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Plant Your Own Survival Garden

Tomato sprouts

Tomato sprouts (View larger version)

By Rebecca O'Connor


Many families can create their own small gardens that could help them tremendously in the event of an unexpected food shortage. You may not be able to plant a garden that requires no work, but you can certainly grow and preserve your own vegetables.

What to Grow

Perhaps the best place to start researching how to best make your garden grow is by looking at history. During the two World Wars, Americans were encouraged to grow Victory Gardens. These gardens were meant to assist in building up the diminishing American food supplies. Communities and families planted and cared for over 20 million Victory Gardens that produced about 40% of all the vegetables grown in the country. They were a secure and vital source of nutritious food during that challenging period. In 1943, the United States Department of Agriculture recommended growing Lima and snap beans, tomatoes, carrots, beets, kale, turnips, cabbage, onions, radishes and spinach. According to the Victory Garden Leader’s Handbook, these vegetables are high yielding and resistant to disease. Of course, gardening is hard work, but it definitely yields food for the larder.

Crops for Trade

If you are concerned about having more than vegetables to eat, you may want a garden that contains some desirable plants for trade. In a world where all commodities are hard to come by, there will be certain items that will always be in high demand. Some of these items are fairly easy to grow. Tobacco, tea, and sugarcane are valued plants and may be very helpful in barter. Keeping these plants in your garden may help get you some of the other things you need to survive.

A Weed for All Seasons

What if you don’t consider yourself much of a gardener? There is actually an invasive species of plant in the United States that is abundant and almost entirely edible. Kudzu covers more than two million acres in the southeastern United States. It isn’t just a weed, but an astonishingly rapid-growing and insatiable vine. It kills other plants by blocking necessary sunlight and also by strangling them. This brute of a plant even breaks branches and uproots trees. Chances are, even in an apocalypse there will still be kudzu. While kudzu should not be planted in any modern garden because it is an extremely destructive plant, it could easily feed a family in times of desperation. The leaves can be made into salads, boiled or fried. The seeds can even be ground into flour, and the blooms can be made into jelly. In the worst case scenario, kudzu may be the way to survive.

Claudio Araujo
Claudio Araujo

It's amazing! One day i will prove this kind of life.

Jason Macek
Jason Macek

Being able to produce your own foods is vital.  But as mentioned in several other comments that's not all there is to it. Storing it correctly and rotating it out will save lots of waste.

The other issue is figuring out what to plan that will be easiest to grow and yield good crops with high calories. We put together a list of the top 10 survival foods to grow.

Michelle Isasi
Michelle Isasi

And yet in the first episode, the buckets of storage food were covered in YEARS worth of dust and grime.  Wouldn't it be a shame if years of food went to waste because it wasn't stored properly or even used at all.  They seriously need to inventory, organize, rotate and learn to use the food that is stashed under the floorboards or it will be useless when it is really needed.

G.M. Malvale
G.M. Malvale

Eat what you grow, grow what you eat... and store.  Sudden drastic changes in diet can make you very sick.  Also, you want to keep rotating your stored food, so it isn't bad when you need it.  Eat your stored food and replenish it as long as you can.  A small garden won't feed you year round, but it will teach you how to grow things.  You can expand it if food won't be commercially available for a very long time.

Xira Arien
Xira Arien

Great advice, but you mention the real problem in the last line.

People who might garden for something other than fun are not the same type of people who have enough land to garden. They especially don't have enough land to garden to a degree that will feed themselves/family if things go wrong.

The days of 40 acres and a mule are long gone. Poor people who might use these things are forced into dependence on the system, quite on purpose. Self-reliance is not encouraged, and not allowed for all but the richest, by force of arms.

Try planting or squatting on public land and see how long they let you stay free... <- my blog