First of all I’m not a doomsday prepper, but in these parts I know a few who are. I doubt however many of them have put much thought about what they could grow and eat to sustain themselves. Canned and processed food could get boring pretty quick. With all this talk about climate change, mass extinction, nuclear disasters, and displacement from war and environmental degradation, I have put some thought about how my garden might look in a post-apocalyptic world. Resourceful homesteaders will no doubt have the best chances of survival. City folk, no matter how wealthy, will be screwed. In this scenario, I am assuming there will be little availability of clean water for irrigation, access to fertilizers, electricity to heat greenhouses, gas for equipment etc. Time spent outdoors may be limited due to the harsh elements.
I have put together a short list of the hardiest, most foolproof, lowest maintenance crops that will thrive without any care while you idle away time in your bunker. Lazy gardeners without much of a green thumb, take note.
RHUBARB: This is the vegetable that doubles as fruit. Tart and nutritious and delicious when mixed with something sweet. It is one of the first things to sprout in the spring. I believe its impossible to kill once established. I assume in the worst case nuclear holocaust there will just be rats eating rhubarb. You can go to a farmstead that has been abandoned for decades and can always tell where the garden was by the rhubarb patch that has thrived without any care whatsoever.
ASPARAGUS: Probably the next thing to sprout in the early spring. Once established it will spread and return year after year, pushing though thick grasses and weeds. It can be eaten raw or quickly boiled. It propagates from both seeds and roots.
RASPBERRIES: A raspberry bush will produce pounds of berries for a couple decades. Some varieties will produce all growing season. Rich in vitamin C, they can be dried or made into jams. The canes will die off annually and send up even more shoots the following year. Suckering roots will keep spreading and create a big patch in a few years. Although they like a fair amount of water to produce large berries a good layer of bark mulch should retain enough moisture to do the job.
JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES: A member of the Sunflower family (Sunchokes). These tuberous roots can provide the starch as your staple. They are invasive and spread (give them room). Extremely prolific yield from a single tuber – all you have to do is leave a small percentage in the ground and they will return indefinitely. They keep for quite a while in a cool area.
AMARANTH: This is an ancient grain that the Hopi indians made bread from. It grows tall and quickly with large blooms of burgundy flowers that eventually produce an abundance of seeds that can be crushed to make a type of flour. Although an annual, they readily self seed so there will be no need replant. It is now mostly used as an ornamental cut flower, so you can also have a nice arrangement in your bunker.
MINTS: This is a very large family of herbs, with a myriad of flavours from lemon to chocolate. They can be used to enhance foods or make tea. They are good at soothing a bellyache and inducing sleep. An established mint patch is virtually indestructible and will continue to spread.
HAZELNUTS : Also called filberts, they are native to this area and can be naturalized easily. They are a good source of protein. You may have to kill the squirrels and birds before they raid the tree, but hey, that could be some additional meat protein.
GRAPES : Not only fabulous fresh or dried as raisins, wine might end up being the most valued product to uplift your dampened spirits. A grape vine can live for centuries in the most marginal soils.
CANNABIS: This is the most essential and versatile medicine you can grow. Seeds are nutritious and can be made into oil. It can be used to calm and provide inspiration. It’s easy to grow – that’s why it’s called weed.
So here you have it. When the shit hits the fan and you want to survive beyond what your 36 hr emergency kit offers, you’d better start planning your own doomsday garden because I don’t intend on sharing when push comes to shove.