Survival gardening is becoming a fairly well known concept these days as more and more people are taking steps to be prepared for the wide array of unforeseen and also likely events and circumstances that could happen in the face of earth changes affecting the harvests and crops worldwide and economic challenges faced by many and the highly possible event of economic collapse or any other kind of breakdown or interruption in the extremely delicate “just in time” infrastructure we rely on so much.
Being prepared and able to provide for yourself is something everyone should be working towards in whatever steps they can.
Growing some of your own food is basically a lost skill to the majority of modern society but is becoming a necessary skill to learn as more of the current agricultural system that feeds the planet is simply unsustainable or has been devastated by extreme acts nature.
Learning the knowledge, and more importantly, gaining the experience of growing some of your own food will help you tremendously if you find yourself in a situation of having to rely on yourself to feed you and your family.
Now is the time to learn, so you can gain experience and learn from your mistakes, when the supermarket shelves are there to supplement you after you find out it’s not as easy as you first though it might be. Waiting until a crisis starts, leaving it to a time when you actually need food before attempting to learn survival gardening skills, could be costly.
My first attempt at container gardening on my patio was a disaster…it was a lot of work with very little to show but armed with more knowledge and research the next year I had much better results.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are relying on whatever you can grow you will definitely need to maximize your production efforts and make everything you grow produce very well.
Here are some of my tips to maximize your survival gardening efforts:
Make sure you start with the proper soil with enough fertilizer, compost and nutrients for your vegetables. There is a lot of information on the web about this so I won’t go into that much detail but this is something you should definitely educate yourself on.
But here’s a great fertilizer product to help maximize production:
Make sure you use the right seeds.
There is a big difference between regular seeds, hybrid seeds or heirloom seeds. You’ll want to be able to save your seeds to use in re-planting your garden the next year and many seeds are genetically engineered not to grow again so you are forced to buy new seeds. Here’s a great article about this: http://www.container-gardening-for-food.com/gardening-seeds.html So bottom line is buy the right seeds.
Here’s a great source for heirloom non-hybrid seeds in long term storage packaging.
Hand Pollinating Your Vegetables
Container gardens and patio gardens are more susceptible to pollination problems because they don’t get as much bee traffic or crosswinds as ground gardens do. Sometimes hand-pollinating is necessary when there isn’t enough bee traffic.
Hand pollinating your vegetables tends to dramatically increase the production of vegetables giving your more vegetables per plant.
You will need to first determine if your plant is self-pollinating or if it cross-pollinates.
Tomatoes and peppers self-pollinate, meaning each flower contains all the necessary plant parts to make a fruit. But many vine crops like cucumbers, melons, squash, pumpkins etc.. produce different male and female flowers. The male flower will have pollen-laden stamens and the female flower will usually have what looks like the tiny bud of a vegetable at the base.
A small paintbrush is a great tool for hand pollinating your vegetables.
If your plant is self-pollinating, all you need to do is brush inside each flower, making sure the pollen gets down into the pistil (middle part) of the flower.
I’ve also seen videos of simply shaking the plant.
If your plant is not a self-pollinator, take your paintbrush and hand brush up some of the pollen from the male flower and transfer it to the pistil on a female flower. You can also pick the male flower and rub the pollen right into the female.
Here’s a great YouTube video demonstrating this:
If your plant doesn’t start bearing fruit in a few days, then something else might be going on. Inadequate water, lack of sunlight, and nutrient-deficient soil can also cause plants to conserve energy and not bear fruit.
If you have quite a large garden where hand pollinating isn’t feasible then attracting bees will be necessary.
Bees love plant flowers that are blue, white, yellow or purple in your garden. These are the favorites in a honey bee garden. Further, you can create little areas for nesting for the bees, and this will keep them near your garden so your garden will be pollinated as necessary.
Making sure the plant flowers that attract bees are mixed throughout your garden will also help to ensure attracting healthy amounts of bees attending to your garden.
Another idea is to consider becoming a beekeeper. Not only will you have plenty of bees around but honey too.
Working With the Forces of Nature
Gardening by the phases of the moon is a technique that can speed the germination of your seeds by working with the forces of nature.
Plants respond to the same gravitational pull of tides that affect the oceans, which alternately stimulates root and leaf growth. Seeds sprout more quickly, plants grow vigorously and at an optimum rate, harvests are larger and they don’t go to seed as fast. This method has been practiced by many for hundreds of years, and is a perfect compliment to organic gardening because it is more effective in non-chemically treated soil.
Lunar planting is influenced by two factors:
The lunar phase controls the amount of moisture in the soil. This moisture is at its peak at the time of the new and the full moon. The sun and moon are lined up with earth. Just as the moon pulls the tides in the oceans, it also pulls upon the subtle bodies of water, causing moisture to rise in the earth, which encourages germination and growth. Tests have proven that seeds will absorb the most water at the time of the full moon.
The astrological signs of the zodiac correspond with the elements of water, earth, fire, or air. Each plant has a preference for what elemental sign it is planted in. The best time for starting seeds of most annual plants is during the fertile water signs, but root crops like earth signs, and flowers especially like the air sign of Libra. The moon sign changes every few days.
A great resource site for this is Gardening By The Moon. They have both a calendar and software that can guide you on the best days for planting by the phase and the signs of the moon as well as garden activities for each month for over fifty annual vegetables and flowers.
Using Pyramid Structures to Increase Garden Yields
Putting your seeds inside a pyramid structure that’s aligned to true north for 1-5 days before planting will produce a 20 to 100 percent increase in their yield and the plants will be disease resistant and won’t be affected by droughts according to scientific research done with pyramid structures.
To read the full article about this on another post CLICK HERE.
If space is limited you don’t need a gigantic pyramid structure. Small ones can be constructed easily following the plans at this site: http://www.precisionpyramids.com/pyramidplans.htm and if you aren’t skilled with wood working you probably have some skills that could be traded with someone who is.
Companion planting is a method of putting plants together in the garden that like each other or help each other out. Companion planting can have a real impact on the health and yield of your plants. Companion planting can help with disease and pest control. Some combinations work because of scents they use to repel insects while others work because they attract good bugs.
For example broccoli, brussel sprouts and cabbage do not like to be around strawberries and potatoes don’t do well around the melon family but carrots love to be around tomatoes.
In fact there’s a great book on companion planting called: CARROTS LOVE TOMATOES & ROSES LOVE GARLIC – Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening
The gardening classic Carrots Love Tomatoes was first published in 1975 and the sequel to that was Roses Love Garlic. This book is a combination of those two books. Not only does it tell what to plant with what, but also how to use herbal sprays to control insects, what wild plants to encourage in the garden, how to grow fruit and nut trees, how to start small plots or window-box gardens, and much more. It’s one of the most practical books around for any gardener of edibles, no matter how serious or casual. This is kind of like the companion planting bible and is definitely my top pick for a must have book on this subject.
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