After Food Storage Runs Out, Will Gardening Be Enough? | Survival Diva

At the Pirates Republic we do not believe in putting all your food requirements in one basket so to speak. When I was in Bosnia there was a question that was more like a mantra the locals had it was “what if the first crop fails?” Coming from the land of plenty it didn’t really set in until I was in the Yugoslavian territory and the same question/Mantra was bandied about by the locals like it wasn’t anything to them.

So what happens if your first crop fails? We have a saying around the Harbor that goes like this “you can’t plant a seed today and eat a tomato tomorrow!” We have spoken to a lot of people that has as their only intent is to produce a garden and put up what they don’t consume. That’s great but what happens if your first crop fails? then do you have enough to get you thru that failure and then thru the second grow period? So we always recommend tiered food reserves. 1. Garden 2. Bulk items 3. Freeze Dried long term storage food Products 4. Quick fix type products for example MRE, Thrive Express packets.

A garden can be spectacular when all is great. However, depending on where you live Drought, Fire, Frost, too much rain, Hail, decease, pests, thieves and Murphy’s Law can and will happen and then what? Anyway the survival diva has an article that addresses having a garden as your only source of food. Enjoy


It’s Survival Diva with a word of caution: if you plan to eat exclusively from a survival garden, it may not be enough. Before you throw your hands up in the air in frustration, bear with me. There are always workarounds. But before jumping into them, it’s wise to see if your living situation will support a large enough garden to provide at least a portion of your food needs.

The first question is do you have enough land for a large garden? Many gardening experts suggest approximately an acre of land to yield enough to feed a family of four.  (David’s note:  There’s a WAY overused example of a family in California who grows enough to feed their family on 1/10th acre.  They’re great people and I’ve emailed back and forth with the father, but most of the family works full time on their garden, so it’s not something everybody can duplicate.)

Next on the priority list after land comes the ability to water a large garden. Do you have a reliable water source to keep your plants healthy?

The next issue is security. If you live in a highly populated area, a tall fence is almost a prerequisite for an out of sight, out of mind approach. Without a fence you would need to keep a close watch over your garden. During troubled times it isn’t likely someone would be able to walk past the bounty of a garden without first stopping to help themselves. Enough uninvited visitors, and your garden yield may not be enough to keep you and your loved ones fed.

Another part of the equation is your climate zone. The longer the growing season, the more you will be able to produce, but for those who live in colder climate zones a greenhouse will help extend the growing season. You can find free building plans on the internet to make a greenhouse out of 2 X 4’s and heavy mill plastic.

If you haven’t heard of cold frames, you might want to study up on them. They are made with glass fronts and built with sturdy wood frames so seedlings that have grown into tender plants can be transferred to the cold frame in preparation for the garden once the early spring frost has passed. The glass fronts allow the cold frame to absorb sunshine, heating the interior. Cold frames should be left in full sunlight, and when placed against a heated building or foundation, plants placed in a cold frame will benefit from the extra heat. You can make them yourself from old windows installed with hinges, so on warmer days they can be opened to let out excess heat and moisture.

Note: Heirloom seed can be dried and stored for the next growing season and has a much lower second season failure rate than do commercial hybrid seeds.  (David’s note:  “hybrid” is not necessarily a bad thing.  it is the pollen from one variety of plant pollinating another variety of the same plant.  In human terms, the opposite of “hybrids” is inbreeding.  In dog terms, the hybrids are mutts.)

I mentioned at the beginning of the post that eating strictly from a garden may not be enough. Here’s why: as a rule of thumb, the average person requires approximately 2,000 calories each day. When you are physically active with chores such as gathering wood and water, gardening and doing chores like hand washing laundry, your caloric needs will go up.

I realize at a time when grocers shelves are collecting dust we will be happy for what food we have, especially when it’s fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden. Our bodies, however, can’t separate good times from bad and caloric intake will be even more important in lean times when each day will be filled with plenty of physical activity.

It boils down to combining your efforts; gardening and putting enough food storage aside for the protein and fats our bodies need. The following are a few relatively inexpensive items you might consider adding as long-term food storage along with gardening. Together, it will get you through a long-term crisis.

Peanut Butter and Shelf Life

I stockpiled a few hundred 28 ounce containers of Skippy peanut butter because it’s cheap insurance against hunger, most kids love it, and its protein and fat content will help avoid excessive weight loss when food is not plentiful and your workload increases. I did not store natural peanut butter without preservatives because it is not shelf stable.

Peanut butter has 190 calories per each 2 tablespoon serving, 3 grams of fat and 7 grams of protein. A huge benefit of peanut butter, other than it is affordable and has a long shelf life, is that it doesn’t require refrigeration.

I also included medium-sized assorted jams and jellies for PB&J sandwiches. Other than with the most humid climates, you should be able to consume a small to medium jar of jam well before it begins to mold, even without refrigeration. The trick is to use clean utensils to spread either the jam or peanut butter to avoid cross-contamination.

If you’re concerned about mold, look to restaurant supply companies, Costco, Sam’s Clubs, or wholesale grocers for individual packets of jams and jellies. But a word of warning; shop around if you go online! Some internet restaurant suppliers charge just as much for shipping as they do for a box of individual packets. You might check on individual mayonnaise packets as well to go with the next item I’ve recommended below.

You may have noticed I’m stubborn when it comes to what the experts tell us about the shelf life of many foods. Peanut butter is no exception. I just opened a jar of Skippy dated April, 2008 from my food storage to test it so I could report the outcome for this post. Mind you, the peanut butter was stored in a cool, dry location without direct sunlight or severe temperature fluctuations on the shelves of my food storage shed. The April, 2008 jar tastes no different than the newly purchased one sitting in my kitchen cabinet. There was no rancid oil taste and no staleness.

Experts advise the shelf life of peanut butter to be 18 months. The jar I opened dated April 2008 was 47 months. You will want to decide for yourself what your comfort level is for the shelf life of stored peanut butter, but my group will starting with 2008 peanut butter for the protein and calories it offers.

(David’s note:  Along the same lines of thought as peanut butter, a couple of my “force multipliers” are Olive Oil and Instant Breakfast powders.  Both can stretch existing food supplies while also increasing the nutritional value of your meals.)

Canned Tuna Fish

Tuna fish packed in oil is another relatively inexpensive way to add fat and protein to a steady diet of fruits and vegetables. A normal-sized 178.0 gram can of white tuna packed in oil contains 331 calories, has 14.4 grams of fat, and 47.2 grams of protein, which makes it a good candidate for inexpensive protein and to help avoid weight loss.

Beans and Rice

Served together, beans and rice offer a good source of protein and they are much cheaper than stockpiling meat, ham or chicken—although if you can afford it, they are great to include with your long-term food storage.

Our bodies provide most of the amino acids we need for our muscles, blood and bones, but some amino acids must come from foods. Like meat, beans and rice combined together provide the protein and amino acids we need to keep our bodies fueled. Some of most nutritious beans are black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, kidney beans and lima beans.

Canned beans will store for years provided they are kept in a moisture-free location that does not get extreme temperature fluctuations. Dry beans and rice will store for much longer. If cooking fuel is limited, consider purchasing a pressure cooker. It will drastically cut down on cook time, therefore fuel consumption.

Note: Always soak beans overnight before cooking.

Brown rice has more nutrition than white rice, but it has a much shorter shelf life due to its natural oils and it takes longer to cook.

When you allow rice to soak for several hours before cooking, it will shorten the cook time.

Bread & Noodles: Flour, Yeast, Powdered Eggs

Bread is something few of us would want to do without. It’s a comfort food, it’s filling and will stretch a meal of fruits and vegetables, and when you need a break, sandwiches make for quick, no-fuss meals. Made from the same ingredients, noodles are fairly easy to make and are great fillers for beans dishes.

Depending upon the type of yeast you store and how you store it, yeasts shelf life may be as short as 6 months.

Dry, granulated yeast lasts longer than cake yeast and white flour has a longer shelf than does wheat flour. You will want to weigh the shelf life of white versus wheat flour with their nutrition when you decide which to store. Both white and wheat flour should be stored in airtight buckets, away from sunlight and moisture and extreme temperature fluctuations. If you chose wheat buds, stored correctly it will last up to 30 years.

Powdered eggs in number 10 cans can be purchased online or at some big-box grocers. Typically, powdered eggs will last between 3 – 5 years, depending upon the supplier and how you store the cans.

In a Perfect World

It would be ideal to keep chickens for a time when the protein from their eggs and meat will be a blessing. However, predation from wild critters means you need a rooster or two to replace the causalities in your flock.

Although many cities now allow homeowners to keep a limited number of chickens, most do not allow roosters because of their tendency to start crowing at 4:00 am. But if you live in a rural area, you might consider keeping chickens. Just the bartering potential for eggs alone would be worth the trouble!


Are you planning to garden for backup when food storage may be exhausted? Please sound off by posting below!

God bless and stay safe,

David Morris and Survival Diva

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