The Ultimate Guide to Survival Gardening

Gardening is one of the interesting hobbies that you can get into at home. If you have space in your yard that you can turn into a garden, it can be a great idea. There are many different types of gardening that you can try. You can plant flowering plants, herbs, trees, and shrubs in your garden. Among those, one of the most essential types of gardening is survival gardening.

It’s true that none of us today can say whether the economic situation in the country will deteriorate to the point that you will need a survival garden for your family to survive. However, it will not hurt to be prepared in case of unforeseen events, such as an earthquake or other disasters. Aside from that, survival gardening is also useful if you are always searching for fresh ingredients to cook and serve to your family. 

If you want to learn more about this type of gardening at home, you’re in the right place. In this post, we are giving you the ultimate guide to survival gardening.

What Is a Survival Garden?

During the First and Second World Wars, the American public planted gardens in their private residences and as well as in parks to relieve the strain on the food supply chain during a time of national emergency. They referred to these gardens as “Victory Gardens” or “War Gardens.” Survival gardens are similar to those gardens. It is a vegetable, fruit, and herb garden designed to provide enough food and nutrients for a family to survive in times of an emergency or disaster. 

A survival garden is not a typical backyard garden. It has an exact requirement depending on how many people it is intended to feed and for how long. It also takes into account the calories, carbs, fats, nutrients, and vitamins that a person requires to maintain his or her health. This means that it takes specific planning to be able to put up a survival garden. 

Survival gardening is putting together a garden plot with enough crops to sustain a family for a year. But keep in mind that it also takes several years to establish. Therefore, if you are thinking of venturing into survival gardening, now is the best time to start for the future.

Scenarios That Make a Survival Garden Essential

There are a lot of events that can make survival gardening essential for many people. Here are some of those possible scenarios:

  • Supply Shortage: This can happen during wars or when there is increased demand and prohibition. 
  • Unemployment: People who suddenly become unemployed or those who aren’t able to find a job will need to find a way to get food to eat every day, and a survival garden can help.
  • LongTerm Grid Down: This may happen due to an electromagnetic pulse, solar flare, and cyberattack.
  • Hyperinflation: When this occurs, the cost of goods will skyrocket out of control.
  • Transportation Crisis: There can be problems with transportation due to fuel costs, regulation, and trucker strikes, which can delay or hinder the delivery of goods to the market.
  • Economic Recession: An economic recession might also affect how people will be able to buy food.

Best Tips for Planning a Survival Garden

If you are considering planting a survival garden to be prepared for a potential disaster, or if you simply want to grow your own food at home, either way, there are going to be some challenges. When planning out a survival garden, there are many things that you need to consider. It is not as straightforward as other types of garden. To help you, here are some of the best tips we can give for planning a survival garden.

  • Choose to plant heirloom seeds.

Heirloom seeds are known to be open-pollinating. This means that the plants that grow from these seeds are consistent generation after generation. However, other seed varieties of the same plant that are not labeled specifically as “heirloom” may be hybrids. This means that even if they produce the same crop, the variety may not be consistent.

One reason heirloom plants are essential for survival gardens is that you will want plants that will thrive under certain conditions. For instance, there are thousands of tomato plant varieties out there. Some of them will grow well under certain conditions or may be prone to some kinds of diseases. When you choose a variety that is most likely to survive in your garden, you will want to keep those characteristics. If you want to learn more about heirloom seeds, you can read our post, “What are Heirloom Seeds?

  • Plant only the essentials.

When it comes to survival gardening, it is essential to budget your space wisely in order to ensure that you are growing everything you need in the needed quantities. When making a survival garden, you need to plan out every square inch in order to be as effective as possible. Some of the common items that you can include in your survival garden are onions, tomatoes, beans, corn, potatoes, squash, peppers, garlic, and more, which were are also going to discuss later in this post.

  • Dedicate certain plants for harvesting seeds.

If your goal of putting up a survival garden includes reseeding for future purposes, then dedicating certain plants for the purpose of harvesting seeds alone is important. But some crops can be an exception for this, like tomatoes, which seeds can be harvested out of the fruit before consumption. 

There are certain plants that won’t be able to be eaten if you save them for their seeds. One example of this is pea or bean plants. To harvest their seeds, the seeds pods should stay on the plant and fully dry out. 

  • Know how much you need to plant in your survival garden.

This is probably the most challenging aspect of planning a survival garden. Before you plant, you first need to know how much you will need to plant in order to provide the food you need to last everyone in your household for a certain amount of time. 

First, consider how many individuals are going to feed on your garden produce. You also need to determine the needed calorie count for each person. Then, look into the needed nutrients of each person for survival. Know the volume needed for each plant to be able to accomplish these needs.

This step will also help ensure that you have enough room. Also, if you are tilling your land to make a garden, this will help you decide how big the plot should be. If you already have a garden plot at home and you think you need more room, you may also opt for container gardening to get in the extra needed plants.

  • Consider adding some medicinal plants.

Most people plan a survival garden to be ready for a possible disaster. With this, it is also essential to consider adding plants that have medicinal properties aside from crops for food. There are many kinds of plants out there that have medicinal properties. One example is ginger, which can aid in easing nausea, and as well as garlic, which has antimicrobial properties.

  • Take climate factors into account.

This is an essential step when planning any type of garden. First, you need to learn about which growing zone you live in. There are lots of seed packets or online sources that list which growing zones are best for that specific plant or variety. 

The growing zone is not going to be very important if your garden is located in a greenhouse or other climate-controlled areas. Available rainfall is another climate-related factor that you need to consider. If your garden is outdoors and you are relying on rain to water your crops, you need to consider the average rainfall in your location. If droughts are common in your area, looking for and planting drought-resistant plants for your survival garden is key. 

  • Pick plant variants that are resistant to diseases.

When you plan a survival garden, disease resistance is an important part of keeping your crops healthy and alive. Therefore, when choosing plant varieties, it is better to research what diseases are common for that plant in your region. Once you learn about which plant diseases to look out for, you can start searching for plant varieties that are bred specifically to withstand those diseases. This way, you will be able to avoid plant diseases that can harm your yield.

  • Plan where you are going to plant.

A lot of traditional gardens are grown in the ground. But there are other options when it comes to gardening. If you have enough land space and good soil in your area, gardening directly into the ground is the best option. However, you can also get benefits from other ways of gardening. 

If you have outdoor land space, creating garden beds is another option. They may take up some amount of horizontal space, but it is easier to control drainage and soil quality this way, which are important for your crops. 

You can also choose to grow plants in a greenhouse or an indoor space through the use of grow light. This way, you can control the environment as needed, lengthening the growing season or being able to grow all year. However, the downside of gardening indoors is that you need to provide water manually all the time as opposed to depending on rainfall at times.

Must-Have Plants for Survival Gardening

The needs and wants of everyone are going to be different when it comes to planning a survival garden. There are various options when choosing what crops to grow in a survival garden. Here are some of the crops that you can put at the top of your list:

  • Beans

Beans are an essential staple crop, and there’s a ton of variety all packed in this one category. They might be small, but they are nutritionally dense. You can grow beans in both bush or pole forms. Their seeds are protein-dense, and the edible pod versions are also great. Try to grow a selection of bush beans and pole beans in your survival garden. 

  • Corn

If you have enough space in your yard, growing some corns is a good idea. Corn has the extra benefit of being a good living trellis for your bean plants. You need to plant the corn first. When there are a few inches of cornstalk growing, you can plant the beans around the corn. When the beans grow, they will climb up the corn stalks. You also have the option to grow sweet corn as the fresh kernels are delicious. 

  • Squash

Both summer and winter squash are perfect for survival gardening. Summer squash can grow faster, giving you food right away. Winter squash, on the other hand, may take longer to grow, but it can be stored for much longer if kept undamaged. 

  • Cabbage

This vegetable is not dense in calories, but it is full of nutrients that the body needs. It is a good source of vitamins B6 and C, as well as fiber. It can be cooked or used raw in salads. In addition to that, cabbage can also be fermented, which makes it a great survival crop. Once fermented, you can store it for a long time and use it in casseroles, soups, and sandwiches. 

  • Potatoes

People in many parts of the world have been helped by potatoes when it comes to surviving famine. It is a starchy root crop that you can grow easily. Even if you are in an urban area, you can grow potatoes well by planting them in gallons or grow bags. It is a good source of carbohydrates, potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.

  • Kale

Kale is a crop that you can grow year-round. It can tolerate cold climates. In fact, it sometimes tastes sweeter when touched by a kiss of frost. It is one of the superfoods out there that you can plant in your survival garden. It is easy to use in soups and stews. It can also be a good side dish to pair with other meals. 

  • Sweet Potatoes

These are very different from regular potatoes. They are calorie-dense and have more nutrients compared to the average potato. Aside from that, it has a more delicious flavor, making it perfect for making both sweet and savory dishes. Also, the leaves of the sweet potato plant are edible, and you can include them in salads and other dishes. 

  • Lentils

These are protein powerhouse that has about 18 grams of protein per serving. It is a legume that is among the healthiest food sources in the world. It is believed to be one of the oldest crops in cultivation. It is a perfect addition to soups and stews and as well as to salads. 

  • Onions

Onions are essential as they add flavor to almost everything. You can use the undeveloped onion as green onions or wait for the full onions to form. Onions also have a nice little amount of added nutrition. But mostly, it is used for its flavor and aroma. 

  • Tomatoes

This is a popular fruit that is added to soups, stews, and as well as ketchup. This is a very easy plant to grow, making it great to include in a survival garden. Tomatoes also taste great, either fresh or preserved. You can choose to sun-dry or freeze them or eat them fresh. 

  • Carrots

Carrots are also great for survival gardening as they work perfectly in meals and snacks. They are rich in antioxidants, good minerals, and nutrients for eye health.

  • Garlic

This is also an important flavoring. It is also a common homemade pest repellant for gardening, and a kitchen staple, too. It is one of the most important crops for growing every year. When it is dried, you can store it well, and you will find lots of uses for it.

  • Peppers

You can also choose to plant peppers. They are very useful if you need some heat. You can use them in making dried chili powder or frozen bell peppers that you can add to soups and stews. 

  • Berries

Planting berries is also essential. They can provide you some sweet treats and additional nutrition, as well. You can also store them by making canned jams or jellies or by dehydrating them.

  • Cucumbers

Cucumbers are important when making pickles and salads. This is also a staple crop in a survival garden. You can also eat them fresh.

  • Melons

Melons like honeydews, cantaloupes, watermelons, and more, are perfect for a survival garden. They are a good source of hydration during hot seasons. You can also dehydrate them if you want to preserve them. The rinds of watermelons can also be made into pickles.

  • Herbs

Your survival garden would not be complete without planting herbs. Having a selection of herbs and spices in your garden is a must. They will help add extra flavor to your foods. Some of the best herbs that you can plant are parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary, mint, basil, oregano, and chives.

Survival Garden Protection

Creating a survival garden is indeed challenging. It is a serious matter as it is something that you can depend on in times of emergency or disaster. This makes it an asset of great value. Therefore, it is also very important to protect your survival garden. Here are some protection tips that you might find useful:

  • Protection from Trespassers

Creating a garden of food is something that can attract other people, especially during tough times. With this, it is a good idea to fence your property. You can also strategically plant some thorny bushes on your property to deter trespassers. 

  • Protection from Critters

Critters like squirrels, gophers, and moles can destroy crops and plants. Therefore, you need to plant for ways on how you can control the population and rid them of your property. 

  • Protection from Insects

Insects can also destroy crops. There are different methods when it comes to controlling insects. You can make an organic approach for sustainability. One way is to plant flowers and herbs to attract insects. 

  • Protection from Sun, Wind, Rain, and Frost

It is important to pay attention to the threats that the elements pose to your garden. For sun protection, using shade covers to keep your plants safe is a good idea. You can also design windbreaks to protect your garden from strong winds. When flooding is an issue in your area, you need to plan enough drainage to protect the garden. During the winter season, you can use frost covers to keep the vegetables safe from late spring or early fall frosts. 

Conclusion

Survival gardening is indeed one of the essential skills that most people should learn, especially during these times when calamities and disasters strike unexpectedly. Having a survival garden at home is very helpful not only for emergencies but also when you want to have fresh produce always available when you cook for your family. We hope this post helped you learn more about survival gardening.