When it comes to survival, everything starts from your mindset and preparedness. Your knowledge makes all the difference in what you can achieve.
That being said, don’t feel surprised if you will end up creating, growing, and sustaining a vegetable garden by yourself. And yes, you can do so even inside your tiny home!
Being 100% self-sufficient is a state of mind which involves your commitment, time, and patience.
Resources are surely the most important factor, but sometimes it takes very little of them, combined with a little energy, to make it happen.
Needless to say that all of us, as preppers, would love to have enough space at our disposal to become 100% self-sufficient and cover at least our needs for veggies, fruits, and even wheat.
In case we don’t have the possibility to relocate, we must do what we can with what we have. In my personal case, an 861 square feet apartment located on the third floor. And this, for me, means no access to a common garden.
Nonetheless, it is a real luck to have a roomy balcony that faces south. This always allowed me to keep some ornamental plants and grow some borage (Borago Officinalis).
It must be said that only after five years I discovered that some succulent plants I grew are.. edible!
Some of them have several unbelievable benefits, ranging from healing properties to their flavor.
This article aims to explain how you can start your own vegetable garden even if you have limited space. All you need is some jars, light, and soil.
Self-sufficiency: how to get started
“Happiness belongs to the self-sufficient.”
This powerful quote perfectly depicts the condition of being self-sufficient in a SHTF scenario as well as in days of normality.
In fact, taking care of your own resources is the most valuable way to ensure you & your relatives will benefit from days of calm and abundance.
Being independent by the logic of being forced to buy at a supermarket or online means nothing in a post-apocalyptic situation.
Growing a vegetable garden on your own is a step ahead into the conquer of a perfect state of sufficiency.
But what if you have no backyard or if you live in an apartment?
You can still achieve your goals by taking advantage of all the space you have at your disposal, as I mentioned before. Succulents will do the very rest.
Some vegetables need just very little space and care to grow. And succulents are the ideal solution for these kinds of problems.
General benefits on growing succulents
A costless aid to purify the air
If NASA is doing some research on using succulents inside a BioHome, why don’t we do the same?
In fact, it seems that succulents are able to wipe off some toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air, thanks to their water evaporation process. So this is a costless aid to purify the air inside your whole property!
Brightening your home
No matter if you live in North Dakota or in Louisiana: succulents are able to bright your home even if put them in some dark corner. You just need to try it!
Helping to maintain the proper percentage of humidity
Their constant moisture can help you to reduce some common diseases like dry cough, dry skin, red eyes, sore throat, colds—additionally, and they add fresh, constant oxygen to the whole house.
This works, obviously, if you aren’t allergic to them.
Succulents are improving
- Pain Tolerance
In particular, a research based on horticultural therapy and conducted by the University of Kansas proved that patients actually needed fewer pain meds when they had some plants placed inside their hospital rooms.
But also a study conducted in South Korea had the same conclusions:
“We aimed to develop a horticultural therapy program for the vocational rehabilitation of individuals with intellectual disabilities and examine its effects. Individuals with intellectual disabilities (n = 28, average age: 33.23 ± 4.9 years) were recruited from a welfare center in Jecheon, South Korea. They participated in eight weekly sessions of a horticultural therapy program consisting of common succulent cultivation techniques at a specialized succulent cultivation farm located in Jecheon, South Korea.
Before and after the program, we assessed hand function (grip strength, pinch force, and hand dexterity, evaluated using a hand dynamometer, Jamar hydraulic pinch gauge, and grooved pegboard, respectively), emotional, behavioral strategies (evaluated using the emotional, behavioral checklist), and social skills (evaluated using the social skill rating system-teacher form).
After participation in the horticultural therapy program, individuals with intellectual disabilities displayed significantly improved hand function, emotional behavior, and social skills. This study demonstrates the potential of horticultural therapy focused on succulent cultivation for the vocational training of individuals with intellectual disabilities.” – “A Horticultural Therapy Program Focused on Succulent Cultivation for the Vocational Rehabilitation Training of Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities” – Department of Horticultural Therapy, Graduate School of Agriculture and Animal Science, Konkuk University, Seoul 05029, Korea
A vegetable garden of succulents
Often underrated and consider just “a weed,” succulents are, on the opposite, resistant plants full of pros.
Let’s look at some of them:
These plants are able to store water. For this reason, they are called “succulents.”
Some of them have known the development of their leaves. Think about the cactus: their leaves turned into thorns.
They can actually live in very different environments, from arid areas to high-moisture zones like jungles.
Succulents are able to store water directly from their roots to face the absence of rain present in many regions of the world. They can live off that retained moisture for years.
The most common succulent is Aloe vera, which has a sap (primarily made out of water) that is mainly used for skin care and as a calming balm for burns.
Other plants totally look like succulents, even if they technically aren’t.
They can easily grow in our garden as well as inside jars. Hearts Entangled (Ceropegia woodii) is a clear example of it.
Why growing succulents
Succulents have a lot of benefits. Knowing more about them and actually starting to grow them inside your home will make you an avant-gardist prepper, let me say.
In fact, succulents can do a lot with very little or no water at all.
In a time of crisis, your thought should immediately go to the shortage you may experience in terms of power and water cutoffs.
Obviously, only a nuclear fallout could prevent you from growing and eating them.
Even in a worst-case scenario, these plants will live on, providing you and your family an endless source of vitamins. Not to mention that they can be used as natural medications (like in the case of Aloe) and, if squeezed, as an additional source of water.
Besides the pleasure of seeing them growing even in a limited space like a jar, they will soon become your vegetables of choice once you taste them.
Boiled or eaten raw succulents are delicious and extremely versatile to cook, as we will soon see.
List of edible succulents
There are approximately sixty different plant families that go under “succulents.”
The most popular ones are:
Ferocactus (Barrel Cactus)
The fruit has edible black seeds, high in vitamins A and C. The flavor is reminiscent of lemon and kiwi.
They can be gathered from the cactus. You can eat them raw.
Good for treating burns, scrapes, cuts.
Scientists identified over 75 phytochemicals in aloe: vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, E, antioxidants, and folic acid. Large amounts can be risky for your kidney and can cause constipation, so eat them in moderation.
Salicornia (Sea beans)
They grow on salt marshlands as well as on sandy seashores. They can be eaten raw, fried, boiled, and they taste like asparagus. The benefits are related to protein, iodine, iron, and calcium content.
Red Sedum leaves are bitter, with a unique flavor, and can be eaten raw, while yellow flowering sedums show mild toxicity, and so they need to be cooked (they can cause stomach upset if eaten raw).
They are good to relieve coughs and also to lower blood pressure. Just like aloe, they can be a valuable treatment for cuts, hemorrhoids, burns, and eczema.
Pitaya (Dragon fruit)
Apart from their beautiful color, these fruits have a mild flavor.
You can eat them sliced, or you can mix them in a smoothie. They are low in calories and high in protein. They contain fiber, vitamin C, iron, and calcium.
Leaves can be boiled or grilled, and taste like green beans, and the fruit tastes similar to watermelon.
They are rich in fiber and calcium, while the fruit is also low in calories and high in vitamin C. A good combination of benefits and flavor!
What you actually need to grow succulents
As already underlined, you actually need:
- Clay pots (they work better than plastic vases)
- Water (very little!)
- A proper light Exposure
If overgrown, you can prepare additional pots and prick some new plants out.
Growing a succulent vegetable garden is easy and a time-saving experience towards your self-sufficiency. Moreover, these plants provide real value for money, and they can be eaten in case of an emergency.
Kyt Lyn Walken has written this article for Prepper’s Will.