You have to expect the worst in case a major crisis strikes. The economy will most likely crash, cutting off basic services. Food shortage will be inevitable. While it’s wise to secure a supply of emergency food, you can’t expect it to last forever. Your stash will eventually run out, so you’ll have to find a long-term, self-sufficient solution.
And that's exactly what a survival garden is for.
What’s A Survival Garden?
A survival garden is a vegetable garden designed to produce crops that can provide long-term sustenance to an entire family. To quote from the book The Secret Garden of Survival, it's "a garden that takes up very little space but grows five times more food per square inch than a traditional garden. A garden that you plant once in your lifetime, but provides food for 30 years without any fertilization, pesticides, or weeding... and it's all disguised to look like overgrown underbrush."
A survival garden is a prepper's way of ensuring their survival and self-sustenance in a SHTF situation.
Survival Gardening Basics
Not everyone has a green thumb. However, with the right planning and the right crops, a survival garden can thrive even under the supervision of an inexperienced gardener.
The idea of bountiful harvest may tempt you to start on a large patch of land. After all, you’re prepping to feed an entire family, right? That’s not entirely the case for beginners.
The key to a successful survival garden is in starting small and gradually working your way up. You can start by doing container gardening or by growing your own herbs and salad greens first. These are pretty easy to grow and maintain. For example, you can start planting basil in a large pot, keeping each plant about a foot apart. Two to three plants can already yield a lot of leaves for a small family. Once you’ve mastered this, you can move up to a 4x4 or 4x8 plot. This way your resources won’t be spread so thin and you can focus your energies on that specific area.
Another quality that separates a survival garden from your usual vegetable patch is that it’s designed to be hidden from other people who might want to steal your crops. You can hide your survival garden by spreading your plants out randomly and making them look like an overgrown underbrush. Plant your crops among wild edibles, which most people consider as weeds. You can also try gardening indoors.
Types of Crops
A survival garden is less about how the crops taste and more about their nutritional value. The crops usually grown in a survival garden are:
- high in calorie and nutritional value
- easy to grow
- high in yield
- tolerant against drought
- mostly available all year round
Here are some crops that you can grow in a survival garden, to name a few:
They are a great source of carbohydrates. Unlike other carb sources, potatoes don't need any additional processing to be consumed. You simply harvest, clean and cook them. They are also relatively easy to grow. You simply take a potato, cut it in a way that each piece has a couple of "eyes", and plant them. It usually takes 4 months before you can harvest potatoes. Here is a more detailed guide on how to grow potatoes in your own backyard.
A survival garden is not complete without various herbs. Herbs like basil, rosemary, chamomile, parsley, sage, and thyme are useful not only for adding flavor to meals; they are also grown for their medicinal properties.
There are several benefits to having corn in your survival garden. It is rich in carbohydrates, and is easily harvested, grown, and stored. Corn comes in many varieties like flint corn and dent corn. These types are hardy and mostly resistant to frost. They can be ground into flour or cornmeal for tortillas.
Cassava is drought-resistant, space-saving plant that is rich in carbohydrates. It is mostly resistant against frost and can grow in almost any type of soil. This root crop also gives lots of yield and can be stored for long periods of time.
Keeping beans in your survival garden means a steady protein source for you and your family. Examples of which include kidney beans, mung beans, pinto beans, and soya beans. They are a great substitute for meat and can go well with other grains like corn and rice.
Remember that your garden won't grow overnight. Don't wait for a disaster until you start planting. It takes time, skill and patience to grow---and hide--- a thriving garden full of produce. You may encounter a few bumps and mistakes along the way, but when done right, you can literally reap a lot of benefits in return. Again, don’t wait for a crisis before you start on that garden. A survival garden will keep your stomach full way after your emergency stash runs out, so start planting now!