Growing a survival garden has become a staple of prepping.
When we realize that any long-term or TEOTWAWKI event that comes along is likely to far outlast our food stockpile, no matter how big it is, it doesn’t take much to convince us of the need for a survival garden.
The big problem for most of us though, is having enough room to plant that garden. Added to that, is the challenge of keeping your garden from prying eyes.
Let’s face it, it’s almost impossible to hide what we’re doing from our neighbors; especially if they happen to be nosy ones.
Most people are curious enough that they pay attention to what’s going on at the house next door. If what’s going on looks interesting, they pay even more attention. That makes it hard to hide a garden from their curiosity.
Adding to that is the problem of space. It takes a large garden to feed your entire family, especially if you consider that you need to grow enough to get through the entire year.
However, with this guide, you can become self-sufficient, even with a small yard. It’s designed for a quarter-acre setting, with the objective of achieving total self-sufficiency for a family of 4, and having goods to sell. But it was created in such a way that it is easy to downsize if you have less land or fewer family members.
While raising your own vegetable garden isn’t exactly commonplace, it’s not so strange as to make anyone draw the conclusion that you’re a prepper. There are still people today who raise their own vegetables, but aren’t counted amongst the ranks of the prepping community.
Nevertheless, it’s highly likely that those neighbors will remember your garden when food runs out and they want something to eat. That’s when they might be tempted to slip over the fence and see what you have that they can reappropriate for their own use.
This makes it so that the real trick about growing a survival garden is keeping your garden from being obvious. As an alternative, some parts of your garden might end up being obvious, but you’ll want to make sure that not all of it is readily identifiable as a vegetable garden. The more of your garden that you can keep people from recognizing for what it is, the better.
Fortunately for us, most people don’t know what they’re looking at, when they look at garden plants. Oh, they’ll recognize tomatoes growing on your plants, but they’re unlikely to recognize a potato plant. If you can manage to keep the melons hidden, they won’t recognize a watermelon or cantaloupe vine either.
Deception Is Your Friend
If you want to live the life of a self-sufficient prepper, without people realizing what you’re doing, then deception has to become part of your plan.
I’ve planted food, built both a wind turbine and solar panels, put in rainwater capture with some massive water tanks and other projects at my home.
As far as my neighbors are concerned, I’m just an eccentric former engineer, who likes to experiment.
When it comes to your gardening, it’s easy to come up with excuses. You might say that you don’t trust GMO produce. Perhaps you prefer the taste of vegetables that are freshly picked off the plant. Your family may have a tradition of canning your own.
You can even say that you just want to try some of the more unusual varieties of vegetables, which aren’t available in the store. Any excuse will work, just as long as you make it plausible and carry through with it. This way, they can see you doing what you say.
One of the more effective ways of growing vegetables in a way that doesn’t look like you’re growing veggies is to plant them randomly. People are accustomed to seeing vegetable gardens planted in rows, whether that is in raised beds or in a ground-level garden.
Planting your veggies randomly, mixed in with other plants, plays tricks on their mind, making them think that what they’re seeing is a decorative garden, rather than a vegetable garden.
Start with Your Regular Garden
The starting point for any survival garden is the most obvious part, regular raised beds for planting.
While you’re making your raised beds, take the extra time to make a greenhouse for them.
Related: DIY Poor Man’s Greenhouse
This can be made of PVC pipe and clear plastic sheeting, which really isn’t clear.
If you live in a temperate or colder climate, the greenhouse can be explained away as a means of growing plants before the weather gets warm enough for your flowers to grow. Make sure that they see you bringing flowers out of your greenhouses from time to time, to substantiate that story.
Other than the flowers you’re going to plant in your regular garden as camouflage for your veggies, you mostly want to plant things that will be easy for people to identify.
This is the place to plant your tomatoes and peppers, both of which are extremely obvious, once they begin to bear fruit. But people won’t recognize the fruit, if they can’t see it.
You can also use this easy guide to build a hidden food growing fence. This way you can turn an idle fence into a hidden but bountiful garden. You can make it from wooden planters or even discarded pallets. Even people who pass by, looking over the fence would not see it.
Decorative Planting in Plain Sight
Most people have some sort of garden in their front yard, mostly flower beds along the walkway and up close to the house.
Rather than planting flowers in these places, plant green, leafy plants that are native to your area. Ideally, plants which will require minimal watering. This is called “xeriscape” gardening and it has become quite popular, especially in more arid regions of the country.
Since you’ll be growing mostly leafy plants, rather than flowing ones, it’s easy to add in other leafy plants, without people recognizing them.
Specifically, this is a great place to plant root vegetables, like potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, turnips, beets, radishes and sweet potatoes.
Just make sure that when you harvest, you don’t leave anything behind for your neighbors to dig up, thinking you’ve left food there for them.
Plant a Garden Forest
Another useful trick for hiding your fruit and vegetable bearing plants is to hide them in the midst of a ‘forest.” Granted, you probably can’t plant an actual forest on your property, unless you have a lot of land; but you can plant a garden in a forest-like way.
If you think of any forest you’ve ever seen, the predominant foliage is the trees. Tress will be scattered around, randomly, with at least some space between them. Sometimes, there will be larger trees growing, with smaller ones in-between.
These may be of the same species or different ones, depending on the forest. What’s important though is that they are trees which will probably not grow to the full stature of the mature trees.
Between all those trees, you’ll find both bushy plants and smaller ones. Often, the busy plants will be growing up close around the tree trunks, with the other plants growing outside the bushes. This gives any forest a “three-dimensional” growing pattern which we can make use of.
What you want to do, to reproduce this in your own backyard, is to start out by planting trees, preferably fruit trees, which will provide you with food. Rather than planting those trees in rows, scatter them out, so that as they grow, it will look more like they grew there naturally.
With the trees in place, as the anchor for your garden, you can start planting a combination of vegetables, berry plants, melon vines and some leafy greens. As with the tree planting, make your pattern random, so that it looks like the various plants just grew there naturally, rather than as a planned garden.
When people see it, they won’t see the forest, for the trees. Put another way, they are likely to overlook the vegetables growing in your yard, because their attention will be fixed on the overall affect of how your “forest” looks.
You may also like: