Soil prep is pretty minimal, if you are dealing with a weak soil, some compost wouldn’t be a bad idea
- Plant in blocks of 4 rows, seeds should be about 4-6 inches apart with about 2.5-3 feet between rows.
- Plant seeds about an inch or so down.
Corn is a fairly rapid growing crop and care is relatively easy, just make sure it stays well watered due to the shallow roots and be careful not to damage them when weeding. When the tassels begin to brown, check the kernels, they should be a bright, milky yellow. Pull ears down and twist to separate them from the stalk.
Most varieties of corn freeze well, especially sweet corn. If possible and in the budget, keep a large meat freezer (the kind that opens from the top), one or two of these will help to store enough for the winter months.
- Easy storage
- Rapid growing
- Easy care
- Nutrient rich
- Easy to plant
- Can typically get 2 harvests a year
- Requires regular watering
- If in poor soil, must be fortified with compost
- Raccoons love corn…
- Have to replant each season
Amaranth is an interesting crop, it is considered a “pseudo-cereal” grain. It is possibly one of the easiest survival crops to cultivate, it is fairly drought resistant (although it is much more productive when watered sparsely) and requires very little maintenance. In warmer climates, you usually don’t even have to replant it. Most gardeners/farmers who plant Amaranth plant it and forget about it until harvest season and it will just keep coming back. Prep can be as simple as boiling it for 20 minutes in its seed form for an oatmeal-like meal.
- Germinate seeds for about 3-4 days indoors at room temp (60-90 degrees)
- Sow seeds directly into soil
- Keep seeds about 7-10 inches apart
- Cover lightly with soil and stand back
- Harvest about 110 days after planting
As stated above Grain Amaranth is very low maintenance, it is recommended that you water once or twice a week to promote better yields though. Harvesting is relatively easy, the most efficient way to cover a five-gallon bucket or similar container with a window screen (allow it to dip in the middle to form a bowl). bend the stalk over your container and rub the flower head between your hands allowing the grains to fall into the container. A standard window screen is the perfect way to filter out most of chafe. Storage is simple, jar or bag whole seeds dry, shelf life is well over a year (you can lengthen this to up to 5 years with oxygen absorbents).
- Easy to cultivate
- Easy seed extraction
- Low maintenance
- High drought/heat tolerance
- Easy storage and long shelf life
- Easy preparation for eating
- Relatively long growing time (110-130 days)
- Requires seeds to be germinated before planting