Some of the best foods you can get in a crisis are known as “DIY survival foods.” These are ones you can grow yourself, without the help of a grocery store.
And there’s no denying that the grocery store is NOT the food source you want to depend on when SHTF. As many of us know, as soon as a disaster hits the masses will be off to the local Safeway, King Soopers, and more to fill their carts. Within a matter of hours, everything a person needs to survive will be long gone from the shelves.
That’s why many preppers resort to growing a survival garden. This is a fantastic and worthwhile goal, since this allows you to grow your own fruits and vegetables. Better yet, you can often do this within the comfort of your own backyard.
However, there’s one downside to all this. Many times, apartment dwellers and families with limited backyard space feel as though they can’t partake in a survival garden. And, since millions of people don’t live in rural towns/cities, this makes the grocery store a tempting (if not foolish) option.
Luckily, there’s a way around this. It turns out there’s a variety of plants you can grow – even if you only have a small amount of space. All you really need are some seeds, some dirt, some water, and of course some sunlight to make these grow. And then just sit back and let nature do the rest!
These plants can really help keep you from starvation when SHTF. Not to mention they’re super healthy, so they’ll help your body perform at its peak!
5 Of The Very Best DIY Survival Foods
Zucchini and Squash
Zucchini and squash are both surprisingly easy to grow. And, if you’re living in an apartment or condo, you’ll be happy to learn you can do so with minimal effort, materials, and space.
One of the best ways to grow these veggies in a small yard is to grow them in a large pot. This makes it incredibly simple to do, as preppers won’t need an entire garden to reap the benefits of these delicious vegetables.
Here’s some directions from Gardening KnowHow to help you plant these for yourself:
If you love zucchini but you’re short on gardening space, consider zucchini grown in containers. It’s true that zucchini plants can take up a lot of space, but growing zucchini in container gardens on your patio or balcony isn’t as difficult as you might think. Read on to learn about container grown zucchini.
How to Plant Zucchini in Pots
A container with a diameter of at least 24 inches and a minimum depth of 12 inches is best for container grown zucchini. Any type of container works well as long as it has at least one good drainage hole in the bottom. For example, a large, plastic storage container with drainage holes drilled into the bottom makes a good planter. If you want to grow more than one plant, consider a half whiskey barrel.
Zucchini grown in containers requires a lightweight, well-drained potting soil such as a commercial mix containing ingredients like peat, compost and/or fine bark, along with either perlite or vermiculite. Avoid regular garden soil, which probably contains pests and weed seeds, and quickly becomes compacted enough to smother the roots.
You can easily plant zucchini seeds directly in the pot about two weeks after the last frost in your area. Consider compact, dwarf plants such as Cue Ball, Gold Rush, Eight Ball, especially if you’re growing zucchini in a smaller container.
Plant two or three seeds in the center, at a planting depth of about an inch. Allow a couple of inches of space between each seed. Water the soil lightly and keep it slightly moist but not soggy until the seeds germinate in a week or two.
If all of the seeds sprout, thin them after about two weeks. Remove the weakest and leave a single, strong seedling.
Zucchini Container Care
Once the seeds sprout, water the zucchini plants deeply whenever the top 2 inches of soil feels dry to the touch, then allow the top of the soil to dry before watering again. Zucchini is a sun-loving plant that needs an absolutely minimum of six to eight hours of sunlight per day; eight to ten hours is even better.
Feed the zucchini plants every four weeks, using a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Alternatively, mix a time-release fertilizer into the potting mix at planting time.
Depending on the variety, zucchini plants will likely require stakes to support the long vines. A tomato cage inserted into the container works very well. Install the cage at planting time to prevent accidental damage to the plant. Dwarf varieties may not require staking.
You can also check out the video below to see how to grow zucchini and squash in a pot:
Most everyone loves tomatoes. They’re so fresh and delicious, nearly everyone wants to get their hands on them. However, they’re one of those plants that can be either a complete success or a total failure.
Here’s some tips from Bonnie Plants to help you get it right:
Growing tomatoes in pots levels the home garden playing field, bringing a crop of homegrown ‘maters within reach for almost anyone, regardless of real estate. That’s because you can grow tomatoes in pots just about anywhere you have a sunny spot, whether it’s on a deck, driveway, balcony, rooftop, fire escape, or somewhere else. Just follow these 10 tips.
1. Pick a Good Spot
Place pots where they’ll receive at least six hours of sun. If pots aren’t near a water source, make sure you can get a garden hose to them (or don’t mind lugging a watering can around), because tomatoes need steady moisture supply. Group pots together, but not so close that leaves rub against each other (that can help spread disease). Grouping pots helps shade the root zones of the plants in the inner pots, which can be helpful when plants are sitting on concrete or an asphalt driveway, both of which absorb and reflect heat.
2. Find the Best Tomatoes for You
Our Tomato Chooser takes the guesswork out of discovering which tomatoes will work best for your garden. In general, determinate tomatoes tend to do better in pots, so look for those. It’s also possible to grow indeterminate tomatoes in containers, of course, as long as you provide enough support and soil volume. Speaking of which…
3. Choose the Right Pot
Those seedlings may look small now, but a full-grown tomato plant needs a lot of space for a strong root system. For maximum production, the ideal pot size is 18-inch diameter for determinate tomatoes and 24-inch diameter for indeterminate tomatoes. When using a fabric pot or other type sold by volume, aim for 20 gallons. It’s fine to use a smaller container, like a 5-gallon bucket or 10-gallon container, but for best results, stick with the smaller patio- or bush-type tomatoes (such as Better Bush, Bush Goliath, or Patio). Know, too, that tomatoes in smaller pots require more watering and feeding.
All containers (except fabric ones) need drainage holes, so be sure to drill several if none are present. If you live in a warm region like the Deep South, Texas, or Desert Southwest, you may want to avoid black plastic containers. They tend to hold a lot of heat, which warms the soil and can diminish plant growth.
4. Use Premium Quality Potting Soil
Garden soil from planting beds tends to be too heavy for containers — it will over-compact — and may contain disease organisms. Tomatoes are susceptible to diseases (such as blight) and pests (like nematodes) that can hang out in soil, and one advantage of growing in pots is that doing so can reduce outbreaks. Fill containers with premium quality potting soil, such as Miracle-Gro or Nature’s Care, for best results. Light and fluffy, it will provide the air and moisture circulation needed by your plants.
5. Plant Tomatoes Properly
When growing tomatoes in containers, follow the usual instructions for planting Bonnie’s biodegradable pots. Be sure to dig a hole deep enough to cover two-thirds of the tomato stem to encourage more root growth. As a rule of thumb, wait to plant until after your area’s last frost date. If a chilly night threatens, cover pots with a frost blanket and swaddle them with blankets, straw, or burlap for extra protection. (Can’t wait to plant? Find out how to get an early start on growing tomatoes.)
6. Add Support
Insert a support when you plant each tomato, as doing so later on may disturb the growing roots. A traditional tomato cage or stake works well for determinate types. Use a string trellis, tall stake, tomato toutour, or sturdy cage for indeterminate tomatoes. To create your own tomato cages, bend metal fencing or hog wire into a cylindrical shape, then use wire to connect the ends. Insert it into the soil or slip it over the outside of the pot, then secure it to stakes driven firmly into the soil.
7. Cover the Soil
When planting tomatoes in pots, keep the soil at least one inch below the pot rim, so you can add a layer of mulch to help keep soil moist. You can use traditional mulch materials, like straw, shredded bark, chopped leaves, or newspaper (minus the glossy circulars). Paper decomposes quickly, especially in hottest regions, so plan to refresh the layer as needed during the growing season.
8. Water Regularly
Proper watering is a big key to success for growing tomatoes in pots. Keep soil consistently moist, but not saturated. (Inconsistent moisture can pave the way to blossom end rot.) Use the finger test to see if a plant needs water: If the top inch of soil is dry when you push your finger into it, it’s time to give it a drink. (Plants larger than knee-high can require almost daily watering once summer heat arrives.) Place a saucer beneath each pot to catch water that runs through the soil, so plants can absorb that extra moisture over the course of a hot day. (It will also protect decks and patios.) A drip irrigation system can help reduce the time you spend holding the hose, and will pay for itself quickly if you’re raising a large crop of potted tomatoes. If you’re only tending a few pots, time spent watering provides an opportunity to inspect plants and keep an eye out for problems. When summer vacation beckons, line up someone to do the watering if you hope to still have tomatoes to pick upon your return.
9. Feed Your Plants
Mixing a continuous-release fertilizer into the soil helps get tomatoes off to a solid start. Then, use a liquid plant food, such as Bonnie Herb, Vegetable & Flower Plant Food, every week or so throughout the season (especially once flowers have begun to form). That may seem like a lot, but each watering washes nutrients out of the pot. As with all fertilizers, follow package instructions.
10. Clean Up at Season’s End
Remove spent tomato plants from the pots at the end of the growing season. If you plan to use the same pots to grow anything in the tomato family (think tomatoes peppers, eggplants, potatoes) during the following season, you’ll want to start with fresh soil. Discard any remaining soil, wash and scrub soil from pots, then sterilize them by wiping or spraying with a solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water.
Follow these 10 simple tips and it won’t be long before you’ll be reaping the rewards in the form of plump, juicy tomatoes — no traditional garden space required!
But wait…there’s more. By just using some potting soil, a pot, and an overripe tomato, it’s never been easier to grow your own tomatoes at home. Take a look at the video to see what I mean:
Beans are a nutritional powerhouse. Filled with protein, vitamins, minerals, and more these are the perfect addition to a healthy diet (and to a survival situation). However, you’re going to have to grow them correctly in order to reap a good harvest. Here’s some tips from Gardening KnowHow on how to make growing beans as effective as possible:
Beans may be vined or bushy and come in several sizes and colors. They are primarily a warm season vegetable that is best grown in spring but can also be started for a late summer harvest in some temperate zones. Gardeners with small spaces can learn how to grow beans in pots. Growing beans in containers is also useful for early starting where soil temperatures remain too cool for in-ground potting. These plants will need to be brought indoors at night to protect them from possible freezing temperatures.
Container Size for Growing Beans
The depth of the container size for growing beans varies dependent upon the type of vegetable. Pole beans need 8 to 9 inches of soil, whereas bush beans can do with only 6 to 7 inches.
Ensure that the pot has several unobstructed drainage holes when growing beans in containers. While the appearance of the pot isn’t important, using unglazed pots will help the containers to “breathe” and allow for the evaporation of excess water so the plants don’t drown.
The number of plants you can sow in a container depends on the diameter of the pot. As a rule, plan on nine plants for every 12 inches of surface space.
Use a seed variety that produces well in container gardening such as Kentucky Wonder, Blue Lake pole or Topcrop.
How to Grow Beans in Pots
Whenever you are growing beans in containers, the most important components to consider in the successful care for potted bean plants are the soil type, drainage, pot depth and ambient conditions.
Fill your container with the proper potting mix for beans and other vegetables. You can purchase a vegetable start mix or make your own. Use equal parts sphagnum moss or compost with pasteurized soil and vermiculite or perlite.
Incorporate vegetable fertilizer or manure prior to planting. You can also use a soilless medium as a potting mix for beans. Plant the seeds an inch deep and provide even moisture until the seeds germinate. Space the seeds 3 inches apart or plant two to three seeds around each pole for vining varieties.
Care for Potted Bean Plants
Your bean seeds will germinate in five to eight days. Once they have pushed up, spread mulch lightly over the surface of the soil to help conserve moisture. Bean plants need plenty of water, and this is especially true with the care of potted bean plants. You need to provide irrigation when the top 2 to 3 inches of soil is dry to the touch.
Fertilize once a month with a diluted liquid vegetable fertilizer unless you mixed a time-release food into the soil medium.
Provide pole beans with a long stick or pole to climb up. Alternatively, insert a tomato cage into the container for the vegetables to twine around. Bush beans need no special support.
Watch for insects and other pests and combat with vegetable-friendly products such as horticultural soap or neem oil.
Growing beans in containers should provide you with edible pods in 45 to 65 days when grown in full sun. Harvest the beans when the pods are medium sized with firm pods. Use them fresh for the best taste, or you can freeze or can them to enjoy far past the season.
Looking to grow broad beans specifically? Watch the video below:
Kale is still known as one of the best superfoods you can eat. Packed full of nutrients, this leafy vegetable is the perfect addition to any healthy lifestyle. However, you’ve got to grow it correctly in order to get the most bang for your buck. Here’s some information from SF Gate about how to grow your kale in a pot:
Both kale (Brassica oleracea) and chard (Beta vulgaris var. cicla) are biennial cool-weather crops that grow well in pots all year round except for the hottest part of summer, but chard tolerates the heat better than kale. These leafy greens require similar care, and both produce the sweetest, mildest leaves during cooler weather. The colorful stems of chard look attractive in pots, while kale produces yellow flowers during warm weather. You can plant them together in a large planter or separate them into individual pots. Kale and chard grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10 and 5 through 10, respectively.
Grow kale and chard in pots with at least a 12-inch diameter. If you use a large planter, space plants 12 inches apart. Use well-draining standard potting mix with a pH between 6.2 and 6.8.
Place the pots in areas that receive at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. Kale can also grow in areas with partial shade.
Apply 1 or 2 inches of straw, compost, finely ground leaves, pine needles or finely ground bark to the soil around the base of the plants to keep the soil cool and moist.
Water kale and chard with at least 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water per week. The soil should feel moist at a depth of 1 inch. Water more often during hot, dry periods.
Fertilize kale and chard with 1 tablespoon of 8-4-4 water-soluble fertilizer mixed into 1 gallon of water once every seven to 10 days. Use the fertilizer in place of water, and pour it onto the soil slowly until it drips through the bottom of the pot.
Spray the kale and chard plants with insecticidal soap once a week if you notice aphids or mites. Hand pick and destroy caterpillars. Spray the kale plants thoroughly with bacterial thuringiensis (Bt) if you notice cabbage moths or worms on or near the plants. Use it as often as needed. Cover kale plants with tulle in late summer to protect it from harlequin bugs, if necessary.
Harvest kale leaves from the bottom of the stalk upward. Leave at least four leaves on the plant to continue growth. Harvest the outer chard leaves, leaving the center ones to continue to grow.
Things You Will Need
- Pots or planter, at least 12-inch diameter
- Standard potting mix
- Straw, compost, finely ground leaves, pine needles or finely ground bark
- 8-4-4 water-soluble fertilizer
- Insecticidal soap
- Bacterial thuringiensis
Here’s a video on growing kale (and collards) in a container:
Turns out you can grow WAY MORE veggies in a container than just the five above! Not to mention, you can do this with extremely limited space!
Here’s a couple videos to help you get the most out of your garden this year. Remember – Prepare Now, Survive Later!