Survival Gardening

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First of all what is survival? It is quite simply what we’ve all been doing since we were born. We provide for ourselves shelter, fire, water, medical, food, and social life, these are the foundation of our existence. Without these core principals, our very existence is at risk.

Supply Chain

In our modern society these basics come to us generally without much thinking, they are easily obtained and take little effort. As we talk about in our training programs, modern civilization has made the basics of life inexpensive and very convenient, however, there is a trade off, the supply chain is easily interrupted due to a whole host of reasons. Food comes to us from all over the world now, economic difficulties or transportation issues could quickly deprive us of this vital element in our survival.

It is best to have storage of food and other necessities for up to a year if possible in order to get all the way through a season of difficulty. One inexpensive and simple way to build that storage is to grow much of it yourself with seeds and a garden. Outside our building at Wilderness Innovation are two planters about 6 feet long and 2 feet wide. Last year I put in 5 tomato cages, each 2 feet in diameter and 4 feet high that I made out of field fence wire. We easily got over 600 pounds of tomatoes. The plants cost me about $5 and there was little other expense to grow them. We chose to make salsa out of most of them, since we can use it in so many things. This is an example of how you can grow a lot in a little bit of space. (See the book — Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times.)

Start Small

I believe it is vital for everyone to grow some food where they live, no matter how small an amount. It used to be that all people grew food, they had to, that’s what they ate, they preserved it to get through the winter. Everyone should know how to grow food, and the best way to do that is to do it, and do it every year. I’m not a big fan of buying cans of anything that are supposedly good for 20 or 30 years, it’s too much of a gamble for me, if it doesn’t work and you need it, it’s too late! If you just grow what you can every year and replenish your seeds every year you will always be ready for one season.

What do you grow? If you haven’t gardened before, start small with just a few things you like. Peas are great and they can start when it’s still cool. Then you can grow bush beans, carrots or potatoes. If you are in the U.S., you can contact the local Extension Service office and find out what’s best in your area and get helpful tips on when to start and what the favored varieties are, also guys like me blog and make videos that may be helpful. Years ago I took a Master Gardener certification course, after graduation I taught classes, and wound up starting my own Market Garden where we sold from a stand on the road.

You don’t have to go big though, some people don’t have much space available. I lived in a city in the South East US for a while and had little room to grow a garden, but found that I could block some sections among our flowers with bush beans or peas, it worked well and we got a pretty good harvest. We also planted some useful herbs among our flowers. There are lots of ways to grow a garden, the best thing is to grow whatever you can and do a little gardening every year to keep in practice. Stay tuned for more helpful advice.

Reprinted with permission from Survival Cache. Survival Gardening is a special series by Perry Peacock of Wilderness Innovation Team for SurvivalCache.com.

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