Many preparedness-minded people have a pack of "survival seeds" socked away for TEOTWAWKI, thinking, "If SHTF, I'll just start gardening."
First of all, you can't just throw a random can of survival seeds in your fridge and expect to be able to produce enough food to survive, much less thrive, post-SHTF. We've been gardening in one way or another for 6 years and we are by no means experts. We are making remarkable strides in our skills and knowledge, but I wouldn't want to depend solely on our garden's production.
Second of all, are you sure your seed stockpile is full of varieties that will thrive in your area? Do you have good tools? How about ways to maintain your soil's fertility and to manage pest problems without petrochemicals? Are you physically capable of the labor it takes to turn virgin ground into a thriving garden? You had better know the answers to all those questions before you have to rely on your "Garden in a Can".
Hot, hot, hot
With that out of the way, let's bring this summer's heatwave and drought into the picture. Let's say SHTF has happened. Unless you are located in the Pacific Northwest or Antarctica, chances are your summer has been brutally hot. At the Harried Homemaker Acres, we have had TWENTY ONE days where the high has been over 100 degrees. This is great for using your car as a solar oven, but not much else.
Our garden has suffered, with the corn taking the brunt of nature's furnace . Keep in mind that this is with daily watering. What would have happened if we could not irrigate? Could we live on only our garden produce?
The answer, obviously, is no. Not even if we had a much larger garden and were master gardeners. We would be struggling and would be thanking the Lord that we had our food storage in place.
POINT #1: You've got to have food storage as a back-up.
If you look at the information available from the National Weather Service, you'll find some interesting charts and graphs. This July ranked in the top ten of hottest summers ever recorded in our state. When were the other ten?
A cluster of years in the early 1900s
A cluster in the 1930s
A small cluster in the 1950s
Hot and dry weather seems to come in clusters, which brings me to point number two.
POINT#2: It would be best to have enough food storage in place to account for multiple years of poor harvests.
And don't forget this -
POINT #3: In hot, dry weather, your gardening technique matters.
I will always sing the praises of Square Foot Gardening, but it is a more intensive cultivation that requires additional water and soil fertility. In a drought, giving your crops extra space is extremely useful. Two books that I own that address this issue are Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times and The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times.
I particularly find the latter book inspirational. The author, Carol Deppe, promotes corn, bean, squash, potatoes and eggs as the basis for a survival diet and gives extremely detailed information on how to grow these crops/products. If you maintain a gluten-free diet, you'll especially appreciate her book. We aren't gluten-free, but still found a lot of useful information. It is one of those books that makes you think.
Even if you are a die-hard SFGer, it makes sense to tuck these books into your survival library and learn these techniques as a option.
How is your garden growing in all this heat? How drought-proof is your garden?