What differentiates a “survival garden” from a regular backyard garden? It can be a subtle difference for some of us, and no difference at all for others. But in my mind, the survival garden is focused on practicality and calories. There are no fancy-pants exotic greens or long rows of low-calorie vegetables. The survival garden is all about feeding you and your family. And to get the biggest return on your investment of seeds, water, and labor, it’s vital to take these three countermeasures against threats to your garden.
1. DIY Deer Repellent
Whitetail deer are remarkable creatures, and their delicious meat has provided families with countless meals for millennia. But these graceful creatures can do some serious damage when it comes to gardens. Maybe it’s for dietary variety, or maybe it’s out of spite for their fallen brethren, but deer just can’t seem to resist munching on the leaves and stepping on the seedlings in your veggie patch. But there is a way to make them keep their distance, with a safe and sustainable spray. When you have an abundance of eggs from your flock, you can use egg yolks and water to create a natural spray to repel deer. Douse your plants with this stinky mix and repeat after rains wash it off.
2. Silver Bullet Fruit Spray
As enticing as ripe fruits and vegetables can be to a person, they must look even more heavenly to a bug—but how do we block these enthusiastic insects from destroying our long-awaited crop? And do so without using poisons that you’d need a HAZMAT suit to apply? The answer is diatomaceous earth (DE for short). This ancient substance is actually the fossilized remains of microscopic single-celled plants called diatoms. These living things were once phytoplankton that lived in the primordial oceans of the world. Today, they are mined and ground into powder to make an exceedingly safe and effective control for insects and parasites. The broken fossils have razor sharp edges, which cut up the skin of larvae and the exoskeleton of adult insects – killing them by dehydration. The dust needs to be dry to work, but it can be easily spread as a liquid spray, becoming effective once it dries into a silver-white coating.
½ cup of DE
1 gallon jug of water
1 backpack sprayer
Mix the DE and the water thoroughly in the sprayer. Walk through your garden and coat every surface. Reapply after heavy rains.
3. Automatic Watering System
A dried-out garden is an unproductive garden. Most gardens are happier when watered regularly and in the early morning. But who’s got time for that when there are so many other chores to do? This is where timers and other automatic devices can come in handy, when attached to soaker hoses or drip lines for plant watering. For off-grid set ups, you can even use a gravity-fed water supply and battery-powered timers. These can be programmed to start and stop as specific times, daily or on multi-day schedules. The morning is best, since the water droplets on leaves at midday can act like magnifying lenses, actually burning the leaves. The AM wake-up shower is also better as a disease prevention strategy. Evening waterings can promote fungal diseases in the plants that are susceptible to these ailments. And to conserve water, set up your self-watering garden with soaker hoses or drip lines. This wastes less water than sprinkler systems, and it delivers the water right where it’s needed—at the roots.
Are you growing a “survival garden” this year? Please share your thoughts on defending it by leaving a comment.