Wednesday, 23 January 2013

A Survival challenge

Here in the UK it definitely isn't gardening weather at present, and I'm sitting indoors "building castles in the air", as they say. This is one of the ideas that came into my head...

Imagine you are studying at a Food + Gardening + Self-sufficiency school (nice thought!). Your homework assignment for today is:

 "You are marooned on an unpopulated island in the middle of nowhere (assume the presence of fresh water and fertile soil). If you could have one food item, one plant/packet of seed, and one self-sufficiency tool/object delivered to you right now, what would these items be? Describe and justify your choices. Time allowed: 30 minutes. Marks available: 20."

Here is my answer.

My chosen food item would be a pack of dried beans, e.g. Borlotti.

Photo from 2010

I would like the beans because they would provide me with a reasonable amount of protein and fibre, and could easily be cooked simply with water. Furthermore, I could save some of the beans for planting. If some of the beans did germinate and grow, I could save seeds from them in turn, thus hopefully providing me with an ongoing supply of food

My chosen plant/seed packet would be the biggest pack of tomato seeds available - e.g. from Seeds of Italy, whose packs are well-known for their generous quantities! The fruits of the tomato plants that I would grow from these seeds would combine nicely with the beans (see above). I would choose if possible a pack of mixed varieties, which would provide me with morale-boosting visual and taste variety.

Photo from 2010

My chosen self-sufficiency item would be large and durable knife, which would help me to make some further tools (assuming wood to be available), and it would also help me with food-preparation, and possibly (before I had the chance to make other tools) it would serve as a garden-cultivation implement. Furthermore, this knife could also if necessary be used as a weapon or for killing food animals - if there any on my island.

Arrrgh, the thought of using my best 8" Henkel as a trowel...!

So those are MY choices (at present. I'll probably change my mind tomorrow. I'm just wondering whether a mobile phone counts as a self-sufficiency item these days!) Would anyone else care to tell me (in a comment) what THEY would chose?


  1. plates of sunshine... much needed!... did you watch the Allotment Wars program last night? was fascinating!

  2. For seeds some type of bean us a really good choice Mark for the reasons given. I'd have to become vegetarian as I couldn't just couldn't kill anything to eat so beans would be my meat substitute.

    My plant would have to be a fruit tree of some sort to provide a source of vitamins - not too fussed which tree.

    As for an implement maybe a watering can to transport the water.

    Boring diet though beans and fruit!

  3. I'm a vegetarian but I'm thinking I'd have to turn carnivore to survive!
    How about some sort of nut bearing tree for additional protein- but you'd only get the produce for one season. The shade would be good as well though! So a nut or too for the food item (would a bag of mixed nuts work?) Or how about hops to make beer! (And you can eat hop tops I think!)
    Seeds, hmm I would really miss tomatoes- I think I would have to go for them, they are so good for you too.
    A tool- is a Swiss army knife cheating? Or an entrenching tool: you could dig quite a substantial pit (for whatever reason you can think of...); you could bash open the nuts with it; the spike end would make a good dibber; you could use it defensively....

  4. My food item would definitely be potatoes, the seeds would be tomatoes and my tool , well I can't decide on that one ' cos I should be able to use flints for cutting. An interesting thought though. Let's hope it never comes to it eh.

  5. Runner beans would be my seeds, food item would be potatoes and tool would be a knife. I wouldn't be able to kill any animal for food though, even though I'm not vegetarian.

  6. That's a good challenge question. I'd have to think it over 24 hours. If I was guaranteed growing success, the beans would be a good start as they could dried and used throughout the year. I don't think tomatoes wouldn't be on my list. I'll be thinking about this one throughout the day lol.

  7. I am such a basic person I know but I knew my answer within less than a second. My food item would be vinegar because anything can then be fermented, a shovel and corn seeds.

  8. I am not quite on a desert island Mark, but I have just done a post on growing bananas- do they count as a vegetable?!


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