Survival gardening is an exciting trend that’s taking the gardening world by storm. But there are some tricks to growing a successful survival garden.
Today, we rely heavily on technology for supplying our basic needs. But what would happen if electricity suddenly disappeared, the internet shut down and trucks had to stop running is a topic of keen discussion among survival gardeners. Or most importantly, the question of food, and how to feed a family.
This is the half fun, half scary premise of a survival garden: being able to feed your family entirely out of your garden. With no internet for know-how, no agricultural stores for seed supplies, and no functioning grocery shops for backup.
If this sounds a little tricky: it is. And if you’re thinking, “I could totally do that,” – you’re right, too. In this article we’re going to help you out with everything you need to know to get a functional survival garden up and running.
How to grow a survival garden.
1. Choosing the right seeds is crucial.
There are four factors you absolutely have to consider when you’re stocking up on seeds for your survival garden.
You should focus on plants that do well in your area. Research what farmers in your area are growing, and what was grown there in the past. It’s totally viable to experiment, but get a crop of plants that will thrive in your location going first.
Buy heirloom seeds for sustainability. This is about more than supporting the eco friendly, organic farming methods that probably grew those seeds. Many highly cultivated and commercialized seeds are hybrids, which means the plants that grow from them won’t produce viable seeds. If you plant heirloom seeds you’ll be able to reap and preserve your own supply of seeds.
Sow some veg for storing. In a survival situation, a store of food is priceless. Buy some seeds that will grow crops that can be stored or preserved.
2. Put real effort into preparing your gardening spot.
Your garden’s success relies on you creating the ideal environment for plants to grow.
Pick the best location available. You’ll need loads of sun – at least eight hours a day – with the option of shade for plants like lettuce than need some sun protection, and for those scorching hot days. You’ll probably also need as much space as you can spare.
Do a soil test. Most soils have some sort of deficiency. Do a soil test to determine what these are so you can prepare your soil accordingly.
Use loads of compost and mulch and a little clay to help retain water. In a survival situation, water may become a problem. Mixing a little clay and a lot of organic matter into your soil will help it become a living sponge. Mulching protects soil and prevents that precious water from evaporating.
If you can, set up a watering system. Survival gardens are a lot of work, and a watering system will lift some of that load and help to ensure that plants survive. If you have access to a borehole or a natural water source and are kitted out with a solar pump, set up a drip system to water your veg, as these are wonderfully effective and efficient. Even if you don’t, setting up a watering system from a source that could fail if technology was to die on us, can help to kick-start your garden and get those food stocks piling up.
3. Gaining experience is priceless.
Growing plants is one small part luck and one great big part wisdom.
Find out how to water plants properly. Water, or the lack thereof, is one of the top reasons a garden might fail.
Try, and try again. Accept failure as par for the course. Growing veg can be complicated at times… and losing a crop is gutting. Picking yourself up, figuring out where you went wrong and trying again is the safest guarantee you’ll grow a successful garden.
Stock up on gardening books. In a survival situation, you won’t have the marvelously knowledgeable internet at your fingertips. Invest in a library of books that you can fall back on when you need some gardening advice.
4. You can have an indoor survival garden.
If you live in an apartment or don’t have access to a viable outdoor spot, you can still grow your own food indoors. Yes, it may take up every square inch of spare space… but what’s not to love about an apartment overflowing with fragrant, productive green life?
To have a successful indoor garden, you’ll first have to stock up on garden pots like our biodegradable peat pots, large terracotta pots, and any other gardening containers. Then read our post on growing a successful indoor garden.
5. Get the whole family involved.
A survival garden is a ton of work. But it’s also a natural learning initiative, an opportunity for some bonding, team building experiences as a family, and healthy, constructive outdoor play time for the kids.
Inspire your children with this child sized gardening set that contains everything a young gardener needs to grow his or her own vegetables.
And relish your time together… the survival gardening trend brings home the fact that life can be unpredictable. Let’s love each other to our utmost capacity, and enjoy the moment.
Written by Rifke Hill
About the Author
Rifke Hill was raised on the sort of farm your grandparents told tales about – milking cows, gathering eggs, hoeing the soil, and building fires to heat water. She now spends part of her time copywriting online as a freelancer. The rest of it is spent nurturing and teaching her four energetic children, growing vegetables, baking bread, reading voraciously, having coffee with the neighbors, and enjoying the sunny slopes of the smallholding where she lives, in the Garden Route, South Africa.