This is the mega guide, containing EVERYTHING you need to know about gardening for preppers and starting your survival garden.
Growing at least some of your own food is a vital part of being self-sufficient. You may now opt to produce your own or buy it at the store.
To feed your family tomorrow, you will have to depend on what you can grow in your own backyard.
Why should any prepper cultivate a survival garden?
Food is entirely necessary for survival. Preppers keep basic food supplies in their homes to help their family in times of need.
Now, let’s talk about the best practices for cultivating a dependable survival garden that will ensure your family’s food security when times are tough.
Let’s dive right in.
Why Gardening For Preppers is Essential
Any prepper should have a garden for the following reasons:
- Garden organic produce contains nutrients that are lacking in stored foods.
- Fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs provide diversity and enhance the flavor of stored foods.
- Growing produce can boost and extend your stored food supply.
- Gardening is a great way to get some exercise, get some light, and relieve stress. This will also give you an emotional boost from the satisfaction and freshness of the food.
- It’s good for the environment.
For the purposes of this article, we will expect that you will be happy to sit at home and will want or need to have massive quantities of food for yourself and your family. This will be the case the majority of the time. It is possible that you are unwilling to buy materials due to budget limitations or that they are literally unavailable. Possible situations that would necessitate the establishment of a survival garden include:
- Joblessness (loss of job, underemployment)
- Hyperinflation (cost of goods skyrocket out of control)
- Economic Difficulties (collapse, recession, depression)
- Crop Failing (flooding, drought, frost, pests)
- Transportation Disasters (trucker strike, fuel costs, regulation)
- Grid Down for Extended/Permanent Time (electromagnetic pulse, solar flare, cyber attack)
- Scarcity of Supplies (war, increased demand, embargo)
What is a Prepper Garden?
During WWI and WWII, the American people planted gardens in their homes and parks to ease pressure on the food supply chain during a national emergency.
These gardens were referred to as “Victory Gardens” or “War Gardens.” A prepper garden is, in essence, a flower, fruit, and herb garden intended to provide enough food and nutrients for a family to live in the event of a catastrophe or emergency.
This isn’t your typical backyard lawn. The precise conditions for any prepper garden are determined by how many people it is intended to serve and how long it is intended to feed.
Survival gardening considers the calories, carbs, minerals, fats, and nutrients that an individual requires to stay healthy. It needs careful preparation for a garden to include all of this. Our diet is varied as humans, and luckily, there are many fruits, spices, and vegetables to cultivate to fulfill the necessary needs for life.
Having a prepper garden involves cultivating food that will fuel you and your family during the current growing season and in the months after the harvest. You should plan to eventually get to the point where your prepper garden provides most of your food.
By taking on gardening, a garden that genuinely sustains us for the year is not only a hope, but it is becoming more necessary as you strive to find high-quality organic vegetables and fruits.
Challenges When Gardening
No Room for Failure
Any seasoned gardener will tell you about crop failures and what they discovered as a result. You really cannot afford to lose. Now is not the time to read or to “give it a try” with gardening books.
You must have improved your soil, allowed fruit trees and bushes to mature, and honed your gardening and food production skills. Plant only crops that have been shown to thrive in your yard. This is not the time to do new things. Continue to use tried-and-true vegetables.
Food production is just the first part of the challenge. You also have to pick, can, cook, and preserve it through the winter months.
A survival garden must provide the greatest amount of food with the least amount of effort. When life gets difficult, it normally converts into less free time. A well-designed garden can help the food system perform well with limited human input.
Likely, your survival garden would not have a water supply. Plan your crops carefully if you have a small water source. Consider using clay ollas, terracotta plant watering poles(on Amazon), self-watering raised beds, or reusing household gray water.
Capture rainwater in barrels to water your tender plants, or better still, build a system of swales to water your trees, flowers, and maybe garden beds with runoff and keep the precious water on your land. Deep mulching helps to build the soil around fruit trees and bushes.
Each year or two, add a fresh sheet of wood chips. The organic material will aid in moisture regulation which will greatly decrease the amount of water used to keep your plants satisfied. The deep mulch pathway swales minimize the amount of water needed by the garden.
Build your survival garden and infrastructure earlier, when you have the money. My “kitchen garden” is a collection of raised beds that I don’t have to till and built to maximize productivity by using vertical space. Every fall, you should add a new layer of compost.
Every year, the soil gets stronger and better. A vertical growth room is used in the kitchen garden. These raised beds are ideal for a prepper garden because they provide a large amount of food in a limited amount of space. Any vegetables or herbs that I regularly use for dinner are grown in my “kitchen garden,” which is right outside my back door. Stock up on extra gardening tools like shovels, rakes, pruners, hand trowels, gloves, seeds, and compost, so you have all you need whenever you need it.
The eating season continues all year; however, the growing season does not always. How can you cultivate enough food to last the whole growing season and beyond? It would be best if you planted crops with the hope of being able to harvest during the growing season.
Asparagus, parsley, and last fall’s lettuce, spinach, and Swiss chard, for example, can eat within a few weeks of the snow melting. Honeyberries ripen in late spring, shortly before strawberries, and then black raspberries are ready to collect.
How do you use a greenhouse, high or low-row tunnels, or cold frames to be innovative to prolong the growing season? It would be best if you launched your seedlings early by using a method known as winter sown.
Protect your Plants
A prepper garden is of immense value, and you must know how to protect it.
1. Protection from Trespassers
When you plant a backyard food forest, you are providing a natural means of defense. Fruits, nuts, and vegetables mature at varying rates. If anyone walks into my yard today, they will be drawn to what is ripe and ready to eat.
To discourage trespassers, you should fence your land and strategically plant thorny bushes along the perimeter.
I understand that this is far from foolproof, but it simply indicates that they are not welcome. Read 12 SHTF Home Security Tips to Fortify Your Home to learn more about home security.
You should still produce more food than you can consume. Sharing with those in distress is part of our strategy. Try to be prepared but compassionate, perhaps share with neighbors once a while.
2. Protection from Critters
Squirrels, gophers, and moles are not only a nuisance, but they can also eat crops and plants. Plan strategies for controlling the populace and removing them from your lands. Here is an article about 6 plants that repel moles and other such critters as well.
3. Protection from Insects
A horde of grasshoppers can easily destroy your garden. You should realize how deadly insects can be. Prepare to handle insects using whatever techniques you are most familiar with.
I recommend an ecological solution because it is more environmentally friendly. I grow flowers and herbs to entice predatory insects.
You can even have guinea hens who do an excellent job at keeping the insects at bay. Guinea pigs, on the other hand, are loud and unfriendly to their neighbors. Companion planting is an excellent way to shield the plants from damaging insects while still increasing yield.
4. Protection from Weather
Sun: Under the harsh summer sun and unrelenting humidity, gardens in almost any sunny area will easily wither. To protect the plants, you may need to buy shade covers or build your garden to take advantage of trees or a naturally sunny part of the yard. Wind: Windbreaks should be strategically designed to shield your garden from heavy winds. These can be things like hedges, walls, and much more. Water: Flooding can be very damaging to a developing garden. To secure the garden, carefully prepare for proper drainage. It’s a brilliant idea to construct swales to channel and retain excess water. Frost: Early or late frosts, which can destroy growing fruit or kill tender plants, are a major threat to many climates. You should get ready for this challenge by buying fruit trees that bloom later in the season. To shield u crops from late spring or early fall frosts, I use frost covers.
Best Plants for Your Garden
Here are some generally good plants for your prepper garden.
While most people frown on eating so many starches, they are an essential substance in survival situations. Fiber, carbohydrates, magnesium, vitamins B6 and C, zinc, manganese, niacin, and phosphorus are all abundant in potatoes.
Potatoes are rich in carbohydrates, making them an excellent substitute for pasta or other starchy refined foods, and they can bring depth to your survival dishes.
Growing potatoes: Potatoes can develop in a wooden box frame, the grass, or even a trash can! They are grown in cooler climates but can also be grown in warm climates during the winter.
Berries are considered a superfruit for their health benefits. They are one of the most nutritious fruits on the planet, so have some in your survival garden. Berries have a high potassium content, carbohydrate, vitamins A, C, and B6, and manganese, zinc, and folate.
They are high in antioxidants, which aid in the battle against inflammation in the body. They are often regarded as heart-healthy fruit due to the absence of cholesterol. Growing Berries: Berries are relatively simple to produce. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries are the four wide varieties, so learn how to cultivate each one here. Just make sure you don’t grow them too close to your house…especially if you live in the bear nation! Bears actually like berries more than you do.
Cabbage, both green and red, is known for its health benefits, including aiding digestion, lowering blood pressure, suppressing inflammation, and controlling the immune system.
Green cabbage is sometimes fermented as kimchi and sauerkraut (these have amazing benefits, too, by the way).
Growing Cabbage: Cabbage is a difficult crop to cultivate because it only tolerates cold temperatures. If you learn how to cultivate cabbage efficiently, you can have two harvests every year.
Corn has gotten a bad rap recently, but let’s be honest…any fresh vegetable is better than packaged food, so get over the negativity and see what it can do for your health. Corn is high in fiber and contains vitamins A, B, and E and minerals (magnesium, copper, zinc, iron, manganese, and phosphorous). Vitamin E is an essential antioxidant that aids in the growth of our bodies and prevents them from illness. It is widely recommended for survival gardens due to its high caloric content, which many other vegetables lack. Corn has become a staple in the diets of third-world populations because it aids in the maintenance of a healthy weight, which is essential for survival. Growing corn: First and foremost, make sure the corn seeds you buy are non-GMO. Corn is a difficult crop to cultivate, but it is worthwhile to learn the steps.
Amaranth is a gluten-free crop with many health benefits. It is high in fiber, protein, vitamins, and micronutrients. It decreases cholesterol and reduces inflammation.
It is the only grain with vitamin C, but it also has magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, copper, and vitamin E. The leaves are high in vitamin A, C, and folate.
Growing Amaranth: Amaranth can be cultivated all year. The leaves are used as lettuce greens all year. Wheat will sprout in the fall if planted in the spring.
Asparagus has several health advantages, including the ability to reduce blood pressure and increase digestion. It contains folate and carbohydrate, and vitamins A, C, and K. The biggest disadvantage in a survival situation is that it is poor in calories.
Growing Asparagus: Asparagus cannot be harvested the first year cultivated (perhaps not until the third year). However, they will continue to thrive year after year, producing a crop that will last a decade.
Beets are considered a superfood. They help reduce blood pressure and are beneficial to the heart, kidneys, bones, and brain. Another advantage is the ability to increase physical stamina and energy levels, something I’m sure everyone would need more of during a survival situation. Beets are also high in iron and folate. Vitamin A, B vitamins, copper, enzymes, calcium, nitrates, magnesium, and betaine are all found in them. Beet greens are high in nutrients and can be consumed raw or mixed into a smoothie. Growing beets: Beets are a perfect long-term crop that can tolerate freezing temperatures and grows rapidly.
Ginger is one of the world’s healthiest spices and is often used in herbal medicine due to its high nutritious content. Ginger helps with body pain and soreness, fatigue and morning vomiting, diarrhea, metabolism, and cholesterol levels.
More specifically, fresh ginger contains a bioactive compound that can lower the risk of infection. Ginger contains vitamins C and B6 and copper, potassium, magnesium, and other minerals. This is an incredible root to develop for maximum wellbeing during a crisis. Growing ginger: It takes approximately eight to ten months to completely mature a ginger plant, but the nutritious value makes the wait worthwhile. Ginger can be cultivated in pots or in the field, making it an excellent plant for all types of survival gardens.
Lavender has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic elements. It aids in the healing of insect bites and superficial wounds. It can be used in tea to assist with muscle pain, insomnia, indigestion, and detoxification.
The fragrance is known for its soothing qualities, and some people use it to relieve fear, restlessness, and stress.
Growing lavender: Lavender should be a key plant in your garden not only because it is lovely and fragrant but also because it attracts pollinators. Pollinators are important for the growth and harvesting of your other plants.
Parsnips are beneficial to the heart, bones, and teeth, as well as the immune system. Fiber, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, and vitamins C, B9, and E are all present. They are an excellent survival food, and the fiber makes you feel fuller for longer.
Furthermore, it can be used in a variety of dishes, whether raw, baked, steamed, or sautéed.
Growing Parsnips: Parsnips take longer to mature, but they are better picked after a hard freeze. It is a vegetable that is consumed in the late fall and winter, rendering it an excellent cold-weather survival vegetable.
Additionally, here are some of my favorite medical plants:
Calendula: An antifungal, antiseptic, and wound healer.
Cilantro: Aids digestion and can aid in heavy metal removal from the body.
Lemon balm: Calming qualities and may have antiviral properties.
Peppermint: When brewed into tea, it aids digestion and, when applied topically, relieves aches and pains.
Rosemary: Increases oxygen to the brain and is an excellent substitute for caffeine.
Mullein: Can aid in the healing of respiratory infections.
Best Layout for Your Garden
Here are some of my favorite layouts for gardening.
Square Foot Gardening
Square foot gardening was created to educate people in underserved communities about increasing abilities and capacities.
They can be rendered in almost any size or shape. There are some compelling reasons why you should use a square foot gardening format.
The planting guidelines aim to increase available land and minimize the excess space of row planting by preventing crowding. Similar plants are grown in non-linear arrangements, as they would in the wild, to avoid crowding and enable them to achieve their full potential.
The same goal of optimal use of space extends to how the garden is physically constructed.
It is a raised bed with wooden dowels, rope, or twine tacked onto a square-foot grid to visually distinguish it.
This enables the cultivation of personal quantities of produce in small areas with minimal movement. Since they are elevated beds, they need less bending and therefore need less maintenance.
In these uncertain and chaotic days, the victory garden is making a comeback. Though it began to minimize reliance on staples to free up rations during WWII, it now enjoys a revival in popularity.
Victory gardens are intended to include most of what a family of two to five individuals would need for the majority, if not all, of the year. With a heavy emphasis on beans, drying and preserving would be critical for optimizing the garden’s usefulness.
Keyhole gardens are ideal for hot and very dry climates. They are made up of a large circular garden that is several feet long and has a narrow radial arc of material missing.
With this material removed, the gardener will stand in the middle of the yard, with the produce at knee height. The gardener can safely cover all parts of the garden while putting no pressure on his or her back.
Since they are so deep, one of the main advantages of building keyhole gardens is their drought tolerance. Cardboard layered into the soil also aids in the prevention of water depletion due to evaporation.
To allow drainage, the middle should be a compost bin with a foundation of rock at least the size of gravel. The waste in the bin composts and is watered into the surrounding dirt, which feeds the garden crops.
Keyhole gardens do not provide the best land use because they are always much larger than basic raised beds, but they do have an incredibly rich substrate to grow in.
Keyhole gardens are ideal for root vegetables such as carrots, radishes, and beets, as well as leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, chard, and herbs since they are supplemented by manure and watered mainly from it.
Permaculture Food Forest
One of the distinguishing features of a permaculture-style “food forest” is that it is not necessarily contained within a single “garden.”
Rather, the plants and trees that comprise a food forest are carefully distributed in a region to maximize the use of microclimates, optimum growth conditions, and companion plantings.
If you have a larger space and want to create an incredibly complex and naturally sustainable greenhouse, a food forest based on permaculture principles might be the ideal solution. The advantages of permaculture systems are many.
They not only aim to increase biodiversity around the board, but they also encourage feature stacking.
By the way, if you want to plant your plants in a planter and still want it to be natural, a log is a great option. Here’s out article on how to hollow out a log for a planter.
This should have given you a head start and had your brain going. With a little planning and effort, you will ensure that you and your family never go hungry.
These techniques can also be used to get your families together and to put you in contact with your surroundings. There is a major advantage even though you do not need to live entirely off the ground and still have some money available. You should still donate some leftover food.
Every day, millions of people around the world go to bed starving. You may also support those in need by growing a subsistence vegetable garden. So, start dreaming now to help ensure a brighter future for you and your family.
Here are some beneficial resources to help you with your prepper garden:
- 6 Plants that Repel Moles (Natural Mole Repellents)
- 15 Things to Know Before You Dehydrate Food
- 27 Fruits and Vegetables You Can Grow in Buckets
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