Survivalist Gardening: Tips for Food Production in Any Size Space

From small spaces to acre spreads, the goal of garden produce is both quantity and quality. Producing enough for a true harvest is the goal for gardeners who pursue self-sufficiency, along with households interested in reducing grocery bills and food supplies.

While following survivalist methods for food produce may seem extreme, some of the tips behind the gardening process can help create a long-term planting strategy while minimizing out-of-pocket expense. From bountiful summer produce to food supplies for storage, a garden can offer both quantity and quality in gardening.

Seed Selections for Quality Produce

Gardeners interested in long-term planting capabilities and quality produce often invest in heirloom seeds. Unlike hybrids, heirlooms haven't been bioengineered, meaning the seeds and their original fruits were cultivated naturally without scientific alteration.

Also unlike hybrid varieties, seeds from heirloom fruits can be saved and planted in future gardens, making them an excellent investment for gardeners who prefer self-sufficient methods or simply prefer saving money on gardening supplies. Seeds from heirloom plants have a similar shelf life to hybrid packets purchased at most retail or gardening outlets.

Garden Layout and Structure Tips

Maximizing produce in small spaces is typically known as "intensive gardening". Plants are positioned close together in the ground, raised beds, or containers, varieties often intermixed, with weeds crowded out by the presence of desired vegetations. Additional water and soil nutrients are sometimes required, but the resulting produce is large and flavorful.

Square foot gardening, defined by its sectioned-off squares for each vegetable variety, is a popular choice for small-space and backyard gardens. Raised beds framed with timbers are filled with the special soil mixture encourage for square foot gardening, combining compost, vermiculite, and potting soil to encourage plant health and productivity.

Storing Harvested Produce

For the average gardener, freezing produce in airtight or vacuum-sealed bags is the best way to store harvested foods. More traditional or "survivalist" gardeners, however, emphasize traditional methods like drying or canning produce. Foods like green beans, tomatoes, and beets are usually cooked, then canned in special jars with sealants and a timed heating process.

Potatoes, onions, garlic, and other produce with a long shelf life can be stored in a cool, dry place, spaced apart on racks or in baskets. Traditionally, gardeners kept their dried, canned, and other stored food goods in a food cellar, where the cool, dry atmosphere helped preserve their supplies. Suburban gardeners and new practitioners often convert spaces into food storage facilities; including garages, spare rooms, or dry basements.

Serious gardeners, from survivor plans to small-space experiments, use structure and seed choice to maximize the quality and quantity of produce harvested. Whether preparing for self-sufficiency or emergencies or planning to enjoy a winter of harvested food, the right choices increase the chances of a successful garden.