Monday, June 10, 2013

Gardening: Cultivating the Right Crops for the Right Climate

green chili photo: Green Chili GREENIE.jpg


I’m a survivalist at heart. I was the guy with a hiking pack and a go-pack filled to the brim on December 21, 2012, ready for that impending doom of the Mayan varietal. I had a well dug, a full tank plus a dozen extra gas cans in the garage, dried and canned foodstuffs in the basement, and a fledgling garden in the works. I was ready.

Fortunately (or unfortunately?) the misreadings of the Mayan calendar were just that – misreadings. Leaving folks like me with a bunch of extra stuff we didn’t need and a bunch of places we no longer needed to go. Which left me wondering: what do I do now? I couldn’t let everything go to waste! It didn’t take me long to realize that just because 12/21/12 had passed, that didn’t mean another apocalyptic event wasn’t waiting in the wings – zombie apocalypse, nuclear winter, World War III. Which then made me realize that I didn’t really want to survive an apocalyptic event if I had to do it alone.

So I’ve decided to share my knowledge with the world in the hopes that, a few years after some catastrophic, near-human-race-ending event, I run into someone who has survived because they read one of my articles.

Fat chance, you say? Probably. Regardless, here is an unadulterated gift from me to you – may it one day save your life!

Top 10 Survival Skills

As you could probably tell by the title of the article, we’re primarily going to be discussing gardening. But I would be remiss if I shared no other basic knowledge with you. After all, you’ll need to know how to do more than grow food in the event of a world-ending catastrophe. If I had to decide the top 10 “outdoor” survival skills you would need to survive an apocalyptic event, they would be these:
  • Carpentry/Home Repair
  • Self-Defense and Military Tactics (for the roving bands of highwaymen)
  • Advanced First Aid
  • How to Start a Fire
  • Hunting and Trapping
  • Fishing
  • How to Butcher
  • Food Preservation
  • How to Find Water
  • Gardening

But why is gardening numero uno? Because gardening, simply, is the gift that keeps on giving. Fish for a man, you feed him for a day. But show him how to garden and he’s set for life.

Countless books have been written on how to garden – this is not meant to replace those, but rather to jumpstart your research into what types of crops you can grow in which climates. Methinks that’s a good starting point.

Planting Your Garden Based on Climate

As you’re likely aware, numerous climates exist around the world, from dry and arid to temperate, and from arctic to tropical. Depending on where the apocalyptic event catapults you, you’ll need to know which types of plants flourish in which types of environments.

Arid

Try to relocate yourself to an oasis or a lower altitude that has a better chance at accumulating water – it should be something you can visually identify as a depression in the ground. Plants you can cultivate here include cacti, which you can stew for sustenance, dates from palm trees, black walnut trees, agave, and various artichokes.

Ideally, an arid climate is not the place in which you find yourself following a natural disaster. I recommend heading for a temperate or tropical zone with all due haste.

Temperate

Beets, endives, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, fennel, kale, and squash are examples of plants that grow incredibly well in temperate climes. Many of them can give year-round yields, and these tend to be the most nutritious of plant varieties.

Kale, especially, is considered the most nutrient-dense food on the planet. Primary benefits include its pervasive, positive effect on bone density, cell growth, liver function, cholesterol, and body detoxification, among dozens of others.

Tropical

With a more humid climate come those foods we associate with the tropics: bananas, sugar cane, cacao and mangoes as some of the most prominent examples.

Green chili is an especially good example of a plant to grow in your apocalyptic tropical garden. Rich in calcium, potassium, vitamins and a healthy variety of trace minerals, one would do well to incorporate green chilies into the everyday diet. “A green chili a day keeps the doctor away.” Isn’t that how it goes?

Regardless of what climate you may find yourself in, be sure to take a look at your surroundings and see which plants seem to be growing naturally and which ones seem to be thriving. Use your common sense and your best judgment to determine what you should be cultivating. One of the worst scenarios you can find yourself in is having worked to the bone trying to get non-native plants to thrive in a climate and soil that was never meant for them.

Do your research, do more research, then, post-apocalyptic event, come find me. I live in Ohio. We can be friends.

Jeff Hirz is a writer and freelancer and avid survivalist. If you want to survive an impending apocalypse, you can come to his house. He wrote this article on behalf of The Hatch Chile Store.

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