Monday, March 23, 2020


Sorry for our absence from the blog the last few days.  We've been getting things together and staying pretty much isolated.  I purposely mowed short last weekend for this reason, had a feeling that other things would be occupying our time.  We're guessing a lockdown for Houston, if not all of Texas, is coming any day now and we wouldn't be surprised if the entire country is locked down very soon.

What a world huh?

If you had said last year that we'd be living in a time of a pandemic this Spring, most people would have thought you were crazy...but it's here and it's the new reality for most of us.  

These are indeed crazy and scary times.  

When we got the farm 8 years ago we had always figured it could be our bug out location if we had to leave Houston for any reason.  Alas, now that an actual situation exists, we can't work from home out there as there is no reliable internet connection, we only have the one window unit, not much hot water and the bathroom doesn't always work.  We had delayed improvements on the house while we decided what to focus on elsewhere for getting something new out there.  How that changes in an instant!  Now we have to worry about jobs and where the economy will be headed in the future, a recession, a depression or it bounces back?  

It's peace of mind that at last we have a place we could live in with just a few upgrades if we had to.  In the meantime, we are going to use it as our supplemental food source.

Which brings us to the question:

What to grow?  This is the garden area a few weeks back.  A few more weeds now but with a few bags of soil added, it'll be ready for planting.  We also have the new soaker hoses and parts for the irrigation system so we're ready to go with planting very soon.

The original garden thinking for this season was just a few plants to ease back into it after taking last year off.  But we're concerned about supply chain issues with grocery stores if this pandemic gets worse or lasts for months.

What veggies/herbs would be on an emergency food supply garden list for you?  Now that we are past Winter we can grow anything that does well in Spring weather.  It does turn very hot by end of May and into June.  What would you recommend growing to keep an ongoing supply of food if you could only have a few?  We're going to do tomatoes for sauce and other dishes (even though they have been hit and miss), maybe some pickling cucumbers to make pickles,  but we're trying to figure out what else.  Eggplant perhaps?  Maybe squash?  That was kind of iffy a couple seasons ago.  Peppers could be grown but they seem more like something to add to other dishes, not a main dish themselves.  Not sure about root vegetable but we might try carrots again.  Until it gets really hot some salad greens perhaps?  If we can only pick one herb probably basil for it's many uses and we already have rosemary growing.  

We're hoping that even if we're locked down we can still drive out there.  I mean it would be a trip for food and we wouldn't be stopping anywhere else.

So any suggestions on what must have vegetables to grow in a limited space that will help keep you fed?


  1. I would suggest to plant things that can be packaged & frozen for later use.

    If you don't already have one and gut the funds to purchase one I would recommend on getting a dehydrator to where you can store in canning jars and put away in your pantry.

  2. OOPS. Sorry. Should be got & Not 'gut'. boo boo on my part; well actually my keyboard. :}

  3. I find yellow squash is more finicky than zucchini, tomatoes obviously, with plum or Roma for sauces, onions, garlic, okra, radishes, carrots and eggplant in the raised beds. Green beans, peas and cucumbers can be planted against the fence and will grow up them. You have to tie the cukes in a few places, but the green beans and peas will naturally climb.

  4. grow what you like to eat. potatoes....white and sweet. squashes can take the place of pumpkin in most dishes. no matter whether it grew last year....just get stuff planted and pray your guts out that it grows this year. don't you pressure can? get a canner and a ball blue book so you can do it safely. GIT 'ER DONE !!!!!

  5. Tomatoes tomatoes tomatoes. Basil, mint, sweet onions, parsley, thyme, tomatoes. garlic. lettuces and cabbage, bok choy, citrus, apples, peaches, berries of whatever kind will grow and produce there. Good luck ... and more tomatoes!!!

  6. " You want to grow your own food; but . . .
    You can't find your Bacon Seeds."

    Have a great evening.

  7. All of the above and okra if you like it. Okra loves hot weather.

  8. Don't forget onions and garlic. Auburn University gave me seeds for this area. Try one of your farm schools for names of what does best in your area. Don't space your vegetables so far apart. Put another fence up to keep the deer away. I am planting potatoes in a trash can. Put six inches of soil in the can. Put potato eyes that have sprouted in the bottom. Keep covering them up until the plant reaches the top. Harvest when plants start to fade or harvest as you need them. There is lots of information on you tube. Good luck.

    1. "Farm schools" are Texas A&M. Texas A&I and others.

  9. Good ideas from Practical Parsimony. I would also recommend winter squash, butternut especially, because it keeps so well. It’s not one of my favorite veggies, although the husband and daughter love it, but I grow it every year because it keeps so well and can be used so many different ways.

  10. When you say lock down, do you mean that we won't be able to leave our homes at all? I'm not going out much as it is, but we'll need groceries at some point. As for planting, I suggest parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.


  11. Each county in TX (probably in all states?) has an extension office, so you can look them up online or run by there. And Practical Parsimony's right - they're all run under the aegis of A&M. I've not checked in with them for info on my current county but in past counties I've lived they've had handouts available with recommended landscape plants & no doubt they have them for veggies that do well in your specific area with planting schedules & pests to look out for. Also the TX Master Gardener program in your county can offer a lot of free advice, that's what they're there for! In fact, aren't they usually in the same office as the extension service?

  12. I agree with you about planting a good supply of fresh produce. The stores here are getting sold out of fresh vegetables constantly. So I'm very happy that my fall-winter garden is still producing. I think it is very wise of you to plan on planting a good-sized garden. I'm telling my family and friends to do the same. Even if they plant some things in pots on their patio, they'll be glad they did.

    I've planted my spring garden now. Since I'm only about an hour south of your Farm, you could probably grow the same things that I'm growing.
    I planted several different varieties of tomatoes - small, colorful ones, some regular size, and a Roma type for sauces and picante.
    Bell peppers, sweet banana peppers, different colored peppers, and jalapeno.
    Potatoes, green beans, cucumbers for pickling, yellow squash, white scallop squash, and zucchini.

    My fall-winter garden is still producing: lettuce, kale, rainbow Swiss chard, shallots, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, and parsley. But with near-90 degree heat forecast for next week, they may start to die. I am moving some of my lettuce and shallots to cooler spots with a bit of shade in my garden and flower bed to hopefully extend their production life.
    These are cool weather crops but you could probably plant them in a bit shadier spot that will stay a little cooler. If you want to plant lettuce, greens, and carrots, you could even plant them in pots in order for you to find a cooler spot.

    I have seen that San Antonio, Bexar County, Dallas, Galveston, and Austin are going on lockdown. So I imagine that Houston will be also. The Farm could be at least a nice retreat for a few days of peace and safety.

  13. Do you grow normal flat or do you grow up? Do you used companion planting? Do you switch out your spring to summer to fall growing? We use all these methods. The only thing we have not figured out yet is how to keep your gardens intact in a tornado (ha ha). If you only do some but not all of these I suggest you get the following Gardeners Bibles (as we call them): Carrots Love Tomatoes, everything by Elliott Coleman (his are all natural, and help to sustain longer without artificial heat), Square Foot Gardening, and Vertical Gardening.
    That's our list of major uses when we started our new place in Colorado (2000) and continue to use today. Oh - also as many different ways to store as possible. Ball Canning is good but just for canning. We also have dehydrating, drying, freezing, vacuum sealing and are looking into freeze drying (we do have a root cellar)

  14. Invest in an Excalibur dehydrator as it cuts down on freezing and canning. Plus, the things last for year.

    Peppers-- for jelly, for bug spray, bell for salads and seasoning in soups, red is high in Vitamins. Peppers are for eating as a vegetable, not just for seasoning.

  15. green beans - you can get pickings off them all summer. And winter squashes. They last a long time after harvest.

  16. Two words: Shishito peppers. They are the best pepper I've ever grown. You can seed them and freeze, or roast them whole, leaving the stem and seeds and dipping them into aioli.


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