Developing your survival skills and knowledge of the essentials of survival gear is becoming more and more popular in 2023. The number of preppers and practical homesteaders is growing, as well as those who want to avoid using only canned food during a survival situation, be economical in planning your supplies and food storage, and build up their own garden.
Growing your own food is an excellent idea for potential crises that can happen in your country. It might be challenging to create a survival garden, but it definitely will increase your self-reliance and make your life easier in a post-crisis situation.
However, keep in mind the fact that survival gardens, like any typical ones, require constant care and protection from any creatures that might want to eat your harvest. Furthermore, as a survival garden is made for the post-disaster environment, the variety of products in stores for the purposes of planting seeds or fertilizing the garden soil will be meager.
Nutrition supply for the plants is a must.
Whatever is the place you chose for your survival garden, be it a container garden on the rooftop of your building or a piece of land near a house, nutrients are the first thing you should think about when creating a garden.
Unfortunately, only three nutrients are received by plants naturally through the process of photosynthesis: Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Carbon. Twelve more other vitamins and minerals must be obtained by plants for you to get the best survival garden with a lot of nutrient-dense vegetables.
It is highly doubtful that in a post-world war or any other unpredictable situation, you will be able to go to the store and get the products needed for creating well-drained soil of survival garden. Make sure to get an extra supply of fertilizers and pesticides or get acknowledged with ways of composting your ground without them.
In such a new environment, agricultural pests can very easily invade, bad weather can damage your survival garden crops, or your ground can be located in a polluted area.
What you will need are some kinds of natural ways of getting nutrition for your greens, which are further described in our survival garden layout.
How to create natural nutrition for a survival garden
Being able to feed your nuclear or extended family is a must in a survival situation, and composting is one of the methods that will help you to make sure that your food supply is full of essential vitamins and minerals.
Compost pile contains only natural materials that enhance your plants’ chances of surviving bad weather and growing nutritious. It usually involves “brown materials,” which are full of carbon, and green materials with nitrogen. The compost is then put in a bin of two square feet in size.
Carbon is greatly provided by newspapers and paper towels, as well as by cardboards, hay, straw, and old leaves. Some also add their chopped-up plants to the compost.
Materials full of nitrogen are kitchen waste (paper filters, coffee grounds), lawn clippings, and manure.
What other products can provide your garden with vitamins?
Eggshells, as well as paper filters, contain calcium and banana peels – potassium. Generally, any fruit and vegetable remains can be added to your compost bin.
Things that you should take into account when making compost for survival gardens:
- Not too smelly. If it is, you have put too many greens or water.
- Fairly hot in temperature. If not, reduce the number of brown materials.
- Seldomly watered. Hydrate it only during hot or dry weather.
Free-range poultry is quite popular when it comes to survival gardening. Chickens return to their henhouse in the nighttime, but during the day, they can freely walk in your survival garden and leave their manure there. In addition, they also like to eat different bugs, which is definitely good for a vegetable garden.
Guinea fowl can also be of use for you, as they are much quieter in comparison with chickens. This way, when someone strange might visit your survival garden, guinea fowl will let you know about it.
In other words, vermicomposting is worm composting. By using worms, you can create fruitful black earth excellent for growing plants in your survival garden.
The amount of kitchen waste that 2 persons create during a week is enough for creating a worm bin for your garden area. It is a good idea to keep your bin under the kitchen sink or somewhere outside and near the garden.
What can you use for filling the bin?
- Shredded cardboard
Then, when it’s filled, add your worms into the bin and constantly add your kitchen waste to the pile.
- Wood is usually the best material for constructing the bins.
- Red earthworms are great for vermicomposting, as they are fast in multiplication and in transforming big amounts of compost daily.
- Worm bedding should be kept far away from direct sunlight. Do not allow bins to dry out.
- Do not put meat leftovers into your kitchen waste and keep your bin closed. Otherwise, small insects can visit your compost.
There are cases when survival gardening cannot be done by means of your land, as it can be unusable for some reasons. Hydroponic production can help you in such a situation, as it is a way of growing vegetable crops through:
- or sand
It is also possible to grow food through water by using fish waste. Watch this video to learn about it.
The disadvantage of hydroponic ways of survival gardening is that they require some energy for getting the pumps working. Another difficulty with this method is that it is quite difficult to hide your gardening. A greenhouse might help you with that.
Autonomous ways of irrigation
Your survival garden layout should always include different ways of watering your plants. When crises such as fires and earthquakes appear, water cannot always be provided by the state.
However, you firstly need to check whether your laws allow you to use off-grid methods on survival gardens.
First method: Rainwater
Rainwater would be the first and easiest choice for collecting the water. The most convenient places for gathering it are on the rooftops of your house and any other places such as garages.
If this water is not considered a drinking one, do not worry about filtering it, as the plants do not need this procedure. A simple collection of it is enough for a survival garden.
Second method: Graywater
Graywater is another way of collecting water. Any water except for the one from your toilet, which is called “blackwater,” can be used in your survival garden.
Kitchen and bathroom sink drains, as well as washing machine drains, can be considered graywater.
For you to be able to access this water, simply redirect it from your home to the alternative point of destination and then use it in the survival garden. However, before doing that, make sure to turn to natural cleaners so that no chemicals would go into your plants.
Pest Control in survival gardening conditions
Companion planting or crop rotation can actually help you in fighting damaging insects by the use of beneficial ones. Carrots, parsley, and celery draw the attention of wasps that will eat caterpillars that love to chew your leafy greens.
You can also use alternative methods, such as mixing a quart of water with two tablespoons of soda to get rid of fungal diseases. Use this blend by spraying it on your leafy green plants.
Use a potting mix of a one-fourth cup of water with one egg to keep deers away. Spray it and reapply after heavy rains.
There are lots of different methods on how to save your garden from pests, and you just need to goggle them.
Choosing plant species for a survival garden
Non-GMO seeds are your priority
GMO decrypts as genetically modified organisms. Gardeners say that these seeds produce fewer and fewer good-quality plants every growing season. This is not a problem when you can buy seeds at the store, but for a survival garden layout, non-GMO seeds are a wiser choice.
Non-GMO seeds are definitely better for a survival situation, as they do not decrease the amount of your harvest with time. Also, seed saving of non-chemically treated grains is important, as it will allow you to grow healthy plants when some crisis happens.
Finding your best seeds
Non-GMO seeds can now be found through local farms or gardening co-ops. Be accurate when buying seeds online, as it would be harder to identify whether they were gotten organically. Do not forget to always ask about using fertilizers and other chemicals!
Do not be afraid of hybrid seeds, as they also can be made through natural processes of crossing plants. At the same time, be more cautious about heritage seeds, as this is not always the case of non-GMO origin.
Also, check whether your product has a Safe Seed Pledge, as this is a common indicator that the seeds of a company are non-GMO.
When good seeds cannot be found in stores or online, the good idea is to save seeds from your own garden.
Still not enough
Now you have learned how to make your plants as nutritious as possible, how to choose the best seeds, protect them from chemicals, and water them. These preparations, together with survival preparation and training, will take over a lot of your free time. But creating your own survival gardens will make you a target in a post-crisis world.
There will be a lot of hungry people that will want to take the harvest from your garden away or even harm your family when a growing season comes.
Some will want to get away from a town in their cars but will run out of gas and go searching for food. And, of course, a large piece of ground will draw their attention.
An urban area with gardens not that far away from major highways is a huge target for hundreds of desperate people. They will not have any choice but to come to you and take something from your vegetable garden.
If you are lucky, they will come at night, take what they can, and leave your house. But if not, they can even try to hurt you or your family or completely ruin your garden and leave you with nothing. Some might even make you leave your home and take over the garden soil.
So how can you safely grow your own plants as part of your survival plan?
Forget about garden rows.
Plant something near your house or the barn, hide your gardening in the woods, keep big plants in an area that is not visible from a roadway. Do whatever you can, but do not make garden rows!
Various locations are a must.
Do not put all your plants in one place; use your garden together with bug-out places and ask your relatives to also grow vegetables.
The number of seedlings should be split evenly between locations. When one of them is taken over, another will still provide you and your family with food.
Camouflaging your garden is also a good idea. It makes the possibility that people on the road will leave your property alone and go to another place higher.
Camouflage netting can be used for hiding your food and greenhouses away from the eyes of strangers. Natural landscaping, such as trees, flowers, or ivy, can also be of great use.
Goldenrod around the garden will keep those with pollen allergies away from your harvest. Poison ivy will also make intruders think twice before going in. In addition, the thorns of a Lisbon lemon tree or Gooseberry are also of great help.
Using Greenhouses or Walpinis
A walking is rectangular that is located 6 to 8 feet underground, with the longest wall facing south for getting the maximum amount of sunlight.
In post-natural disasters scenarios, a walpini or a root cellar are great for growing food all year long, as the temperature underground is about 50 degrees. Their roof is made with PVC pipers covered by plastic shields.
Consider planting unusual eatable greens.
Plant edible crops that most people will not even recognize as food. Some of these perennial plants are:
- Pricky pear with pads and flowers as food.
- Bean plants like Scarlet Emperor have edible bush beans. However, note that they cannot be eaten raw.
- Siberian Pea shrubs are not only eatable but also attractive to beneficial insects.
- Day Lilies with edible fruits and flowers.
- Ramps/wild leeks.
- Sweet Potatoes.
This is not a comprehensive list of plants for your survival garden; plenty more can be grown in any region.
Plant widespread edibles near the road
Some sacrifices are inevitable in survival situations, so you might as well control what to lose by growing common vegetables at the edges of your garden. It might be something like salad or dandelions.
When enough food is available near the road, most passersby will not come any further into your survival gardens. They will take what is available closest to them and go away.
Permaculture as another method of gardening
Initially created by Billi Mollinson, permaculture tells us that changing the smallest elements leads to the best results.
In the case of gardening, it specifically encourages us to work in sync with nature and make fewer interventions in the process of planting while utilizing all-natural resources as thoroughly as possible.
Permaculture is the best solution for a post-crisis environment when fewer actions are available, and more hiding is necessary.
In practice, permaculture is done in areas closest to your home, with weather conditions such as enough sunlight, water, and shades in mind.
Food Forest is based on permaculture principles with the addition of concentric circles as a survival garden layout. Combined with companion planting, food forest imitates nature and allows you to grow and hide a lot of food basically in front of everyone!
A permaculture food forest is usually based around some fruit trees. The total scheme of a garden looks like this:
- Tall tree layer, with fruit and nut trees.
- Low tree layer, with mulberry trees.
- Vine layer that grows on previous trees.
- Bush layer with hazelnuts.
- Herbs layer with basil, mint, and other plants.
- Root vegetable layer with plants like Jeurasealim artichokes as survival garden crops.
- The last level of a garden is a Ground cover layer with strawberries.
Companion planting methods will help you to grow plants, such as cucumbers and tomatoes, hidden in the forest from the eyes of others. Here more tips on companion planting can be found:
- Plant tomatoes near catnip to avoid hornworms.
- Garlic and onions should be located on the basis of trees to keep the mice away.
- Comfrey and Siberian pea shrub should be placed in the same hole, as the latter one is full of nitrogen, and the former one has 30 roots that attract water to the tree from various distant places.
- Do not forget to plant the mountain mint to keep deers away.
We have much more companion planting ideas, which you can see in the diagram.
Knowing different techniques for a survival garden is not enough; peculiarities of your region and land should also be kept in mind while growing different plants. What can be easily harvested in the northern hemisphere cannot be in the southern one.
A food forest can become not only your survival garden but a secret place for growing the best plants during your whole life, as described in this video.
The most important work while creating a food forest is done in the first year. You simply plant your fruits and vegetables in the forest once each season and then let nature do its thing.
Make sure to plant a variety of trees so that your forest will provide you with supplies all year long. Most of such forests create more harvest than a family can eat. They are also great at providing you with water, as is shown in this short video.
A good thing about a food forest is that it lacks traditional rows of a garden; it looks just like a wild overgrown forest. That does not mean that no one will ever find it, but at least it is not an obvious target.
Moreover, creating a food forest near your house will make everyone think that it is an abandoned one. A video of a 5-year-old food forest is an example of such a situation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is survival gardening?
Survival gardening is a basic process of making sure that you will have food to eat when something terrible will happen in your area, for example, earthquakes or massive wood fires.
It implies that you will need to create a garden good enough to plant a lot of fruits and vegetables that will be protected by you from abrupt changes in the weather, insects, and any hungry people wanting to empty your garden. This process of creating your own survival garden usually takes a few years to establish.
How do you plan a survival garden?
Planning a survival garden should start long before any kind of crisis happens, as you won’t have any resources for creating it later. When thinking about creating it, don’t forget about the following things:
- How will you keep your plants nutritious without the help of bought products?
- What water will you use for irrigating your garden?
- Do you have any non-GMO seeds for planting?
- What about pest control in the post-crisis world?
- How will you protect your family and your garden from other hungry people?
A lot of other problems will definitely appear in survival situations, but answering these questions is a good start when creating a survival garden.
What should every survivalist grow in their backyard?
The first thing that you should take into account when making a survival garden is finding out about the specifics of your land and your region because not every plant will be able to grow there.
But generally, grow root vegetables that are highly nutritious, such as potatoes, onions, summer squash, and carrots. Sweet corn, green beans, and sunflower seeds are also great for planting in a survival garden. This list should be the one with your most planted vegetables, as they are capable of growing almost anywhere. If your climate allows you, also grow some fruits, berries, and leafy vegetables.
If you live in the northern part of our world, think about growing crops that are cold tolerant and can be planted in the early spring, such as snow peas, beets, and celery.
Versatile plants, such as broccoli, cauliflower, or carrots, are those that could be eaten in any state, be it raw or cooked. They are great for situations when you do not have any access to electricity to fry products.
It is also a good idea to grow some medicinal plants in your garden. Comfrey is an absolute must, as it helps you with bruises and sprains. Also, consider planting St. John’s Wort which is great for healing bites and burns.
What is the best layout for a garden?
The best layout is the one that won’t get robbed by hundreds of hungry people. When creating a survival garden, forget about the usual rows’ system.
It is also great to have a large garden space so that you will have additional areas for the future expansion of different vegetable crops. Do not try to plant all of the territories at once. It will be hard to take care of such an amount of crops on your soil.
Moreover, it is much better to have more than one location for planting. When one gets emptied by people, another still will be able to provide food for you.
Also, look up how to make your own Food Forest, as this is probably one of the best layouts for a survival garden. However, note that creating it will take a lot more time than other methods. But in spite of that, this type of layout will provide your family with food long before and after a crisis.