Survival Gardening For National Nightmares

venezeula oil pump

Can you imagine living in Venezuela right now?

More importantly…..  have you ever imagined living like that?  Have you ever seriously stopped to think about the ramifications of an economic collapse? Your money is virtually worthless. Wide ranging power blackouts, almost no food, eating pets and whatever stray animals can be obtained. They are essentially in a grid down existence, the very type of which I write about here. Recent online articles featured dramatic headlines such as “Venezuelans Return To Middle ages”.  I’ve always viewed the scenario of a power grid catastrophe as returning us to the 1800’s rather than a time of peasantry. Give or take a few hundred years, the dire meaning is the same.

For their city dwellers, it must be a living hell. But I wonder how the rural folk are doing? Not the bigger farm operations. They are surely suffering. But what of the common man families living on small plots in the Venezuelan countryside? If they were savvy enough to practice thorough self reliance skills, its possible that they are scratching out an existence. My guess is most were not.  It’s so much easier to be seduced by the convenience of industry.

grandma survived the great depression meme
A classic social media meme.

The U.S. has been down a similar road before with the Great Depression. While its not an apples to apples comparison, the first hand accounts you often hear is that the self sufficient farming families weathered it, for the most part, just fine. They had their milk cow, pigs, chickens and more. They also had the means to feed their animals without relying on the industrial system. It should also be noted what they DIDN’T have. Those in the Depression didn’t have a bloated bureaucracy over regulating their every move with fines, fees, red tape and permit requirements. Nor did they have to contend with the ridiculous levels of taxation and indifferent representation that we face today.

hank jr country boy can surviveAlong with the livestock of course, those hearty country folk grew gardens to provide for much of their food needs. They didn’t require elaborate watering systems. They didn’t depend on commercially sold bags of potting mixes or other products to amend their soil. They were not traveling to garden centers to purchase plants nurtured from seed by professionals months before transplanting.  No, rural Americans of the Great Depression relied largely upon themselves, their knowledge and their skills. As Hank Williams Jr. so aptly sang “country boy can survive”!

As the images of the Venezuelan plight continue to stream into our news feeds, I’m reminded of why I practice survival gardening the way I do. It is my contention that if I can successfully grow food now as if the grid were down, I should be able to just as well after most of the calamities that could occur.

It is easy to slip into conventional trappings though. As with most growers, I’m prone to garden envy. When I drive by a lush plot in the summer while mine is still developing, I think “what am I doing wrong?”. Its entirely possible that they are far superior growers than I am.  I feel no shame in admitting that I still have a lot to learn.

Prepper gardening is survival gardening. That means mastering the skills needed to grow food without the crutches of industry. The best simulation in my opinion is the pretense of an attack on the power grid.

Then I remind myself that that garden is likely pumped full of Miracle Grow, chemical pesticides,  and / or lots of other commercially dependent products.  It’s also probably irrigated from city utility water, or an electric well tied to the power grid. When the tomato plants are twice the size of mine, its quite likely someone other than the garden owner grew them from seed.

That is modern gardening for most people. If the goal is just to grow some food there is nothing wrong with using all the industrial cheaters available. Make no mistake however – its not preparedness. Not by a long shot. Those of the EP community would be wise to acknowledge this if they currently indulge their growing by making several visits to the store or their Amazon accounts.  Yes, the general mercantile shop existed in the 1800’s. Growers then did have need to acquire that which they could not easily produce themselves such as plows and leather goods. Still, its safe to assume the merchants weren’t selling soil amendment products, 8 inch tall starter plants, peat pellets, fertilizer spikes and potting wafers.

I realize that makes me sound like a grumpy old Luddite.  Its a stance I take only because I believe we imperil ourselves by losing sight of what we are supposedly engaged in. Prepper gardening is survival gardening. That means mastering the skills needed to grow food without the crutches of industry. The best simulation in my opinion is the pretense of an attack on the power grid. A nation at a standstill. Gardening would instantly be forced to revert back to the old ways.

power grid graphic

To be sure, a grid down nightmare may not be the SHTF crisis we face. There are plenty of other dangers. Nonetheless, is it not a best practice to prepare for the worst case scenario? Common sense tells me it is.

For most people, concerns of a long term blackout is nothing more than Hollywood science fiction. It will never happen. It couldn’t happen. It won’t happen. That is what is commonly referred to as normalcy bias. It’s the expectation that life will continue the way we’ve always known, the way its always been in our experience. With precious few exceptions, that has been the belief of our government leaders for decades.

That has changed. Love him or hate him, President Trump has recently taken the most substantial action of any high positioned U.S. politician in addressing the power grid’s vulnerability to terrorism . In April he signed  Executive Order 13865  “directing federal agencies to identify the threats posed by potential electromagnetic pulses (EMP), which are believed to be potentially dangerous to critical infrastructure like the electric grid, and find ways to guard against them” according to news site With our leadership in Washington D.C. finally taking this threat seriously, we would be wise to do so as well. You can read the order here at the official website.

The pictures above are the stark reality for Venezuela – blackouts and manual water collection.  That’s just the tip of it. Essentially, now even the president recognizes that we could be crippled back into 1800’s technology in regards to industry and agriculture.

To be clear, I’m not advocating that you must give up using all the modern techniques and gardening products available. At the same time, I do believe its prudent to at least have a portion of your garden space allotted for honing your grid down garden skills. From basic water collection systems to seed propagation, these types of skills would have a big impact on your ability to weather the “what if” storm and feed your family.

Don’t put it off. Start incorporating a growing from scratch mindset in your garden prep today.

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Thanks for reading!







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