The Survival Garden

When the COVID-19 crisis hit our town, it hit hard and fast due to all the international traffic we get from the ski resorts. We weren’t sure if we were going to be able to get fresh vegetables and all of the sudden my indoor garden seemed like the best idea I’d ever had. Neighbors started asking me, “What’s the deal with your indoor garden?” and wondering what they could start growing right away. So, here is my “Seed Schedule” for the Survival Garden.

For the Indoor Survival Garden, the goal is to plant varieties that are easy to grow, quick to grow and will provide a lot of nutrients without using up a lot of space. Ie, not asparagus.

  • Fast growing leafy greens. Basically plant lettuces that are green and rich with nutrients (think Romaine and Bibb, not Iceberg) and add in some spinach (rich in vitaminA, C and K).
  • Nutrient dense plants. Beans, potatoes, edamame. (I don’t grow potatoes in my garden because I only grow from seed to maintain sterility, so I replace potatoes with parsnips.)
  • Fast growing veggies that are easy to eat raw if there becomes no access to cooking. Carrots, radishes, turnips.
  • A few easy to grow spices to liven things up. Basil, cilantro, parsley.
  • Fast growing climbers, so you can take advantage of upward room to grow.. Beans, peas, edamame.
  • Tomatoes. Because a life without tomatoes might not be a life worth living.

The Seed Schedule.

Plant 1-2 trays depending on your set up. I would plant 4-6 seeds in each cell, instead of the usual 1-2 knowing that 1) not all will germinate, and 2) we can divide the cell once it gets transplanted into a larger space. Based on my experience over the last four years, this is how I would set up the survival garden seed tray(s) schedule.

Week 1

Tray A

Week 3 and Week 5

Plant the quicker turnover crops (tray B) weeks 3 and 5, while you also wait for your slower plants to start producing. At this point you can already start harvesting lettuce and spinach as soon as the leaves look big enough to eat. Just start pulling off the outer leaves first to preserve the growing plant. The radishes and turnips will be ready to eat at about 3-4 weeks after planting.

Tray B

Week 7 and Beyond.

Around this time, plant another varied grouping (tray A) so that you have a good succession pattern set up for when your slower growers are finally producing. This way, you will have another round of tomatoes, beets, carrots, beans and/or peas ready to go. Repeat with two more trays of B every two weeks.

Early harvests:

  • Lettuce – Dragoon Romaine 6 weeks and Buttercrunch Bibb 6 weeks.
  • Radish – Recommend the Rover variety, ready to harvest in as few as 3 weeks.
  • Spinach – Lizard and Red Kitten did best in my trials, both ready for harvest around 4 weeks. very quickly with great flavor.
  • Turnip – Hakurai turnip was the easiest producer I’ve found so far, ready to be harvested at 4 weeks.

About 2 months to harvest:

  • Beans – I recommend the aptly named “Provider” Beans as they are early to harvest and very prolific. About 7-8 weeks to harvest.
  • Beets – Typically 8- 10 weeks to harvest. I recommend “Boro” which is particularly fast to get you up and running.
  • Carrots – 10 weeks for typical varieties. I recommend the “Mokum” variety which can be as harvested as early as 5 weeks for the baby size and 8 weeks for full grown.

Later to harvest:

  • Parsnip – White spear variety was the quickest I’ve found at a whopping 17 weeks before ready to harvest.
  • Soybean – Recommended variety “Tohya” as it is earlier but this still will take 10-12 weeks to start harvesting.
  • Tomato – Juliet 8- 9 weeks and Bigdena about 10 – 12 weeks.

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