I absolutely love my garden. My passion began as I felt a growing need to produce everything I possibly could on my own property to reduce our dependence on outside sources. Our ultimate goal is to be able to survive off of what we can produce ourselves. That being said, I can’t grow chocolate … so I may be forever dependent on an outside source for at least one of my needs.
Lately, I’ve been researching permaculture. While I am not fond of the politics that seem to be associated with the movement, the sustainable garden design holds a lot of promise. A correctly designed mature permaculture landscape should require little human intervention and still provide food year after year. Theoretically, there should be no need to weed, till, fertilize, spray for bugs, and the need for irrigating is greatly reduced. I see it reducing my work load, but I will still need to prune, harvest, water, plant annuals, and tend to the garden.
Basically, permaculture is a system where you grow plants together that benefit one another usually using a guild. For instance, an apple tree guild would have an apple tree planted in the center with plants that suppress grass (daffodils, camas, garlic chives), fertilize (nutrient accumulators such as yarrow, chicory, plantain), attract predatory insects to kill detrimental ones (dill, fennel, bee balm), and mulch plants to build soil (comfrey, artichoke) which all work together to provide the perfect environment for each other to thrive.
When designing the perfect long-term prepper garden, these methods could ultimately produce the highest level of productivity with the least amount of work. There are a growing number of resources out there now. The best book on permaculture that I have come across is Gaia’s Garden A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture Second Edition.
Toby Hemenway provides clear principles on growing a great sustainable food forest on any urban lot. He covers everything from watering using grey water, rainwater and swales, to designing beneficial tree guilds, to the best multi-use plants, to the best plants for chicken and rabbit fodder.
I checked Gaia’s Garden out from a library and decided that it is a must-have book for my prepper library and ordered a copy. In the long run, it will be cheaper than the late fines I would accrue from my reluctance to let this gem out of my hands. It was a brand new copy and I’m returning it a little tattered and worn from use. It is a great reference book to help you design your survival landscape.