Gardening is an enjoyable pastime that millions of people partake in, but for preppers, gardening is more than just an enterprise to help you while away spare time and weekends for bragging rights when you produce a few pieces of pristine fruit or veggies.
For millennia, large and small scale gardening has been integral to survival, and it will be integral to survival again should any society toppling event occur.
It is best, then, to get a head start on one of the most foundational elements of self-sufficiency.
Whether you are a veteran green thumb or a complete novice when it comes to gardening matters not. Where there is a will and a little bit of soil, there is a way.
You don’t even have to live in the country to partake in the growing of a survival garden, either. Supplemental gardens can be grown in a little spare room in your backyard or substantial gardens can be grown in his little as a quarter of an acre.
But, when every square foot counts on efficient layout is critical to the success and the bounty of your garden, and to help you maximize the return on your investment in however much space you have, we are here with a collection of some of the best and most efficient survival garden layouts to suit any circumstances and any amount of room.
Big or small there is a layout here for everyone. Grab your spade and let’s get started!
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A Survival Garden Can Bolster Any Survival Strategy!
Discussing the notion of a survival garden with various preppers, I have come to the conclusion that a survival garden is only considered if it is a centerpiece readiness item to an individual’s plan.
To clarify, if a prepper is steering completely into the idea of homesteading, radical self-sufficiency and permaculture then a garden is likely at the top of their list.
Conversely, preppers who indicated little interest in growing anything, to say nothing of substantial varieties of food, planned on stockpiling, scavenging or bartering to sustain their food supplies during a long or indefinite term survival situation.
To these folks, the juice didn’t seem to be worth the squeeze when considering the benefits of a garden as a sustainment item.
If you fall into this latter category, I’d urge you to reconsider. And a long-term survival situation, even if you aren’t relying on your garden for supplemental sustenance it could still help get you things you need and want.
You have to consider the notion that when trading or bartering something as simple and taken for granted as fresh fruits or veggies, or herbs and spices, could be extremely valuable to the right people.
When subsisting on a diet of rudimentary, plain fare the nutrition and taste of real, homegrown produce will be a luxury item indeed, and people who are emotionally ailing may spend big as it were for such a thing. If nothing else, a survival garden could give you more tools in your trading toolbox!
Survival Garden Layouts You Should Consider
Below is a list of survival garden layouts worth consideration. Note that while all of them have advantages, not all of them will work in all circumstances.
Some are much better for space starved gardeners while others work best with an abundance of land to devote to the purpose.
Don’t worry too much about it, as a little research and prior planning will easily let you determine which one is best for your circumstances.
Permaculture-Style Food Forest
For those who have plenty of land or lots of time to devote to establishing their garden, a food Forest might be the best bet.
A food forest is a relatively new term but is in practice an ancient permaculture idea that has been practiced for ages. A clue is in the name, as a food forest mimics a natural forest or woodland ecosystem, only your growing plants that all produce edibles.
A food forest will likely include large, nut producing trees that create a canopy capable of shading the plants below, smaller fruit trees below that, shrubs and bushes growing beneath those dwarf trees and then a variety of grasses, vines, herbs and so forth growing closest to the ground as with a traditional garden.
Done correctly, a food forest will easily blend in with surrounding wildlands and also promotes an extremely healthy ecosystem that is robust and easy to manage while producing edibles year-round, year in and year out.
The initial investment in time and research, as well as establishing the larger variety of trees, makes this a long-term option but one that is well worth the time if it appeals to you.
Learn more about permaculture.
Scalable Square Foot Garden Plan
The square foot gardening system is a high-yield, high efficiency type of gardening, typically employed on a raised bed, developed by engineer Mel Bartholomew.
Designed to produce the best returns in minimal space and with minimal extra effort for planting, tending and harvesting, the square foot garden plant gets its name because any existing space is divvied up into one foot by one foot square plots which get a specific number of plants depending on what you were growing.
For instance, certain varieties of tomato will get only one square to themselves while others can be planted two or even four to a square.
Learning how many plants can go in each square foot is an easy metric to remember and also allows you to handily estimate what your returns will be based on how many square feet you have planted.
Probably the best part about the square foot gardening plan is how scalable it is. If all you have is a single 4 ft by 4 ft raised bed you know you’ll have 16 “squares” for planting and can easily plan your returns as well as your layout and planting order accordingly.
Using this method also allows you to squeeze every bit of function you can out of even the smallest spaces.
Learn more about square-foot gardening.
Originally developed for use in Africa by people who were too weak or infirm to bend over and attend a traditional garden, the keyhole garden has since gone on to spread elsewhere for other purposes due to its efficiency and high productivity.
A keyhole garden gets its name from its shape, consisting of a roughly 2 meter wide, solid-walled raised garden bed with an indentation in one side that allows the gardener to step inside the circumference to a compost pile or compost basket in the middle.
Keyhole gardens work so well because the compost pile keeps the surrounding soil evenly refreshed with nutrients as it is developed and the solid walls, typically made from stone, brick, cinder block or something else are strong enough to hold back the soil while also holding in water.
The raised nature of the keyhole garden, typically standing about waist high for an average adult, makes it easy to lean over and work on and also strong enough to support an adult who needs help standing or just needs a rest.
For high density gardening, the keyhole garden has proven excellent in both ease of maintenance and high productivity so long as the plants being grown in it do not require a wide-ranging root network.
For an operational kitchen garden for a high-yield garden in a small space, the keyhole garden is tops.
Learn more about keyhole gardens here.
Raised Bed Garden
The raised bed garden is one of the most popular and adaptable types of garden there is.
Rising anywhere from 6 in to a couple of feet off the ground, raised planters allow you to save your knees and your back by getting your plants up closer to your natural workspace and, just as importantly, allows you to overcome challenging soil or other planting conditions by keeping your own soil mixture in place and holding in water.
Raised bed at gardening has been around for a long time, and to get an idea of its ubiquity and popularity all you need to do is take a gander at the garden center in your local big box hardware or home improvement store.
You’ll find all sorts of ready-made, raised planting boxes along with paneling for crafting your own.
Although not the most efficient way to garden if you are willing to invest a little more money and effort into setting up the raised beds and then filling them with the appropriate soil you can overcome quite a few challenges in one go.
Raised beds are ideal for beginning gardeners or those who aren’t sure if they want to expand into a larger operation.
Learn more about raised bed gardens.
Insulated Raised Beds
The insulated raised bed is an interesting take on the traditional raised bed or raised planting box.
Consisting of little more than a purpose designed or improvised structure or scaffolding over the bed, this allows you to drape plastic or heavy cloth over your plants to help moderate moisture levels, light and other factors that affect their health and growth.
This is definitely an upgrade to consider if you are growing plants with specific conditional or nutritional requirements and is easy enough to improvise with just a couple of dollars worth of materials.
Learn more about insulated raised beds here.
The victory garden layout was made famous by “civic front” efforts put into place by the United States government during World War II.
The idea was to get every household growing a victory garden either in their front yard or their backyard with the end result being the alleviation of demand, and therefore commercial consumption, of various staples that were being gobbled up by the ship load and sent over to US soldiers in Europe and elsewhere.
The plan is simple, and is essentially a typical row garden in miniature taking maximum advantage of synergistic plantings of a variety of vegetables, herbs and other growables. By keeping the size small and maximally efficient, returns are plentiful and tending to the garden is easy.
This is an ideal sampler garden, if an eclectic one, for the prepper who is just getting into gardening and wants to try their hand at a variety of plants without committing too much in the way of resources, space or time.
Learn more about victory gardens here.
A community garden maybe just the ticket for survival co-ops, mutual assistance groups or close-knit neighborhood bands of preppers.
A community garden is one that is planted, nourished and tended by multiple people working together in order to produce a harvest that all can benefit from.
These are typically larger scale row gardens or row and other garden styles they could have any and everything growing within its bounds.
A large parcel either abandoned, unoccupied or donated by a member of the group is the site of the community garden and is typically overseen by a small board of expert gardeners or a single highly motivated and skilled individual.
Community gardens take maximum advantage of team effort to produce a bountiful harvest while minimizing the work that anyone person has to do.
Care and oversight are watch words for any community garden as allowing people to plant or pick willy-nilly can lead to conflicts among plants that are growing in close proximity that are incompatible or, worse, to the disastrous application of additives or fertilizers that are either incorrect or too strong.
Learn more about community gardens.
The classic survival garden layout uses varying, interlocking squares or rectangles for planting specific vegetables and fruits in such a way that the effective use of space is maximized while de-conflicting antagonistic, neighboring plantings that could interfere with one another.
Highly adaptable but comparatively short on frills and other cost or labor saving tricks, this is a quintessential garden layout for adapting an existing property to growing survival essentials quickly and with a minimum of fuss.
If you have a large, undeveloped parcel or just an average suburban backyard, the classic survival garden layout can be made to work for you.
Compared to other types of survival gardens on this list, the classic layout is highly dependent on knowledge of soil conditions, additives and the attributes of what you are planting. You won’t be able to get away with a mismatch here so study carefully if you want success!
Learn more about traditional gardening here.
Landscaped “Stealth” Garden
Certainly the most innovative option on this list, this stealth garden layout is one part survival produce and one part attractive, property value boosting landscaping.
This is one survival garden that not only will go undetected by your neighbors and passersby but will also increase the value of and beautify your home.
It does this by relying on the careful selection of what plants can be installed at various points around your home in an attractive but functional way.
Native or regional variety plants are preferred over cultivated exotics in order to fortify the local ecosystem while boosting maximum productivity.
Compared to the other survival garden layouts on this list, the stealth landscape garden requires more walking around and more diligence when it comes to weeding and maintenance, and is generally not going to be as efficient as the others we have previously shared.
But for those who are unwilling to ugly up their property with a traditional garden or those who don’t want their neighbors to catch on to what they are doing in the first place, this is a unique and effective choice.
More on stealth gardening here.
A survival garden is a great idea for any prepper, whether you want to replace or just supplement your typical SHTF food stash.
Adaptable to a lot of land or a little, using the plans we have shared with you above leaves little excuse when it comes to starting your own homegrown garden.
No matter what your requirements, there is sure to be a plan on this list that will give you a green thumb in no time!
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.