Is a Secret Garden of Survival Too Good to be True?

Survival gardening means you grow food you and your family could survive on. Ideally, you want to do the least amount of work for the most amount of food. And what if you could conceal it so thieves won’t steal from it.

Now picture this. You could plant a survival garden that you…

  • Plant once in your life-time
  • Takes very little space
  • Grows 5 times more food per square foot
  • Provides food for the next 30 years
  • Never have to weed
  • Never have to use fertilizers
  • And never have to use pesticide– ever.
  • And it’s all disguised to look like overgrown underbrush!

It sounds fascinating and enticing, doesn’t it? But does it sound too good to be true?

Rick Austin has been doing it for years and has been teaching others to garden that way. In fact, he’s written Secret Garden of Survival–How to grow a camouflaged food-forest to show you and me how to do it, too.

Who is Rick Austin?

Rick Austin refers to himself as the Survivalist Gardener, and he was my guest on DestinySurvival Radio. He took a half-acre southern slope in North Carolina and turned it from red clay into a “food forest” in one year. He has proven his method of survival gardening to be the essential prepper food source that can provide you with all the fruit, vegetables, nuts and berries, that you and your family can consume in a year.

To quote from Rick’s info, he “is a long time survival expert, and has been using sustainable living and home building practices for 30 years. He is a permaculture gardening, solar, and off-grid living expert and has been a guest speaker to architectural, agricultural, sustainable building, and survival preparedness conferences. His presentations contain real life examples, photos, and anecdotes.”

I can tell you from our interview that he’s the real deal. He’s been prepping long before prepping became fashionable.

What’s in his book?

The contents includes…

  1. What Do I Know About This?
  2. Starting with a Clean Slate- barren or existing ground; southern exposure, slope
  3. Grey Water Systems- as simple as laundry, complex as man made wetland
  4. Swales, Irrigation, Micro-Climates- exposed rocks collect and give off heat
  5. Permaculture Guilds- different types, how to plant them, what to plant
  6. Rain Water Collection- everybody has a roof.
  7. Vegetable and Herb Garden- key hole garden
  8. Infrastructure for the Garden- how to create berms, retention ponds,
  9. Preparing the Ground- micro-organisms, mulch, nitrogen fixers
  10. Planting Your Food Forest- proper way to plant, tools,
  11. Observing and Improving- wet, dry, hot, cold, windy,
    Natural Pest Control- deer, raccoons, rodents; fire ants, trap plants (mustard)
  12. Growing Through The Season- what to do beginning, middle, end of season

Bonus–What To Do After The Harvest- preserving- canning, dehydrating

Secret Garden of Survival is easy to read and gives you all the step by step info you need. It’s based on Rick’s years of growing experience using permaculture. It’s not theory, and he made it a point to include plenty of pictures to prove it.

What about Rick’s survival garden

Rick says it’s simply the way nature does things. This method of permaculture gardening relies heavily on companion planting. You grow plants that grow well together.

Keep pests away. For example, planting onions around fruit trees keeps mice away in winter. Catnip near tomatoes keeps tomato hornworms away. Attract beneficial insects by growing plants that will attract them.

Plants are grown in concentric circles around fruit and nut trees to achieve the food forest, camouflaged look. Space is saved when you grow vines up the trees. And plants are interplanted. This is both stealth gardening and intensive gardening.

Each tree with its surrounding plants is called a guild. Trees are planted 40 feet apart, but plants growing out around each tree will take up enough space so the guilds touch one another.

Rick has about 20 fruit and nut trees. He grows as many fruits as he can for his region in North Carolina, including numerous kinds of berries. He grows grapes, too.

From their first year of gardening this way, Rick and his wife grew more fruits and vegetables than they could consume. This was all done without fertilizers or pesticides. Even Rick is amazed by how well it all works.

It takes careful planning to make this system work. You must consider the space you have and select carefully for the varieties of plants that do well in your area. Rick says the best way to get started is to get his book and follow the step by step directions. Pictures demonstrate more than many words could explain adequately. It’s his goal to make it simple to understand.

This is truly low maintenance gardening. In fact, Rick doesn’t even worry about weeds. He says the most work comes at harvest time. Fortunately, crops are harvested at different times.

But the key is to work with nature, rather than against it.

How can you find out more?

First, listen to my interview with Rick Austin when you hear DestinySurvival Radio for February 28, 2013 because we talked about more than I have space to share here. Then check out Rick’s site at Buy his book there at a discount, or click on the book’s title–Secret Garden of Survival–wherever you see it linked in this post.

No matter where you get the book, you may want to get the paperback version so you can take notes to refer to later. And you’ll have a hard copy for the future when we find ourselves in the proverbial off grid situation.

Does Rick Austin’s secret garden of survival sound too good to be true? Or is it the way survival gardening was meant to be? Would you grow this way at a bug out location?

Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.

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