When you're a survival gardener, it feels like spring is always right around the corner. However, the time to get your garden ready is now, before the weather turns rainy and starts to warm up.
Some plants have a short growing season, especially if you live in a cool climate, and require a proactive approach to gardening. It's also difficult to grow a significant yield of food for your survival storage if you wait too long to get started. From choosing the right plants to prepping your supplies, here's how to prepare your survival garden for spring.
Select Your Plant Varieties
Before spring starts, select your plant varieties to position yourself for a successful growing season. Think about what plants you enjoy eating the most and which pairs well together. For example, corn on the cob will be ready for summer and tastes great when harvested with a lettuce, tomato, and onion salad.
Your hardiness zone will also dictate what to plant, but the good news is there's flexibility, and you can grow tasty produce in multiple climates. Even more delicate plants like strawberries will grow as far north as Minnesota and Alaska, depending on the season and conditions.
You can also simplify the process by choosing your hardiness zone on our Zone Specific Seeds list and purchasing the best options for your area.
Stock Up Your Survival Seed Vault
Refreshing your spring garden is also the time to stock up on your survival seed vault. Choose our heirloom seeds for their durable, long-lasting addition to any vault, with options ranging from carrots to watermelon and squash. Unlike hybrid seeds, heirloom seeds are designed to last and pass down through the decades to future generations.
Or you can try our Survival Seed Super Kit with up to 77 varieties and nearly 28,000 usable seeds that are free from fillers. Beyond fruits and veggies, it also includes the best survival seeds, medicinal seeds, culinary garnishes, and other ingredients.
Choose Your Survival Garden Layout
Whether you're new to survival gardening or want to add new planters and footage to your growing area, spring is an ideal time to choose a new layout. Your plants should get plenty of sunlight in the morning but still have some shade to escape wilting in the afternoon heat. Proper drainage is also a consideration where water can freely pass through your garden without stagnating for long.
It's still possible to have a thriving survival garden, even without a large property; you just need some determination and creativity with your layout. Look for opportunities to add garden containers, plant around the side of your home, or get vertical with indoor climbing plants or smaller herbs.
Think About Companion Planting
Companion planting can maximize your survival gardening efforts by choosing specific plants to grow alongside one another. Companion plants are purposefully positioned close together to benefit one or both of the plants. Growing nectar-rich flowers alongside plants to attract bees is one place to exercise companion planting.
When you get intentional with what you're planting, you increase your opportunity for a rich, full yield that benefits both you and the garden. Another option is to grow the "Three Sisters," a trifecta of corn, beans, and squash to complement each other's size and soil contribution, (such as the bean's ability to provide nitrogen) and the nutritional value these three plants offer.
Start Your Seeds Indoors
Warm-season vegetables, like tomatoes and peppers, can't deal with the cold snaps or soil that's too cool. But if you live in the Midwest or Northern states, you will need more sunny growing days. Unless you live in a hot climate, you're usually better off starting your seeds indoors to give your survival garden seeds a head start.
As a general rule, you should start planting your seeds indoors about six weeks before the last frost in your area. You can check out your local frost dates in advance. But not everything really needs to get their start inside. For example, radishes and peas grow fast and can deal with a cold climate, making them easy to grow indoors or out.
When practicing survival skills, collecting enough rainwater to sustain your garden and other needs on your property is vital. Positioning your barrels and buckets under a roof where the water runs off is a simple way to collect the rainwater you need for gardening. You can use an old barrel connected to a downpipe with the help of a spigot, diverter, and hose.
The usual solution for storing collected water is to use a rain barrel connected to a downpipe by a rainwater diverter and hose. These typically come in at around 20 to 60 gallons to cover you in a dry spell.
Check Your Soil
Testing your soil is good practice to ensure the ph levels are correct and soil quality is good. Without a soil kit test, you can also dig up a cubic foot of soil and put on a piece of cardboard to break it up and look for earthworms. If you have less than ten, you should add more compost and natural materials, like aged manure, to help restore its nutrients. Beyond worms, your soil should break apart easily; otherwise, it may become too compact around your plants and cause root rot.
Clear Out Weeds, Mulch, and Debris
Weeds aren't always the bad guys in gardening. Some weeds act as fertilizers and can be edible, such as wild mustard and clover. But too many weeds, mulch, and debris will choke your garden and prevent it from getting the rain and nutrients it needs.
Before planting your seeds, clear out as many weeds and debris as possible. You can spread out your mulch more evenly or remove congested areas that are dried out or problematic. Adding compost to the ground or other natural fertilizers can also help prep your survival garden for spring.
Organize Your Gardening Tools
Your shovels, seed storage bags, labels, gloves, and other gardening tools are integral to survival gardening. Use those last chilly days to organize everything so planting season is as seamless as possible.
The Ultimate Garden Starter Set includes essential items to get started on your survival garden, including:
- Myco Lightning - 1 pound bag of mycorrhizal fungi to maximize nutrient intake and water absorption - 1
- Azomite - 1 pound bag of soil enhancer to add minerals to your soil
- Jiffy Pellets - Compressed peat pellets are a convenient, no-mess way to start your seeds and then quickly transfer them into the ground with minimum shock to the plant and its roots. Receive 40 of the 36mm and 35 of the 42mm sizes.
- 2 Handheld Seed Dispensers Seed Savings Packets - Pack of 50 extra resealable seed bags to help preserve your seeds to save some for planting or to store and freeze.
- Silica Gel Desiccant Packs - Keep away moisture, the enemy of seed preservation, with the help of silica gel desiccants to keep your open seed packs dry.
- Plant Labeling Supplies - Keep your plant beds organized with these convenient bedding labels that stick into the soil.
Reflect On Last Year's Garden
If you already have some survival gardening experience, you can lean on the lessons from previous years to help shape your growing season. What went right last year, and what didn't? What did you learn about pests, soil, plants, rain, and the weather? Jot down your ideas and notes to create an ongoing survival gardening journal that helps lay the foundation of your success for years to come.
Don't wait until the weather warms up to launch or revive your survival garden and the growing season. Start browsing our selection of survival-grade seed vaults, bat houses, tools, and soil amendments for a thriving survival garden.