It is as good a time as ever to begin your own survival garden for you and your family. This year, increased food prices, economic uncertainty and recent record natural disasters have undoubtedly heightened our concern about the safety and availability of food. A desire for a survival garden may also be rooted in the fact that you crave fresh, organic and non-GMO vegetables, fruit and herbs year round. Or like our parents and grandparents during World War Two, “victory gardens” save money, while allowing commercially grown food to be directed to areas that need it. Whatever the reasoning, survival gardens are easy to construct and following these additional suggestions can allow your family to eat healthfully from home.
How To Start A Survival Garden: First, decide what your gardening goals are. Are you looking to add a few more fresh fruits and vegetables to your weekly meals? Perhaps you want an emergency food supply? Or, maybe take it a step further and completely live off the grid? Whatever you decide, it’s best practice to begin by planning a 4-foot wide space for your garden. You do not want it any wider or you’ll have some trouble planting, harvesting and weeding in the center. You may make the length as long as you prefer, yet many like to begin with 4×12 feet and the opportunity to grow larger as need be. Pick a location that’s relatively flat and receives sunlight with some shade at certain parts of the day.
After you have found the perfect location, dig an area about 1 foot deep. You may dip deeper to add more vitality to your garden, but keep in mind that you’ll need more soil to compensate. Using sized pieces of wood, form an “L” at one end of the garden and use a power drill to set each screw in. Do the same for all four corners until you have a sturdy rectangular shape. Fill in the hole with nutrient-rich, organic soil, leaving some space a few inches at the top. Use compost periodically to boost the soil’s needs.
Deciding What To Plant:
Grow any type of fruits, vegetables and herbs you prefer, but do keep in mind that some plants are advantageous to grow together while others will literally steal nutrients from the plant next door. Check our Companion Gardening blog post to see a complete list of companion plants.
Planting medicinal herbs and plants is a good practice for those who aspire to grow a garden for emergency purposes. Garlic, onions, aloe, cloves, anise seed and other herbs have proven medicinal qualities that could be helpful for injuries and other ailments in a crisis.
Emergency Seed Banks: Many of us want to be prepared in any type of natural or economic disaster, and creating your own emergency seed bank is one way to ensure your seeds are viable when you need them most. Begin by selecting a wide variety of seeds that are non-hybrid heirloom and non-genetically modified. Next, make sure your seeds are completely dry and place them in a vacuum-sealed bag. A Mylar® bag may also be used to ensure tight sealing. Then, place bags in an airtight, waterproof container or a compact storage case. Carefully label your seeds and keep planting guides in the container as well. These simple steps will increase the lifespan of your seeds, while giving you more control and self-sufficiency over your food supply in a worst-case scenario.
Storing Fruits and Vegetables: Canning your leftover fruits, vegetables and herbs from your survival garden can prevent waste and can prepare you and your family for most unexpected emergencies. Using mason jars and two-piece lids will suit you just fine for canning foods. Make sure the food, cans and lids are sterilized before you label and place the jars in storage for later use. Freezing food in air tight bags will also retain most of the nutritional value, while blanching vegetables before freezing can stop enzymatic activity that slowly causes the quality of the food to dissipate. Remember that freezing is better for short-term consumption, as a loss of power could mean the loss of your food if you do not have a backup generator.
Do you have a prepared food source for your family in an emergency?