Most people don’t like to think about it but growing your own vegetables could provide your family with enough food to live off the grid. This is especially the case in times of economic turmoil, a natural hazard, or during times of war. The concept is known as a survival garden. It means that you plan a survival garden layout that has enough vegetables to sustain your family without the need to purchase any from the market.
In fact, the trend of having a survival garden in your backyard is growing because it allows you to have food to eat in times of calamity.
Table of Contents
Survival Garden – Start to Finish
If you are wondering about a survival garden layout plan to follow, then you’ve come to the right place. First, we’re going to discuss where to position your new garden.
Pick a Spot for Survival Garden
Before you can grow those delicious tomatoes, cabbage, and sweet bell peppers, you will have to choose an area of your backyard for the survival garden. Focusing on your survival garden layout should be your first priority.
Observe the Sun
Since vegetables need a good eight hours of sunlight to grow, its best to choose a spot in your backyard that receives early and midday sun while being shaded for the most part during the peak hours of the heat during the day, which ranges from 12 pm to 3 pm.
Choose an Area with Minimal Weed Cover
Find an area of your garden or backyard that has the minimum amount of weeds. This will make it easier to prepare the soil by clearing the area with a few basic hand tools.
Next, we will look at preparing the garden bed for optimal food production. You will need to choose a location that’s not going to waste your seeds and set back your plans of having a survival garden.
Prepping your Garden for Success
You will also need to prep the garden well in advance so that it’s able to grow crops when the time comes.
Protect your Survival Garden from the Afternoon Sun
With some observation of how our star moves, compared to your garden location, you will want to set up some form of protection to block out the worst of sun during late afternoon hours. Here’s a great article, and a picture from their website on how to make a shade cloth for your garden.
Preparing the Soil
While you can strip some weeds from an area and till it a couple of times before stuffing in the vegetable seeds, there’s a lot more that goes into a survival garden. But we’ll break it down into 3 steps:
- Remove the next few inches of the soil which will contain other rhizomes and roots that are going to wait to pop up to compete for resources with your plants.
- To fortify the area, dig out another few inches of this soil just in case.
- Once you’ve done that, it’s time to combine compost or pre-mixed garden soil and clean topsoil using a ratio of 1:1.
- Mixing small amounts of sand and clay will make your garden bed even more fertile.
The key to having a flourishing survival garden is water. By including a bit of clay and sand to the compost and other organic material to the garden bed, you will be preparing it for a drought by making it water smart.
Watering Your Plants
Something as simple as watering the plants can be tricky, which is why you should be extra careful when watering your survival garden.
While you are going to need lots of water to feed your plants, the water needs to be clean. Preferably, the water you use should come from a well or rain barrels, or some other clean source.
Normally, vegetables tend to prefer being slightly dry than dripping wet so keep that in mind when watering your survival garden. Also, you don’t want to fill the garden bed with too much water since that turns it into a breeding ground for all sorts of insects and bacteria, a problem that’s been aptly named “wet feet.”
Water + Rays of Sun = Magnifying Glasses
Apart from “wet feet”, the water droplets on the leaves of plants can turn into magnifying glasses for the rays of the sun.
Research How Much Water
To make sure your plants don’t grow limp and yellow due to too much watering, do some research on the amount of water your vegetables need, then water accordingly. Other methods to make sure that your plants are not overwatered involve using the method of drip irrigation or making irrigation lines that will ensure the soil and roots are adequately watered.
Mulch Your Survival Garden
Insulating the roots of plants will keep them from getting damaged due to changes in the environment.
Adding a mixture of:
- chipped wood
- pine needles
Besides adding protection to the soil, these materials will break down and provide healthy organic matter to the soil over time.
How Often & How Much Should You Mulch?
As a rule of thumb, mulch should be added to a survival garden twice a year, preferably during the spring and fall season. When it comes to how much of mulch your garden is going to need, a two-inch deep layer of mulch should do the trick.
Feed Your Vegetables
While we can get loads of healthy nutrients from vegetables, they need some of those nutrients too to grow bountiful produce.
Minerals Plants Need
Out of all the minerals that plants need for growing, potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen are the top three nutrients that you should concentrate on, largely because these three nutrients play a big role in the health of plants and growing worthwhile produce. To make sure your plants get all three, you can choose a fertilizer that has large amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Below is a photo of my preferred fertilizer made by Foxfarm. It’s organically made from worm castings and bat guano
Also, rotating the use of cover crops along with recharging the soil with a dose of compost and manure occasionally, will allow the soil to replenish naturally.
Ideas of Vegetables to Grow
Now that you’ve got the survival garden layout down, it’s time to plant those seeds.
Some good options for a survival garden include:
- sweet potatoes
Since vegetables are seasonal, you can go online to find a list of the vegetables and fruits that you can grow in your area.
Being prepared isn’t just about prepping for a disaster. Other ways to become prepared is by learning new skill sets, such as the ability to grow your own food. We hope you got something out of this survival garden layout article and can start implementing some of the strategies presented here. Of course, if you have any questions or comments let us know.