In today’s economy it’s getting increasingly challenging to put decent food on the table for the average family. With the rising cost of fuel it just make common sense to develop solid gardening skills. In a survival situation it is imperative to eat good, clean, wholesome food and producing your own food is a means of becoming self-sufficient. As Ron Finley says;
“Growing your own food is like printing your own money”.
Plant a vegetable garden:
I always say that one of the most overlooked skills in the Prepper and/or Survivalist community is gardening. Most Preppers think that they need lots of land to have a decent garden, however, that’s not true. If you use gardening techniques like raised beds or square foot gardening your garden production can and will go a long way in short or limited spaces. I’m even aware of Preppers who live in apartments, growing food and gardening right on their balconies. It’s called balcony gardening.
Plant a herb garden:
Herbs have both vital nutritional as well and medicinal properties. Growing herbs can be quite simple. In fact, you can even grow many herbs inside your home all year long. Window seals are the perfect place for growing herbs as the amount of space needed to grow many herbs are minimal and there is nothing like fresh herbs to add flavor to your traditional food preps. As a Certified Master Herbalist I can tell you that there are so many medicinal herbs which you can easily grow, all of them will be vital if/when TEOTWAWKI (The end of the world as we know it) takes place and even if it doesn’t. Echinacea is one of best cold/flu prevention herbs which you can grow in your back yard. It’s pretty pink flowers adds beauty to your garden and at the same time its dried leaves will be a beneficial tea to build up your immune system. My list goes on for herbs like, Oregano for colds, congestion, menstrual pains, fresh Mint for stomach issues and fever just to name a few.
From a medicinal point, some of the natural and healthiest antibiotics that you can grow in your backyard are garlic and/or onions. During the time of the Pharaohs, when Egypt was at the peak of its power, garlic was given to the laborers and slaves who were building the great pyramids in order to increase their stamina and strength as well as to protect them from diseases. During both World Wars I and II, soldiers were given garlic to prevent gangrene.
Learn how to can your own food:
Gardening and Canning go hand in hand, especially when it come to “Long Term” Survival and Food Storage situations. As you develop your gardening skills it will become quite obvious that your garden just might produce more food than what you you and your family can eat. The enhancement of Gardening skills means that you should learn the skill of “Canning” what you are growing. If you live in a planting zone that has snow/frost you’ll especially want to learn how to preserve the food you are growing to get you through the season when there is little to garden unless you have some type of greenhouse. If your survival situation does not permit you to have a visible greenhouse, then a hidden cold cellar might be a viable option for root plants like, lettuce, cabbage, potatoes, onions, garlic, broccoli, etc.
Get a dehydrator:
Planting vegetables, planting herbs, canning and dehydrating food are all “A match made in Heaven”. There are so many options for dehydrating fruits and vegetables. You can purchase a dehydrator from a manufacturer. You can make one and with today’s renewable energy technology, you can even make a solar dehydrator. There is so much nutritional value in preserving your fruit and produce using this method. For the most part, your fruits will be fruitier using their own natural sugar. Dehydrating enhances this process. You’ll have tasty snacks for the whole family without harmful chemicals. Your dehydrator will allow you to preserve onions, celery, peas, carrots, tomatoes, green beans, garlic potatoes, and more. How about learning to make your own Fruit Roll Ups? USA Emergency Supply reports that they have used dehydrated foods that was over 28 years old. “Five years ago we obtained several 28 year old cans of dehydrated food that had been stored unusually cool. Then we ask the Benson Institute at BYU to test them. Here’s their statement:
“These evaluations are based solely on the products present (after storage) attributes. We did not compare these products against freshly produced counterparts. They were compared with basic standards of food quality. Considering the time period of storage, the products have stored very well (better than many stored that long, i.e. 7 November 1964, 11 August 1967, and 25 July 1970).”
Plant Edible Perennials:
The whole point of having a garden and more importantly a Survival garden is to grow food that you and your family can eat, and in some cases eat well. Perennials are not just good looking flowers. They are also flowers you can eat in your salads. They don’t require a lot of space and at the same time does add some beauty to your surroundings. Most people aren’t even aware of edible Perennials. The good thing is they require very little effort to grow. By the way there are also vegetables what are in the Perennial family like: Radicchio, Asparagus, Kale, Collar Greens, Rhubarb, Strawberries, and Jerusalem Artichokes.
Here is a simple list of edible flowers that you can grow and eat in/out of a survival situation: Daisies (Bellis perennis quills) green leaves, Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale leaves, roots, flowers, petals, buds), Daylilies (Hemerocallis buds, flowers, petals), Pansies (Viola x Wittrockiana flowers, petals), Pot Marigolds (Calendula officinalis petals with white heel removed), Nasturtium (blossoms and seeds), Osmanthus fragrans (flower), Chrysanthemum (flower), Roses (Rosa petals with white heel removed, rose hips), and of course Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus buds, petals, seeds).
There are so many fruits you can plant that don’t take up a lot of space or require years before they are producers. Plant blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries just to name a few. Most of them loaded with the vital vitamin C. These berries also make delicious pies, tarts and how about mixing them together to make a delicious fruit salads.
I would also add growing fruit trees in containers. The following trees, and even their dwarf versions grow well in containers: Pomegranate, Apple, Fig, Grape, Nectarine, Peach, Lemon and Pineapple Guava. These fruit trees can be moved indoors during the winter months and for survival purpose grown indoors if/when the need arises.
In my opinion each family should have their own Heirloom Seed Bank in their preps and demonstrated by way of an actual Heirloom Garden. You start by buying heirloom seeds that are Non-GMO, Non-Hybrid and Open-pollinated seeds. You’ll want to learn various seed saving techniques for each variety. For example many first time gardeners have no idea how or where onion seeds come from. How about carrot seeds? When you cut open these vegetables there isn’t any noticeable seeds inside, so where do they get onion or carrots seeds from? Your job (should you decide to develop these forgotten gardening skills) is to learn to save the seeds from this years produce which should enable you to plant next year’s garden. Heirloom Seeds are true producers, passing 100% of their genetics to their offspring. You can’t say that for Hybrid seeds. With Hybrids what you see may not always be what you get.
Our company, MyheirloomSeeds.com even has Heritage Seeds that date back to the 15th Century. One that comes to mind is the Armenian Cucumber. This Heritage Cucumber comes in both Yellow and Green variety. Get in the habit now of buying, selling and trading/bartering Heirloom Seeds. They might even be worth more than gold if/when TEOTWAWKI.
Compost your heart away:
Feed your garden with organic fertilizer. Composting is the ultimate form of recycling for a Gardener. People think compost is smelly and disgusting but in actually it’s not supposed to smell The sign of healthy compost is that should earthy. If your compost is creating a offensive smell, you are doing it incorrectly.
A great of food world-wide ends up in trash bins or landfills. The Prepper, Survivalist, Homesteader, etc, use things and then if possible reuses them in the form of recycling and composting. Your garden should be any different. Take all of your leaves, newspapers, plain cardboard, weeds, grass clippings etc and put them directly into our compost pile bins. There is more to composting like the different types i.e. hot and cold. Do your research and develop this need gardening skill.
It doesn’t matter if you are new to prepping or an old timer, gardening is one of the skills that can be used for maintaining long term food storage. Canning, dehydrating and seed saving will only help to solidify your food preps and give you many advantages in terms of helping you stay healthy and quite possible alive even if the world is not going the end as we know it. These are Gardening skills that your Great-Grands should have passed down to you and you can pass on also.
Happy prepping-Happy Gardening!
About The Author
Troy Brooks Managing Director for MyHeirloomSeeds.com Heirloom Seed Company. He together with his family have been homesteading, raising livestock and living Off-Grid on their Ranch in West Texas. He is also a Certified Master Herbalist and enjoys living a Self-Sufficient lifestyle for more than 20 years.