Okay, so while things like security patrols, recon tasks, offensive actions, and “innawoods” stuff is cool and are also inherent necessary skills; there is one general truth to them. They dont put food on the table. So lets take a look at one of the more frontiersman aspects. Gardening.
Id like to preface this with I am far from the worlds greenest thumb. I make attempts yearly and each year it gets better.
The first part of this will be focused on the prep work. The second part will be the more physical side.
Before getting started you need to do two things in my opinion. The first is to think critically and the second is get a Farmers Almanac.
Think critically about what you or your family enjoy to eat. Compare that to what you need to eat. Then come up with a solution for what to plant. Everything you put into the ground is going to take time, money, and energy. If your family hates tomatoes, you probably shouldnt put a ton of effort into planting them. At least not in mass. Having some planted for canning, creating sauces, or for trade goods isnt a bad idea. However planting 10 rows of tomatoes if nobody is going to willingly eat them is just a waste of time, money, and energy that could have went to other crops you enjoy.
The Farmers Almanac, for those that dont know, is a small booklet written by wizards and witches that tells the future for crop planting…….
Just kidding. What it really is is a helpful guide written and based off of prior years experience, moon phases, and planned seasonal changes to give you an idea month by month as to what to start, plant, grow, or harvest. Its an immensely helpful guide that can be found at most Tractor Supply Companies, Wal-Marts, and local stores similar. Yes you can always google this stuff, but having a hard copy on hand will be handy if you no longer have internet connection or electricity. While it IS a yearly publication and you should alway obtain the current years almanac, its okay if the world ends and they are no longer printed. Generally ive found only slight deviations from year to year and after awhile you can almost begin to write your own for your area and preferred crops.
Now that you have a general plan as to what you want to plant, and armed with resources to guide you on when to either start or plant them; you need to choose your seeds.
As a general rule we as a family opt for heirloom seeds when possible. Heirloom seeds are those procured from prior generation crops and are typically (if not always) un-modified. One would think all seeds are this way, but thats not the case. Other seeds have been modified by humans to increase yield, be stronger, and to be “easier to grow.” While that sounds great, the flip side is these are genetic and chemical mutations created by human hand and not the way God intended or gifted them to the earth. So, as stated, we tend to opt for heirloom seeds just as we tend to opt for natural sources of meat from the local fields and butcher. However, you do you booboo. My wife sourced this years seeds from Baker Creek Seed Company out of MO and we have been pleased with them thus far. We will also use some direct sew squash seeds I harvested from last years yield.
What do i mean by ”direct sew” you may be asking. Some seeds do best if “seed started” where you grow them from seeds to seedlings/sprouts before actually planting them in the garden. Others can be planted (or sewn) directly into the garden when it is time, thus ”direct sew.”
This year Mrs. Culpepper (if you were curious who the actual green thumb was, its her) elected that we should put more effort into our seed starting. We purchased seed start kits (which are really neat mini-green houses for the most part), and a small indoor greenhouse. This is also a great way for “littles” to get involved in the process. Our daughter loved helping us start the seeds in the soil pods.
Past experience told us that if we just left them in open seed starters in the window the cats would eat whatever came up out of the soil. Most years we would wait and direct sew, so we are hopeful the increased work and cost to be more serious about seed starting will pay off. So far it has, although our broccoli developed a fungus from too much moisture and died. The plus side is we can still direct sew them when the time comes.
All of the above seed starting and greenhouse products were sourced from amazon.com by the way.
This concludes part 1. Part 2 will be about various gardening methods, what we chose, and how we have done it thus far as its still early in the gardening season.