Key Elements for Self-Sufficient Gardening – Part 4, by B. C.

Element Number Five: Permaculture and Perennial Crops

Annual crops may make up the bulk of your food and take the most of your labor when you are survival gardening. However, a critical part of our sustainable farm is the use of perennial crops, which actually give you more return on your investment than the yearly planting and production of annuals. The great thing about most perennials is that you plant them once, and they produce for several years. You don’t have to worry about what time of year the apocalypse starts; they are there waiting for you year after year. For that reason, perennial crops are an essential element for the survival gardener.

I’m not going to go into specifics, but perennial crops include some vegetables, like asparagus and rhubarb, as well as small fruits and tree crops. Producing tree fruit east of the Mississippi is tough to … Continue reading

Key Elements for Self-Sufficient Gardening – Part 3, by B.C.

Element Number Three: Irrigation

A downside to growing in greenhouses and high tunnels is that you have to have access to water and a way to irrigate these crops. That can be a positive, as it motivates you to build a system that you can use for your field crops as well. Even in the eastern U.S. where we farm, our irrigation is used every year. Rainfall seldom comes exactly when you need it, and having a way to irrigate your crops is the difference between being subject to droughts and being able to produce a crop every single year.

For a small greenhouse and high tunnel, you can, for the most part, just run a garden hose from whatever water source you use for your house. If you are dependent on a public water supply, it is a good idea to have a backup system for truly sustainable … Continue reading

Letters Re: The Human-Powered Veggie Garden, by J.A.



To be successful, the gardener needs to know about their local soil. We have taught vegetable gardening down in South Florida. Often it is more manageable to build a raised garden. Since our soil is about 2” to 4″ before we hit coral rock, we are more successful with the raised garden. This also applies to other poor soiled areas. And if the soil quality is controlled, so are pests. The better the soil, the sweeter the yield. – ebec.usa

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The only thing that I would add is to include a spading fork to the essential tools list. An initial loosening of the ground with a spading fork is useful if your ground is clay heavy. – J.A.

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Great letter on gardening by hand. Another invaluable tool to get now is a high quality, all steel broadfork. … Continue reading

Key Elements for Self-Sufficient Gardening – Part 2, by B. C.

Heating the Greenhouse (continued)

We’ve got a small solar system on one of our chicken tractors that can be switched over to control the thermostat on the heater and the exhaust fan if we lose electricity long-term in the greenhouse. If we need to, we can move the woodstove back in, but for now this system works well. No matter what kind of heating system you choose, having a backup plan makes you sleep easier at night. At minimum have a kerosene heater and a few cans of fuel on hand that you can move into the greenhouse for a night or two if your main heat or electricity goes out. It will save a greenhouse full of plants and a season’s worth of food.

Temporary Greenhouses and Tunnels

Instead of a permanent wooden or metal-framed greenhouse, you can use a less expensive, temporary greenhouse design made from PVC. However, … Continue reading

Key Elements for Self-Sufficient Gardening – Part 1, by B. C.

I was blessed to grow up on a farm and later was fortunate to be able to receive an advanced degree in Agriculture. For the last 15 years my wife and I have been running a small diversified farm where we produce vegetables, fruit, and animal products for local markets and a C.S.A. (Community Supported Agriculture). During this time we’ve spent several years in several countries doing agricultural mission work, seeing how the rest of the world feeds itself, and doing our part to assist them with that.

Over time we’ve worked hard to turn our own 30-acre farm into a self-sufficient property. My goal has been to see our farm as one that could feed my family and other families far into the future if “the front gate gets shut and locked.” As SurvivalBlog readers are well aware, this seems to be more of a possibility with every … Continue reading

Letter Re: The Human-Powered Veggie Garden, by J.A.


I would offer these suggestions to enhance the ease of preparation of the garden area. First, double digging the ground is a tried and true method, but it can be labor intensive. This can present a challenge to older persons or anyone with physical limitations. An alternative would be to use the layered or “lasagna” approach to change the sod into a garden. The book Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza covers this in detail, but a brief summary is to cover the grass with wet newspapers or cardboard and then build up layers of compostable material, allowing enough time to decay before planting. This kills the grass and helps to soften the earth below to make digging and planting much easier. One possible disadvantage is that the layers may not build enough heat to act as a compost pile, so weed seeds could still germinate . If … Continue reading

Letters Re: The Human-Powered Veggie Garden



Try straw bale gardening. It’s a lot less work and very productive. I had more tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers than I could handle in my first season. It also takes up less space and saves the back pain of bending over so far or kneeling to weed or trim et cetera. You can garden on your patio or roof, or just about anywhere. I’m 68, and I’ll never use another method of gardening. Note! Use straw bales, not hay! – GSS

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Respectfully, double digging is a bad idea. It will destroy the soil structure. It is an idea left over from times when heavy chemical fertilization and peat moss were used in suburban gardens. It destroys the microorganisms in the soil as well as the natural soil structure. Adding 2-3 inches of compost on top of the soil each year is much healthier for the … Continue reading

The Human-Powered Veggie Garden- Part 1, by J.A.


A small amount of land, in some cases as little as half an acre if managed correctly, could supply a bountiful vegetable garden even without the luxuries of fossil fuel-driven technology or animal power. The key to the survival of an individual or a family who is either under-prepared or through the course of events is somehow unable to use any fossil fuel-driven technology or animal power is being able to quickly produce edible crops on the ground that they have using nothing but hand tools. The methods necessary to do this are inexpensive to implement, physically rewarding, and beneficial to the long-term health of your garden. Implementing them on a small-scale now will be immediately beneficial to your health via increased nutritional quality and physical activity. You will also gain the confidence of knowing that if gardening should ever be forced upon you as a full-time job, you would … Continue reading

Household Basics in TEOTWAWKI- Part 4, by Sarah Latimer

The Physical Properties and Application

I’m concerned about having yeast readily available in TEOTWAWKI. I like having dry yeast readily available by the measurable spoonful, and so I buy it in one pound bricks and then store it in a sealed quart Mason jars – one in my refrigerator door and one in my freezer– so that the yeast keeps for well over a year (if I haven’t used it up in that amount of time). It is no problem to use cold yeast directly in your recipes. It wakes up in the warm water just as if it had been stored at room temperature. However, this dry, dormant yeast won’t last forever, even in my freezer, and I wonder if I will continue to be able to buy it. I’ve used other forms of yeast also. Let’s talk about yeast and look … Continue reading

How to Plan and Plant a Hidden Garden, by Survival San

I don’t know if it’s just me, but as soon as the holidays have passed my mind turns to gardening. Too soon? Not in my opinion. Spring will be on us quicker than a tick on a rainy day, and it’s best we be prepared.

It could be you’re hesitant to plant a garden because you’re worried about would-be poachers and/or vandals. Maybe you’re afraid that a garden will draw unwanted attention from wandering marauders or neighborhood children who may decide to commandeer your harvest or stomp on your tomatoes. Fear not! The solution to this disconcerting dilemma is to plant a hidden garden, or even several.

Planting a hidden garden may sound challenging or impractical, but it’s easier than you might think. In fact, it takes very little planning. Your environment will tell you what to do, or more accurately, the weeds will tell you. Most gardeners think … Continue reading

Letter Re: Growing Pineapples

Mr. Hugh,

This is a very good post on growing pineapples. We have grown them in similar manner for several years. We don’t root ours in water but place them in large (3 gallon) pots with very moist potting soil. They are repotted as needed into larger pots to complete their growing time. Be sure to let the base of the “top” dry out as G.J. says. We prefer raising them in the pots because they can be moved easily to a warmer location as needed, weeds aren’t a problem, and the moisture is better controlled during times of drought. As G.J. said, they taste unbelievably good. We have a person in our group who visits Hawaii regularly. When she tasted a bite, her eyes lit up and she said “Wow, it tastes like it is fresh from the field”. It was cut and sliced two hours earlier. This plant … Continue reading

Growing Pineapple, by G.J.

In post-Columbian Europe, imported or greenhouse pineapples were a symbol of wealth, often being used for decoration rather than being eaten. Now, imagine a world gone crazy, where even the canned pineapple is only a memory. For those of us who are well-stocked and even have a garden, the loss of trucking and worldwide shipping means a lot of fruits, especially tropical ones, will be simply a memory, kind of like how generations ago received oranges at Christmas as treats. Citrus fruits are not too much of a stretch in parts of the U.S., but pineapples will be rare. What is a fresh pineapple, something otherwise impossible to get, going to be worth?

Now imagine that you have a dozen (or more) of these things ripening every six months. Don’t forget the TEOTWAWKI value of fresh tropical fruit—what a precious commodity it could be. Pineapple has … Continue reading

Roses Are Red and Healthful Too, by Sarah Latimer

We have had beautiful fall weather. However, my flower gardens are pretty well gone, as the brisk, cold fall winds blow and leave only a few dried flowers, seeds, and various remains to remind me of the brilliant colors that once adorned our property earlier in the year. If asked what is my favorite aromatic flower, I might say stargazer lily, gardenia, or rose. If asked what is the most beautiful flower, I would struggle to come up with just one or even three, as there are many I adore, but the rose would certainly be high on the list. If asked what is the most health beneficial flower to grow, again I would have to list several, including borage, echinacea, chamomile, lavender, and primrose. However, what are my all-around favorite flowers, I’d have to say rose and lavender, but the rose holds a tender place in my heart that … Continue reading

Lessons Learned in Livestock – Part 2, by C.K.

(Continued from Part 1)

The following are the varieties of livestock that  I would not consider for a prepared homestead:

Guinea Fowl. I raised over 300 per year. Feed requirements can be met with them running loose, but that also meets the cat’s requirements on little keets. Also a guinea looks for the best hiding spot for eggs. And if allowed to roost outside they will help your owl population by supplying a midnight snack. And they wander to far from home and make way too much noise. The amount of bug reduction is nice but, chickens and ducks also love to eat insects. The butcher weight is no better than a Leghorn rooster.

Horses. Have you feed a horse with what you cut by hand and store? If you do not have the horse drawn equipment to cut and haul hay, then how are you going to feed … Continue reading

Letter: Advice for Rural Retirees

Dear Editor:
My husband and I are older, he is 84 and I am 70.  We are very concerned about the way this country is traveling and are even more concerned if Hillary Clinton is elected.  I realize that we need to start gathering supplies and storing them.  My question is: we live in a small, rural, agricultural community. However, we live on a main road and are within 50 miles of two major cities and about 70 miles of another one.  Our economy took an unusually hard hit in 2008 and is recovering at a slower rate than many other communities. Would you recommend selling this house and attempting to move closer to our town (3 miles away) or try to stay in the country, just off the main road. I have your book “How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, … Continue reading