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Learn how to grow and cook cassava, a nutritious, drought-resistant survival food


Cassava

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(NaturalNews) If you're serious about disaster prepping and have the space to do so, you should definitely consider planting a survival garden. Choosing what to plant is key -- especially if you have limited space -- so you'll want easy-to-grow crops that have a lot of nutritional value and require little maintenance.

If you live in a warm climate, cassava is one of the best choices, and for several good reasons. You've probably heard of it, but there's a good chance that you've rarely eaten it in any other form other than tapioca (a cassava product) unless you hail from a tropical region.

Cassava, also known as manioc or yuca, is native to Brazil but is now grown extensively throughout the world. It's a staple in the diet of many African and Asian cultures and can be grown throughout much of the United States, particularly in the warmer southern regions.

If you're not familiar with it, cassava is a tuber crop that can be compared to the potato, except that it offers a lot more nutritional value -- cassava has twice the carbohydrate and caloric value of potatoes, as well as being richer in several minerals.

So what makes cassava such a good choice for a survival garden?

Cassava: easy to grow and drought-resistant

Growing cassava is relatively easy and after the first couple of months does not require much watering. This makes it ideal for the drought-stricken Southwestern United States where water has now become a precious and limited commodity.

Cassava grows in almost any type of soil, although it flourishes best in loamy soil with good drainage. The roots can begin to rot if there is too much moisture beneath the surface, so it's best to plant it in mounds with other moisture-loving plants in the furrows between the raised rows.

The plant is usually grown from mature stems which can be found online or sourced locally from other growers. Planting the stems is simple: Cassava requires no root hormones and it's basically just a matter of inserting the stems in the soil at a slight angle and watering thoroughly for the first few days while the stems begin to take root.

Other advantages to growing cassava

As Susan Patterson from OffTheGridNews.com explains, cassava has several other things going for it as a survival crop in addition to being drought-resistant, nutritionally rich and easy to grow.

These advantages include:

Resistance to natural and other disasters - Because the roots grow underground, they are resistant to frost, storms and even fires.

High yields - Cassava can provide as much as 20 pounds of food per plant and offers a higher yield than most other grains and tubers.

Ability to stay in the ground - Cassava roots can be left in the ground for several months beyond their maturation, if there is no threat of a hard freeze.

Long-term storage potential - Cassava roots can be frozen, dried or ground into flour for long-term storage.

Marauder-resistant - Because the roots grow underground, cassava is not an easy crop for animals or humans to raid.

A word of caution

The entire cassava plant can be used, including the leaves, which contain proteins that the roots do not. However, the entire plant, roots included, contain small amounts of cyanide, so processing and cooking cassava requires a bit of care. Boiling the leaves and roots for 15 minutes in plenty of water will remove the cyanide.

Cassava can be prepared and eaten in a number of ways, from fried chips to just about anything else you would do with a potato -- and more.

For more details on growing, preparing, storing and cooking cassava, check out Susan Patterson's excellent article and the other links provided below.

Sources:

http://www.offthegridnews.com

http://greenharvest.com.au

http://latinfood.about.com

http://communitytable.com

http://www.scientificamerican.com

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