Growing a hidden survival garden


Growing a hidden survival garden

Mother Earth News has a great story about a guy who specializes in growing highly productive gardens using primitive, hunter-gatherer methods. Apart from being insecticide free and yielding food year-around, the best part about these gardens is that they don’t look like gardens. If you came across one hidden in the woods, you’d probably move past it without spotting it.

In a future world where there is potentially no electricity, refrigeration, supermarkets, seed stores, fertilizers, pesticides and feed stores, it makes sense to look at people who have managed to live successfully for generations without these conveniences, he said.

As hunter/gatherers, people did not spend time planting and tending crops. They didn’t plant in rows. They didn’t plant year after year, didn’t weed, didn’t fertilize and didn’t water plants. Yet humans managed to survive for thousands of years this way.

“Straight rows are a haven for bugs,” Austin said, explaining why his produce grows in concentric circles, or guilds. At the center of each guild is a fruit tree draped in grape vines. Out from there, progressively shorter circles are formed of bushy plants, herbs and groundcover.

“With perennials, you plant once and harvest for a lifetime,” he said, adding that he spends only about an hour per day in the garden. Now in its fourth season, the garden yields more than the couple can possibly consume. Since they grow most of their own food, this is quite an accomplishment.

The gardener, Rick Austin, has a book out on this topic. It looks worth checking out if you’re into urban farming and/or homesteading.

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Jon Stokes is Deputy Editor at

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