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A Prepper's Survival Garden | Survivalist Gardening Guide

At Valley Food Storage, we want every American to be prepping for events like natural disasters, civil unrest, wars, and anything in between. That is why we provide our customers with long-term food storage buckets that have a shelf life of 25 years. However, we believe that every family, alongside their other food storage, should have easy access to healthy, organic, and fresh foods. This is why we are going to explore how to build a survival garden. Survivalist gardening will help supplement your regular food storage and ensure you always have the freshest fruits and vegetables on hand. 

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Don't be caught unprepared - click to download our Survival guide book today and learn everything you and your family need to know about being a survivalist gardening.


small plants sprouting from garden

Understanding the Need for a Survival Garden


Ever since the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic, the average American life has flipped upside down. The increased civil unrest, the rise in gas prices and inflation, and mass shootings have a lot of people worried about what may come next.

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Another crucial element in survival gardening is crop rotation. Rotating crops is beneficial for the health of your survival garden soil, and it helps manage soil fertility. This agricultural practice involves alternating the types of crops grown in a particular area from season to season, thus preventing the depletion of nutrients and discouraging the build-up of pathogens and pests that often occurs when one species is continuously grown. Therefore, when planning your survival garden, consider rotating crops to maintain soil health and fertility.

Tensions between the United States and Russia continue to grow as we send aid to Ukraine. As things begin to escalate, more and more Americans are turning to starting to plant their very own victory garden. A victory garden, often called a war garden, is a garden that is planted in order to supplement a home’s rations. This can also be a great way to get active and release some stress during wartime. 


food production factory

In 2022, there has been a huge problem in the American food production industry with plants burning down unexpectedly. If supply continues to drop, we could see grocery store and restaurant prices shoot way up. Is there going to be a food shortage? It’s starting to seem as if there might be. The possibility of a food shortage is another reason to start growing a survival garden. 


Being able to supplement your current long-term food storage with your own fresh, organic produce will keep your family happier and healthier. It is easy to can your produce and store it for when SHTF. 


Growing and maintaining a garden is also great for relieving stress. It keeps your mind and hands busy and there is an extremely rewarding feeling when you are able to eat the food that you grew yourself. 


someone planting seeds in the soil

Initiating Your Survivalist Gardening Journey


Starting your very own survival garden is as easy as buying seeds. Heirloom survival garden seeds are inexpensive, but provide you with years of fresh produce. These heirloom survival seeds varieties are seeds that farmers deem worth passing down to continue growing and you can save them for years after buying them! 


Next, you will need to make sure your survival garden has easy access to water. This could either be through building an irrigation system or digging your garden near an outdoor water spigot. This is why it is extremely important to map out your survival garden before you begin planting. 


planning out garden placement


Strategizing Your Survival Garden Layout

The first step in a survivalist garden is mapping out the placement of your garden. Some things to look out for are close proximity to water, sunlight exposure, break from the wind, quality of the soil, and nearby structures (air conditioning units, septic tanks, etc). 


We already touched on water accessibility, but it is important to do research beforehand so you can understand your area’s climate and soil to know how often you need to water your plants and if you need to build a DIY water catchment system. The amount of water needed will also depend on the type of plant. When planting your survival seeds, try to place plants that need similar amounts of water near each other. It may be beneficial to label all your plants and keep a watering journal.


This same idea also goes for sunlight exposure. Every type of plant needs a different amount of sunlight. Make sure you’re positioning your garden in an area with high sunlight exposure if you are planting fruits and vegetables that require a lot of sunlight, and the same goes for low exposure. Produce like broccoli, lettuce, and other leafy greens typically do not need as much sunlight, while most other vegetables require full sun. If you’d like to learn more, check out this article about how much sunlight plants need to learn more!


Next, you need to consider the wind in your area. If you are prone to strong winds, you may want to consider making some sort of windbreak or planting your garden where there is already one. This is even more important if you want to grow plants that grow vertically, such as tomatoes, beans, peas, peppers, etc. Why should you be protecting your survival garden from the wind? Wind hinders the growth of your plants by drying up all the moisture and damaging the leaves, stems, and flowers. Did you know plants can also get windburn? Natural barriers to the wind, such as bushes, shrubs, and trees, are ideal. This is because manmade wind deterrents can sometimes create even more destructive turbulence. 

Another essential aspect to consider in your survival garden plans is companion planting. This practice involves grouping different plants together for mutual benefit. Some plants repel insects that may harm other plants, while others can enhance the flavor or growth of their neighbors. Understanding and implementing companion planting in your survival garden can significantly improve your crop yield. This strategy not only helps in pest management but also contributes to efficient use of garden space and enhances biodiversity, improving the overall health of your survival garden.


soil test

Soil quality is another key to your survival garden's success. The best type of soil for growing vegetables is rich soil. A good indicator to know if you have good soil is to check out your grass. If your grass is fluffy, lush, and green, there’s a good chance you have good soil. The opposite is also true. If the soil near your home holds too much water or not enough, you may want to consider creating a raised garden instead. If you want to know for certain how good or bad your soil is, we encourage you to get a soil test! Soil tests are cheap but tell you so much about the potential of your survival garden. This test will tell you about your soil’s drainage, pH level, and nutrients. 


Lastly, you will have to look out for nearby structures when planting your garden. You will be able to see things like light poles, air conditioning units, concrete patios, etc. The structures you really need to look out for are the ones that are underground, like pipes and septic tanks. Like you’ve probably heard dozens of times, call before you dig! Calling 811 will allow you to submit a request to see what underground structure you need to look out for. They will come flag or spray paint exactly where these structures are so you don't damage anything. 


Your survival garden plans should revolve around these 5 factors! Be sure to take each one into consideration before you plant. 




Planning Your Survival Garden: What Seeds Should You Plant?

Planning and preparing your survival garden layout is a critical step for any prepper.

Now that you have an idea of where to plant your survival garden, let’s discuss what to plant! The types of fruits and vegetables you can plant in your prepper garden will completely depend on your climate and the factors above.

Depending on your location, certain crops will thrive better in your survival garden plans. If your garden doesn’t get much sunlight, you probably won’t be able to grow tomatoes and peppers, but you would be fine to grow root vegetables. There are some states that are better suited for off-the-grid living like this. If you want to learn the best states to live off the grid in, check out this article!


Let’s talk about the essentials for survivalist gardening:


The most caloric vegetable you can plant in your survival garden is peas. Peas have about 67 calories per 100 grams. Every survivalist prepper should have peas in their garden. These can be baked and seasoned to make a great snack or eaten fresh. High-calorie foods will be extremely important if SHTF. Peas are high in vitamins and nutrients such as vitamin C, K, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, and calcium! Peas grow vertically and can cast a shadow on the rest of your garden, so we recommend planting peas to the north of your garden so the shadow doesn’t interfere with your other crops. 


The next most caloric vegetable is parsnips. They contain 58 calories per 100 grams. Parsnips are root vegetables, which means they only need partial sun. This is a great vegetable to grow for preppers who don’t get good sunlight in their garden. Parsnips also have double the sugar of other vegetables and are very rich in fiber! Plus, they don’t take up much room in your garden, so if you’re worried about space, these are a great option. 


On the contrary, if you have a lot of room in your survival garden, you should definitely be planting corn. Corn is one of the most versatile vegetables you can grow!  Obviously, you can eat the corn right off the cob, but you can also turn it into flour. You can turn corn to flour by allowing it to dry out and nixtamalizing it. Nixtamalization is a process where grain is soaked and cooked in limewater, then husked. This process restores some of the nutrients lost from drying. Then, the corn is ground to make flour. A cool trick for corn is to grow it near your pole beans because the bean poles will climb and grow up the corn!

summer squash and winter squash

Next up is squash. When SHTF, you will be so glad you planted squash. One reason is that summer squash grows extremely fast and will provide your family with food in just a few short weeks. Another reason to plant squash is that winter squash stores for a long time in a DIY root cellar. If you keep critters away from your winter squash, you can store it whole for up to 4 months! You should also plant your squash near your corn and beans, because it will act as a ground cover for them. This trio is often referred to as the “Three Sisters.” 


If you are survivalist gardening, you should definitely be planting potatoes. For centuries, potatoes have helped people all over the world fight famine and food shortages. It is safe to say that if there is a major food shortage, potatoes will be there for you. Potatoes are one of the best ways to get your daily carbs. While people nowadays are doing their best to avoid carbs, when you’re in a life-threatening situation, carbs could save you from starvation. If you live in an apartment or you simply don’t have enough garden space, it is a great vegetable to plant outside the garden. Any large bucket or tub will work.  


Did you know that a singular tomato plant can produce up to 20 pounds of produce in a season? Tomatoes are in so many things that we eat and are very nutritious. It’s also quite simple to preserve tomatoes—you can sundry them, can them, and even freeze them. Tomatoes are good for your immune system, which is useful information if another pandemic strikes. It’s hard to mess up tomatoes, so give them a try!

herbs from survival garden

Herbs and Onions: Adding Flavor to Your Survivalist Meals

Don’t skip on the flavor just because you are in a bad position! Onions and herbs will add some extra flavor to your survivalist meals. It is a good idea, however, to plant herbs outside of your garden, like in a pot or window planter. This is because they can grow out of control and take over your garden. Herbs are great, but you can’t live off of them! Garlic is another awesome and great-tasting veggie to add to your garden. Garlic is a natural pest repellent, so it will protect your garden from those thieving little critters. 

Peppers: The Preppers Garden Must-Have


Peppers for preppers are a survivalist garden must; peppers go with almost every food and they add a bunch of nutrients and so much flavor. They are also a great snack to eat on their own. Pro tip: Plant your garlic near your peppers, because flea beetles love to chew on bell peppers and the garlic will help deter them.


Ultimately, the goal of survival gardening is to supplement your stored food resources, ensuring you have a continuous food supply. It's a critical part of self-reliance and preparedness, so check out our article on how to preserve vegetables that you've grown.

Survival gardening is not about achieving complete self-sufficiency from one garden, but if you're looking at some of the best places to live off the grid, it's more possible. This will vary greatly depending on your location and the climate. The average person needs ½ of an acre to an acre at least to survive off the land, but even the most land deprived prepper can benefit from small space gardening. Therefore, consider your survival garden as a way to supplement your stored food. Other additions to your self-reliance plan may include keeping chickens and other farm animals for meat, eggs, and milk.

Now, you are all ready to create and grow that fantastic survival garden to supplement your survival food storage! Remember, with so much uncertainty in the world, preparedness is essential. Building your survival garden is a step towards safety and security, as well as independence and self-reliance. Be it a pandemic, rioting, or shootings, it’s better to be safe than sorry.