​Survival Gardening: How To
Make Your Own Emergency Food

​Food quickly becomes a person's greatest ally or greatest enemy when danger arises. Even if you aren't at risk for running out of food, you may be at risk for ​​not having enough​ food and e​xperiencing the wonderful joys of malnutrition.

Even if you have food stored and saved in case you'll need it later​, it may not be enough and you may find yourself in need of some restocking.

Enter survival gardening.

​​Should I Have A Survival Garden?

​​To answer the question of whether or not you need a survival garden, we need to draw a distinction between regular gardening and survival gardening.

​​Gardening​: ​​​Google defines gardening as "the activity of tending and cultivating a garden, especially as a pastime".

​Think of a regular garden as a hobby. Maybe you like to see plants bloom in the spring (who doesn't?) or enjoy growing food that you and your family can enjoy.

​Gardening is great! It's a wonderful way to enjoy the day and bring the family together for a common goal that shows real results.

​Survival Gardening​: ​​​Survival gardening is similar to regular gardening, but is more intentional with its goals and outcomes.

​I'm going to define survival gardening like this: Survival gardening is the activity of growing nutrient and calorie rich foods with the intention of providing oneself or any related parties with enough food to survive.

​Pretty simple, right?

​This type of gardening isn't any sort of prepper mumbo jumbo or conspiracy hoax. It's a common sense way to give yourself and your family low cost, nutritious, home-grown food.

​If you happen to actually need it one day due to food shortage, monetary crises, or so on, then you have it ready.

​If not, the benefits outweigh the cost every time. It's fun, healthy, and nothing feels better than watching something you've worked on grow into a beautiful creation.

​Should I Have A Survival Garden?​: Well... why not?​​​​​

Benefits Of Survival Gardening

Survival gardening has several benefits that I'm going to tentatively separate into Home, Health, and Survival.

Home:

  • ​It makes your yard look better
  • ​Teamwork on the garden can improve relationships with family
  • ​Gardening is proven to improve your mood (source)

​Health:

  • ​Gardening decreases your risk for dementia (source)
  • ​Gardening is classified as a moderate cardiovascular exercise by the CDC (meaning that it's healthy)
  • ​Gardening exposes you to sunlight, which helps you produce vitamin D
  • ​Gardening produces food that hasn't been processed, freeze-dried, or been in other chemical storage
  • ​Home grown foods are good for the environment
  • ​Food you grow often tastes better than the same product bought in a store

​Survival:

  • ​Home grown foods are high in nutrients and can provide life-saving calories
  • ​In the event that you are unable to restock on food (food shortages, rations, power outages, unable to get to store, etc.), then you can provide your own food that you know is healthy and nutritious
  • ​Food can be used as a barter item in case your community has goods that you need
  • ​Gardened food can be a supplement to other foods that are bought or hunted and are inexpensive to produce in case you run up on a tough month with your finances

​​The First Steps To Survival Gardening

​​​​Survival gardening is started in three steps: finding the best food to grow for you, dividing up your land to grow that food, and ​just doing it​!

​What Food Should I Grow?​: ​​​Picking what food you should grow is a different process for everyone and it should be a food you're comfortable with.

Try to find a food that is:

​1)​ Resilient against pests and disease

​2)​ Easy to grow

​3) ​High in nutrients and calories (​always ​go for foods that are high in calories. In our modern world, calories are pesky, but they are life-saving when you don't have much to eat)

​4)​ Food that stores well for a long time and can last until next year's harvest​​​

​​5)​ Something that you ​want​ to eat!​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

In regards to satisfying all of these requirements, my personal staple is the potato. It is relatively high in nutrients, easy to grow, stores for a long time, and can be eaten more ways than I can count.

Other foods that satisfy these requirements are corn, some types of beans, and different varieties of squash.

Do be aware that your personal perfect food will depend entirely upon you. In the end, I'd say you should grow what you want. If you don't like the food or enjoy growing it, it's much easier to give up and see little to no results at all.

So just grow a food you enjoy.

​How Much Land Do I Need?​: This question will have a different answer for every different crop you decide to grow.

​To grow enough food for one person to ​supplement​ their diet, you can use about 200 square feet or less. You'll have to be clever with the crops you grow, when you grow them, and growing them in succession to one another, but it's more than possible to supplement a diet for an entire year with very little space.

​It isn't recommended that a person try to live entirely on their survival garden's produce. This is due to a few reasons:

First, vegetables are relatively low in caloric value. If you find yourself in a situation where you aren't able to put large numbers or calories in your body, you'll quickly run out of gas.

Second, it is difficult to get all the nutrients that a person needs from vegetables. This is especially true if you're gearing your produce to provide the maximum amount of calories, as this will restrict your options for produce to grow.

Finally, no one has ever eaten just one home grown food and lived a happy life. I'm just pretty sure it's impossible.

So we don't recommend that you try to live entirely off your garden, but simply use it to supplement other foods like meats or dairies.

If you ​do ​insist on living off your garden produce with nothing else, you'll need about 4000 square feet.

Per person.

​We recommend diversification of food sources. A garden is great, but have food stocked up or have other methods to harvest food ready.​​​​​​​​​​

​Best Practices

​Now that you've got a nice little plot of land set aside and picked your crop(s) that you want to grow, it's time to get started.

​Here are a few tips and tricks that will help you in planning, planting, plowing, and picking your ​personal emergency food source.

  • ​Find your crop's plant spacing​. Each plant will have different plant spacing. This is the distance it needs to be from other plants to grow as much as it needs to. A quick trip to your preferred search engine will help here.​​​​​​
  • ​Get the right amount of the crop​. Plan ahead for each person whose diet will be supplemented by this plant. Remember that 200 square feet can supplement the diet of one person for a year, so planning ahead will really help out when buying seeds.​​​
  • ​Prepare to fertilize​. You'll want to have a good source of fertilizer to last you in case one day you aren't able to get any more. We recommend finding a sustainable fertilizer (such as manure or compost that you can get on your own), but if it's your first go at a survival garden, you may want to just make a run to the supermarket.​​​
  • ​Learn your crop​. Know when it's time to plant, when it's time to pick, and whether or not you can get multiple harvests out of one season. ​​​
  • ​Plan ahead​. Some crops deplete nutrients in the soil differently than others. Without good future planning, you'll find your soil depleted and unable to grow anything within a few seasons.​​​ Try to use good fertilizer, rotate crops, or find crops that don't require your soil to take rest years.

​Rows, Beds, Tilling, And Planting

​​​​​This part of the guide is getting into the nitty gritty of growing your own food. As such, it is much easier to show than it is to tell. I've attached some videos below going over best practices for preparing the soil and planting.

​One common dispute you'll find in the world of gardening is the argument of rows vs beds. While beds produce more, they are more difficult to keep up and require more forethought.

​We recommend using beds if possible, but learn to effectively grow in rows in case you ever need to.

​Weed Removal

​The bane of every garden is the gloriously horrendous weed. Some weeds are easier to remove, less frustrating, and less dangerous than others. I hope that you are blessed with all of these weeds.

However, if you're like the rest of us, you'll probably have some of the difficult-to-remove, frustrating, and plant-eliminating weeds that you need to take care of.

Some weeds are to be taken care of at different times. Even though some of the videos above covered the topic, I've attached the best video I found that talked about weed removal below.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading our post on survival gardening and your own emergency food source! We ​just wanted to take a minute to thank you for being our incredible reader. Tell us in the comments below: ​do you have a survival garden? What tips would you give to someone just getting started?

Stay safe out there. God bless.

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