Survival Vegetable Gardens for Small Spaces: Small Space Gardening for Survival

July 21, 2022 8 min read

Survival Vegetable Gardens for Small Spaces: Small Space Gardening for Survival

Building and maintaining a garden is essential for preppers. Fresh vegetables and fruits provide you with nutrients and minerals that can enhance your long term food storage even more. Having a garden is a great way to supplement your food supply. These types of gardens are often called victory gardens or war gardens, because they are often planted during wartime in order to increase a household’s food storage. With growing tensions between the United States and Russia, these types of gardens may start to become more prevalent in America. 

The fruits and veggies you grow can also be canned and stored for later use. Increased crop prices and even crop failures are heavy on Americans’ minds as we watch gas prices soar and major food production plants burn to the ground. Is there going to be a food shortage? It sure seems like it. We also always seem to have the looming threat of civil unrest. Preparing for civil unrest, natural disasters, and food shortages can be done by building a garden. Building a garden will ensure you have access to cheap, fresh, and organic food. Gardening is usually people’s first step into homesteading—the lifestyle of being self-sufficient and able to live off the land.

We know that not every prepper out there lives on 100+ acres of land with a perfect climate, and a lot of people simply don’t have the space or acreage to homestead and be completely self-sufficient. However, it is important that you have gardening skills and are able to supplement your long-term food storage buckets with fresh fruits and vegetables. So how do you prep for when SHTF, natural disasters, or civil unrest when you live in an apartment or a small city lot? There are many ways to properly execute small space gardening, but it will require a lot of pre-planning because you do not have room to mess up—literally and figuratively.  Here are some small vegetable garden ideas for those of you who live in apartments or city homes: 

man gardening

How to Optimize Small Space Gardening

Optimizing the space you do have for a small home garden is essential to its success. Small space vegetable gardening starts with planning. First, you should create a map of the outdoor space you have. Next, mark out places where you cannot plant a small vegetable garden such as concrete patios, over septic tanks, etc. Now that you have a map with your available area to plant, draw out your small vegetable garden ideas. We recommend drawing out a few because you may never know what obstacles you will run into. 

Now that you have a few small vegetable garden ideas, how should you plot your plants? You may be tempted to plant as many as you can fit since you are gardening in such a small place, but this will lead to a failed garden almost every time! When you plant them too close together, the plants are competing for sunlight and water, which is really harmful to your small space garden. 

One of the most important factors to consider when small space vegetable gardening is how much sunlight you get in your outdoor area. Most vegetables and fruits need an average of 6 hours of sunlight in order to grow the best produce. So how are you supposed to raise a good, sustainable garden when your home or apartment gets little to no direct sunlight? Keep reading to find out…

plant tower

Small Vegetable Garden Ideas for Apartments

Small space gardening is extra hard for those who live in apartments because not every apartment is on the ground floor and one of the survival rules. This would require you to create your garden in pots on your patio, and even then, good sunlight is not guaranteed. Even if you do live on the ground floor with some grass, apartment buildings are usually tall and block a lot of the sunlight. So how do you plant a garden when you don't get good sunlight or even have ground to plant on?

If you find yourself in this situation, it may be time to invest in a hydroponic tower. These towers allow you to grow fruits and vegetables inside your apartment or house! They come with UV lights to provide the plants with vitamin D, and they are large enough to fully grow most plants. These can also be used without the UV light outdoors if your apartment does get good sunlight. Even if you do have an outdoor garden, this is a great way to maximize your produce production and further supplement your best survival foods.


survival guide download

Another way to maximize your produce is by planting what you can in pots. Planting vegetables in pots will not give you as much produce as it would in a typical garden, but it is better than nothing! Simply look up the word patio plus any vegetable you can think of and you will find a patio-friendly version of any vegetable. 

balcony garden

Small Vegetable Garden Ideas for City Homes

If you live in a home in the city, small space gardening may be easier for you than for someone with an apartment. Most homes have at least some sort of yard that is perfect for a compact vegetable garden. Here are some tips and tricks that make small space gardening easier and help you to optimize as much space as possible:

  • Plant tall plants on the northernmost part of your garden. Tall plants such as green bean and tomato plants cast big shadows that can interfere with the other plants in your garden. If you plant these in the north part of your garden, it will reduce the shadows on the rest of your garden. Place the rest of your plants in front of the tallest based on their heights—tallest in the north, shortest in the south. 
  • Soil can make or break your garden. Prioritizing your soil is extra important when planting a small home garden because the healthiest plants make for the biggest harvest. If your yard soil isn't the best, consider building a raised garden where you can fill it with better, high-quality soil. Raised gardens also give your garden more room to grow because the plants are able to grow over the sides. 
  • Try companion planting. This is when you plant two different plants in the same part of the garden. For example, you can plant beets and carrots in the same place because beets are ready to harvest much sooner than carrots. So when you harvest the beets, this just gives the carrots more room to grow.
  • Grow your vegetables vertically. This will help maximize your garden space because your plants will take up a whole lot less room. Use poles, netting, or even a fence to hold up your vertical plants. This technique works best for cucumbers, beans, peas, and squash. 
  • Start growing your survival seeds indoors until they sprout. This will allow you to ensure they actually sprout and are healthy before planting them outside. 

gardening in a city

How to Choose What to Grow in your Small Space Garden and Vegetable Garden Ideas for Small Spaces: Shaded Areas

Now that you have created the space for your compact vegetable garden, it’s time to plant it! The small space vegetable gardening ideas you may have probably do not include plants like corn, as corn takes up a lot of space. You will need to select smaller plants like bell peppers, tomatoes, and onions instead of corn, pumpkins, or watermelon. Here are some vegetable garden ideas for small spaces: 

If you do not get good sunlight, don’t worry, there are several plants that thrive in the shade! Almost all leafy greens grow well in the shade. These include plants such as kale, arugula, and spinach. Leafy greens are like your own superhero. They help with heart, lung, bone, immune, and skin health. Kale also contains a lot of protein, which is good to know if you don’t have easy access to meats or other protein-packed foods. If SHTF, it will be important that you are intaking a lot of leafy greens. 

Another great option for what to plant in a small garden in a shaded area is root vegetables. Root vegetables are beets, carrots, potatoes, turnips, etc. Potatoes are great for preppers to plant because they have the minimum calories to survive and still provide lots of energy. Root vegetables are also really hard to mess up, so these are usually a safe bet.

Brassica vegetables also grow well in the shade. Brassica vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and cabbage. The vegetables all contain high levels of vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as iron, fiber, and calcium. Broccoli is labeled as a superfood because of the long list of healing and preventative properties it has. However, broccoli does not have a high caloric cost, so you may want to consider this when prepping. Cabbage is a favorite among homesteaders because it can be used for so many things. It can be shredded to make coleslaw or used for salads. You can also ferment cabbage to make kimchi and sauerkraut. 

Next up are peas and beans. These are both a great addition to any meal because they are healthy and filling. They only need about 4 to 5 hours of sun to live, so they could also do well in a shadier garden. Peas especially are easy to grow and provide a lot of product from just one plant. Peas are great to plant in a small home garden for this reason. Another benefit of growing peas is that the more you pick them, the more they will continue to grow. The benefits are endless with peas. Peas have the most calories out of any vegetable, which is perfect when you are in a dire situation and need extra energy. 

Herbs also do well in a shady garden. Who says that just because you are rationing food that it has to taste bad? Herbs will enhance any meal you will make and they are super easy to grow. However, herbs are probably better to be planted in a pot than in the actual garden so they don’t take up so much room in your garden. Be extra careful when growing mint, because it will take over your garden in the blink of an eye! 

How to Choose What to Grow in your Small Space Garden and Vegetable Garden Ideas for Small Spaces: Non-Shaded Areas

tomatoes on vine

Tomatoes are next up on the list. Just one tomato plant can produce up to 20 pounds of tomatoes! Tomatoes are also so versatile. They can be canned, sun-dried, and frozen to be preserved or having it in food wax to last longer. Tomatoes are a great source of potassium, which is great because if you live in the United States, you probably can’t grow bananas.


Radishes are another must for your small garden. You will get the most bang for your buck with radishes because they can handle the cold weather. This means you can plant them in early spring and they will survive until around late autumn. Radish plants also provide you with two different crops—the radish bulbs, and the radish leaves. Planting radishes is a great way to optimize your garden when small space gardening. 


You may be wondering why we have spent so much time talking about planting vegetables for small gardens and not really touching on fruits. The reason is that most fruits grow on bushes or trees. Both of these take a lot of time and a lot of room to grow—which you may not have. You may be better off stocking up on freeze dried fruit buckets from Valley Food Storage instead of growing your own for this reason. Meat is also going to be a hot commodity when SHTF, especially in suburbia and the city, because there are usually strict laws about owning farm animals in these areas. We suggest storing freeze-dried meat or preserving harden vegetables if you live in a city for this reason. 


Freeze-Dried Meat 6 Pack | USDA-Certified From Valley Food Storage

Freeze-Dried Meat 6 Pack | USDA-Certified

Averages 48 Servings Per Kit  This bucket contains a hearty selection of freeze-dried meats, including chicken, sausage, and beef. Freeze-dried protein is always difficult to find, so grab some while you can. ✔︎ Clean Ingredients✔︎ Non-GMO✔︎ Easy To Prepare✔︎ 25-year Shelf Life Nutritional Information

Being a prepper does not mean you have to live on a huge farm and be entirely self-sufficient. There are a lot of preppers out there that live in cities, suburbs, and apartments with very little space to garden. The biggest goal when small space gardening is to optimize as much space as you can with high-yielding crops, such as tomatoes, or companion planting. You may also want to consider only planting the highest calorie vegetables (like peas) and those in preserving harden vegetables well. 


Are you tired of relying on the grocery store and public transportation to go about your day? Next, check out our blog about finding the best states to live off the grid!