Well you have your MREs and your dehydrated foods stored way for when it hits the fan, but what do you do when these run out? Plant a garden is one answer. Most people know the value of raising their own food during times of crisis; look at the British during World War II, almost every home had a Victory Garden. Besides, gardens are ways of supplementing the
family's food budget and it's a valuable skill to know.
There are two types of gardening, traditional and what I call guerrilla gardening. Traditional gardening is where you have a plot of land on your spread and you have all you plants in nice, neat raised beds; that's fine for most people, but what if you have to worry about people or animals destroying your crop. For situations where you need a secure low-key food source guerrilla farming is the answer.
Guerrilla farming consists of growing several small gardens in secure locations as opposed to growing one large garden in plain sight. Separate garden plots have several advantages over a large plot. Small plots allow you to conceal you farming practices in several locations so that if one is discovered the others will survive. In a survival situation having multiple food plots allows you to bug out in different directions should the need arise. From a growing standpoint small plots allow you to grow different varieties that won't cross-pollinate. Setting up a guerrilla garden is really no different than setting up a regular garden.
First you need to select the sites you wish to garden. You want to select sites that get a fair amount of sun for what you are planting, but are still concealable. You might want to find a large thicket and sneak into it and clear out the center to make a small plot. Remember that you want your plots of different sizes and shapes to aid in concealing your garden. You want to watch the way you get to your food plot so you don't leave a trail that will lead people or animals right to your garden. Try to enter and leave a different way each time. Only remove enough brush for you to plant your garden; if you clear too much brush your garden will be more visible; and besides some weeds in, and around, your garden allow beneficial insects to have a place to live. You want to find places that are close to a water source so that you will be able to irrigate you crops. A stream or small lake will do; or if these are not available your might have to hike your water supply in, not a fun task!
The size of your food plot is determined by several factors. One, how many different plots do you plan on having? How much food do you want to grow? How types of food do you plan on growing? I usually figure out how large a traditional garden I need and break that down into the number and size of the various plots.
Once you have decided the number and size of your garden plots and have found several locations it's time for the fun. After you have cleared the various gardens you are ready to work the soil; this can be done by hand or by a small rototiller. A rototiller makes quick work of the job, but it's noisy and is hard to get into your plot without leaving sign. By turning the soil by hand your able to do a better job and not disturb the surroundings as much. After you have turned the soil for the first time you want to take a soil sample and have it tested to see what kind of soil amendments your garden will need. Most county extension offices will perform this service for a small fee. Once you get the results of your soil sample you know what you need to add to your soil, whether it be lime for acidic soil, or nitrogen for weak soils or any trace elements.
One option you will need to consider when planning your garden is whether or not your want to have an organic garden or not. Organic gardening has several advantages over a garden with lots of chemicals in it. Organic gardening is better for you because you use less chemicals and fertilizers. You are not reliant on large agricultural companies that may not be around. Most of your organic gardening supplies are right there. A garden that uses compost will produce as much as a traditional garden using chemical means.
Once you have added any amendments to your soil you are ready to plant your garden. Instead of specializing each plot for a specific vegetable you want to plant variety is each plot; this way is you lose one garden plot you don't lose all of one type of vegetable. Some plants such as corn require a certain size plot in order to pollinate. Some plants compliment each other and companion planting is recommended. By companion planting you are able to control many of your garden pests.
Garden pests will probably be the biggest threat to your garden. Garden pest can be controlled by several methods. Companion planting allows you to grow one vegetable that actually helps protect another. Some plants give off an odor that repeal certain pests, or cover the odor of another vegetable so pests can't find it. Placing certain items around your garden help keep others out. I use human hair I get at the barbershop to keep deer out of my garden. A tea made of tobacco juice and detergent helps repel insects off your plants without harming them.
Most routine garden maintenance is done like a traditional garden. The weeding and fertilizing are done the same way. When you weed let them lie and then when they are dry throw them on you compost pile for future use that way it helps make your garden self-supporting. Keep compost around your plants; it helps keep weeds down, holds in moisture and keeps garden pest away. When fertilizing stay away from fish emulsion and blood meal, because they tend to draw raccoons and other garden pests to your garden.
You probably don't want to visit your gardens more than about twice a week during the growing season, but at harvest time it might take a trip to the garden every day to pick your vegetables. Remember to enter and leave by different routes so as not to leave a trail.
A few parting thoughts on guerrilla farming:
Remember that the goal is to grow you food without others knowing about it so don't advertise the fact. Always be cautious when going to your garden; this might be difficult when packing in fifty pounds of lime of five gallons of water, but always go back and try and cover your trail.
Another thing to consider is the government's anti-marijuana program. In Georgia, where I live, in the Spring and Fall law enforcement officers fly around in helicopters looking for marijuana patches and your guerrilla gardens will certainly draw their attention. Once they realize what it is they shouldn't both it. They will probably think it's a feed plot for wild game.
Also you don't have to plant just vegetables and fruits; you can plant a wide variety of edible wild plants around you retreat that will help feed you and your family during a survival situation. If you have some wet places on your property you can grow some cattails or wild rice; or you can plant blackberries, huckleberries. By planting wild plants most people won't recognize them for what they are and in crisis situation that might be all you're able to get.
Well I hope I have given you some food for thought on how to plant a guerrilla garden and what all is involved. I pray you will never need it, but having these skills could save your life one day.
Copyright 2000 Michael Gibbons
Freely reuseable with copyright notice included