Finding useful tips for growing vegetables after the impending apocalypse, much as I have tried, seems to be rather difficult. As a big fan of the Walking Dead, I watched Rick and his family cultivating the grounds in a prison ..... and you just KNOW that his crops are going to get destroyed by zombies! Trying to grow corn is probably not a good idea as it will not only get trampled by those flesh eating creatures, but will attract the attention of marauding gangs of vegetable thieves. A far better tactic is to plant a vegetable such as sugar beet which will blend in with the weeds and is itself very much more resistant to trampling.
Actually, this is not something that I have just invented myself, but is well documented during the second world war when communities took to eating fodder crops normally grown for cattle and sheep. Sugar beet was a particular favourite in Poland where the climate is perfect for this crop and it was largely ignored by invading armies. Other possibilities include swede, which is a lot more tasty and probably has a wider range of nutrients.
Although sugar beet is extremely high in readily accessible calories, it is not a 'complete food' and after eating this vegetable on it's own for several months you will probably begin to suffer severe malnutrition (Mangel-wurzel disease), so your diet will need to be supplemented with plenty of rats, mice, cockroaches etc. However, due to the fact that it contains a huge amount of actual sugar, it can be used to create a very useful substance - alcohol - which can itself be used as an antiseptic for those nasty zombie bites, consumed to reduce the stress and strain of post apocalyptic life or traded with other gangs for food or bullets.
Step 1: Sow the Seeds
Ideally, the seeds should be sown in a glasshouse in module type seed trays in the early spring and protected against frost. If no glasshouse or polytunnels is available then the seeds can be sown straight into the ground in a dedicated seed bed and then transplanted later on. If the seeds are sown direct in situ there will be a lot more weeding to do.
Step 2: Transplant
The photo above shows the sugar beet already transplanted and growing nicely with a spacing of about 18" between plants. Sugar beet is not difficult to grow and some well rotted animal manure is useful. Don't be tempted to use human (or zombie) manure as this is a root crop and may pick up nasty bacteria such as cholera etc.
Step 3: Harvest
When harvesting, the roots can entrap a large amount of soil which can be a bit off putting.
Step 4: Cleaning Off the Soil
The best thing to use for cleaning is a cement mixer - chop off the leaves and chuck the roots in with lots of water. The leaves can be cooked and will be a valuable source of vitamins.
Step 5: First Chop
Chop the roots into large chunks and throw them back into the cement mixer for a second wash.
Step 6: Chopping Again
Chop up the roots once more and wash again in fresh water. They should be nice and clean by now.
Step 7: Shredding
The roots could be cooked like they are for a very sweet tasting meal or processed further with a garden shredder for alcohol production.
Step 8: Alcohol Production
The shredded roots are cooked in a large saucepan or stock pot for a couple of hours and the sweet tasting dark brown watery juice is saved for brewing sugar beet beer. We can even add hops!
The beer itself, rather strangely, tastes like rough scrumpy cider or mead or a combination of the both. Not pleasant to my own taste, but some people like it. If it's distilled it ends up smelling like methylated spirits, which is a bit off putting, but still great for zombie bites.
More on distillation is HERE.
Step 9: Final
Love your inner zombie - but don't let them trample your vegetables!
Please feel free to add suggestions for improving this technique in the comments section below. This instructable will be updated if I have missed anything.
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