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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
IMO, the #1 survival crop is amaranth. It is easy to grow, as for some it is a weed (Pigweed, Palmer amaranth). Farmers struggle to get rid of it. It was a staple food item of the Aztecs & Incas. It is a dual use plant, in that you can eat the leaves & young stems, plus each plant can produce up to a pound of nutritious seed that can be ground into flour or made into porridge. It is considered a super food, as it is absolutely loaded with protein, fiber, vitamins & minerals. The plants can grow up to 10' tall. It loves the hot weather and in my garden, I grow it as a summer green. You can use it in most any recipe for spinach or greens.

But what really makes it shine as a survival food has to do with its reproduction. Each plant can produce hundreds of thousands of seeds. I will say that again... hundreds of thousands of seed. So imagine we are in a SHTF crisis and we needs lots of food fast. What other nutritious plant could produce so much food so fast and which crop could provide enough seed to feed a town within 1 generation? Just one pound of seed contains around a half million seed, so anyone can store this seed for possible use.

Yes, I grow and store all sorts of garden seed. For me, my go to survival garden crop is the three sisters... a native American way of growing corn, pole beans & winter squash. Sister corn provides support for the sister pole bean. Sister pole bean, being a legume, puts nitrogen back into the soil for the corn to use. Sister squash provides ground cover to control grass/weeds & to hold moisture in the soil. But during a crisis, when so many would be starving, I think it would be smart to provide seed for others to grow their own food. I can't afford to provide corn or other seed for lots of families... but could sure offer amaranth.

In these pics, you can see amaranth growing in the garden. These plants right now are around 4' tall. In harvesting the leaves, I simply cut the top half of the plant off. I'm testing to verify the plant will put out new growth to replace it... as any weed would. There is a huge amount of leaves that I'm taking from each plant. I then rinse these leaves under running water and pull of the leaves from the stems. In this situation, I will just compost the stems but they are edible too.









Amaranth is used all around the world. In the far east it is called Chinese spinach. In the Caribbean it is called callaloo. I've had callaloo in Jamaican restaurants so figured I'd try some tonight. First I cooked a few pieces of bacon & set that aside for later. I then sweated down some onion and red bell pepper. Then I added some chopped garlic, some chopped tomato and a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Then goes in the chopped amaranth leaves and a bit of chicken broth. Like spinach, the leaves cook way down.









 

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Sounds like it would be a finicky crop for western Washington. The soil temperature requirement of 70+ degrees for germination is maybe not a deal breaker, but close to it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Sounds like it would be a finicky crop for western Washington. The soil temperature requirement of 70+ degrees for germination is maybe not a deal breaker, but close to it.
Might be. It is most certainly a heat lover. But where you are, you probably can grow the cool weather greens for a lot longer than most... much longer than me in Mississippi. Most southerners only eat greens in spring & fall. They don't know about amaranth.
 

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*******, I'd be interested in some seed. Too late to start a crop this year (zone 5) , I guess if we get an early frost? Also, how long is well stored seed viable?

I have plenty of related weed/plant pigweed. I'll give some of that a try for greens before I turn it under.

I also harvest a good deal of lambs quarters. Cooked fresh like spinach, or blanched then frozen for storage
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
*******, I'd be interested in some seed. Too late to start a crop this year (zone 5) , I guess if we get an early frost? Also, how long is well stored seed viable?

I have plenty of related weed/plant pigweed. I'll give some of that a try for greens before I turn it under.

I also harvest a good deal of lambs quarters. Cooked fresh like spinach, or blanched then frozen for storage
Below is where I got my seed. You could probably still get a crop in, as they are fast growers. Even if they didn't get full size & didn't set seeds, you could still eat the plants. My understanding is the seed stays viable for 3-4 years if stored properly. Properly generally means the sum of the storage temp and the storage humidity is less than 100. It is such an integral part of my seed storage that I bring in a pound every year.

Amaranth is usually divided into two broad categories... seed amaranth and leaf amaranth. Leaf varieties are generally shorter, set large numbers of leaves but smaller seed heads. Seed varieties usually are taller, with less leaves and huge amounts of seed. In either case, you can still eat the leaves and harvest the seed. My tests so far show this to be true. A few years ago I grew a test plot of Golden Giant. They got 9-10 feet tall and the tops were just loaded with hundreds of thousands of seeds. It set plenty of leaves but nothing like this Green Callaloo (Chinese Spinach) I'm growing now. In my situation, since I store & grow corn, I am less interested in the seed for flour. So leaf varieties are what I personally choose to store but I still do keep a small amount of Golden Giant. Thing is, with amaranth, a tiny amount of seed grows a HUGE amount of plants.

https://www.edenbrothers.com/store/green-callaloo-amaranth-seeds.html
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Making me hungry. Thanks. Sounds lke this stuff might te kin to kudzu. Hard to get rid of once it starts..sorta like Burmese Pythons and Bamboo.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kudzu
Now being in Mississippi, I sure know about kudzu. What a worthless, damaging plant. But for farmers, pigweed or Palmers amaranth is a huge threat to their crops. Some varieties have become resistant to Roundup. The characteristics that make it so valuable in a survival situation make it an almost unstoppable weed in row crops. You almost can't kill it and every time you try, it builds up resistance to the herbicide. And if they let it set seed, it takes over the field.

Another huge advantage in growing amaranth in a survival scenario is that it doesn't look like garden crops... it looks like a weed. If you plant corn, beans, squash, whatever, other folks see what you are growing & you have to protect your crops. With amaranth, you could plant a whole field of it and no one would be the wiser.
 

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Now being in Mississippi, I sure know about kudzu. What a worthless, damaging plant. But for farmers, pigweed or Palmers amaranth is a huge threat to their crops. Some varieties have become resistant to Roundup. The characteristics that make it so valuable in a survival situation make it an almost unstoppable weed in row crops. You almost can't kill it and every time you try, it builds up resistance to the herbicide. And if they let it set seed, it takes over the field.

Another huge advantage in growing amaranth in a survival scenario is that it doesn't look like row crops... it looks like a weed. If you plant corn, beans, squash, whatever, other folks see what you are growing & you have to protect your crops. With amaranth, you could plant a whole field of it and no one would be the wiser.
*******, now you've got me educating myself about pigweeds...........I don't have the noxious ones you mentioned, just the the common garden weed varieties, smooth and redroot. I know they are edible but have not tried them. They are prolific though if you let them seed.

Seems the noxious ones are a huge problem as the seed can be transported in many ways. Even animals fed with material containing the seed then transported can poop out the seed. Cornell coop ext. has some good reading on them as they have been found in nearby NY state.

https://blogs.cornell.edu/weedid/pigweed-identification/

I do eat my other "weed", lambsquarters.
 

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IMO, the #1 survival crop is amaranth. It is easy to grow, as for some it is a weed (Pigweed, Palmer amaranth). Farmers struggle to get rid of it. It was a staple food item of the Aztecs & Incas. It is a dual use plant, in that you can eat the leaves & young stems, plus each plant can produce up to a pound of nutritious seed that can be ground into flour or made into porridge. It is considered a super food, as it is absolutely loaded with protein, fiber, vitamins & minerals. The plants can grow up to 10' tall. It loves the hot weather and in my garden, I grow it as a summer green. You can use it in most any recipe for spinach or greens.

But what really makes it shine as a survival food has to do with its reproduction. Each plant can produce hundreds of thousands of seeds. I will say that again... hundreds of thousands of seed. So imagine we are in a SHTF crisis and we needs lots of food fast. What other nutritious plant could produce so much food so fast and which crop could provide enough seed to feed a town within 1 generation? Just one pound of seed contains around a half million seed, so anyone can store this seed for possible use.

Yes, I grow and store all sorts of garden seed. For me, my go to survival garden crop is the three sisters... a native American way of growing corn, pole beans & winter squash. Sister corn provides support for the sister pole bean. Sister pole bean, being a legume, puts nitrogen back into the soil for the corn to use. Sister squash provides ground cover to control grass/weeds & to hold moisture in the soil. But during a crisis, when so many would be starving, I think it would be smart to provide seed for others to grow their own food. I can't afford to provide corn or other seed for lots of families... but could sure offer amaranth.

In these pics, you can see amaranth growing in the garden. These plants right now are around 4' tall. In harvesting the leaves, I simply cut the top half of the plant off. I'm testing to verify the plant will put out new growth to replace it... as any weed would. There is a huge amount of leaves that I'm taking from each plant. I then rinse these leaves under running water and pull of the leaves from the stems. In this situation, I will just compost the stems but they are edible too.









Amaranth is used all around the world. In the far east it is called Chinese spinach. In the Caribbean it is called callaloo. I've had callaloo in Jamaican restaurants so figured I'd try some tonight. First I cooked a few pieces of bacon & set that aside for later. I then sweated down some onion and red bell pepper. Then I added some chopped garlic, some chopped tomato and a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Then goes in the chopped amaranth leaves and a bit of chicken broth. Like spinach, the leaves cook way down.









*******,

This might be the most valuable survival info that I never knew of!

Thanks my friend!

Slip
 

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Might be. It is most certainly a heat lover. But where you are, you probably can grow the cool weather greens for a lot longer than most... much longer than me in Mississippi. Most southerners only eat greens in spring & fall. They don't know about amaranth.
I can grow lettuce and kale all summer in western Washington. Where I am now, though, in eastern Washington I could grow amaranth.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
*******,

This might be the most valuable survival info that I never knew of!

Thanks my friend!

Slip
@Slippy, I'm glad I sparked your interest. What got me researching & testing survival gardening, was when I read the book "One Second After", which I'd think most preppers are familiar with. I think it did a pretty good job of describing what potentially could happen to all of us. What bothered me more than anything was the starvation in a rather short amount of time... especially "watching" their dogs starve and how that ended. I wondered why they could't have done a better job of getting food in the ground... especially since the event happened early in the year and the had a whole growing season ahead of them?

I then realized how hard it would be to grow enough food to feed all those people. There would simply not be enough garden seed, fertilizer, herbicides, etc. to feed such a community... much less the know how. That set me on a task to search for nutritious foods that could be grown quickly, with little or no fertilizer and that could quickly be ramped up to feed large numbers of people. My trusty 3 sisters garden was great for my family & friends but that food wouldn't generate enough seed to feed many others by generation two of the planting cycle... especially since we would need to eat most of the corn, beans & squash. On top of that, with the 3 sisters, and most garden plants, most of the plant is not edible. You throw out (compost) most of what you grow.

My research led me to amaranth, for the reasons discussed above and in that other thread. With one tiny seed you could grow a 10' plant that is 100% edible at some point of the growth cycle... and not only edible but incredibly nutritious. Young leaves & stems are very tasty raw. Just yesterday my wife mentioned she enjoys the leaves raw better than cooked. And because the seed are so tiny, remember around a half million seed per pound, anyone can keep enough in storage to feed their family and others. They take up a tiny fraction of the storage space of regular garden seed, such as beans & corn. And in a crisis, that single pound of seed could feed dozens and better yet, from that pound of seed you could have untold millions of seed for generation two of the planting cycle. I can't think of any similar food.

Now something like summer squash would be a great companion for survival gardening. It doesn't have tiny seed but what it does is grow incredibly quick and sets a huge number of squash per seed planted, with each squash chock full of seed. With yellow summer squash, you could easily have multiple planting cycles per year, because it only takes them around 60 days to produce fruit. Where say you planted 100 plants in late spring, in two months you could start harvesting and collecting the seed, and then plant 1000s in the summer. That would produce a lot of food and as important, ramp up your seed inventory. That is the problem with peas, beans & corn... you eat what you need to plant as seed.

With survival gardening, you have two main tasks. One is to generate plenty of food to survive. Two is to rapidly increase your seed stores so that in subsequent growing cycles, you can exponentially increase the amount of food grown.

Just something to think about.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I can grow lettuce and kale all summer in western Washington. Where I am now, though, in eastern Washington I could grow amaranth.
Keep in mind, lettuce is not a nutritional powerhouse, like your greens, spinach, kale, or amaranth. For that reason, it is not in my seed stores. I do store seed for both my cool weather (spring & fall) garden & for the hot weather crops. The intent is to squeeze as much nutrition out of the garden, for as long as possible.
 

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I grow it also. A wonderful crop. I also grow several different color varieties in my garden around my house and along my front fence.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I grow it also. A wonderful crop. I also grow several different color varieties in my garden around my house and along my front fence.
Yes, most gardeners think of it as an ornamental plant... not an edible superfood. Loves Lies Bleeding Amaranth is a very popular ornamental that is still 100% edible. As you can see, its seed are a beautiful red.

 

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Keep in mind, lettuce is not a nutritional powerhouse, like your greens, spinach, kale, or amaranth. For that reason, it is not in my seed stores. I do store seed for both my cool weather (spring & fall) garden & for the hot weather crops. The intent is to squeeze as much nutrition out of the garden, for as long as possible.
Yeah, I know. Not sure what you mean when you say greens. No one ever says that here.
 

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Been doing some research.........

You should also consider lambsquarters. Very easy to grow, it's an annual weed in my garden and prolific. Many thousands of seed per plant, self seeds. It's related to quinoa.

https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=CHAL7

Lambsquarters is very nutritious and: has a more complete protein, slightly better nutrient balance, and has ~ twice the vitamins A and C, than amaranth (both raw leaves).

Amaranth provides more vitamin K

The two plants in fact would compliment each other well.
As the grains/seeds of lambsquarters are tiny in comparison to amaranth which produces a much more voluminous amount of seed/harvestable grain (comparable to quinoa in nutrition)

Lambsquarters

raw leaves

https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2468/2

Amaranth

raw leaves

https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2303/2

grain cooked (incomplete data)

https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/10640/2

grain uncooked

https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/5676/2

https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/5676/2
 

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Yeah, I know. Not sure what you mean when you say greens. No one ever says that here.
Green=The color between Yellow and Blue on the Visible Spectrum.

Greens=The leafy parts of the vegetable that are visibly Green. Kale, Lettuce, Turnip tops or Turnip Greens. Collard Greens, Arugula etc.

Slippy's Famous Turnip Greens Recipe

Chop bacon and fry to a medium rare in large stock pot
Add a mess of Turnip Greens fill pot 2/3 full of water
Add healthy dose of Salt, Pepper, and dash of Lemon Pepper
Add a couple of ounces of white vinegar
Add a few splashes of Crystal Hot Sauce

Bring to boil then simmer for a couple of hours stirring occasionally until water is greatly reduced. Enjoy with cornbread, black eye peas and ham. (Take a couple of Beano supplement pills to avoid gastric stomach distress! :vs_blush:)
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Yeah, I know. Not sure what you mean when you say greens. No one ever says that here.
Sorry, must be a regional thing. @Slippy gave a proper definition however in Mississippi, greens usually just means the green, leafy parts of turnips, mustards & collards. So much so down here we call them turnip greens, mustard greens & collard greens. Down here you don't see a lot of kale or arugula and lettuce is not considered greens. It is salad.

As Slippy says, in the south they are cooked a long time over low heat. Bacon is sometimes used but around here, usually we add 3-4 smoked ham hocks. The long cook time breaks down the hock, releasing all that yummy goodness. When I cook greens, I usually chop up some onion, add the chopped greens and ham hocks and then cover with low sodium chicken stock. It is very common to add Louisiana Hot Sauce and some vinegar. The vinegar does a good job of offsetting the fat from the hocks.

Turnip greens are the most common down here but I much prefer to grow & cook collard greens. Turnip greens taste wonderful but they act just like spinach & the amaranth pictured above... once you start cooking they cook way down. You might fill the pot with leaves but withing a few minutes, they only take up 1/4 of the pot... if that. Those greens lose all their texture. Collard greens, on the other hand, don't do that. You can cook them for hours and they still hold the vast majority of their texture. Collards are also easier to process, as the leaf is so large & firm. It is a job to clean up a mess of turnip greens but much easier to clean collards. Also collard leafs are usually higher off the ground than turnip leaves, so there is less to clean.

Very important to not throw out the most flavorful and probably most nutritious part... the pot liquor. That is the broth generated by the long cook time. As smart ole Slippy says, it is best sopped up with corn bread but I've been know to drink it down from my bowl. Seriously, the cooking does cook out some of the nutrition, so you really want to eat the pot liquor.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Been doing some research.........

You should also consider lambsquarters. Very easy to grow, it's an annual weed in my garden and prolific. Many thousands of seed per plant, self seeds. It's related to quinoa.
I will. I'll research it today when I get done with chores.
 
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