Dangers and Rewards of the Home-Garden

I am amazed by the thought process of some readers who go to great lengths to convince me that raising a garden is not a viable survival strategy. After all, having a garden makes you a target, hungry people want food and will rob you of your harvest; they warn.

A Yellowstone eruption or asteroid strike could put enough dust  into the atmosphere that you would not be able to even raise a garden for several years; they’ve warned. Yep, this is true – but what is the point?

If you do not plant a garden for fear of having it taken or destroyed you are guaranteed to produce nothing. If you are raided by looters or government thugs and they are able to take your crop you have nothing.

I would rather spend a little time planning and planting with the possibility of getting a harvest, then do nothing and guaranteeing failure. By this logic someone with more support and firepower could take your food storage, should we not store food because we could lose it?

This is non-sense, why avoid planting a garden because you are afraid it will be taken? I am not saying it will not happen, it could; but there are steps that can be taken to minimize the risk after a long-term collapse. Like not planting in rows, using the three sisters or growing in a secret greenhouse .

We can learn a lot from the marijuana growers, who come up with some ingenious ways of hiding their illegal crop from authority’s. Around here growing weed used to be big business (now it’s pain pills), growers hid their fields deep in the forest and under the cover of indoor grow rooms.

Every fall the police would adorn their camouflage BDU’s, and head to woods in search of the illegal plants, state police and National Guard choppers would fly overhead searching for the gardens. Yet they found only a small amount of what is out there and they very seldom made an arrest. It always seemed strange to me that they only seek out the fields when it’s harvest time when the buds where ripe and ready for harvest…

Post collapse hiding our food crops could be requisite to filling our gut with fresh produce. Somehow the idea of consuming only ground wheat gruel, day after day – month after month doesn’t seem very appealing. Combined with beans it will keep you alive, but after six or eight months of this diet you will die of boredom if nothing else. You’ll need fresh produce and meat…

Grains can be sprouted and young sprouts eaten raw or dried and ground into a flour providing some nutrient content not found in the basic grain, sprouting is an excellent survival technique and one you should use, but nothing beats fresh corn, squash or green beans to fill, that empty spot in your stomach.

My grandfather remembers the Great Depression, he said they survived because they raised a huge garden putting up the surplus to live on through the winter. We should do the same…

One year he recalls the garden getting hit by a drought and subsequent attacks by locust. You can still see that look of pain and uneasiness in his eyes and on his face when he recalls going to bed hungry nearly every night that year.

I think the potential rewards of the survival garden outweigh any potential risk of it being looted and taken. Don’t you?

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. I haven’t had a chance to order a copy yet, but “Secret Garden of Survival” by Rick Austin looks like it would work great for this. Perhaps you could get him to do an article and put a link to his book through your Amazon store.

    • Wayne KF5 says:

      I purchased a copy of “Secret Garden of Survival ” and skimmed over it yesterday. I think it was valuable info and would recommend it to the pack.

      • Wayne KF5 says:

        At least if you have a place off the beaten path or a BOL to grow this type of garden. Might not do much good practicing in urban/suburbia postage stamp yards.

  2. M.D.,

    Whatever you do don’t waste your time planting a garden–aliens could come down and transform your tomatoes into raccoons and your squash into rats–then you would have an animal invasion on your hand. Think about it. Raccoons carry rabies. Rats carry the Black Plague. If you plant a garden not only are you risking a getting rabies, you are taking a chance of bringing back The Plague. Oh, my. How could you do this to humanity?

    • Bam Bam,

      I think a lot of folk are looking for an excuse to do nothing or to buy more guns – so they can try and take stuff. They won’t last long.

      • Oh, M.D., I was just having a bit of fun. Remember, you are not responsible for the decisions some people make not to prepare. You have done more than most to get the word out. If they don’t accept the word, there’s nothing you can do–other than brush off your sandals and search for folks who do want the here the word–and this works with the word and The Word.

      • Maybe we should all be like RR and plant surprises in the garden.

    • Bam Bam, dam woman, I had that very dream last night! Thing was, my lima beans became Zombies who all looked like Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi. I may never sleep again.

      You should get out in the sun more, your skin in your picture is looking sort of yellow.

      • Yacob De Racket says:

        The Grudge Report today has an article where simple garden tomatoes have been somehow turning into fat lesbian ducks. No one is sure how this is change in their DNA has occurred, however President Obummer has pledged “One Million Dollars” to get to the bottom of this weird event.

        Rumors are the Government is looking at the process so they can turn NRA members into Joe Biden look-a-likes.

        • Yacob De Racket says:

          In a related story on Grudge, rumors are flying around Washington that President (Chairman) Obummer is himself the product of an affair between a pineapple and an eggplant.

          When asked to comment on this, Sen. Rand Paul, who is a Medical Doctor, said, “I really don’t think that this is possible, but it would explain the last 4 years”.

          • I’ve got a buddy who once worked for the Secret Service guarding our V.P. Anyway, the way my tells it, Joe Biden has the I.Q. of a turnip…so who knows?

          • Yacob De Racket;
            I thought my husband was going to take my laptop away from me, due to my loud out burst of laughter. If not removing my laptop from my hands he will lock me in the closet until I get my laughter under control. Like BamBam the other day I have learned not to be drinking coffee while reading this site. It can cause major damage to our electronic equipment. It amazing how far coffee can go through your nose when laughing…………

          • Yacob De Racket,

            Thank theory has been debunked. TDL is a bastard cross between a turnip and an an ass.

      • axelsteve says:

        I was thinking that zombies like to attack people when they are busy gardening.

      • horrors! nancy is way off her meds. look at those shiny rabid eyeballs. gives you the shudders.

    • By aliens do you mean Monsanto?

      • Encourager says:

        No no Mexneck, it is eating Monsanto products that makes you an alien! Or zombie! Or or president????

      • My girlfreind has gained a few pounds and started quacking , should I be worried???? Or do I start to worry if she cuts her hair short and it starts to turn into feathers???

  3. Mystery Guest says:

    I for one have thought of this.
    And you are right to grow is better than not.
    The effort I guess to grow the garden and then protect it is to much.
    One should research how to garden in different ways. Better safe than sorry.

  4. lee in az says:

    yes, no , maybe

    I think solomon says in his book that you need 5000 sf minimum to accomplish much– that sounds about right, and I think one should try for some perrenials and tree crops to not have to plant everything new every year. Nut trees, in particular, can be a good source of protein. people playing with tiny gardens in tiny backyards are just kidding themselves.

    whether you can hide or protect your garden is not the key go/no go issue. Nobody knows the exact nature of an unknown future crisis and having something worth protecting is generally better than having nothing.

    If you want to plan for contingencies, look into rainwater storage, growing your own fertilizer, laying chickens, and other proven strategies.

    • JeffintheWest says:

      Why? Even a few veggies are better than none. Don’t get a down on those who have very little to work with and plant something small — at least they are working with it.

    • We “played” with a tiny garden in our tiny backyard for the first time on our own last year (typically we just pitch in with my parents large garden) and what wasn’t used fresh was canned or frozen and after using them all winter long, we still have enough quarts and pints of various veggies, pickled items (pickles, squash, okra), tomatoes, and peppers to last us well beyond this coming winter. While we have purchased the lots next to us to facilitate a larger garden and addition of fruit and nut trees doing a large garden own my own straight off would have been daunting and overwhelming to me (not to mention no space or anything larger). After my small garden last year I feel more up task to going bigger. Even small gardens can yield surprising amounts and a having a little of something is better than having nothing and experience and knowledge that you gain from even a tiny garden is priceless. In no way is having a tiny garden kidding yourself.

    • Sw't Tater says:

      Don’t knock tiny gardens,There are many crops that are heavy producers…every item someone is able to produce for less than market cost is valuable. If you don’t believe me.. eat string beans and tuna for a set period of time, about two weeks you will be pleased with a potato, carrot or butter bean serving. Every meal people put up from a small container is one more meal from hunger…and if you are sure there is no more, you might make two meals out of one, by gathering things others overlook as a foodsource.

  5. Not raising a few veggies because someone may take them or not storing supplies because someone may take them is like saying someone is monitoring everything one says here and all over the web. Hmmm someone is doing that, sorry, bad comparison.

  6. Yes, you could have a garden failure. Yes, you could have it stolen. Our forebearers didn’t have grocery stores to shop in every day, they got basic staples from the store and grew the rest themselves.

  7. Hobbitt of the Shire says:

    I would rather take my chances than have my wife and children go hungry. plus, if someone were to try to take my garden or stored food, well, I have heard that fatal cases of lead poisoning will be in epidemic proportions after TSHTF.

  8. My guess is the threat of someone stealing from your garden isn’t as high as everyone thinks. You can reduce that threat even more if you guerrilla garden. Some of the things I have heard from sheeple over the years:

    “You aren’t going to eat that, are you? They have dirt on them.”
    “That doesn’t look like the (fill in the name of the veggie of your choice) that I get at the store.”
    Someone pointing at my green beans: “What are those long things on that plant over there?”
    “I thought peanuts came from trees.”
    “I didn’t know blueberries came from bushes.”
    “Isn’t that a weed? Why are you cutting it to eat?” (I was cutting herbs.)

    I am not saying you won’t have a risk of someone stealing from your garden, but I believe it is low. Having someone (or the dog) on guard duty in your back yard will stop most thieves. Guerrilla gardening will stop the rest.

    • richard M says:

      greetings. have a full size French Poodle that is very territorial. will bark at anything that she feels is invading her area, which is our whole place. we live in the country and her barking like crazy definitely gets attention. and most people are not aware of which dogs are dangerous, that will attack strangers and which will only bark. which is all i want. warn me and i will take care of the problem. dog that goes and bites someone opens one up to a lot of interest from the police.

    • Yup, amazing how the sheeple don’t equate things that look similar but don’t get it because things growing are out of context. I’m debating this year which things I will sneak into the front foundation bed, small tho it is. Wish I had a more plantable yard, but I don’t. Hate to put everything in my garden that only gets 1/2 day of sun, the second half when things bake. Oca doesn’t look too suspicious. Runner beans maybe somewhere. Sunchokes and I don’t agree anymore. May the takers eat some of my elderberries raw. Snicker, too bad they don’t know which weeds are edible.

    • Millie in KY says:

      Seriously. I had a 70+ year old persnickety woman ask me where eggs came from when I tried to give her a dozen. I said from hens. She said I know that, but where? So I carefully explained it came out of the bottom of a hen. To which she said “I don’t want them”. I don’t know where she thought the ones in the store she eats come from. I could not make this up. I was stunned.

      • Millie in KY,

        It would be funny if it were not so sad… What have these people been doing all of their life?

        • I have several friends that I have determined they should not know where their food comes from.

      • Millie in KY;
        Next time they give them back tell the “Easter Bunny” laid them! It is the old age question– where does milk come from—a carton in the grocery store. Sheeesh(sp)

      • FarmerKin says:

        My BF was stunned to find out that goats cheese came from goats milk. He had no idea that goats gave milk.

        One day a neighbors calf wandered out of their pasture. When my BF saw the calf, he exclaimed “Oh my God, look at the size of that dog”!

        I laughed my @$$ of both times. City folk are hilarious!

        • I saw this when I was a kid and always remembered how funny it was…(but I had to look it up to get the words right).

          Johnny Carson talking with David Brenner:

          Johnny Carson asked him who he thought was the bravest man in history… he said, the first guy that pointed at a cow and said “I’m gonna pull on that thing and drink whatever comes out.”

      • Sw't Tater says:

        you can”t fix stupidity.

        • But you can numb it with a two by four…. Nature takes care of its own, I suppose, but God help the rest of us!!

      • Survivor says:

        A cousin in California refuses to eat tomatoes because he saw where they come from…out of the ground. He better never find out about eggs….

        • Encourager says:

          ROFLOL! Seriously, Survivor?? Does he know onions actually grow IN the ground?? Or…well, ANY veggie! Don’t tell him how mushrooms are grown!

          I remember my grown niece watch one of our chickens lay an egg…it had a bit of poop on it and she screamed and said “Ewww! Chickens POOP OUT eggs???” If that poor chicken hadn’t been flying off the nest because of the screaming, I would have been rolling on the floor.

          About 38 years ago, I took a young neighbor boy (think he was 4) when I went to the farm to pick up some raw milk. I timed it so we could watch the cows get milked. As we pulled up to the farm I asked “Mikey, do you know where milk comes from?” He said “From A&P!” “Do you know where A&P gets the milk?” He said no. I told him he was about to find out where the milk first came from. When we went inside, he was in awe of the cows; he was pretty little and they were pretty big Holsteins. The farmer let him put on one of the milking tubes and then the milk came out. He was open-mouth in awe. We then went to the machine and filled my gallon jars and the farmer was telling him the milk came from the cow, through the tubing he saw, into the big milk container, then out the spigot for me. His life was changed forever and I took him every week to get milk. He went home that first time and his mom asked him if he now knew where milk came from. His answer was priceless – “Cows have these special pee-ers that milk comes outta, Mom!”

  9. Papa Bear says:

    I would have to disagree with the comment about people playing with tiny gardens in tiny backyards are just kidding themselves. There are an incredible number of people who are not in a position to plant a 1 acre garden and be self-sustaining and many of these are still preparing the best they can considering the situation they are in. An urban dweller who maintains a roof-top garden or takes advantage of a community garden will develop skills and experience that will be invaluable to them when the need arises. The only other thing I would add is that everybody needs to learn about seed saving and plant varieties that have viable saved seeds instead of relying on sterile hybrids. Remember, for long-term survival, knowledge and experience will be worth way more than a year’s supply of dehydrated food, tins of odd varieties of seeds that have never been used, or guns with mountains of ammo that have never been fired.

    • FarmerKin says:

      My thoughts exactly!

    • FarmerKin says:

      My thoughts exactly.

    • I agree. While a large garden is obviously the ideal, a small garden is nothing to casually dismiss. Yes, you can’t live off of it. But a small garden can still help supplement/stretch stored food supplies, and it can produce seeds for future use. More importantly, gardening (even just in pots) teaches skills that can be scaled up if necessary.

      If (when) serious hard times happen, suburban neighbors will likely band together and look for ways to protect themselves and to produce food. Knowing how to garden, having hand tools, and having a large supply of viable seeds, would allow you to help direct community efforts and produce large gardens as quickly as possible. Most people would be grateful to you for teaching them how to convert public spaces and yards into food-growing areas.

      In suburban/urban areas we can best prepare by making our small gardens as productive as possible, thinking of ways to divert and store irrigation water, learning about older dryland farming methods (spacing plants a lot farther apart to allow them to survive without irrigation), composting, ect.

      Suggest to your neighbors that they start their own small gardens now (emphasize it as a low-cost source of organic produce and a way to get healthy exercise). The more people we have with pre-tilled beds and a bit of know-how the better off we’ll all be. That alone is reason enough to have a small garden.

      • Survivor says:

        I started a seed garden in 5 gallon buckets this year just to expand the number of fresh heirloom seeds I have on hand. Of course, eating SOME of those fresh veggies will be benefit, as well.

  10. seein’ as how a backyard veggie plot has been in both recorded (and we’ve got to assume un-recorded) history for millennia, I reckon it’s a good idea to plant one. here’s why:

    A) it will produce eatables (’nuff said there)

    B) it will give your entire family something to do together and that produces group cohesion, love, loyalties, affection (priceless),

    C) it nourishes THE SOUL. we see God’s great mystery and gift of life sprouting right before our eyes. Praise God! (and THAT, folks, is what is going to get we, the “remnant” through all this–inner faith which builds strength in the Almighty, the foundation of America.)

    I’ve been tilling 140 acres of some of the worst highly erodible land you can find: but I grow a lot of very good corn, soybean, hay, even oats, all manner of veggies, and even some pine, hardwood, and fruit tree seedlings that are in their second decade, AND–there hasn’t been one day, come rain, snow, or blow, that I haven’t fallen on my prayer bones to thank almighty God for his mercy, grace and blessings for His bountiful and beautiful creation.

    when real hard times come, we’ll all deal with it. believe it. better to have fruits and veggies, than not have ’em. I’ve learnt that over 70 summers!

  11. I will grow my veggies and if someone trys to steal them I will shoot them. Gotta get your meat somewhere 🙂

    • tommy2rs says:

      Don’t forget to first roast and then grind the bones into bone meal. It’s a great add in to your compost and will make the veggies all the better…lol

  12. If you don’t try then you will never succeed. The more knowledge and experience you have the likely you are to survive. As your skills grow you are more valuable to a team or group, giving them reasons to let you join in or not kill you.
    A garden is an important part of the overall plan, but it shouldn’t be the only plan. A garden, hunting, fishing, storing, raising livestock are all parts of the puzzle.
    Growing and storing foods may help get through lean times, they can be traded for other supplies,ammo, water,clothes,fuel, or for services,blacksmith,car repair, or be used to convince bad guys you are more valueable alive.

  13. I have always enjoyed gardening and now enjoy the benefits of putting food away. Last year we had a big get together with family we had not seen in years. Most have no idea I am a prepper and just assumed I was a crazy old lady that spends all my time gardening, which is fine. The most precious moments of the get together was when the little children asked if they could play in the dirt (most are city kids). I gave them a basket and showed them where they could play. To their surprise there were treasure in the dirt. When they found the first potato they asked what it was. I explained and it did not take them long to fill the basket. They were so proud of the treasure. Then they washed their finds and took them home with them. Sometimes sharing is priceless!!!!

  14. peanut_gallery says:

    My Grandmother used to guerrilla garden. I actually went out into her yard to hunt for the garden which I never did find. Living through the great depression they learned that yes indead people would raid their garden. I finally did find her rhubarb which she grew along the behind the back garage wall with a narrow path and then a fence choked with weeds. Most people would have thought the whole thing was weeds. Then there is chives grown around the base of a tree so it just looks like tall grass that needs to be weed whacked. Anyway if you grew a garden in neet little rows even an untrained person would recognize it as a garden. Learn to plant many small gardens clumped with no rows. People walking by may not recognize a food bearing plant when its just clumped together. The exception would be tomato plants etc. The easily recognizable food can be grown in a traditional row garden, thereby throwing off suspicion from any other garden spots you may have hidden.

    • peanut_gallery;
      Like your grandmothers hide and seek garden. Will keep all that information in got to know file. Thank you

  15. JMJ- To garden, or not to garden…..every year the farmer worries about the worst of times…….most years ok times happen….so he plants & worries, then usually harvests……….no guarantees on this mortal coil, save death, taxes & nothing ventured-nothing gained……..nut trees are okay, but some hinder other crops-my understanding is hickory trees are rather incompatible w/other crops- one need research & plan & prep so to garner a bountiful harvest. I have no nut trees, yet am nutty enuff to prep, so I welcome feedback on this topic……….tcGB

    • richard M says:

      greetings. you can add to incompatible nuts the black walnut. nothing grows under their big leave drop area or in their shade. plant self protection to keep competing plants from growing in their spot.

      • tommy2rs says:

        Unfortunately things like hackberry, cedar, poison ivy, various creepers, briars and privy hedge grow all to well under Black Walnut trees. Got 4 in the back yard and three more on the edge of the yard. The black walnut nuts are edible (if hard to get out of the shell) and useful in other ways as are the husks (for green and brown dye as well as worming) and the trees can be tapped to make syrup like the sugar maple. In fact all members of the maple family (hickory, red maple, pecan and walnut) can used to make syrup. No it won’t be as good as sugar maple syrup nor will you get as much volume from equivalent amounts of sap but it is a source of sweetener. The nut meats can be pressed for oil and the seed cakes left can be fed to chickens or eaten by us. If you can grind the black walnut shells they will work fine as media in your brass cleaner. Hickory and pecan shells make good smoke to cure meat with. No part of the black walnut is good for cooking in my experience, the smoke is pretty nasty smelling and not at all tasty.

  16. A small garden might also serve as low hanging fruit for zombies to invade instead of your house.

  17. livinglife says:

    a small garden isn’t really that attractive, think like a predator, do you want a small meal or a large one, which will warrant your caloric expenditure?

    if doing nothing is the option because “someone might take it” then why have a bug out location, or bother to prep at all?

  18. Sisterjudi says:

    Primary reason for garden is health.What they throw at us today is killing us.You grow organic and you are then eating healthy.Real important today,especially when there r no drugs,lol you will have your herb garden,yahoo

  19. We moved last summer to a place with land but no garden area (!) so I am starting small this year. I am buying many more seeds than I can plant, just in case. Most seeds are good for more than one year. I will try to buy heirloom if I can.

  20. Elwood Gaspard says:

    The argument not to *attempt* to grow is silly beyond belief. It’s loser thinking, thinking of all the bad stuff that *can* happen as a certainty. You don’t know it *will* be pillaged anymore than you *know* that it won’t.

    I live in ‘the burbs’ and I have 5000 sq feet in the back I could use. It would take up the whole back, but…
    Also, some here are grossly underestimating how much food you can produce on a small, efficiently planned space. I’ve seen urbanites grow more tomatoes than they can eat on a balcony. I’ve seen condo owners with 2 dwarf fruit trees giving away buckets of peaches they can’t eat after cooking, canning, dehydrating, etc. A greenhouse can be extremely productive especially if you set up a worm casing system.

    I wasn’t always a suburbanite. I grew up on a 13 acre small farm in Louisiana and our garden wasn’t much bigger than 5000 sq feet even though we had more space we were able to pull a ridiculous amount
    squash, beans and corn and green (mustard and turnip) from that garden.

    You don’t need that much space to *supplement* your food storage with fresh stuff. That’s another thing, you don’t have to have 100% storage or garden as your strategy. They’re complementary. Should I not build a coop for fresh eggs for when TSHTF

  21. Elwood Gaspard says:

    (Cont’d) just because I can’t support a 10,000 hen operation? Of course not.

    Size matters, but it’s not all that matters.

    Lastly, don’t laugh off urban community farming. It can be quite productive, and more importantly I’ve noticed a preponderance of folks here who plan on going everything alone. A small community may be more mouths to feed, but it’s also more trigger fingers and growers. Community farms might be developing other skills besides just growing and maintaining, like teaming and cooperation and dividing resources and labor, etc. Things that’ll go a long way if TSHTF

  22. Southern Girl says:

    You guys just crack me up with the sarcasm! Thanks for the laugh. Well, gotta run. DH is waiting to go to the home store. Gotta pick up the materials for my garden boxes. Whoops. Did I say garden? I meant for home repairs. Don’t let the negative thinkers stop you from enjoying the growing season. It’s just a hobby. Right?

  23. I am planning on growing plants that don’t look edible – ex.carrots, potatoes, chives. Many people have no idea what the above ground part of these plants look like. Same for herbs. Grow zucchini near the house and most will think it is a bush. Kohlrabi grows in the ground but gives the benefits of the broccoli family, with fewer bugs. Lettuce/spinach are easily grown in a cool basement with adequate light, but again, most people won’t recognize the plant.
    I agree with a previous post – have a few obvious plants in small section for the “low hanging fruit” types, or a barking dog.
    But definitely grow as much of your own food as possible. Eat it fresh and organic. Yum.

  24. We do not get to pick the events that tax our ability to keep going; weather, economy, illness, or man-made issues. Having the skills of “putting back” for hard times and having a garden to lessen the demands on depending on the local ability to supply the daily needs; food, water, fuel, and utilities, is the only sensible way to live. No struggle. Just a way of living.

  25. Stop worrying about someone stealing your food. Cross that bridge when you get there. However, growing your own lettuce, tomatoes and such will give you meaningful work in life. One may not grow an acre. So what?
    A small greenhouse will do the job. We are trying. Some failures yes. But as we continue our education and practice, growing food becomes easier and more successful. No?

    • Sw't Tater says:

      Don’t under estimate the possibility, but think how you would respond to the attempt, If you caught it. several yrs ago. My Dad planted a patch of watermelon, out from the house, with an electric fence around. they grew and had started ripening, went back just before to check the progress..found a few footprints.no watermelon. He was hacked, but we had enuf to eat.

      • Survivor says:

        My Grandpa used to plant an extra row of watermelons ‘just for the boys to steal’ he’d say with a grin. I suspect he took his share of melons from a patch.
        One night the boys came. They took all his melons and then took them to town where they threw the melons onto the street, in parking lots, in yards… they made a HUGE mess. That was the last year Grandpa grew a garden.

  26. Oddly enough, I have never ever heard anyone suggest that people should not garden. Not once. Not here or anywhere else. What kind of people do you all hang around?

    • Ron,
      I’ve had a friend tell me that it was cheaper and therefore better to buy it at the local store. I told her that there was no way it could taste better than growing it! 🙂

      • When you assign a doller $ value to your time it might be cheaper. I don’t know. I guess that is an individual question.

        • My dollar value at work is a little on the high side. But if there is ever a time my family will look to me to feed them, then I say our time learning to garden and plant the fruit trees will be priceless.

  27. MrSpud in ID says:

    Hey y’all, good to be back. took some time off after the wife passed. Getting back to my preps now…slowly! Had a question, off topic, if anyone can help. I have Israeli gas masks for the family with canteens and filters, however, I have know idea how long one filter is supposed to last until you replace them. Can’t read the language on them, lol, Any thoughts, ideas or anwsers? Can’t seem to find the info anywhwere? Guess i’m losing my touch! LOL Thanks again folks, just trying to figure out how many I should have on hand. Feels good trying to get back to normal-ish. Miss the wife dearly everyday, but we must go forward! That’s how Miss Teresa would have wanted us to do it 🙂 Any help would be appreciated.

  28. Mother Earth says:

    Well MD, I don’t raise a garden for survival, that’s just an added plus. I prefer to grow and preserve my own food for several reasons:
    1) taste
    2) convenience/comfort – by preserving what I grow, I know it’s safer and looking at shelves full of food or freezer, I have a big selection to cook from. No running to the store to buy ingredients.
    3) cost – I get a lot of food for little cost
    4) self-sufficiency/safety – I’m somewhat independent in nature. Don’t like to be told by the FDA how much bugs, rat hair, maggots, chemicals are exceptable in the food processed by manufacturers. And yes you can look this info up on the FDA site.
    5) happiness – the feeling I get when picking a ripe pear off my pear tree while puttering around my yard. Sometimes it’s the simple pleasures that give me peace of mind.

  29. JP in MT says:

    We don’t have a yard to speak of but we do have a glassed in front porch, the full width of the house. So we have purchased/aquired buckets, plants, soil, tools, etc. to start doing something. Hopefully the blueberries and blackberries can be transplanted to the front of the house where the stupid I-on’t-die rose bush is.

    It isn’t much, but it is more productive than “American Idol”.

  30. Encourager says:

    The site is acting up again, M.D. Typed my post then it disappeared. When I went to retype it, the name and email boxes were empty. I closed the site, reconnected and all is fine. Just thought you would like to know.

    Okay, I will admit I do not really like to garden because I hate, hate, hate to weed! There!! I did it! Confession is good for the soul. But I love my raised bed, so much easier to weed and it hurts so much less than trying to weed the ground. I have gardened most of my adult life so know how. I will be putting in a few things this year such as peas (as soon as the dirt in the raised bed is thawed enuf!), lettuces and spinach, and then later cukes, tomatoes and maybe winter squash in my perennial bed where I found a big empty spot filled with weeds. I think I had something growing there that the deer found irresistible and killed it off.

    My skills will not go away, and if it comes to it, we will plant like crazy. I can also grow lettuces and spinach inside all winter. I will be buying stuff I don’t grow from a local organic CSA less than four miles from me. Our big, main garden is going to be planted to cover crops this year to improve (I hope, if sand can be improved on). I bought buckwheat and hairy vetch for that area.

    The only way someone will be able to tell if we have a garden is if they fly over our property. If SHTF, I doubt anyone will be doing that. Can’t see it from the road or even from the edges of our property. This summer we have repairs to make – a new roof and fencing for the chicken coop before we get any chickens and a huge 250 year old hickory to take down in front of the house. That hickory was a sapling when our country was founded. We lost 1/3 of it in 2002 due to a microburst during a bad storm (took out the porch and part of the roof, and damaged our van that was under it.) Now the center is rotted and it is so top-heavy it could take out the barn or the house, depending on which way it falls. Breaks my heart but it has to come down.

    • Encourager,

      I don’t weed. A few sheets of newspaper between your vegetables with some mulch on top will stop all weeds.

      In the summer I ‘mulch’ with aluminum foil. Works great on green beans and squash. Not only does it keep the water in, the sun shining on it confuses the bugs so you won’t have to deal with them either.

      • Kate from GA,
        Aluminium foil? I will have to try it, other than ants my main bug problem is from squash bugs!! I have not had a decent crop in a few years now. Last year I could not even get them to grow. I tried interplanting nasturiums which I had read was recommended but it did not help. I had bumper crops of chili peppers, jalapenos, bell peppers, okra and eggplant. The squash, tomatoes and onions did not do so well. I think my main problem is that I let my DH take control of the garden. I was working full time and he wasn’t and he had to do things his own way!!! He does not know that much about gardening and would not let me give him any advice! This year I am going to be in control again!!! 😀

        • If you are interested, you can see how I I added the aluminum foil here.

          You won’t have squash bugs (or any other garden pest for that matter) if you use aluminum foil .

          For the ants, crush some mint TUMS (generic brands are cheaper) and spread between the plants. Ants are my biggest garden pest – they don’t bother most of my plants but I always end up disturbing them and then I can’t be out there until they calm down. They do try to enslave aphids on my strawberries but the TUMS keeps them away most of the season so I don’t have any problems any more. TUMS are part of my food storage program. They store for years and I keep plenty around!

          In addition, the strawberries need the calcium to make big juicy berries so this is a win/win!

          • Kate,
            Thanks for the link. I just went to your blog. Great info, I will visit it often!

  31. Uncle Charlie says:

    MD: Amen to your article. Better to grow crops than to not grow crops regardless of what may happen, whether you be urban or rural. Even in heavily forested deer country, as you say, there are pot plots or “food” plots which could be converted to people food plots. I’ve even read of people having secret gardens in roofless abandoned structures if you want stealth gardens. And of course it is possible that the “tomorrow” that some are worried about may never come or not come as soon as some expect and then of course you can enjoy fresh unadulterated vegetables now and can the surplus for the future. As far as meat goes, guinea pigs are a stealth source of tasty dark meat with a very low profile and require very little space to raise.

    • Sw't Tater says:

      what do they (guinea pigs) taste like? Do they have much fat on them, or more lean like squirrell?

  32. We started our gardens years ago, and they have evolved into a combination of flowers, berries herbs, fruit and nut trees and of course, veggies.

    We built, in addition to the regular garden, a set of “raised” gardens, 4×8 feet each and about 30 inches high, on the property. We built them specifically on a walkway so we do not have to kneel on the ground to garden, which can be harder to do as we age. This way, we will be able to continue gardening all our lives.

    Gardening is more than a viable strategy for survival, it is a proven success for thriving – our ancestors’s ability to garden is one of the reasons we are even here.

  33. whoisbiggles says:

    I grow garden, because this is time to be learning how to do it.
    My mistakes, of which there have been many, won’t cause my family to starve whilst there are supermarkets.
    My plan involves not growing brightly coloured fruit, eg berries, tomatoes and eggplants outside.
    If needs be I will harvest the citrus and fruit trees before these fully ripen and become a target. It has taken years to get trees to bear fruit.

  34. I would garden no matter what. I would rather know where my food comes from. I do not have the luxury of going to a co-op or to an organic store. There are not any near me. Most people around here think that they must use lots of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. There is a new place nearby that I will have to check out. It appears that it might be a small organic farm and maybe I can buy some things that I am not to set up to grow just yet. Here’s hoping I would love to get more varities of fresh produce to put up and eat!! 🙂

  35. Is it not better to plant a garden now and learn, than gamble your life on something you know nothing about?

  36. Texanadian says:

    Having spent the day building fence for the goats, planting stawberrys, tending the garden I have but one thing to say. Well, maybe two or three.
    Taste, recreation – it feels good to till the the land and when people talk about the cost of veggies I don’t know what the heck they are talking about. We had dinner tonight with one of chickens as the guest of honor accompanied by carrots, tators, salad and store bought but canned peas.

    Mmm mm good.

    God bless Texas almost year round gardening.

  37. Horse'sass says:

    Speaking of gardening and therefore the need for fertilizing, it sounds like chicken poop is the best fertilizer since, ….. sliced bread…uh, scratch that.

    Been reading about raising chickens. Here in southern Miss-Lou area, sounds like main concern is keeping them cool at night, as well as the usual universal predation issue.

    Any advice on a moveable coop to spread the chicken poop around, especially with the problem of heat control here in the south? (Grew up in Western New York so really have some acclimatin’ to do). It seems that to support 20 or so hens for a family of 3 wouldn’t require too big a coop, but I am concerned that the moveable ones wouldn’t be as sturdy and impractical to move around, etc, plus having to buy a tractor etc.

    I was thinking to build a fixed 4 door coop in the center of 4 equal fenced plots and let them range/ rotate fertilization of the plots on a year to year basis, leaving 3 of the lots fallow each year to regain nutrients while I planted the fourth. any thoughts?

    No horses, so home grown manure is out, but don’t mind fetching some from someone who wants it out of their barn.

    Finally, LDS Prepper on You Tube really sings the praises of the Mittleider gardening system (raised beds, special nutrient package you buy from them plus the readily available triple fertilizer and epson Salt ) which to me looks like a high yield method if real estate is tight.

    Anyone with experience with this?

    • For anyone out there thinking of getting chickens…do it! There are so many advantages to having them, and they’re a lot of fun. However, unless you’re planning on raising some of your chickens for meat, start small or you’ll risk “egg overload” when they start to lay.

      I have four hens, and they each lay around an egg a day…120 eggs/month. That’s enough for my husband and I to keep 2 dozen on hand for our own use and still have a dozen or two a week for me to sell at work (at $4 a dozen…it pays the feed bill!). Even in Winter, when egg production falls, I got 2-3 eggs per day from the hens without supplemental lighting.

      20 hens for a family of three would have one drowning in eggs…up to 140 eggs a week! That’s great if you’re planning to sell eggs as a business, but not so good if your goal is having eggs for home use. It might be wise to start with fewer hens at first and get a feel for how many eggs you want/need. You can always add to your flock over time, with the added advantage of staggering the birds’ ages to better maintain egg production long-term.

      • Encourager says:

        If you buy straight run chickens, at least half will be roosters. Keep one for your hens, two if you have over 8 hens. Those roosters make good eating. We found Australorps will lay all year, even in winter. We hooked up a heat lamp that gave them heat and light for three hours in the morning – it was enough.

        I would love to get chickens again. However, we camp a lot in the summer and especially in the fall. We do not want to give a neighbor access to take care of the birds when we are done. So I welcome any suggestions on how to provide for them while we are gone. A relative would be able to come over about 2xper week to pick up eggs and check food and water.

        That is why we haven’t gotten any chickens yet. I do not want them to suffer at all from lack of water or feed while we are gone. We have new neighbors up front; have not met them yet. Praying they might be trustworthy to come back and take care of chickens for us. We will see. The best would be that THEY would get chickens and we could buy the eggs .

    • HS;
      First your chicken poop, needs to set for a year, or you will burn the crops you are trying to raise. It is one of the hottest fertilizers out there. If you want an area that is hawk protected(big birds), have you thought about putting up netting on a light weight cage made with wood and large rolling wheels. Makes it portable, you might be able to modify one you have seen in the catalogs. Just an idea.
      To reduce the heat during the summer, I have seen people put up misting systems on their chicken pens to lower the temp so the chickens do not die from heat prostration. It can drop the temp by at least 20 degrees, we use the misting system on our deck during the summer. It can get up to 115 degrees in our area.

    • Sw't Tater says:

      I asked my MIL how much space required for chickens, she said for 24, a minimum of 12×20 + hen house/shelter/nesting boxes, and here we have all kinds of varmits trying to get them…hawks, cats, possum, coon, snakes……so must have a cover over entire area at all times.
      I am going to try raised beds this year, in addition to my small garden.If you keep in mind that an intensive planted garden requires intensive feeding and watering..it shouldn’t be too difficult. I will put straw and leaf material, with a few worms… under the bed to raise it, and next year it should be richer. The soil will be composted manure and etc…and will mulch with sawdust, to keep out wind borne weeds…
      me thinks to guarantee a result and charge a price, they must offer something specialized to justify the charge. I’ll do my shoestring method.

    • HS,
      If you are new to gardening, raising chickens etc… Start small!! you can quickly get overwhelmed. For a family of 3 you only need a few hens to supply all of your needs. You can go to motherearthnews.com and search portable chicken coops and you will find all kinds of ideas to build one that is lightweight. Chickens are great at eating bugs. I live in N GA and it gets hot here. I just make sure that my chickens have shade and water and they do fine. Of course in your area the humidity is much worse. Good Luck!

  38. My only sunny spot for a veggie garden is right in my front yard. Converting it from grass to produce bit by bit. Made some raised beds last fall out of (gasp) treated lumber. Just about weathered gray already. Going to try growing potatoes right on compost on newspapers over the grass. Garden gal gave me some tips. Just till the whole thing under come fall and a new patch to plant. Going to mix in tall cutting flowers so maybe some cover for the edible stuff. Back yard is almost totally shaded by large trees. Might have room for a starter apple tree. A mildly sunny spot. Berries might get enough sun by the fence. I read that carrots and radishes do really well growing in pots. You can move them around for maximum sun. Strawberries can be grown in almost anything. Burpees has come out with a corn that you can grow in a pot as well. Small 5 inch cobs. But tasty I’m sure. My seeds have sprouted in the basement under lights. And getting tall. I think I started them too early. It will be weeks before the ground here is warm enough to plant anything I would hate to toss them out but they won’t survive down there till May. I have a mildly brown thumb so lots of mistakes and do overs. Luckily seeds are pretty cheap….for now.

  39. Hello Pack;
    This is off the subject but thought for those who were interested. On govdeals.com you will find ammo on sale, guns and mre’s. I was browsing through the different items listed. Since these are in TN, it might benefit many of you who live in that area.

  40. Good article with a good perspective. If you have ever spoken with someone who has been truly hungry with no relief in sight, look into their eyes as they recall it and it will touch your soul.

  41. I was growing a garden long before I ever even heard of being a “survivalist” or “prepper”. First tree I planted when we bought this house (yes, I know, I’m in the suburbs, etc, etc) was a plum tree. Now I have my plum, a peach tree, pear tree, several apples and a couple of cherries. Planting an asparagus bed this year, and putting in strawberries. I’m right in the middle of suburbia and a total sitting duck for the “golden horde” yeah, but I am not financially able to move right now, so just doing the best I can for my family with what I have. Did I mention the grapevines?

    • Bullets will stop any golden horde that shows up.

      Since I can’t sell my house until the economy gets better (read that to mean a new president), I am stuck in a neighborhood too. (We do have bug out land that my FIL owns, if necessary. We are also still looking for some land of our own.) My husband says he will put heads on sticks if he has to at the entrance of our neighborhood to send a message that horders are not welcomed.

      Unfortunately, it isn’t going to be a nice world after it all collapses.

  42. Ive been raised bed gardening for a few years now and as my garden ages it just gets better and better. Most folks don’t realize that their ground is really good for one mono crop, provided you use lots of fertalizer, grass that is. Garden soil takes time to mature. That’s why I went from in ground to raised beds. I brought in garden soil, added good stuff and learned as I went. A couple of years ago I added mel’s mix from square foot gardening to the top six inches, where most plants grow, and OMG my garden took off! This year I had to do a rebuild as my wood was rotting out after several years of use. I decided to expand too. I use composit wood so to last a lot longer. During this process it was neccasary to remove my old dirt. Seeing all those worms in my mix was so perty! Now it’s in and my plants are loving it. I’ll add Mel’s mix this fall as finances improve. As for expansion after shtf I now have a good base to inoculate new areas to jump start new areas. As for meat I have six hens and five eggs average is to many for me and DW. Two will be dinner soon. They are in a large contained and covered area to protect them and keep them from scratching up everything. My other source of meat is rabbits! Unlike chicken poop it can go streight into the garden and does! Another thing is i can feed my chickens and rabbits yard and garden leaves and waste to save on food too. You can see all my garden on my blog, gardenforyourlife.blogspot.com.

    My friends, who think I was silly, are complaining about the price of food, and I just smile. I keep telling them they need to get it in while times are good as after shtf it will be to late. Most are hopeless as they really don’t want to know where food really comes from. I also use meetup.com to find close folks of a like mind. I recently had a meet up at my house and it was great to deal with folks who were willing to learn. You do need to be careful though as evil folks and trolls exist. I’ll be on the lookout for one of those who attended. They didn’t see all my preps to deal with intruders.


  43. Blackberries and raspberries look wild and not food source to most folks.

  44. Encourager says:

    I will try again. But this time I will copy my post before posting it – it has disappeared forever into thin air twice yesterday.

    Okay, I have a confession to make. I. do. not. like. gardening. Whew, I said it. Actually I hate weeding. And the ground has gotten painfully farther away every year. I have had gardens all my life, both flower and vegetable gardens. Thirty-some years ago at another home, we had clay soil that in 3 years of having the village dump collected leaves in our yard that we shredded and roto-tilled into our beds, we turned that clay into wonderful, rich, black loam. For the past 30 years we have struggled to produce minimally with sandy soil. Every year we fight rose chafers that eat anything white in site, quackgrass that is nearly impossible to destroy with out chemicals, and sand that no matter how much compost, leaves, manure, etc we roto-till in, is still sand again by spring.

    We built a raised hip-high bed last year that produced bountifully. What a pleasure that was! We also seriously enriched a corner of said garden and grew potatoes…and fed the voles quite well. Never had problems with voles before. We had drought conditions and watered and mulched the potatoes deeply. The voles loved it – nice, rich, cool soil with yummies all through it!! Vole Heaven!!!!! What we did harvest from the potatoes was nice, big potatoes…some with chew marks and some half eaten.

    So I know how to garden. When TSHTF, we will do the best we can. I also discovered a CSA within 4 miles of us that does everything organically. I will go there to buy lots of stuff to put up because this year that garden is going to be at least two different cover crops to enrich the soil. See, I have not given up in spite of all the discouragement. We can also grow greens all year inside as we live in a passive solar home.

    I would rather go camping while we still can. Shocking isn’t it??

    • Encourager says:

      Sorry for the somewhat duplicate post. I guess the second time around it DID post! All I could see was a blank box. Weird.

  45. private idaho says:

    hey brenda had the same problem a few years back, found out that if you put cigarett ashes in the hole when you plant it will repell the squash bugs. tried it, havent had any bugs since then, also radishes could help with other types of bugs. look into companion planting your crops.

  46. GeorgiaBoy says:

    I completely agree with you. Any calories you can produce are better than none.

  47. I suspect that most of the people who have grown up in the suburbs can not recognize a vegetable plant unless it is planted in a long row of similar plants and loaded with ripe fruit (tomatoes, peppers…). If you have a border of potato, peanut or carrot plants growing around the foundation of your house, most people will likely just think this is some kind of green foundation planting. People generally see what they expect to see. The same goes for turnips or sweet potato vines — most suburban dwellers will not have a clue that these are food plants. How many can recognize an apple or pear tree, or a plum or fig bush or a pecan or walnut tree unless said plant is loaded with fruit? Probably not many. Scarlet runner beans can be grown on fences along with morning glory vines and passersby will recognize the morning glories and likely totally ignore the runner beans. And if you plant your food garden in decoratively arranged “flower” beds along with plenty of inexpensive flowering ornamentals (zinnias, petunia, marigolds), I doubt that many folks will notice that those plants without pretty flowers are actually food plants.

    • That’s easy to answer. The fruit trees came with big tags and trunk protectors that tell what kind of fruit is dispensed from them. Same with the tomaters, :p

      • Sad but true. So what do suburbanites do when someone switches the plant label at the garden center or the label on the fruit tree falls off and is blown away by the wind?

  48. loriann12 says:

    I read about a woman in Nazi Germany and she said people were digging up their basements, right under the window that got the most light in, and planting small gardens there. We don’t have basements in my part of Texas, but we have a privacy fence. I’ve got two raised bed gardens and make my own compost (though I’m not real good at it – I get most from my father in law who is better) and use the square foot method.

  49. I don’t think small or huge garden really matters just as long as you are growing your own food for the future. It’s evident things will get much worse before they get better.

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