Miracle grow: Indian farmers smash crop yield records without GMOs

What if the agricultural revolution has already happened and we didn’t realize it? Essentially, that’s the idea in this report from the Guardianabout a group of poverty-stricken Indian rice and potato farmers who harvested confirmed world-record yields of rice and potatoes. Best of all: They did it completely sans-GMOs or even chemicals of any kind.

[Sumant] Kumar, a shy young farmer in Nalanda district of India’s poorest state Bihar, had — using only farmyard manure and without any herbicides — grown an astonishing 22.4 tonnes of rice on one hectare [~2.5 acres] of land. This was a world record and with rice the staple food of more than half the world’s population of seven billion, big news.

It beat not just the 19.4 tonnes achieved by the “father of rice”, the Chinese agricultural scientist Yuan Longping, but the World Bank-funded scientists at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, and anything achieved by the biggest European and American seed and GM companies. And it was not just Sumant Kumar. Krishna, Nitish, Sanjay and Bijay, his friends and rivals in Darveshpura, all recorded over 17 tonnes, and many others in the villages around claimed to have more than doubled their usual yields.

Read more of this article here


A Quick Tip On Planting Raised Bed Gardens

Last year we put in two 4×4 raised bed gardens and grew veggies.  They did so well that we didn’t buy any produce from the market from April to September or so.  Toward the end of the season, I put in a third raised bed (my wife wanted to grow spices).  And I bought a fourth bed when I was at the nursery a few weeks ago and got a killer discount.

Sure, you can build your own beds.  The first two I built myself.  But the kits are quick and easy with not hassle to put together, and the price ends up being about the same as buying the lumber and screws from Lowes.

So, what’s the tip?

vegetable gardenLast season I found that wild rabbits were getting into the yard and eating my veggies.  I started covering them with a shade cloth.  The byproduct of covering the veggies with a shade cloth was that they began growing 2-3X faster.  Yeah, we get a lot of sun.  Probably too much, and by using the shade cloth it made it more tolerable for the plants to grow.  I also think that they “respirate” and by having the plants covered it creates a micro-system that stays more humid than the uncovered area (high desert).

But wait… that’s not the tip!

Apparently, if I had built beds that were two feet high, just the height alone will keep most of the critters out.  (I saw a sneaky marmot bravely climb under the shade cloth and get into the garden for a bit of late morning salad).  So, in the future, I’ll get taller beds and put river rocks in the bottom (for drainage) covered by soil.

Small Scale Aquaponics

We met a woman at a club meeting a few weeks ago who told us that she had been (successfully) doing aquaponics when she lived in New York.  I’m not 100% convinced that this type of system wouldn’t be more hassle than it would be worth in a SHTF scenario.  Seems like you’d need a green house and a solar powered air pump (to aerate the water) at the least.  In the end, it might just be easier to grow plants in the dirt.  But aquaponics is definitely something I’ll need to investigate more closely.

It’s obvious Ann Forsthoefel of “Aqua Annie” is excited by aquaponics, the growing of plants fed by nutrients from fish, which in turn provide a source of food when they reach maturity. “There are so few inputs compared to growing crops in the soil,” she said. With her gardens, she’s constantly building up the soil that is depleted at the end of each growing season. The beauty of aquaponics, she said, is that there isn’t that constant work because the fish are giving nutrients to the plants. Read the full post on Cooking Up a Story:http://cookingupastory.com/aquaponics ‎

Grow More Food With 50% – 80% Less Water

These two kids over at Globalbuckets.org have the right idea: It looks like they took a page from the “EarthBox” self-watering container concept and applied it to the 5 gallon DIY bucket planter — then added the trash bag plastic as a mulch of sorts to prevent evaporation.


They call it a “Global Bucket.”  Yeah, a little too hippie for me too.


When I was their age I was busy trying to figure out how to play strip poker on my TRS-80.  At least they’re doing something productive.

From their web site:

“Is it possible two cheap plastic buckets can help reduce global malnutrition?

Sounds crazy, but there’s some amazing technology that can be created by combining two cheap 5-gallon buckets along with some other low cost or free materials. The result is a low cost foolproof system of growing food.

Benefits of the 2-bucket system:

1) 50% to 80% reduction in water usage.

2) 100% reduction in weeds…never pull a weed or use herbicides.

3) Once planted, very little attention is required.
4) Foolproof: People with very little training (like us!) can reap bountiful harvests.
5) All you need are a few square meters of space…even rooftops, industrial wastelands, etc”

They’ve also got an automatic watering system device they’ve created– that I’ll need to look at in more detail later to figure out how it works.

In the meantime, if you don’t want to hassle with running around to build your own buckets (or you’ve got a wife like mine who doesn’t want to look at orange Home Depot buckets in her backyard!) then take a look at the “Growbox”: It’s an improvement over the Earthbox and it’s less expensive.

A Review Of Marjorie Wildcraft’s “Grow Your Own Groceries” DVD

Marjorie Wildcraft’s “Grow Your Own Groceries” DVD is exceptional, at least for someone like me who didn’t grow up on a farm. One thing to note: Her video  isn’t so much an instructional DVD (although there are a few things she does show, like how to butcher a rabbit, for example) … but it’s more on a conceptual level in that she takes you for a walk through her property and you get to see how all of the various elements on her property fit together to create a closed system.

Grow Your Own Groceries Shows A Complete System Where One Element Of Your Backyard Food Production System Fits Into The Next

For example: The rain water irrigates the plants. The plants feed the animals. The animals make the compost which then feeds the plants. The dogs guard the chickens and rabbits from predators and in exchange get to eat the rabbit entrails and chicken feet after butchering. Etc…

Grow Your Own Groceries

Random picture of man butchering a chicken, included for effect (not from dvd)

Anyway, I mentioned that I’d bought this DVD in this post and I must say that I found it all pretty interesting, but I think it would have been better if she had shown the same principles being applied on a 1/4 acre lot instead of her 3 acre lot.  Some of the reviews I’d read on Amazon suggest that she doesn’t go into enough detail about certain subjects.  I disagree.  This is an introductory DVD designed for the person just getting set up.  (By the way: Marjorie points out that it can take up to ten years to really get completely off grid and producing most of your own food.  And to be at her level, I’d probably agree– although I do think you can get a big jump start within just a year or two if you’re committed).

“Grow Your Own Groceries” Is A Big Picture Approach To Becoming More Self Sufficient

If you’re looking for ideas on “how it all fits together” then this is the DVD for you.  She also includes a huge assortment of e-documents and articles for more in depth information on each system.  For $50, Marjorie Wildcraft’s “Grow Your Own Groceries” DVD definitely worth buying.

I Just Ordered The “Food Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm” DVD

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I just ordered Marjorie Wildcraft’s “Food Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm.”  I’ve been hearing good things about this DVD for several years now, and with 222 five star reviews on Amazon, I gotta think it’ll be worth the money.  (At least I hope it will be!)

It should be here on Saturday and I’ll post a review after I watch it.

From the Amazon page, about Wildcraft’s bio:

“Marjory Wildcraft, is a nationally recognized expert in organic backyard food production. She is the creator of a widely acclaimed video tutorial titled Food Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm. Marjory teaches people with no gardening or agricultural experience, how to successfully grow healthy, vibrant, life-giving nutritious food. Her video is endorsed and carried by such notables as The Organic Consumers Association, The Permaculture Activist, Acre s USA, Bountiful Gardens, SurvivalBlog.com, Alex Jones, and The Weston-Price Nutrition Foundation. She has been featured as a guest on a diversity of national radio shows such as “Coast to Coast AM” and The Power Hour with Joyce Riley. “

Food Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm

Food Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm Rating:
List Price: $59.95
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Product Description

This video set is for those seeking self-reliance in growing food. The DVD was developed by a family that depends on these systems for a large part of their diet. Section 1: Overview * Why we began this journey * Soil types and climate of the site Section 2: Water * Water sources and qualities of water * How much water do you need? * Rain water collection systems * Wells * Ponds Section 3: Garden * Garden location * Size - how much area do you need? * Bio-Intensive gardening overview * Fertility * Watering the garden * Wind * Sun and shade * Bugs and insects * Vegetable varieties and seed saving * Getting started Section 4: Rabbits * Housing and protection * Watering systems * Feeding * Breeds * Reproduction * Other resources Section 5: Home Butchering * Tools * Butchering a rabbit * Tanning hides * Butchering poultry * Other animals Section 6: Poultry * Chicken breeds * Feeding * Watering * Housing and egg collecting * Predator protection * Getting started Section 7: Dogs * Why dogs? * Dog training * Feeding * Housing * Size and breeds * Final thoughts Section 8: Perennials: Orchards, Food Forests, and Edible Landscaping * Locations and micro climates * Watering * Fertility * Using geese for fertility * Tree varieties * Planting and care of trees * Getting started Section 9: Other Essentials * Calorie crops * Solar food dehydration * Home made herbicide test * Fire ants * Injuries * Hog panels and tee posts * Water levels and mapping contours * Rocket stove and hay box cooker * In The Wake; a manual for outliving civilization * Propagating leuceana


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Costco Reaching Out To Preppers With Non-GMO Heirloom Seeds

Costco has offered prepackaged food buckets and a few other items that appeal to the prepper market for quite some time.  Usually through their web site, but occasionally in stores in certain markets, too.  They’re now selling non-GMO heirloom seeds, which kicks it up a notch.  Hopefully, they’ll start offering more items along these lines as the prepping train continues to pick up speed.

From their web site:

Food for Health Garden Seeds are:


  • 100% Heirloom, Non-Hybrid Seeds;  you can harvest your own seeds year after year.
  • 100% Non-GMO; your seeds have not been genetically modified.
  • Packed in re-sealable mylar pouches; you preserve excess and unpplanted seeds.
  • Highly adaptable; they will grow in most every region.
  • Nutritionally dense; you will get high nutrition per sq. ft. of garden.
  • 24 varieties; you will have  nice diversity in your garden.
  • Moisture balanced; they will store longer than store-bought seeds.

The thing to remember about this type of product (or any type of seeds) is that the typical “shelf life” is approximately seven years.  More if you can freeze them, but the verdict is out as far as germination rates.