National Geographic Society

  • Connect:

Plant Your Own Survival Garden

Tomato sprouts

Tomato sprouts (View larger version)

By Rebecca O'Connor

Published

In Doomsday Castle, Prepper Brent and his family have cultivated a garden to get them through decades. They say their garden requires no weeding or pesticides and produces food with little maintenance for thirty years. 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.

You may not have a remote 50-acre plot of land in the mountains or a castle standing on it like prepper Brent, but you can still take a step towards self-sufficiency with a small survival garden.

0 comments