The Prepper Garden

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The Prepper Garden

When we first started gardening years ago, it was more of a fun hobby than a means to provide cheap food for our family. Then in October of 2012 we moved to the farm, and created a gardening plan that was truly meant to save money and be a reliable resource to provide food for our family of six. Now, our goal is to have a Prepper Garden.

What is a Prepper Garden?

For us, having a Prepper Garden means growing food that will be sustainable to feed us in the present growing season and in the months following the harvest as well. Eventually, we hope to get to the point where most all of our food is provided by way of our prepper garden.

The road to this path has been an interesting one. As hard-core foodies, we’ve always enjoyed a wide variety of culinary tastes and delights that spanned the globe and the food varieties available at the local grocery stores and specialty shops. Then, a couple of things happened on the way to foodieville:

  • Our son started exhibiting serious reactions to certain food/food additives, forcing us to start researching what we were eating
  • We woke up to our enormous amount of debt, forcing us to start looking for ways to save money
  • Oldest daughter started researching different food lifestyles, leading us on a journey to a macrobiotic lifestyle

As we researched ways to help overcome the above hurdles, we started to learn the value in clean eating. Now, I’m starting to utter regarding our eating habits two words that I thought would never, ever, enter my food-loving vocabulary:

Vegetarian (a person who generally avoids eating meat, fish or poultry)

Vegan (a person who generally avoids eating any kind of animal product, including dairy and eggs)

Gasp! Who is this girl? Where is my steak-loving self? A quality ribeye on the grill at home used to be my go-to splurge meal, and now I’ve traded it in for grilled Tilapia with a squirt of lemon juice and a bowl of organic brown rice!

Alas, it is what it is, and the way we feel on our new clean diet is so gratifying that we’ve chosen to leave behind (most of the time, anyway) all but whole grains, veggies and the occasional fruit.

Recommended Reading: The Complete Macrobiotic Diet: 7 Steps to Feel Fabulous, Look Vibrant, and Think Clearly

Enter, The Prepper Garden.

With our new eating lifestyle, a garden that truly sustains us for the year is not only a possibility, it’s becoming more and more of a necessity as we struggle to find quality organic veggies and fruits. Here’s how we plan our Prepper Garden:

Steps for Planning a Prepper Garden

1. Determine which veggies (and fruits) you eat most often and buy most often at the store.  When planning a prepper garden, the goal is to feed yourself and/or your family for the long term. Work to plant veggies and fruits that are a regular part of your diet. Yes, there’s room for playing a bit with new and different things, but remember that the main purpose for your garden is feeding your family for the long term.

2. Determine which veggies and fruits from that list are most conducive for long-term food storage.  In our garden, we plant easy-to-freeze and can veggies such as green beans, peas and carrots. We also plant tomatoes for variety – with them we can have canned or frozen tomatoes, tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, etc. We also plant a heavy amount of potatoes and onions, as they store really well long-term both in root cellars and in cold basements/garages.

3.  Plan your garden layout using vegetable companion planting. Keeping mind of companion planting rules when you plan the layout of your garden will help make sure that your veggies grow well and encourage each other to be strong.

4. Have your soil tested.  Healthy soil with a good nutritional balance will increase your garden yield exponentially. It can mean the difference between your potato plants yielding 1 pound of potatoes and 5 pounds of potatoes.

5. Learn how to properly can vegetables and fruits. The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is our #1 go-to book for all things canning. It’s well-written and easy to follow, even for beginner canners. It also has super easy recipes for quick food prepping.

6. Prepare for area bugs/garden pests. Each area has different types of plant bugs and pests it has to deal with, such as rabbits and squirrels. Learn what types of bugs and pests are native to your area, and then learn how to control them.

Remember that the goal of your prepper garden is to feed your family long-term, both throughout the growing season and throughout the year as well. By following the above tips, you can maximize your long-term food storage and minimize your trips to the grocery store.

Do you garden for fun, to make a serious contribution to your food supply, or both? What new garden veggie will you try this year? What do you plant the most of in your garden?

 

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28 comments

  1. Your garden always sounds so amazing, but I’m still on the fence about wanting to do anything this year. This is when I wish I was married to someone who liked doing that sort of thing…and cooking too. 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, yeah, amazing and a crapload of work. 🙂 I think you should try one or two little things this year, just to dip your foot in the gardening pond. 🙂

  2. In the past, it’s just been a fun hobby for me, but this year I’m taking it more seriously. In fact, one of my goals for 2015 is to grow 200 lbs of produce this summer. I don’t can, so it’s mainly just for us to eat as we harvest it, but I want to learn how to make my own jam this year. (Both my husband and daughter take PB&J sandwiches for lunch every day, so we go through a lot.)

    I look forward to hearing all about your garden throughout the season!

    • Laurie says:

      Jam is one of our favorite things to can, Amy. It’s sweet, delicious, all natural and pretty easy to make too. Lord willing, I’ll get to Dandelion jelly this year – it’s easily made with “weeds” and has a sweet, lemony taste – yum!!!

  3. Lizzy says:

    Good article, Laurie. One might also want to consider herbs, not only for their flavor, but also for their medicinal valve. Thyme, for example, is useful for sore throats

  4. Kara says:

    We’re a combo of hobby and supply. We’re hoping our broccoli makes it this year, and we’re aiming for more peppers!

  5. Alas, I think I’ll have to wait for retirement before I’ll be able to take on a garden. Or maybe if I don’t teach summer school this year . . . No – must stay on track. I notice you mention eating fish. My daughters call that “pescatarian”, but do you consider it part of a vegan / vegetarian diet?

    • Laurie says:

      I consider fish more a part of our Macrobiotic diet. Haven’t heard about the pescatarian thing. will have to look into that. 🙂

  6. We love gardening and have added a few new raised garden beds this year! I love blue lake green beans and grape tomatoes. We also grow cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins, strawberries, etc. I want to grow lettuce this year! We just have to be patient and not plant too early. I love the companion gardening link!

    • Laurie says:

      I know – that’s a great site, isn’t it? We did lettuce for the first time last year, Jayleen, and it was wonderful! We could just go out, cut some lettuce and have us an awesome salad within minutes!

  7. Mrs. Maroon says:

    We planted our garden a couple weeks ago. This is year three for us, though the first one at this house. In previous years we have had a never ending supply of yellow squash and zucchini. Green beans do well. And hot peppers!! We canned our sliced jalapenos and banana peppers to enjoy all year long. We also had a bang up year of cantaloupe two years ago.

    This year I aim to get better use out of our tomatoes. I want to add canning to my arsenal of skills. We have a book from Ball, but now I just need to sit down and read through it all.

    Side note… keep your dog out of the tomatoes. I’ll spare you the details. But trust me – it’s not pretty!!

  8. Iforonwy says:

    Such a great article Laurie. I have been downloading samples of books to read on my HPSlate (I remember when in infant school we still wrote on slates!) and at the moment I am reading Grow the Good Life by Michele Owen. – Why a vegetable garden will make you Happy, Healthy, Wealthy and Wise!

    Our garden is begining to wake up – however the weeds woke up weeks ago. The blossom is begining to show on the fruit trees and leaves are coming on the fruit bushes.

    ‘Im-in-doors has built two large wooden raised beds for me and today I ordered some organically raised vegetable plants from a local nursery and I am eagerly awaiting their delivery.

    • Laurie says:

      I would absolutely love to meet you guys and see your garden someday. It sounds so perfect! We are hoping to put strawberries in this year – hopefully in a raised bed. We’ve had an early spring, but it’s Minnesota, so you can trust that winter is over quite yet. Therefore, we’ll be waiting still to put the veggies in until at least the 1st of May. 🙂

      • Iforonwy says:

        Our garden is large by UK standards but tiny by USA standards. It is very untidy. Nothing like my neighbours regimented rows of fruit and veg and she grows so much wonderful food in there. I envy her! We are trying to be more organised this year.

        We still have some fruit in the freezer from last year’s crops and jars of jam and jelly too.

        • Laurie says:

          Yeah, we have just a couple of jars of jelly left. The kids are requesting a huge increase in the amount of jelly/jam we preserve this year. 🙂

  9. Always enjoy your gardening tips, Laurie! We don’t garden as we don’t have a good spot to set up our garden, but I’m replacing our failing 12 foot long retaining wall this July and extending it an additional 20+ feet. Once we do that, we will line the land on top of it with 2-3 garden beds. My wife is dying to garden so it’ll be nice to finally have it set up for her. Also plan on putting in a small shed to free up some storage space in the garage.

    • Laurie says:

      Yay! So glad to hear you are putting some beds in! I think you guys will love gardening, DC. There is something very gratifying about growing your own food.

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