It’s finally warm enough to start working the soil here in Serenity Cove. We are planting our earliest veggies in our Upper Kitchen Garden. This garden will provide the bulk of our food for the year. If you are new to gardening or you are new to growing food for survival in uncertain time then this post is for you. This is how we decide what to grow to feed ourselves.
Watch the video or scroll below to read the rest of the post!
Planning for Basic Caloric Needs
The very first thing to consider when gardening during hard times is caloric needs. What can you grow that will provide substantial calories in large amounts that your family will eat? This is the foundational crop that will be planted in the largest amount in your garden. For us, it is potatoes. Some people have the space to grow grains, but growing wheat generally uses 10 Square feet to grow a pound of food where as most people can grow 5 pounds of potatoes in 1 square foot. We grow a limited supply of corn for our animals. We chose a traditional dent corn this year (Reid’s Yellow) specifically because it produces not only two heavy ears of corn, but because the plants themselves can be dried, stored, and used as feed this winter.
Once our basic daily calories are covered we move on to nutrition. Greens, beets, carrots, herbs, and anything else that is high nutrition and high yield per square foot is planned next. For us this is Chards, lettuces, broccoli, beets, garlic, peas, carrots, parsley, onions, squash etc.
Finally we consider special items like cilantro, dill, cucumbers, mints, and edible flower. They get the least amount of room in the garden. These are nice to have but no imperative for life. They also do not preserve well. Since we are growing for a year and not a season, they are simply expendable if space becomes an issue.
Starches/grains are the foundation of most people’s diet. To me, they are the most important to grow as we are facing a growing grain shortage globally. This year in our main garden we are planting Two Hundred (yes 200) pounds of potatoes and a good corn stand. While the corn will stay in the ground from April until October, the Potatoes will be done by July. This brings us to the second consideration:
Plant to Grow in Succession
Once the Potatoes are out in July we will put in Beans, Squash, and other warm weather crops that are typically done by September. Those will then be followed by greens to take us into January.
We will get THREE crops out of the same little plot of land. This is a huge step in increasing our food security year after year. In the same space we can grow nearly a half ton of potatoes, plus several hundred pounds of beans, squash, and greens that can also be put into long term storage via canning, pickling, and drying. Plus, we have food to trade/sell once our needs are met. Of course, this is contingent on what grows well in your area and your growing season.
What Grows Well In Your Area?
This is a HUGE deal, especially if you do not have high tunnels or green house and you live in a northern climate. Growing up in Florida, I was use to fresh food year round straight from my family’s garden. Moving to Tennessee was a shock. There are at least three months yearly with no food production and another three months of scant food production here.
If you are new to gardening you will need to find your growing zone. Go go: https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/ to find your hardiness zone. Simply match the color of your location with the key to the right hand side. Then you can match the zone to growing instructions on the seed packets.
Another way of figuring out what grows best in your are and the BEST option is to contact your local Agricultural Extension Office. The easiest list to navigate is https://www.almanac.com/cooperative-extension-services . Find your ag extension office’s info, call them, and they will direct you to good information not only on what to grow when, but how to grow it.
I will also say this about growing a survival garden: You will not always have what you want. You will eat, but it you may not have more exotic foods such as mangos and tropical fruits. Well, I don’t have those things now… You might be so fortunate. Which leads to the final consideration:
What do You Eat?
This is one of the most important questions to consider when planning any garden, but critical when planning a survival or victory garden. It does no good to grow ten pounds of perfect radishes if you eat none now or simply do not like them. It’s defeating to open the pantry and see seventy two beautiful pint jars of green beans only to force yourself to eat yet another jar of something you just don’t like. I know. I’ve been there, done that, and now you don’t have to!
Plant what you like to eat. If you don’t like tomatoes, don’t plant tomatoes. Survival isn’t just about eating to eat. Survival is also about THRIVING. My ancestors thrived year to year without a regular grocery store. They ate well. I’ve seen the cookbooks and family recipes. They had tastes and preferences. They stored what they enjoyed. Eating even during the challenging times should not be a chore. Yes, in certain situations we do have to eat what we have to live. But when it comes to planning your day to day garden to help your family face a challenging time, eat what brings you some joy and celebrate EVERY Victory!
Until next time,
Craft no harm,
Moriah and the flock