SHTFPreparedness may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page.
If you want to start growing your own food and have a backyard that can be put to use, then you should start right away. With the current situation of the economy, it wouldn’t hurt to become self-sufficient. We know that it is hard to grow your own food, but you will be thankful for it when the system collapses. Use this guide to learn how to start a survival garden that will feed your family even when disaster strikes.
Once you’ve grown your own food and have it in abundance, you’ll want to learn how you can store it to create an emergency food supply for your family.
A traditional garden requires prepping of the soil every year and then planting the seeds, watering them, and weeding out the garden at least twice a week. You have to keep the pests from ruining the plants and taking care of the plants.
After the economy collapses there will be a shortage of resources and gardeners will find it a challenge to garden since soil, fertilizers, seeds, and pesticides are going to become scarce.
Survival Gardening Books
These days, you can find a lot of gardening information online. But there’s always a good idea to have a book or two written by people who’ve been there, done that!
Grow or Die: The Good Guide to Survival GardeningThe Encyclopedia of Country Living: The Original Manual for Living off the Land & Doing It YourselfThe Bug Out Gardening Guide: Growing Survival Food When It Absolutely Matters
Managing Natural Nutrients for Your Survival Garden
No matter what you want to grow in your backyard, whether it’s in a container or a greenhouse, you have to supply the plant with the necessary nutrients. Plants need the right conditions to grow and there are certain minerals that they require.
Examples of nutrition that plants need include hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, and other products that are created by photosynthesis.
There are other minerals that are required by a plant that gardeners should provide. Every nutrient is essential to the plant’s health regardless of the quantity it is required in.
If a plant is not provided with proper nutrition, it will not grow to be a healthy plant. A good environment for the plant includes a combination of nutrients.
Once disaster strikes, do not expect to be able to run to the nearest DIY store and buy a bag of soil nutrients. If you want to manage a prepper garden in a post-apocalyptic world then you have to learn how to provide the right nutrients yourself.
Composting, vermicomposting and free-range poultry are three fantastic ways to provide the necessary nutrients needed to start your survival garden.
Once the entire system collapses gardening will not only be your hobby, but it will be your survival mechanism. You should be able to rely on your prepper garden to feed your family. It could mean the difference between a life and death situation.
To ensure your plants are healthy, make sure to always have a composting pile ready.
You can add organic material to the garden soil using compost. It increases the ability of the soil to hold moisture, battle diseases, and fight off pests. This will also help the plants survive through cold spells and droughts since it increases their immunity.
Traditionally, composting is the collection of carbon (brown material) and nitrogen (green material) in a bin that is two square feet. The carbon-containing materials that can be added include:
- paper towels
- dried corn stalks
- old leaves
- hay and straw
- some people even add the dead plants to their compost bins at the end of the spring season (just make sure you don’t add diseased plants to your compost pile).
Nitrogen can be obtained from:
- fresh lawn clippings
- manure droppings
- kitchen waste
Coffee filters contain magnesium and calcium, while eggshells have calcium. And banana is a source of potassium that is necessary for plant growth.
Tips for Compost Management:
- If the compost bin starts to smell that means you have added too much green material or water to it
- If the compost is not getting hot enough then there are too many brown materials in it
- Water should only be added once the compost gets hot or if it is too dry
- Animal manure can also be added to the compost
- The composting process can be sped up by flipping the heap with a shovel or pitchfork
Vermicomposting is the process of using worms to convert the organic compost waste into nutrient-rich black earth that is necessary for plant growth. The process is also called worm castings, vermicast, worm humus or worm manure.
Research shows that the average U.S. household wastes almost a third of the food they purchase. An eight-inch deep and two-feet square box can be used for vermicomposting. The box can be kept under the kitchen sink or even outside in the garden.
Once the worm bin is ready, bedding is required which can be made using leaves, manure, newspaper, or unwaxed cardboard. Once this step has been completed you can add worms and then empty the kitchen waste in it every week to allow the worms to do the composting.
Tips for Vermicomposting:
- There are many different types of worm bins that can be constructed depending on the requirements
- You should use wood to construct the bin
- Red earthworms are the best for composting since they reproduce quickly and can convert a large amount of organic waste into compost.
- The worm beds should not be kept in direct sunlight or they will dry out and harden.
- Worms can convert up to half their body weight into compost. New food should be added once the old one has been used up. Once the worms have settled in they can convert their body weight in kitchen waste to compost every day.
- To prevent small rodents and insects from ruining the compost, use a closed bed, and do not include meat scraps in the waste.
The nutrient-rich soil that is created by vermicomposting can help you start the survival garden you need in a post-apocalyptic world. It helps provide an essential mix of nutrients to the soil.
Poultry such as guinea fowl and chicken can be used to help garden and manage the soil. The bird droppings are great for developing the earth and providing the necessary nutrients. Chickens usually go back to their coops at night and roam around the gardens during the daytime which is why they are easy to manage.
Chickens also scratch the ground with their claws and get rid of any insects and pests that can be ruining your garden. You can let birds loose in the backyard and they will clean up the leftovers and also prepare the ground for planting.
A guinea fowl is a great way to keep the ticks under control and they can also alert the owners of any intruders on the property.
How to Start a Survival Garden – Methods of Gardening
As a survivalist, you must always be prepared for the time when things go south and you and your family will need to bug out.
In order to do that, many survival experts suggest tips for setting up a perfect bug out location. And even if you decide on a great bug out site, you will still need to start a survival garden right alongside it. The presence of a steady food supply is necessary.
Your garden should not only house edible plants but also essential herbs. There are several aspects to consider when starting your own prepper garden.
The first question that arises when you start up a survival garden is: what method of gardening should you adopt? This greatly depends on the kind of land that you will use for your garden.
For example, if there is fertile, nutrient-filled soil present, you may not need to make any special arrangements for the garden. However, if the soil is damaged permanently due to its chemical nature, climate, or any other reason, you must consider some alternatives.
Instead, you can stir up a mixture of water and certain chemicals. This gives you a nutrient-rich solution in which your plants can grow. This completely eliminates the need for soil.
Another advantage of this system of gardening is that you can easily control and monitor the type and quantity of nutrients that your survival garden plants receive.
This kind of environment is strictly man-made. It has been observed that plants that are grown hydroponically exhibit a higher rate of development than those grown in natural soil.
If you manage the nutrient levels in the water efficiently, the amount of waste produced can also be kept to a minimum. This will help you lessen the amount of pollution that is usually associated with hydroponic gardening.
The best part is that the water that enters the system once can often be reused. There is no need to replace it with fresh water very frequently.
Aquaponics is an even better option than hydroponics. It involves the use of cheaper nutrients that are obtained from fish feed instead of industrially manufactured chemicals.
The issue of toxicity of water is also eliminated. Also, the amount of nitrogen is balanced naturally.
Aquaponic systems are also easier to maintain and monitor. They only require weekly or monthly checkups. Research has also revealed that aquaponic plants show a better yield and quality than hydroponically-grown plants. The chances of plants getting infected by diseases are also much lower in aquaponic systems.
What to Plant to Start Your Survival Garden
The type of plants that you grow depends on your family’s needs. However, you must also consider what will grow in your climate without any difficulty.
You need to observe the average temperature and rainfall level trends in your area before deciding. Once you have decided on the plants, you need to pick the type of seeds you will sow.
GMO Versus Non-GMO Seeds
The debate of GMO versus non-GMO seeds has been going on since the advent of genetic modification. Both types of seeds have their own pros and cons. While genetically modified seeds bear better-looking fruit, this should not be your main concern when setting up a prepper garden.
Pretty fruit is of no use when you are dependent on it for your survival. The nutritional value of your plants is a far more important factor. A healthier fruit can be obtained from seeds that have not been genetically modified.
Many experts in the field have also revealed that the produce from genetically modified seeds reduces every year. On the other hand, you can save a higher number of seeds every year from plants that are non-GMO.
Seeds that are obtained from organic plants or plants which have not been exposed to artificial pest control are also highly recommended.
You can easily buy organic seeds from small-scale farmers or people who have their own family gardens. Hybrid seeds are also preferred. These are often thought to be GMO, but they can also be obtained from naturally cross-pollinated plants.
Make sure that you do not choose plants that inhibit each other’s growth. For example, if you pick broccoli and tomato for your garden, make sure you place them far apart since broccoli hinders the growth of tomatoes.
System of Irrigation
Water is an absolute necessity for plant growth. There is no substitute for it. Therefore, you need to make sure that you have a steady, reliable supply of water near your garden.
It is also recommended to locate your prepper garden near a tap or water source so that you can connect a hosepipe to it if needed.
The method you use for supplying water to your plants is also critical. When using off-grid irrigation methods, there may also be some legal issues that you need to take care of.
The easiest and simplest way to provide water to your plants is by using rainwater. You can easily collect rainwater by placing basins or large containers under the roofs of your house or garden.
Since this water will not be used for human consumption, there is no need to bother with the filtration process. You can supply this water directly to your plants.
However, in some climates, it does not rain very often or very heavily. Therefore, it would be impossible to rely entirely on rainwater in such climates. In this case, you can use greywater instead. This includes all the used water that is produced as waste in your house. Toilet water is not a viable option; therefore, it is excluded.
You can collect the water draining out of your house by preventing it from flowing into the gutters. Instead, you can divert the route of the drainage pipes and let the water flow out into a different location. This can act as your collection point from where you can lead the water to the location of your garden.
There are many artificial pesticides and insecticides available in the market which can be used to keep your plants safe. However, when times are difficult, there may be a restricted supply of resources. You must, therefore, rely on natural means of protection for your plants.
One way to do that is companion planting. This is when you place your plants in such a manner that they mutually benefit from each other.
For example, you can grow carrots next to your plant in order to get rid of caterpillars. This will be beneficial because carrots grow flowers that attract wasps. Wasps are known for hunting down caterpillars.
Another natural pest control method is using homemade chemicals. For example, in order to protect your plants from fungal diseases, you can spray them with a mixture of baking soda and water. This is a very effective form of defense against fungus in plants.
Unique Ways to Start a Survival Garden No Matter Where You Live
If you are growing grass in your garden, then it’s not going to help you in a crisis situation and isn’t going to benefit you in any way. Whereas, a survival garden is one that is designed to offer enough vegetable crops, to allow you and your family to survive for an indefinite amount of time.
No one is certain about the economic situation in any country and it can deteriorate at any time. Therefore, having a well thought out and planned prepper garden design will save you from chaos.
Sustainable gardening is not just a trend, but a way of life. So, in planning a sustainable prepper garden, there are few rules you should follow.
Forget About the Conventional Way of Gardening
The first thing is to grow plants in garden beds rather than in rows. Growing plants in a garden bed enable better use of limited space. It allows you to separate your garden into smaller portions and do gardening in various places around your land.
Keep the observable food plants away, like behind the barn or hidden in the woods so that people can’t view them from the road. This way, you can make your prepper garden area more productive.
Also, the other benefit is it allows you to plant on several locations instead of a single location. Therefore, if one location gets taken or destroyed, then you and your family members would be able to get your food supply from alternative sources.
Adopt the Camouflage Technique
Your survival garden design needs a camouflage tactic. There are various ways to camouflage your prepper garden to protect it from intruders that may happen upon it.
In any SHTF situation, once other people’s food runs out, they are most certainly going to be looking for yours. Thus, a camouflage method will help you to protect your prepper garden, without being an obvious target for people.
You can use some camouflage netting such as the intermingling of plants in such a way that people will not able to identify that you are growing crops in there. Camouflage netting is used to disguise your food plants as well as the greenhouse from sight.
You can grow many plants of medicinal and nutritional benefits in a natural landscaping manner to shield it from any offender.
Bushes, ferns, hedges, flowers, vines, trees, or ivy, they all act as a natural physical barrier to your survival garden. You can plant goldenrod around your land or near the road to keep people away due to its ability to cause allergies.
Also, use deadliest plants or thorny bushes in your survival garden to make it tough for intruders to pick away the food.
You can also use other unpleasant plants like poison ivy or stinging nettles to stop intruders from penetrating into your prepper garden.
Additionally, you can consider defensive plants such as Lisbon-lemon (with large green thorns) or varieties that contain plenty of spine branches such as Gooseberry, Choisya Trifoliate, or Japanese Barberry.
Bushes, trees, and ground cover all work together to provide edible landscaping. This is also one of the methods to hide your food from the sight of others.
For this purpose, you should consider planting edible perennial herbs around your land. You can incorporate those plants in your survival garden that are not easily detectable as food.
Some examples are:
An edible cactus fruit that has many medicinal benefits as well as high in nutritional value.
‘Scarlet Emperor’ Runner Bean
The Scarlet Emperor is known to attract bees and hummingbirds due to their appealing look. But, you need to cook them to eat their pods and beans.
You can also consider growing peas when you start your survival garden. Siberian Pea shrubs are known to grow on a wide range of conditions.
And, they are able to fix nitrogen in the soil and thus increase its availability to other plants. They also help bring beneficial insects and are edible too for people as well as livestock.
Disease-tolerant Day Lilies are very easy to grow. This food crop is not only edible but also tastes so spectacular. Their root tubers and florae are edible in nature.
Garden sorrel or spinach dock, a look-alike to spinach, is a dense form of nutrients. While making soup and stews in your kitchen, you can use this from your survival garden to give your meal a tantalizing flavor.
You can also consider other kinds of edibles such as Serviceberries, Aronia Berries, Booseberries, and Currants.
Introduce Edible Weeds
To grow a nutritious weed in your backyard is also a good option. Dandelion, probably the most well-known of all weeds, has been in use to treat literally everything.
This weed can treat many diseases: from kidney disease to heartburn and appendicitis. Every part of this weed is edible from its roots to the blossoms. You can use its leaves while making sandwiches and its roots are good to make an herbal tea.
Your Survival Garden Could Be a “Food Forest”
Even though your survival garden is beautiful and helps in maintaining ecology and the whole planet, its main purpose is to sustain you and your family. Growing a food forest doesn’t just limit you to food, but it can be used to create medicines as well.
It’s a style of gardening that mimics a natural forest environment. Requiring many stages, growing a food forest implies selecting and preparing the land, the actual plantation and constant maintenance
Usually, food forests are centered around one medium or large-sized fruit tree. In temperate climates, it might be an apple or a nut tree. You can use avocado and lime trees as focal trees too.
Around the avocado tree, you need to include a great diversity of different plants that not only help avocado to grow but will also yield you some glorious foods. The way these plants help avocado (or the focal tree) to grow is by producing organic matter to the soil and by providing a habitat that is beneficial for insects and animals.
It also prevents weeds from growing and maintains the humidity level of the soil. Altogether, this system works. Year after year you will get a successful result in the form of fruits as your reward. You need to re-plant every year for the first few years until the system gets established.
Companion Planting: Organic Gardening Tips and Tricks for Healthier, Happier PlantsThe Mix & Match Guide to Companion Planting: An Easy, Organic Way to Deter Pests, Prevent Disease, Improve Flavor, and Increase Yields in Your Vegetable GardenCompanion Planting: How to Grow Organic Vegetables at Home Even if You Are a Beginner.
We all know that some plants hurt each other while some plants help each other. This is historically being called “Companion Planting”.
Some examples of plants that chemically alter their environment are legumes. Lupines, peas, beans, etc. take nitrogen from the air and then put it into the soil. They act as fertilizer for other green plants. So, for beans and peas, the companion planting would be green varieties such as kale, lettuce, and spinach.
Allium family is a family of plants that includes onions and garlic. These types of plants are great because they repel or distract many pests including rabbits and mice from chewing the bark and damaging the trees.
You can leverage this by doing inter-cropping. So, avoid planting all the same variety in one place, and instead plant in companion groups.
We live in a very fragile society and we need to be prepared in case of any disruption. Bottom line, we need to be more self-reliant. There is surely a need to grow your own food for yourself and your family.
Being a prepper and starting a survival garden means you are preparing yourself for any kind of crisis that could occur. Survival gardening is all about sensible preparation for food in the event of a collapse of the global food supply.
You hopefully have all the information you need to start a survival garden. Once you have made your choice wisely, your garden will be ready to grow, thrive, and provide you with the fruit of your labor.
Make sure you monitor your garden carefully and regularly if you want to reap long-term benefits from it. Since food is a valuable asset in bad times, it may attract unwanted attention or even put your life in danger. That is why it is also important to keep your garden secure, secret, and above all, hidden.
The Survival Garden You Need to Start Today
What if I told you about a garden that needs no digging, no watering, and no weeding AND it can grow in the most extreme places on earth?
This type of “food forest” grows on auto-pilot with minimal energy because it mimics how nature works. No one is watering the woods, yet every plant has managed to survive for thousands of years there.
Start your very own survival garden that’s 100% concealed from prying eyes and stay well-fed in case of any kind of long-term disaster.
Bonus: How to Make Pemmican, the Original Survival Food
Invented by the natives of North America pemmican was used by Indian scouts as well as early western explorers.
Native Americans spent a great deal of time on the go and depended on having portable, high-energy, highly nutritious, and filling foods that would last for long periods of time without refrigeration.
Pemmican is a portable, long-lasting, high-energy food. It's made of lean, dried meat that's crushed into powder and mixed with hot, rendered fat. This makes it one of the ultimate foods to have stockpiled for when SHTF or disaster strikes.
People really should avert their gaze from the modern survival thinking for just a bit and also look at how folks 150 years ago did it.
These guys were the last generation to practice basic things, for a living, that we call "survival skills" now.