Springtime is here and that means gardening!
Over the last 10 years, we have posted a number of very popular articles about gardening, including:
- Basic Gardening
- Baby Steps to Growing a Thriving Garden
- Planning Your Garden
- Growing Your Own Food
- 5 Gardening Mistakes to Avoid
We love gardening as a way to add even more variety and nutrition to your emergency food supply. Getting these benefits will take some planning, which is why our prepping pros have put together a list of tips to help make sure your garden compliments and enhances your existing emergency supply.
From the top…
Use Your Garden to Stock up on Foods Your Supply Is Missing
There are plenty of fruits and veggies that don’t do well freeze dried, and your supply may be short on some of these. Pears are a perfect example.
A great place to start is to identify foods that your supply is short on. If you’re like many of us, you’ve got a lot of freeze-dried fruits and veggies in your emergency stockpile: green beans, broccoli, strawberries, blueberries, apples, etc.
But there are plenty of fruits and veggies that don’t do well freeze dried, and your supply may be short on some of these. Pears are a perfect example. They are notoriously finnicky in a freeze drier. No matter how long they’re treated, they always seem to come out sticky and super sweet. It’s why some preppers call freeze-dried pears “pear candy.”
Simple science is to blame here. Sugar bonds to water, which is usually a good thing in food preservation (it slows bacteria growth). It’s a bad thing for the drying process, though, because sugar molecules cling to the water and prevent moisture from dissipating or sublimating.
Gardening gives you an opportunity to stock up on “non-freeze-dry-able” foods and can them, helping to fill those gaps in your supply.
Focus on Crops You Need in Volume (On Their Own or as Food Extenders)
Tomatoes are a great example of a food you may need more of. These are a great option for an emergency garden.
Foods you and your family eat on an everyday basis are good candidates for garden crops, even if you’ve already got a supply stored away in your emergency pantry.
Tomatoes are a great example of a food you may need more of. We actually recommend keeping a supply of freeze-dried tomatoes (the shelf life can’t be beat) along with jarred tomatoes you grow on your own.
Fresh and freeze-dried foods like tomatoes can be combined to extend your meals. Mix them together in dishes like marinara sauce to create larger meals and extend the mileage of your precious freeze-dried food. Just don’t forget to re-seal and store your freeze-dried food properly once it’s opened.
Grow Plants That Double as Nutritional Supplements
Walnuts are an incredible emergency food supplement, packed with calories, protein, and fat.
Certain plants don’t make much of a meal on their own but are great for adding protein and calories to your existing diet—especially in an emergency when those nutrients are in high demand.
Walnuts top our list here. They grow all over the US and are an emergency nutrition powerhouse, with about 523 calories per cup and tons of protein and fat. They also pack in antioxidants that boost muscle repair so you can recover from physical exertion more easily—a helpful property in disaster scenarios.
Acorns, hazelnuts, and lima beans are all fantastic sources of protein, too. Either of the first two may be growing in your yard right now; just make sure you know how to prepare them.
Grow Your Own Emergency Spice Rack
Oregano is a very versatile herb that makes the perfect addition to any emergency supply.
Fresh herbs make a great addition to any survival supply. Our prepping pros recommend prioritizing the more versatile herbs, like:
Chives – These can be a great supplement or even replacement for salt. They’re the perfect flavor enhancer!
Oregano and Basil – If spaghetti and pastas are high on your list, these herbs are a must. They’re both great in oil for ad hoc dressings, and oregano adds a nice woody flavor to freeze-dried meats (especially chicken).
Parsley: Another all-purpose herb, parsley makes just about anything better. Use liberally in tuna, soups, and simple casseroles.
The easiest way to dry out most herbs—especially basil and chives—is in the oven. Just place them on a baking sheet and cook around 180° F for two to four hours. Store in a sealed mason jar with one 100cc oxygen absorber (or larger, depending on how much herb you’re working with).
Plant Foods that Create a Natural Medicine Cabinet
Supplement your medicine cabinet with healing herbs you can use in an emergency! Lavender, for example, has been shown to help reduce anxiety.
When the roads are blocked and the power is down, one of the worst emergencies many of us will face is the sudden lack of medicine. Plants from your garden can provide a fantastic stop gap while you hunt down pharmaceutical-grade meds. They won’t replace life-saving and life-sustaining drugs, but they can relieve a whole host of basic symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, and even anxiety.
Peppermint: Among other things, peppermint has been reported to relieve digestive problems like gas, bloating, and indigestion. It may also help get rid of tension headaches.
Echinacea: The hardest to pronounce on this list (it’s” ek-kuh-nei-shuh,” for the record), these are purple flowers that some say can shorten symptoms of the common cold .More studies are needed to verify this benefit.
Lavender: Studies have shown that common lavender has anxiety reducing properties. It’s also emerging as a treatment for inflammation.
Plant Foods for Storage Items That Require Multiple Fresh Ingredients
Pickled foods really shine with fresh ingredients. They can make a great addition to your garden.
Freeze-dried, multi-ingredient food is a staple of many an emergency supply. It’s why “Entrées” are one of our most popular food categories.
There are certain foods, though, that need at least some fresh ingredients.
Salsa is a great example. Could you make salsa entirely from freeze-dried and dehydrated ingredients? Sure. Would it be tasty? No doubt. Could it really beat that fresh-from-the-garden jar on your shelf? Probably not.
That’s why, if you stock jarred salsa, we recommend growing at least a few of the ingredients (hot peppers and cilantro for starters) in your yard.
Pickled foods are another category that just need fresh ingredients. While we’ve seen folks freeze dry cucumbers, in our experience they’re better in a jar. The same goes for cabbage, beets, and asparagus.
Fill Those Holes in Your Supply!
With some planning ahead and the right strategy, you can use your garden to fill the holes in your emergency supply and even expand it.Sound off in the comments and let us know how you’ve used your garden to supplement your supply.