A survival garden (aka emergency garden) is a garden intended for the cultivation of nutritious foods for your family in times of uncertainty and hardship.Once established, a survival garden will:
- Alleviate financial strain as food prices rise,
- Provide sustenance and security in uncertain times,
- Ensure your food is non-GMO and free of harmful chemicals,
- Deliver fresh vegetables and fruit that are both healthier and better tasting that what is currently available in grocery stores.
Ultimately, however, a properly established survival garden will be a viable food source should catastrophe strike, making mass produced food unreachable and/or inedible. It protects your family from being over-dependent on a food distribution system that is both fragile and uncertain. Should society’s supply chain break down, your family will still have access to fresh fruit and vegetables.
Starting Your Survival Garden
As with all things, if you have not gardened before, there will be a learning curve. For this reason, it is better to establish gardening mastery now, while times are still relatively complacent, than to wait for real catastrophe to strike. Also, it is important to acknowledge that in addition to your survival garden, you should also have at least one year of complimentary food stuff. This can be achieved through home canning and freeze dying meat or by purchasing a year’s supply of long term storage food. This will provide your family with an additional buffer should catastrophe strike.
1. Get the Information.
Survivalists understand that knowledge is power. Gardening is not just a series of best practices; it requires a certain understanding of biology and plant behavior. While this article is a great place to start, My Patriot Supply recommends investing in a few resources to development your in-depth understanding of gardening. Some we recommend include The Art of Gardening DVD from the Homestead Blessing series and The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible by Edward C. Smith. It would also be beneficial to start looking into preservation techniques, such as canning, pickling and drying. A great intro for these techniques is Preserving the Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader.
2. Decide on Your Crops.
The next step is deciding on what crops you would like to grow and purchasing those seeds. If you are in the US, check with your local Extension Service. These agricultural resources can supply you with both crop recommendations for the region and planting calendars. When selecting the seeds, look for heritage or heirloom varieties, as these are non-gmo and the most rugged (i.e. these are tough seeds that can stand up to difficult growing conditions.) If you want a fool proof starting kit, consider a comprehensive seed vault that features a wide variety of seeds such as the Patriot Survival Seed Vault. It would be wise to also keep an additional seed vault on hand to serve as “back up” should tough times lie ahead.
3. Evaluate the Location.
Decided where the garden will be located. Be sure to select a space with enough sunlight and access to water. Now would be a good time to think about investing in an emergency water filtrating system. If the area is exposed to wildlife, you may need to install fencing to keep out the hungry critters.
4. Prep the Land.
Clear the ground of rocks, weed and debris. Till the soil and add a layer of compost, decaying leaves, grass clippings, or manure to enhance the soil’s quality.
5. Plant Your Harvest
Plant seed in accordance with their recommended planting dates for your region. Again, your local Extension Service can help you determine the right times to plant. In some climate zones you may have two cycles available. Different crops have different plants requires. Plants like lettuce, radishes, garlic and onion require a relatively shallow hole between 4 to 6 inches deep, while potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, peas, and carrots require a greater depth around 12 inches or more.
6. Enjoy the Fruits (and Vegetables) of Your Labor!
Few things in this world are as satisfying as growing your own food and being self-sufficient. I recommend pacing your harvest to be in step with your consumption. When food gets close to over ripening, harvest the remaining vegetables and fruit and consider home canning, drying or pickling it so that you can enjoy the harvest in the future.