The Basics of Survival Gardening
Creating a survival garden is a great way to ensure that your family has access to healthy, nutrient-dense food in the event of an emergency. A survival garden should be planned carefully, with consideration for calories, nutrition, seed saving, and food preservation. It can provide many benefits, including year-round nourishment, supporting pollinators, reducing carbon footprints, and creating a connection to food source.
To start a survival garden, you must first determine your goals, research relevant topics, decide on size and location, choose plants wisely, gather materials and equipment, and keep notes as you go.
Nutrient-dense crops to consider for annuals are potatoes, legumes, corn, sweet potatoes, winter squash, grains, and sunflower seeds. Vegetables that store well include potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, onions, and garlic. Plant a variety of plants, such as perennials, annuals, herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Focus on open-pollinated seeds that allow the gardener to save their own seeds. Start small and increase the size of the plot as your skills and knowledge grow. Consider incorporating both sun and shade loving plants. A minimum of 1/4 acre is recommended for a survival garden. Choose plants based on what is liked and eaten by the family. Include easy to grow crops like beans, carrots, lettuce, peas, potatoes, and zucchini. Plant crops that store well such as cabbage, garlic, leeks, onions, rutabagas, turnips, and winter squash.
When selecting a location for your survival garden, choose an area with well-drained soil that receives at least six hours of sunlight per day. Also, research the nutritional value of plants to ensure they meet your needs and consider your local climate when choosing plants. It’s also important to plant herbs for medicinal benefits and flavor, create a system for natural irrigation such as a rain collection barrel, and protect your survival garden from animals and humans.
As we plan ahead for the day that the food pantry is bare, gardening is a great activity for self-quarantine. Planting a “Victory Garden” helps us stay at home while reducing the spread of COVID-19. Patience and expectation management are key when growing food, as nothing good grows overnight. Select a spot with eight to twelve hours of uninterrupted sunlight each day. Focus on frost tolerant plants in early spring; wait until later in the season to plant tropical vegetables. Create a plan that takes into account available resources, room and spacing requirements, and caloric value. Containers can be made out of any vessel that holds dirt, with adequate drainage. Plant high-calorie crops as soon as the weather permits; old potatoes can be chopped up and planted.
Design Strategies for the Perfect Survival Garden
Survival gardening is a great way to ensure access to a secure supply of food in an emergency. It requires many of the same practices as regular vegetable gardening, but requires extra consideration for calories, nutrition, seed saving and food preservation. Benefits of a survival garden include providing year-round nourishment, supporting pollinators, reducing carbon footprints, and creating a connection to one’s food source.
When designing a survival garden, you must first determine your goals. Consider how much space you have available, what type of produce you would like to grow and store, and whether you will need to save your own seeds. Once you have determined your goals, research relevant topics such as nutrient-dense crops, containers and raised beds, companion planting, permaculture, and natural irrigation.
After researching, decide on the size and location for your garden. Make sure to choose a spot with at least six hours of uninterrupted sunlight each day. You may also want to consider your local climate when selecting plants. Next, compile a collection of seeds that you and your family will eat. Research the nutritional value of plants to ensure they meet your needs. Plant herbs for medicinal benefits and flavor. Start small and increase the size of your plot as your skills and knowledge grow.
When planning out your garden, focus on open-pollinated seeds so you can save your own seeds. Plant a variety of plants including perennial, annuals, herbs, fruits and vegetables. Make sure to include easy-to-grow crops such as beans, carrots, lettuce, peas, potatoes and zucchini. Include vegetables that store well such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, onions and garlic. Focus on frost tolerant plants in early spring, and wait until later in the season to plant tropical vegetables. Also, incorporate both sun and shade-loving plants. A minimum of 1/4 acre is recommended for a survival garden.
Once you have chosen your plants, prepare the soil for planting. Test and amend the soil if necessary. You may also want to build raised beds if space allows. When planting, determine plant spacing, and consider propagation techniques such as cuttings and grafting.
To maintain your garden, watering techniques and weed control are essential. Fertilization may also be necessary. Finally, when harvesting, timing and proper storage techniques are important. Storing produce long term can help extend the life of your harvest.
By taking the time to design and maintain a survival garden, you can ensure a secure supply of nutritious food in the event of an emergency. Planning ahead for the day that the food pantry is bare? Gardening is a great activity for self-quarantine. Plant a “Victory Garden” to stay at home and help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Patience and expectation management are key when growing food, as nothing good grows overnight. With the right strategies, you’ll be well on your way to a successful survival garden.
Conquering Garden Care and Harvesting Techniques
Maintenance and care are key components of survival gardening. Proper watering techniques, weed control, fertilization, and harvest and storage techniques all contribute to a successful garden. To maintain your survival garden, water deeply but infrequently; use mulch to help retain moisture, prevent weeds, and create a microclimate for your plants. Pull weeds by hand — avoid using herbicides that can contaminate the soil. Fertilize in early spring with compost, or add fish emulsion or other natural fertilizer. Timing and techniques for harvesting depend on the crop, but be sure to pick vegetables when they are ripe. For long-term storage, use canning, dehydrating, or fermentation techniques. With regular maintenance, your survival garden will be a reliable source of sustenance during times of crisis.
Knowing when to harvest vegetables is essential for optimal flavor and nutrition, and proper storage techniques can help preserve the food for long-term use. Harvest vegetables at the peak of ripeness, when they are firm but not hard and full of color. For long-term storage, root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, turnips, and beets can be placed in cold storage, such as in a root cellar or refrigerator; some crops can be canned, dehydrated, or fermented for storage. Survival gardens provide a reliable source of nourishment during times of crisis if maintained properly.
With careful planning, your survival garden will thrive and provide sustenance in uncertain times. Continue learning and adjusting your strategies as needed, and your garden will become an essential component of your self-sufficiency plan.