There are several reasons why you’d want to build a portable garden, but today we’re going to focus on building a portable garden for bugging out.
Some of you may only have space in the back of your car or truck, and some of you have a hitch that can pull an entire shed or trailer.
If you’re planning on building a large portable survival garden, it should probably have walls for two reasons: you don’t want to damage your plants when traveling and you don’t want others to know that you have a truckload of food.
Weight and Size
The first thing that you need to consider when planning your portable garden, besides the space you’ll have available, is weight. How many people are going to be available to help you load up and how strong are they? Raised beds can get heavy fast when you factor in the weight of dirt along with the weight of the plants.
If you have access to a forklift or have plenty of people to help you load, then larger raised beds may not be an issue. If you’re going it alone or with people who aren’t so strong, then you should probably go with small beds or some of the other options that I’ll discuss.
Size, of course, depends on how much space you have and how you’ll be transporting the plants. You won’t want to plan portable trellises or large beds if you’re going to put them in a truck bed, car, or low-roofed trailer. As with everything, think ahead when planning your portable survival garden.
Types of Portable Survival Gardens
There are several different methods that you can use to grow your garden so that you can take it with you if you bug out. You can also combine methods so that you can take more of your garden with you.
If you have limited space, you can always plant your veggies and spices in pots and hanging baskets. Since you can adapt the sizes of the pots to the size of the plants, this is a great way to make your plants portable, and to use space efficiently.
You can put the smaller planters in between the larger ones while transporting, or even put them in the floorboard of your car.
Portable Raised Bed Survival Gardens
There are a couple of different ways that you can make your raised beds portable. You can adjust the size to meet your needs and capabilities.
Portable Raised Beds on Stilts
First, you can make your raised bed survival garden small enough that you can pick them up and move them. This works great for plants that grow low to the ground or for short plants that can be grown close together such as peppers. Here’s an inexpensive, easy plan for building one.
The idea is similar to window boxes except they’ll be on the ground. Build them on stilts so that they’re easy to pick up. If you plant them on the ground, they’ll likely sink and be difficult to pick up. A huge advantage here is that you can load them into the back of the truck.
Larger Portable Raised Beds on Casters
If you go with a larger raised bed, you can put casters on the bottom to make them portable. If you go this route, it needs to be built on concrete or on placed on 2x4s so that the castors don’t sink in. Here’s a great instructable for portable raised beds. You can adjust the size to meet your needs.
Vertical Gardening Made Portable
We’ve talked about vertical gardening before, but most types of plants grown vertically would travel well in the back of a truck or in a closed trailer. If you’re using potted plants, you can always pull them right off the latticework and carry them with you as described above.
The only adjustments that you’ll have to make when planning a portable vertical garden versus a stationary one is ease of movement.
Of course, this isn’t an issue if you’re using potted plants but if you’re using vining plants, you need to make the vertical structure so that it’s easy to disassemble, or small enough that it will fit into whatever method of transportation that you’re using.
You should also use durable material to build the structure.
PVC works great because it’s light and can be built to disassemble.
Panel grid wire is also a good choice because it’s light, sturdy, and comes in a variety of sizes. You can always cut it down to meet your needs.
Ladders are also another good option.
Portable Survival Garden Houses
I absolutely love this idea, but you’ll need a hitch and a vehicle with enough power to pull it. If you’re travelling on level roads, you won’t need as much horsepower as if you’re traveling on mountainous or hilly terrain.
You can buy or build a greenhouse fairly inexpensively and they’re multi-purpose. You can use them to extend growing periods in good times, but if things go south, you can always pack them up and go with them.
Portable greenhouses need to be a bit sturdier than the average greenhouse, so I’d recommend using Plexiglas instead of plastic sheeting. Buildeazy offers a free plan that is not only versatile, but you can also modify it to suit your size. It provides several different options for building materials, so that’s good, too. Remember that you’ll need a solid floor if it’s going to be portable.
If you really want to make a greenhouse portable, build it on a trailer base so that all you have to do is maintain the tires and hitch it to your truck if you need to go in a hurry. It’s also easy to load your vertical gardens, potted plants or gear into this, so you can use the space efficiently.
To add to the internal stability of the plants, I would probably modify the shelving so that the pots can be attached, or make them so that the plants sit down in the shelf. Just off the top of my head, I’d either cut pre-sized holes in the shelves or use some sort of sturdy wire mesh shelving that can be adapted with different size holes since most planters come in standard sizes.
Finally, this structure could actually serve as a shelter for wherever you’re going after you unload the plants. My imagination is running wild with the possibilities here; solar panels, rainwater collection systems, etc.
This idea kind of feeds off of the last one. If you really want to get the biggest bang out of your portable survival garden idea, then this is the way to go. There are many tiny homes that are built in such a way that many of the inside structures fold up to make them easier to transport.
You could, of course, transport small vertical plant structures, potted plants, window planters and even small raised beds inside of them and unload them when you arrive at your bug out destination.
One idea that I have, though, is to make a tiny house with a covered porch that can be enclosed with hinged doors that open to provide a really cute serve as storage for such items as pots and pans, hanging plants, garden tools, or just about anything else that you’d want to hang.
In the meantime, when traveling, the doors would be closed and serve as additional storage for gear or plants.
Another house with this theme is shown in the article that I wrote about tiny houses.
The one in the picture is a bit pricey, but you could build it yourself for much less and adapt the size and insides to suit your needs. I even like the idea of the window planters on the outside, modified so that they can be covered for travel, of course.
Once you get to your bug out destination, you’d be ready to quite literally unpack an instant house and garden. Again, build it on wheels and add a hitch so that you can load up, hook up, and head out.
There are many different ways to make a portable survival garden; you just need to think a bit ahead and plan according to what transportation you have and what plants you want to take.
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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.