Finding the Perfect Spot for Your Survival Garden
Growing your own food is an incredibly empowering activity, especially in times of crisis. From the Great Depression to World War II, planting “victory gardens” has been a way for people to stay home and help reduce the spread of disease. Although gardening can be intimidating, with some basic knowledge and the right planning, anyone can create a survival garden.
When selecting a spot for your garden, consider how much sunlight it will receive during the day. Most vegetables require eight to twelve hours of uninterrupted sunlight each day. Planting in an area with adequate air flow is also important—this will prevent fungal buildup and spread out the plants’ scent.
Deciding Which Crops to Plant
Frost tolerant plants, such as peas, spinach, lettuce, carrots, and kale, can be planted in early spring. Later in the season, you can add tropical vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, and melons. Create a plan that takes into account what resources you have available, such as space and soil quality, as well as the caloric value of the plants. Consider planting high-calorie crops first, like potatoes and beans. Choose plants that you and your family like to eat, including easy to grow crops like beans, carrots, lettuce, peas, potatoes, and zucchini, as well as those that store well such as cabbage, garlic, leeks, onions, rutabagas, turnips, and winter squash.
Container Gardening for Small Spaces
Container gardens are another easy option. Any vessel that holds dirt and has adequate drainage can be used as a container. Old buckets or barrels work great for this purpose. If you’re reusing something, make sure to thoroughly clean the container before using it.
Starting Small and Growing Your Garden
For a traditional garden, start small. Find out what grows best in your region and focus on those plants. As your skills and knowledge grow, increase the size of the plot. Create a variety of plants including perennials, annuals, herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Focus on open-pollinated seeds which allow you to save your own seeds. A minimum of 1/4 acre is recommended for a survival garden.
Preparing Your Soil for Success
Soil preparation is key to success in any garden. Incorporate compost, manure, and other organic material to improve the soil. Mulching is also important for controlling weeds, retaining water, and keeping temperatures consistent.
Finding Water for Your Garden
Finding water can be tricky in areas prone to drought. Rainwater collection barrels are a great way to capture runoff from gutters and roofs. You can also look for natural sources, or dig a well if you’re in a rural area.
Natural Pest Control Methods
Pests can be a problem in any garden, but there are several ways to control them without the use of chemicals. Try companion planting, floating row covers, and exclusion techniques like fencing and netting.
Maintaining Your Survival Garden
Maintenance tasks include irrigation, pruning, deadheading, and weeding. Use mulch to help retain moisture, and water deeply but infrequently to encourage deep roots.
Harvesting and Storing Your Crops
Harvesting should be done when the produce is ripe, usually in the morning when the plant is at its peak. Make sure to store the harvested crops properly; some vegetables need to be cured before storing. Preserving foods like pickling, fermenting, dehydrating, and freezing can help extend their shelf life.
Gardening is a rewarding and nourishing activity, especially in times of crisis. With careful planning and attention to detail, you can create a thriving survival garden that will provide you and your family with nutrient-dense foods for years to come.