- Off The Grid News - https://www.offthegridnews.com -

Cassava: The Drought-Resistant ‘Super Survival’ Plant That Can Feed Everyone

Image source: shelookbook.com

Image source: shelookbook.com

Cassava, or Manihot esculenta, is a root crop grown mainly in the tropical areas of the world. Originating in South America, it is now a staple for many people in African and Asian countries. Florida, with its relatively warm climate, also can sustain this crop very well, as can areas in Zones 8 and above. That’s just one of the reasons why this tuber should be part of any survival garden in warm weather areas.

What makes cassava ideal for a survival garden?

A survival garden should provide as much food security as possible with minimum use of resources. Not all plants are suitable; you should choose wisely to optimize space, time and other inputs with an eye on getting the maximum amount of high-quality nutrition. Cassava is an excellent source of carbohydrates, the primary fuel for our body.

It also is:

Sourcing Planting Material

Mature stems are the main means of propagation. Ten-month-old canes that are one-inch or more in thickness are ideal. Each cane can give about six or more one-foot long cuttings. You can source a few sets from someone already growing cassava, or order it online.

Soil Amendments

Cassava can grow fairly well in most types of soil. But adding compost or manure and tilling the ground will improve the soil’s nutrient content and loosen it up so that the roots can easily run.

The Best Source For Heirloom Herb Seeds Is Right Here! [1]

You’ll want the roots to spread out far and wide in every direction to maximize the yield. The ideal pH is 5.5 to 7 for this crop.

Ensuring Drainage

Image source: galleryhip.com

Image source: galleryhip.com

The thick starchy roots can rot if they sit in water. To avoid this, cassava is typically planted in mounds of soil, two to three feet apart. Some people do ridges and furrows, with cassava on the ridges and some shade and moisture-loving vegetables in the furrows.

Planting the Sets

Check the stem for tiny buds; when the stem is right side up, they should be located above the projections of the leaf bases. Insert the bottom half of the stem into the soil at a slight angle so that the top will not be in the way of the new shoot that will grow vertically upwards.

These sets typically take root wherever they touch the soil, so there’s really no need for a rooting hormone. And once you have your first few plants up, you’ll have a steady supply of planting material to use, share and even sell.

Water thoroughly after planting and repeat watering three days later. Then water weekly for the next few weeks until the plants are established with vigorous shoots. Allow only the strongest shoots to grow.

Companion Planting

Some legumes like cow peas, runner beans or snap peas are usually grown along with cassava for the nitrogen they offer. In a survival garden, they can optimize space utilization, too. When planted together, the legume sprouts get a head start before the cassava spread out their leaves and then the climbers get free support on the cassava canes.

Harvesting the Leaves

The cassava leaves are nutritious and can supplement a survival diet. But, as with all parts of the plant, they can cause cyanide poisoning unless prepared well. Select leaves that are nearly mature and break off two to three leaves at a time from each plant. Cut them up and boil them for 15 minutes in plenty of water, which will remove the cyanide. Drain away the water and add the leaves to soups, stews or casseroles as you would do with spinach.

Harvesting the Roots

The roots should become plump and ready for harvest in six to eight months. Check them by digging next to the plant with a trowel until you reach a root. Scratch away the soil from around the root to expose it. Roots that are two inches or more in thickness are best, even though narrower ones are fine, too. Trace it back to the point where the root is attached to the stem and cut the root off at the narrow neck there.

The Secrets Of Sea Minerals To Grow More “Nutritionally-Dense Food” Than You Can Possibly Eat! [2]

Image source: fastcoexist.com

Image source: fastcoexist.com

Boiling the root is the best way to determine how mature it is. Roots that are too young will have a new-potato texture with a slightly translucent look. The mature ones will be starchier and more opaque. If you’re fine with the taste and texture, you can go ahead and harvest more roots. If left in the ground beyond 10 to 12 months, the roots can become fibrous, though.

To lift a whole bunch off the ground with minimum damage:

Using Cassava

The simplest way to use these tubers is to boil the root in salted water after removing the skin and cutting them into two- to three-inch long sections. Drain off the water after boiling for 15 minutes and then continue to boil until soft to touch.

Alternately, the boiled sections can be sliced thin and fried like potato crisps, or dried and stored for future use. You can find a hundred other ways to use it. They make excellent animal feed, too.

Overall, cassava is an entirely perfect survival crop. If you can grow it, it is a must!

Have you ever grown cassava? What tips would you add? Share them in the section below:

8 Reasons You Should Choose Heirloom Seeds. Read More Here. [3]