There are never any guarantees that our grocery stores will continue to be stocked full of food, or that a natural disaster will allow us safe roads to drive to the store on. Many emergencies are such that there is no time to start growing a garden, or just begin gaining experience at growing food. Perhaps that knowing this, you have already started a survival garden of your own. But the only question remaining is, “how do I keep a survival garden thriving all year long?” Growing your own survival garden is similar to any other garden in terms of chores and maintenance, but do keep these points in mind:
Sustainable Plant Choices: A survival garden should include plants that are both nutritious and perennial. It is also advantageous to choose plants with a long, repeated harvest. A survival garden that only requires daily and weekly tasks like fertilizing, mulching, pruning, weeding and watering is a far less daunting than starting a garden from scratch each season. Also, while perennial plants need nurturing, they are also fairly forgiving for new gardeners, and when temporarily neglected. Good choices to include in your garden are: asparagus, root vegetables, beans, artichokes, horseradish and a variety of herbs.
Become An Expert! Do your research about each fruit, vegetable and herb you grow in your garden. Buy a few books or search online for instructions on the best techniques for proper planting, maintenance and harvesting in your garden. There is no substitute to knowledge and experience to ensure your garden will thrive when you need it most.
Proper Planning: When including more plants in your survival garden, space should be optimized the best way possible. Stagger and plant close together, and pay special attention to plants that have deep root systems. Plants that have deep roots (like tomatoes,) should be grown next to plants with less intrusive roots (like lettuce). Take a look at our post on Companion Planting for more information on plants that grow well together.
Many survival gardeners also like to create designated areas for the variety of plants growing in their garden. Separating and labeling medicinal herbs, vine vegetables and culinary plants may prove very helpful and accessible when in an emergency situation.
Seed Saving: In an emergency, no one can afford to waste money or allow a garden to fail. In fact, some emergencies can last for more than one season or year. Saving seeds from plants that are vigorous and thriving can ensure well-grown food years in the future. To get the most out of your seeds, first be sure to never use hybrid or genetically modified seeds, as these will not be able to reproduce. Using non-hybrid seeds, also known as open-pollinated, allow you to reproduce the same plant and yield seeds every year. Keep watch for vegetables and fruit in your garden that are free of disease, yield a high number of produce, and are the best looking (also – resist the urge to eat them!). Mark that plant with a stake or ribbon. Allow the seeds to fully ripen before harvesting, and carefully place them indoors for drying. A paper bag or clean newspaper will work just fine. Once dried, store seeds in a labeled, airtight container or clearly marked envelope. Seed saving can only occur when non-hybrid seeds are planted. You can find a wide variety of non-hybrid seeds within Humble Seed’s The Producer- which makes the perfect survival seed bank.
Canning and Preserving: Preparing early and not waiting for an emergency to arrive is the key to survival. After each harvest, begin storing an emergency supply of food by canning your bounty and storing them in a dark room, food pantry or cellar. Freezing food is not the best option for disaster preparedness, as there are never any guarantees that electricity will work. Never canned before? See our Canning And Preserving 101 post for an easy step-by-step guide to canning your produce.
Be sure to read our original post on Disaster Preparedness for more information and tips on survival gardening!