Surviving in the winter is one of the more challenging situations, especially for someone new to the survival lifestyle. Unlike warmer months, food isn’t as easy to forage for, and, depending on where you are, water may not always be liquid to be easily drinkable. Add on top of those difficulties the challenge of trying to start your garden so that you can have a consistent food source, and you have a challenge.
Fortunately, though, there are some easy steps that you can take which can make getting your garden going in winter an easier task. The first step to take, if you don’t already have a ready supply of seeds on hand (and assuming that you aren’t in dire need of food immediately), is to find supplies of seeds. Go through seed catalogs, if you aren’t living in a survival situation yet. Get an idea of what is available and start putting together your supply of seeds. You may want to consider seeds with “long-season” seeds. Ashley Hetrick has this to say about long-season seeds:
While most garden crops, such as tomatoes, need to be started just six weeks before the last expected frost date, there are others that will need to be started as early as mid-winter if you expect to have a full harvest. Leeks and onions need to be started from seed indoors as much as 10-12 weeks before the last spring frost. Early cold weather crops that you’ll want to plant and hope to harvest before the mid-summer heat, such as broccoli, also might need to be planted well before your other seeds.
Of course, to use these kinds of seeds while still making use of other types of crops that grow better in warmer seasons, you’ll want to take some time to plan your garden and your crop rotation. In other words, you’ll want to have an plan for what you will plant now while taking to consideration when you will harvest these plants and what you will want to plant next and when it will be ready to harvest, and so on. While going through this planning process, you may also want to allow some fallow time for your garden (or for rotating portions of your garden) so that the soil has the opportunity to replenish for the next cycle of crops.
With replenishment in mind, winter can also be a great time to start planning and preparing fertilizer supplies. You can start a compost pile from food scraps from your kitchen table. Another great option is is to gather wood ash. Hetrick writes,
Wood ash, used in moderate amounts, makes excellent garden fertilizer. The ash is comprised of non-combustible minerals that the tree took out of the soil to fuel its metabolism. Those concentrated nutrients can go back onto your garden soil or into your compost to give both a boost. Wood ash can impact soil pH, so use in moderation.
Finally, you may want to consider building a green house or “cold frames,” which are “like mini-greenhouses that insulate a small area or growing bed from the mild conditions of the “shoulder seasons” or spring and fall.”
All-in-all, if you are serious about having a garden to feed your family, winter is a great time to get to work so that you can reap the rewards in the warmer months.