Practical Preppers Garden Chapter 2 – Plant Hardiness Zones & Nutrition

Practical Preppers Garden Chapter 2 – Plant Hardiness Zones & Nutrition

In my introduction article on the practical preppers garden project, I mentioned one of our goals would be to focus on a garden that’s low-maintenance, and long-term.  In order to meet this objective I’ve decided to work exclusively with perennial plants.  For those who don’t know, a perennial is any type of plant that grows for longer than two seasons.  The advantages of perennials are obvious; we not only save money by only buying our plants once, but we claw back a lot of the planning and maintenance time we’d otherwise have to invest in annual plants that only last one year.

Before we can make any decisions on what types of plants to grow though, we need to determine what can survive locally as a perennial.  To do this we’re going to refer to something called plant hardiness zones.  In layman’s terms, we’re going to use a growing map that tells us what will survive Winter here.  There are all kinds of plant hardiness zone resources on the internet.  For this exercise we’ll be referring to the one operated by Natural Resources Canada.  For my neighbors to the south, as well as viewers overseas; America, Mexico and just about every other country have similar maps available online, so don’t worry if this one doesn’t apply to your area.

Referring to our map, Southern Ontario is roughly in the 5’s.  This means any perennial plant compatible with zone 5 will thrive here, and grow back year after year, so that’s the number we’ll be working with.  Now that we know our plant hardiness zone, we need to start thinking about nutrition.  Remember, another of this project’s goals is to construct a garden capable of providing as complete a diet as possible.  That means we’ll need protein, carbohydrates, fiber, fat, and vitamins/minerals.

The United States Department of Agriculture has a phenomenal tool called the Interactive DRI for Healthcare Professionals.  By inputting some basic data like gender, age, body size and activity level, the system will tell us exactly what we need to stay healthy.

Now that we know our plant hardiness zone and nutritional requirements, we’re ready to start selecting plants.  In our next article we’ll take the foundation we’ve built here, and use it to research perennial fruits and vegetables hardy to our growing zone that meet as many of these dietary requirements as possible.

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