Apocalyptic Gardening

Granted, gardening isn’t the sexiest topic when it comes to post-apocalyptic survival, but this is a vital skill.  Just because you ordered all those nitrogen packed heirloom seeds doesn’t mean you’re all set.  There’s a lot more to it than just plunking the seeds into the ground and waiting for the sprouts to come up.  You need to learn what grows in your area and what doesn’t.  How can you improve the soil to make your crops grow better/quicker/bigger?  How can you tell the difference between a plant and a weed?  Here’s a hint on that–if you try and pull it out of the ground and it comes easily, it is likely a plant and not a weed.

You don’t need acres and acres of land to start a garden either.  There are several methods of gardening you can try if you don’t live on a large tract of land.

Square Foot Gardening: This is a fairly popular way to maximize what space you have.  There are several online and offline resources describing it in detail.  Essentially, it entails segmenting your garden into “boxes” and planting certain crops in each box.  This method is particularly useful if you have some amount of land you can devote to a garden, such as a smallish backyard.

Container Gardening: For those without much land at all with which to work, invest in some planter boxes or other planting containers.  You might be surprised at how much you can grow in these containers.  They are great if you have a patio or deck but not much yard.

Stealth Gardening: This isn’t the greatest plan but it is better than nothing.  The idea here is to plant crops on public land, such as national forest areas or parks, hiding the plants in and around native shrubs and bushes.  You don’t want to plant a ton of stuff all in one spot.  Instead, you spread it around–a tomato plant here, some peppers over there.  This can be fairly labor intensive in that there will likely be a lot of walking involved as you inspect your goodies.  Plus, you run the risk of someone else seeing your ‘maters and taking them home.  There is also the chance that the native wildlife will take advantage of your generosity.  Of course, there are potential legal pitfalls to doing this before an apocalyptic event.  Consider yourself warned and act accordingly.

As for seeds to store, yes you should invest in heirloom seeds.  Most of the veggies and fruits you buy in the store are genetic mutants (comforting thought, hey?).  The seeds from them will not germinate as the fruits and veggies are sterile.  Heirloom seeds are true strains, meaning they will germinate and the seeds grown from them will be viable.  Do some research now and determine what types of plants will grow best in your area, paying particular attention to ones that won’t need a lot of TLC.  Also, it makes little sense to grow stuff you won’t eat now.  But, you should get a wide variety of veggies–peas, beans, lettuce, peppers, broccoli, radishes, cauliflower, cabbage, various berries, and even corn all come to mind.  Consider planting a few fruit (apple, pear, peach, etc.) trees if you have the space.  Do it now as some varieties take a few years before bearing decent fruit.

Odds are pretty good you won’t be able to live off just what you can hunt, fish, or trap.  You are going to need the fruits and veggies for a well-balanced diet.  If you think gardening isn’t sexy, try scurvy.

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ApocalypseGuide had written 112 articles for How to Survive The Apocalypse

25 Responses to "Apocalyptic Gardening"
  1. Rion October 26, 2010 18:40 pm

    I'd suggest stocking up on vegetables that either self-seed, produce crops year round, or have nice little bonuses to increase your survival. For instance:

    Garlic: Boosts the immune system, can clear boils and infected sores, will expel intestinal parasites and worms from the body, and also contains anti-fungal properties which are especially effective for treating yeast infections and Candida. Also, garlic will help the taste of that 3 day old dog carcass you found.

    Cucumbers: just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc; cucumber slices placed in a tin in your garden will keep it free of pests all season long; slices can be used to clean faucets, sinks or stainless steel.

    And if any survivors live in the south, you MUST grow Okra and Collard Greens!! Collard Greens are EXTREMELY resistant to heat, resistant to cold, and resistant to bugs while containing massive amounts of vitamins. Collards even help lower our cancer risk by supporting our detox and anti-inflammatory systems. And Okra? It's packed with Vitamin C and will CONTINUALLY produce edible pods when old enough to grow them. Not only only that, the seeds can be ground up and used as a coffee substitute!!

  2. Regs October 26, 2010 19:28 pm

    I should start learning how to do that kind of stuff. Really not interesting for me but I guess it will be useful when the day comes.

  3. Sick Puppy October 27, 2010 01:36 am

    I have a go with Rags on this one of the lest sexy but most important subjects, your still going to need to eat. I’ve tried gardening but my balcony doesn’t get enough sun one of the plans this winter is to find edible plants that so not need that much sun. We’ll see.

  4. Rion October 27, 2010 04:23 am

    Plants that need little sunlight: Spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens, broccoli, radishes(DELICIOUS AND EASY TO GROW), kale and cauliflower

    Herbs: mint and catnip

    • Aude December 27, 2012 04:59 am

      I also tried growing watermelon radishes in the spring in our roof garden in Boston and none of them made it to be radishes. Nearby radishes of a different variety did quite well. I have some leftover seed and will try again in the Fall.

  5. Mike October 27, 2010 15:13 pm

    Definitely consult a zone chart and find out what is best for your climate. Of course after the apocalypse who knows if it will be the same, but at least get a feel for what stuff grows best in which conditions.

  6. Mike October 27, 2010 15:15 pm

    Also good to learn how to take and store the seeds your heirloom plants eventually produce. There are right ways and wrong ways and you don't want to be stuck with a heap of unviable seeds at the end of the first season. Another good skill is knowing how to can produce – both water bath method for things like tomatoes, and pressure canning for less acidic stuff.

  7. PIne Tree October 27, 2010 16:00 pm

    potatos are an excelent source of starch and are realy quite hardy plants, the only problem is you can't store a potato for too long until you either have to plant it or eat it, but at least you have the option to eat now or eat more in the future depending on your circumstances.

    • Sebastian December 26, 2012 17:27 pm

      I tried to grow last year but could not get them to germinate due too the poor weather and all the rain we had last year. The seeds where available at Canadian Tire garden center last year.Another weird one that I tried a few years ago that would not germinate was one called Strawberry Spinach. I found these at Wal-Mart.

  8. thePresticle1 October 31, 2010 10:05 am

    I should've known!! My wife has tried for YEARS to plant orange trees, cucumbers, etc. from the seeds from our local supermarket produce. They never even sprouted, or they died very rapidly. I should have known that they are Monsanto's Franken-fruit!! I steal fruit from our apartment complex now, as they are proven to be healthy and they aren't sprayed by Monsanto's heavy- metal laden and sterility drugs. Folks- research the United Nation's Agenda 21. It is in full swing right now and YOU are the target. Vitamin supplements and herbal remedies have already been banned in the EU.

  9. PIne Tree October 31, 2010 10:18 am

    No…they haven't, infact vitamin supliments and new age herbal remedies are all the rage at the moment

  10. thePresticle1 November 1, 2010 04:52 am

    @PineTree: I could have sworn that Beck and Alex Jones have reported with links to the UK Telegraph that shows articles about vitamins are only available by prescription and herbal remedies such as ear candles and such have been banned. You in the EU? Lemme know.

  11. JimPI November 1, 2010 15:01 pm

    Thanks for the comments everyone. Glad you liked the article.

    @PineTree – Yes, potatoes are a great idea and aren't overly difficult to grow. Storage isn't much of an issue if you have someplace cool and dark to keep them. They do keep a fairly long time that way.

    This spring, we're planning on trying peanuts and see how that works out for us. Anyone here grown them before?

  12. Vanguard November 5, 2010 08:47 am

    Hello from Germany
    Try seeds of Paprika or chilli. They grow easy in the Window with a little water and compost.
    Grow time by 5 month ca.

  13. Rion November 9, 2010 17:38 pm

    Couple of weeks ago I pretty much just threw some leaves and vegetable castoff's into a hole, put a garlic clove into it, covered it up, and only watered it twice. Today I noticed a very tall and strong garlic sprout bursting out of the poor Floridian soil at a height of about 4 inches.

    Sometimes it IS just that easy.

  14. Themass Angier November 17, 2010 20:48 pm

    There is no such thing as a weed, there are invasive plants that can harm your ecosystem, most "weeds" carry along with them many medicinal properties and vitamins, and in most cases are needed for a strong ecosystem and in turn body. There will be no such thing as large scale monocrop farming in post collapse society, for we will be growing food to feed people not to make a profit, do the research and it quickly becomes apparent that the earth has already produced the best system for growing food instead of reinventing the wheel why dont we learn from a system that has had some 4 billion years of experience.

  15. Future King Of Nowhere Important In New York December 1, 2010 02:38 am

    Hm, guess grandma DOES have her uses… she knows more 'bout plants than I do, that's for sure. IShe grows tomatoes, cucumbers, cauliflower, some peas n corn (which we get ears of the impressive length of 4 inches off of, sometimes 5 inches), and I have my habanero pepper plant (good for frying your esophagus, or the face of the fucker trying to knife you in the ass.)

  16. xav January 6, 2011 02:12 am

    i heard a rumor (aka I saw it on PBS) that tomato seeds need to be fermented in order to germinate… anyone know if this is true and/or have any personal experience holding over tomato seeds from season to season?

    • Amelia Pond July 5, 2011 02:10 am

      I know my dad used to take tomato seeds put them on a wet paper towel in a ziplock bag and put them under light to sprout, hope that helps

  17. wody January 12, 2011 23:28 pm

    Thats crap i've got plenty of vollunteer plants in the compost heap.And there mostly store bought veggies.Hybrid veggies at the store will grow plants that produce,the only downfall is they start to revert to the parent plants from which it was hybridized.If you cant grow that tomatoe seed from the store you probably got a black thumb.

  18. wody January 12, 2011 23:35 pm

    What you understand is not what you heard on pbs.You put your fresh tomato seeds in a little water and let it mold,you skim off the mold and strain the seeds from the water.All this does is remove the slimy coating on the seeds so they don't stick while drying on whatever you lay them on.Its just as easy to put them on a paper towell let them dry then cut the paper towell up and bury it seed and all.Don't worry bout the pilgrims who cant hunt,farm and gather,there dead boddies littering the ground will give my kind sure footing as we thrive and survive in this hell on earth you call appocalypse.

  19. Katie the nerdy gardener January 28, 2011 21:17 pm

    In regards to heirloom tomato seeds. They don't need to be fermented but they have a higher success rate if they are allowed to. It is as simple as letting the seeds and some pulp sit out until they mould. The general idea is that this breaks down outer protective layer and allows for easier germination. Hope that helps!
    Did you know that if you allow an heirloom carrot to stay in the ground all winter that come spring it will produce a flower, similar in looks to dill weed, which is full of seeds and just needs to be dried and stored for next years crop.

  20. Gravetree March 8, 2011 01:59 am

    Vegtable gardens are always a good idea.
    Fruit trees are even better ideas, don't forget nut trees as well.
    No one has mentioned berry bushes, most will come back bigger every year.
    But for long term survival you will need a staple crop like corn, rice or some type of grain or even potato.
    I am currenyly looking into soybeans as it is high in protein and can be used as fuel or even for plastics.
    Has any one looked into mushrooms as a long term sun free bunker crop?

  21. BrandyG April 25, 2011 05:56 am

    These might be helpful to you guys, guides on growing sprouts:
    From here:

    Linked to in there

    Something I found to help you chose the most healthy foods

    Good luck :).

  22. Heather July 17, 2011 15:07 pm

    I have grown ccucumbers and tomatoes from store bought veggies. I have yet to get store bought apples to sprout. Soil makes a huge difference in growth. Just moving from one side of my apartment building to the other has drasticly reduced what I can grow. the soil on the other side had years of compost in it, this side was was full of rocks and ” real weeds” not wildflowers.

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