Growing fruit for resiliency and security

To start with, I’m not trying to make this post about prepping or collapse or anything.

Looking at the news every day it’s obvious the climate is changing fast, and it seems probable issues will start arising from that. Heat waves around the world, water shortages in the west, flooding in Germany and China, wildfires everywhere, etc. Food supply interruptions and shortages aren’t going to be shocking if these trends continue. So what can be done in the home gardens to provide for some resiliency and food security? Most people probably don’t have the space to grow everything they need (or want), but it can be a buffer against shocks.

In my opinion, plants with lower input needs and higher production are the most important in hard times. For my example, potted figs are being phased out (which pains me) and easy berry crops are being expanded (blackberries and gooseberries). I may even wind up eliminating low producing in-ground fig trees for more productive fruits/vegetables if things worsen.

I have always grown no spray and will continue to do so (even though I seldom get good apples). Sprays are inputs (plus I have honeybees). Disease resistant apples and pears, and persimmons are low input. I have been expanding my blackberries and adding gooseberries.

With all that ramble being said, what crops do you think are best for stability in changing times?

I’m planning to play around with some root crops like potatoes, oca, uluco, and sunchokes. I’m always trying new winter squash. I may get some larger packets of corn, bean, squash, and sunflowers just in case. I’ve even considered trying to grow Yaupon Holly or Sochi tea. I’d like to plant nut trees, but I don’t have the space.

That’s where my head is at these days!

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I don’t have specific plant suggestions, but I would simply say to diversify.
Use similar cultivars that spread the bearing season. Let established trees act as trellisis for climbing plants that won’t overwhelm them. Use the forest-garden type concep to utilize over-story, under-story, and ground-cover options. Even patio and movable raised bed gardens can follow the sun or make way for something else that needs the space more at different times of the year.

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You want the fantasy of self sufficiency or the practical reality of self sufficiency? They are very different.

Here’s a really check: Your average person consumes around 1,000,000 calories a year. We actually eat more than that because we pig out like crazy but a million is a good compromise between the pipe dream of 2,000 calories a day and what we actually eat. Growing/raising food to cover a portion of that million calories (multiplied by the number of people on your household) involves three things: the growing/raising of said food, the long term storage of said food, and the actual consumption of said food.

Calculate how many calories your efforts can produce. 50,000 calories is doable in a good size orchard with full grown trees, or about 5% of the caloric needs of a single adult. Then substract the amount of spoilage and waste to come up with the actual percent. Don’t forget to figure out the inputs or cost in energy, effort, and infrastructure for your small percentage of food independence.

Yeah, reality ain’t pretty, that’s why folks prefer the fantasy a pretty garden gives them

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I can grow a lot of pears with minimal input. I do suggest a good variety of those to spread out the season. Some can be stored into the winter to last until spring. A lot of Asian pears seem to start bearing very quickly in particular.

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Oh, I am not expecting self sufficiency. I said as much. Rather I am looking at ways to expand resilience when things are tough. Something happens to food supplies and fresh fruit prices shot up? Well, I have xyz at home.

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I think a person might want to consider getting more of their protein from vegetable crops. With ocean temperatures rising seafood could be disrupted (but conceivably improved, it must be said) and I would expect beef and pork prices to rise much more if feed crops become iffier in production. We don’t know what higher temperatures will do to disease pressures, both on livestock and on feed crops. It’s possible that some of our typical problems will go away, at least for a time, and it’s possible that they’ll adapt very quickly and just be as nasty as ever, or worse! In other words, it’s a crap shoot.

You also have to consider water demands. As sea levels continue to rise we’re likely to be in a “water, water, everywhere, and ne’er a drop to drink” situation.

I don’t doubt that human ingenuity and determination will solve at least some of the problems, we hope quickly! But there will be disruptions in the best of circumstances. We might want to learn to love grasshoppers!

Stock up on ketchup - keeps forever and hides the taste of so many things …

: -)M

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Same thing.

I’m not trying to discourage you, I think everybody should be doing this. I’m just sharing info because people should take an eyes wide open approach to resiliency. I have seen too many YouTube videos of folks being all sorts of happy with their self sufficient gardens that quick math calculates it to put 10,000 on a good year, or 1% of the caloric requirements of a single adult. Eyes wide open .

Shit hits the fan you are more likely to lose the house. But if that’s not the case knowing how to grow food, having the plant library established, and knowing like-minded folks to trade with is a fantastic skill to have. The point is that keeping that million calories on the back of your head gives you a proper barometer as to how effective your efforts can be and could be. How much you produce, how much you store, and how much you use, in hard cold numbers.

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In the ‘dust bowl’ days of the 1930’s the farmers must have thought the climate was changing. Fact of the business…it’s been changing ever since the first records.
Even the Mayans in Mexico supposedly starved after several years of ‘climate change’.

So far as the food security…if your neighbors know you have plenty guess where they’ll come in “hard times”…so more than knowing how and what to grow…how do you keep hungry rats, squirrels, bears, coyotes, etc from getting the lion’s share of anything you produce for w.t.s.h.t.f.?

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Can’t recall precisely but I believe potatoes and sweet potatoes are close to highest calories per area tilled. This strays off topic of fruit though. Seems that fruit serves more as a spirit lifting treat than a staple although apples saw a lot of folks through hard times in the past: cider, hard cider, applejack, sauce, pies, baked apples, fried apples, dried apples, apple butter, apple jelly, stack cakes, what else?

Here’s a book: Gardening When It Counts:

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like Don said, chances are you wont be able to sustain yourself off of just your land unless you have serious acerage. start to stockpile essentials to supplement when your land isnt enough. flour , sugar, salt, peanut butter canned meat. stuff that lasts for a long time, has lots of calories and protein. laying chickens are a good idea. i have over 60 kinds of fruit here but i also underplant herbal mecinidals and easy to grow perennial vegetables. planting highly nutrient dense fruit like currants, honeyberries, blackberries , mulberries and aronia will help with keeping you healthy as well as fed and are very easy to grow. planting disease / bug resistant varieties that maybe arent the best tasting but produce a large crop reliably is the key. potatoes , sunchokes and ground nuts are some i grow for their higher carbohydrates. learn to use every spot on your property. even in full shade something can grow there. my row of groundnuts grow under my big pines in full shade onto bamboo stakes and directed into the sun on the south side and then climb the branches of my pines. the soil under them is very loose and crumbly making it easy to harvest them if needed. right now im just letting them spread like my sunchokes. they are my calorie bank when i need them and require little care or input. i have many raised beds growing strawberries that i can quickly convert to growing vegetables if the need arises. heirloom seed collection and rotation should be a priority on your list. heirloom varieties are more resilient to less than favorable conditions. knowledge on how to store, ie can, dry, smoke, salt your food to preserve it should be learned. also if you cant defend it from the ones that want to steal it if things get real bad you dont stand a chance. prepare for the worst, hope for the best!

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I have that book, it’s pretty good! There’s also a book by Will Bonsall which is quite interesting.

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You may want to be able to grow rice, considering it grows in water, and also fruit trees that can tolerate wet land. Perhaps also set up a covered greenhouse tunnel on a raised area to grow within. SE PA is within the region of heavy airplane traffic and with that, it now, at least the past 5-6 years, seems to come torrential rain that lasts for many hours if not all day, over many days without ending, and without the “cloud” cover dissipating. Instead, the blank sheet of white persists. This is unlike even recent past where storms blew in, with dark storm clouds having different variation to them, rained at whatever rate for a short time and then gave way to blue skies again. Now weather forecasts list sunny and partly sunny but the sky is a blank sheet of white, yet still provides harsh shadows which would not exist on an naturally cloud shrouded day. If you pay attention, that blank sheet is formed from the trails left by some planes. You may read this and think it sounds crazy, because it seems thats what we are taught to think, but it is not. Science acknowleges that the trails left by planes cause changes to weather, and studies show the change we have been seeing correlates to the increase in trails… that doesnt lends itself to narratives, however.

https://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2004/apr/HQ_04140_clouds_climate.html

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@ampersand have you heard of the book possum living by Dolly Freed? I recommend it. If you aren’t afraid of eating rabbit or foraging, it’s a good place to start.

On the initial train of thought, I’d say to go with what you know to start. By that, I mean you know your apple crop is poor as you don’t spray, so replace them with pawpaw /persimmon etc, something that will more reliably produce for you.

I’ve read in other threads that sunchoke will grow like weeds. Other weeds like dandylion, red sorrel, etc are good avenues most do not consider as food that are readily available. Heck, Japanese knotweed and autumn olive are weeds to me but do produce edible parts if taken at the proper time of the year. Rhubarb and horseradish, asparagus, and many other perennials might be good fits for you, even growing underneath your trees if placed properly. Vertical planters (I posted about my strawberry planter idea give you more growing area in less space if you need more. There are a lot of books and posts here relating to this topic that I’ve found helpful.

Even something as simple as getting edible mushroom spores to grow in the mulch under your trees could increase the productivity of your land (but you need fresh woodchips yearly to maintain productivity).

I know that’s a lot of rambling but I hope it’s helpful.

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i forgot to mention rhubarb and horse radish. both can be harvested hard and grow right back. egyptian onions replant themselves and grow like weeds. if you have chickens siberian pea shrub seeds can be used to feed them throughout the winter as theyre 40% protein. in a pinch can even be powdered to be made into a flour to feed you. planted near your fruit trees they can fix nitrogen to feed them. i have several started from seed around my chicken run. they start growing pods in 2 years.

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So, did you notice a big improvement during the year of very limited flights due to the virus??

Yes, 2020 was the first year that I witnessed actual normal fluffy clouds and blue sky on a regular basis (after around 5 years). I actually documented the first occurrence of it that year. There was an extremely heavy release on 3/8/20, larger than anything Ive ever witnesses in my area, and then normal skies for most of the year. Around July 4th I watched the trails increase again, and then also around thanksgiving, when we had a sudden bad snow storm. This year has also been not too bad, though worse than last. I can often tell when the weather is going to be raining, or if there will probably be a big temp swing, without even watching the weather. All I need to do is watch the plane activity.

Photo from 2020 - First normal blue sky in what seemed like a long time.

I first took notice in either 2015 or 2016, as my place of employment had a wall of windows with full sky view. I first took notice during winter, as it felt like an especially overcast winter; it felt unnatural. That only continued, a clear day being the rarity. Nearly every day seemed it was a sheet of white( not a natural overcast of cloud with clouds of variation in shape and color, but rather a thick haze of blank white), and you could watch it form from the plane trails. Generally this occurred prior to rush-hour ( sky is clear very early and then planes (which seem to follow the path of the sun) flying by leaving trails that spread ) and then it continues throughout the day. If I remember correctly, that year seen record rainfall over the US which flooded much of our crop lands.

Another thing Ive noticed is that during the dead of winter, while it was in the 20s / 30s there would be a large influx in trails, and then a significant rise in temperature follows for 1-2 days - enough to cause some plants to break dormancy, and the opposite in spring - causing a sudden drop in temp killing blooms.

These photos are from this spring, and shows the typical progression I witness. The first was taken not long after the trails began. Unfortunately, it happened quickly so I don’t have the clear sky prior. It was a wet and cold spring, with very fluctuating temperatures.

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My personal opinion is that in order to grow food consistently in the future we are going to have to use heated AND cooled greenhouses. Geothermal ones. The scientists have said that climate change means serious wildly changeable weather. The only way to mitigate that is with climate controlled growing spaces.

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There are a few smart people who have figured out how to grow things with no sunlight, but there is a big difference between lettuce and an apple tree, in needed area, growth habit etc. A geothermal greenhouse could be a great solution but on the scale of feeding humanity, I’m not sure it would be viable. Crazier things are invested in, though, like billionaires flying to space for fun. Maybe there is hope.

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My thing is that worrying about Hollywood disaster movie scenarios distract from making real, tangible progress. If it gets to the point you describe we are all screwed anyways and bullets will be more useful than saplings. Your fellow citizens get mighty cranky when they get hungry.

I grew up with hurricanes. On a bad one things like floods, electricity down for a week or two, no potable water, and uncertainty, were bread and butter.

I was in Tokyo during the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. It was a 9.1 at the epicenter but only 7.1 where I was standing. My house in Misawa (northern Japan) was less than 2 miles from where the tsunami tossed huge boats into the fields. No gas, no supplies, no electricity, the amount of damage I saw was just unreal.

I was here in Alaska for the 7.1 2018 earthquake, whose epicenter was 24 miles from my house. The broken roads you saw on most photos were between my home and my work place. Loosing power over the winter is not something you don’t want to be ready for.

I was in Puerto Rico visiting when they had their 2019/20 earthquake, rolling my eyes at how people could freak out so much over so little.

And then there was that covid thing we had last year. 95% of food in Alaska comes from the lower 48 so when people freaked out all the super markets went empty. I didn’t visit the super markets for about two months. The only thing I missed was butter

Through all that, and more I won’t even bring up, I never had issues. Out of habit I keep and rotate about 20 gallons of gasoline at home, plus like to keep the cars filled up. That came mighty handy in Japan where fuel distribution got disrupted. Food? I keep a well stocked pantry, that was very nice during Covid. I don’t buy emergency junk food, I just keep bulk under the stairs and restock the kitchen from there. Heck the box of fifty N95 mask I had in the garage (dirt cheap in bulk for the quality) sure came handy.

I’m not a prepper. I’m also not stupid and in the few years I have been around I have noticed that there is always one emergency or another with calm periods in-between. I just don’t get how people either act like nothing ever happens or try to prepare for the end of the world as we know it.

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I’m not sure what the odds are of being in 3 completely different areas and experiencing that many large earthquakes in a decade, but it has to be low. Scout motto is be prepared, and I have adopted the 7 P’s recently at work: Prior Proper Planning Prevents Pi$$ Poor Performance. Both are good rules to live by, and it sounds like you have it under control.

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