Spring is Here! Plant Your Way to Preparedness

Monday, March 20, 2023

Emergency preparedness isn’t just about having food and water stored away—it’s also about having the skills to access food sources in a pinch. Survival gardening is one of those skills.

But what is survival gardening and how can you apply it in an emergency? That’s what this guide is all about. We’ll cover all things related to disaster-preparedness gardening: what a survival garden is, how to start one, and some tips for maintaining it. Think of us as your green thumbed friend, here to provide you with the advice needed to create a sustainable source of produce that could save your life—literally!

What Is a Survival Garden?

If you want to be prepared for anything that life throws at you, having a survival garden is a great way to start. A survival garden is a version of your normal vegetable garden—but with the added purpose of being able to provide enough sustenance during times of emergency.

Survival gardening involves:

  • Identifying the perfect location and selecting suitable crops.

  • Preparing the land for cultivation and managing your garden.

  • Growing enough food to survive without outside sustenance if necessary.

  • Taking extra consideration for things like calories and nutrition, ecological health, seed saving, and food preservation.

In other words, it follows many of the same practices as growing any other vegetable garden, but takes further planning into account in order to prepare for an emergency situation.

Planning Your Survival Garden

So you know what a survival garden is and why it can be important, but how do you get started? The key is to set attainable goals and do your research.

It's easy to get caught up in the idea of being able to grow your own food if there's an emergency but overwhelm can quickly set in – you want what's best for you and your family, but where do you start?

Well, almost every gardening guide out there teaches you how to garden in ‘normal’ life, but not in an emergency or austere context. They assume you’ll have easy access to fuel to power machines, endless clean water, electricity to power grow lights, fertilizers and pesticides, and so on.

To properly plan a survival garden that meets your family's needs, research tips from experienced survival gardeners and make sure all of your planning takes into account that access may be limited during an emergency situation.

Prepping for Planting and Growing Your Garden

Ready to get started on your survival garden? As you prepare to plant, research topics such as organic gardening, food preservation and seed saving. This will provide you with the knowledge you’ll need to meet your goals and expectations.

When adding plants to your garden, consider both perennials, which come back year after year and annuals which will last for just one season. A good mix of vegetables, herbs, trees and bushes for fruit will be beneficial for both now and later. Here are some tips:

  • Plant seeds in soil only after the danger of frost has passed.

  • Plant vegetables that are easy to grow in your specific climate.

  • Make sure you get enough sun on your plot—vegetables typically need 6-8 hours of sunlight each day.

  • Research your soil type so that you can add the necessary minerals.

  • Test the pH level of your soil (pH 6.5 – 7 is ideal).

  • Keep an eye out for pests.

You can make a survival garden with minimal maintenance, but don’t expect overnight success—it takes time and patience for it to be successful.

What to Plant in Your Survival Garden

Now that you know what a survival garden is and why it's important, let's talk about what to plant in it. When creating your survival garden, a good rule of thumb is to include perennial crops like sage, mint, raspberry, blueberry, strawberries, bunching onions and asparagus. You'll also want to aim to produce several food crops either at the same time or in a sequence. This could mean corn followed by squash followed by beans—each of which has a different growing period.

It's also important that you include vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains in your garden. Doing so will ensure that you have plenty of diverse options for sustainable nutrition in the event of an emergency situation. For example, beans are full of important vitamins and minerals like iron and zinc; grains like rice can provide complex carbohydrates; vegetables give essential vitamins; and fruits can provide tasty snacks as well as essential sugar for energy.

So when planning your survival garden, make sure you include plenty of different crops—not just one type of vegetable or fruit—in order to remain well-nourished during an emergency situation.

Maintaining and Harvesting Your Crops

Maintaining and harvesting your crops is just as important as planting them in the first place, as it ensures that you get the most out of your survival garden. This means keeping an eye on your crops throughout their growth cycle, from rotation to harvest.


Crop rotation is the practice of planting different crops in the same area of land in an effort to manage soil fertility and pest pressure. Rotating your crops helps to keep soil healthy, reduce pests and diseases, and use water and space efficiently. For example, pests are unable to find their preferred food when the crop rotates.

It's important to plan your crop rotation ahead of time and keep records of which crops you've planted where. This helps to ensure that each crop is rotated at the right time and in the right place. Consider sketching out a plan to guide your rotation—list different vegetables and group them based on what family they belong to and then decide which family to plant in each location in your survival garden. This prevents any potential problems with cross-pollination and will keep your food supply safe and secure.


Knowing when to pick your veggies is key—for example, if you leave a ripe tomato on the vine for too long, it can lead to rot or pests. As a general rule of thumb, harvest your fruits and vegetables when they’re at their peak size—since they won't get any bigger after they've been picked! Some veggies may even need multiple harvests in a growing season, like lettuce or cabbage.

When it comes to harvesting time: be sure you have a plan for storing and preserving what you've grown too! Storing food properly keeps it fresher longer; while drying or canning fruits & veggies is great way to extend their shelf-life even further. Having supplies on-hand such as canning jars helps make food preservation easier - so start stocking up today!

Gardening Supplies You Should Have on Hand for Emergencies

Now that you know what your survival garden should look like, let's talk about the supplies you'll need to make it happen. To properly cultivate and care for your survival garden, you need to be prepared with the right tools and equipment.

Essential Gardening Gear

A few essential pieces of gardening gear should be in any survival garden kit. First and foremost is a good shovel, hoe, rake, and wheelbarrow for turning soil, planting seeds, cultivating beds, and transporting supplies. Of course, a water source—ideally from a rain barrel or other container you can use when times are tough—is also necessary to keep your plants hydrated in an emergency situation.

Building Soil Quality for Long-Term Preparedness

When it comes to growing food during an emergency, composting might be even more important than normal. Composting is a great way to turn random organic waste into plant food without needing to buy from the store. As you’re preparing for emergencies big and small, think about your soil quality with a long-term horizon: if you build up your soil quality when times are good, it will coast further when times are bad and you can’t get store-bought amendments.


Planting a survival garden is certainly an achievable goal. While it may seem like a daunting task, with a little research, some planning, and a bit of guidance, you can easily become the gardener you always wanted to be.

Not only will you create an oasis of beauty and food in your own backyard, but you’ll also have the peace of mind that comes with being prepared. Having a survival garden is a great way to make sure you have a source of food and comfort during an emergency and provides a valuable source of nutrition and relaxation no matter what life throws at you.