Food and medicine can be the two most difficult things to find in an emergency. Designing a garden which takes into account both food and medicine is an excellent plan.
The Three Sisters
Native Americans planned their gardens around nourishing core food groups that balance nutrition and keep well. The Three Sisters form the basis of this garden plan – squashes, corn, and beans. In this type of garden, the growing corn provides a natural pole for the beans to grow up. From a nutrient perspective, these crops all complement one another with beans providing complete protein when paired with the corn, corn providing healthy carbohydrates, and squash both yielding vitamins in its meat as well as needed oil and fats in its seeds. Source your seeds from a local farm or garden supply store, or from a national retailer like Central Farm and Garden.
How to Plan the Food Garden
A 10′ by 10′ garden is a bare minimum to accommodate the foods you will grow. If you have a large family, you will want to create a plan for a larger plot. Multiple corn rows, rather than one long row, is a must to allow proper pollination. Select a spot on your property which receives full sun, no less than 6-8 hours. Treat the soil generously with compost and/or manure as corn will feed heavily from soil nutrients. Corn should be your first crop to go in the ground, leaving 5′ between plant 3-4 seeds in a mound and space in rows. Wait for the corn to grow to around 4″ and add running or climbing bean seeds to the soil at the base of your corn. It is now time to plant your squash. Plant your squash seeds evenly spaced between your corn stalks.
Growing Your Own Medicine
An herbal first aid kit is a simple and beautiful addition to your garden. Aloe vera is a time honored first aid staple with uses ranging from burn and wound care to natural laxative. Garlic is both antibacterial as well as antiviral. It is ideal for respiratory and digestive illnesses as well as being well suited to make a topical poultice for wound care. Echinacea is world renowned for its immune boosting ability to ward off disease. It is also a powerful antibacterial and antiviral herb which may also be used to relieve seasonal allergies.
Many foods and medicines may be added to this staple garden, but these core crops are an excellent start for anyone desiring to become more self-sufficient.