When times are uncertain, many turn to a survival garden. And to be honest, why not? Survival Gardening offers healthy, readily available foods at rock-bottom prices. It's good practice, good for morale, and fun. And if you have time to burn, this is a great way to distract yourself from stress worldwide.
Even if you live in an apartment, you can have an urban food garden. If you have a large garden, we will also talk briefly about designing survival gardens on a larger scale. But frankly, my goal here is to talk about how to grow your own food for survival and what things are most effective for calorie and nutrient density.
So let's start with how this works and then move on to the best foods to grow in your survival garden!
Helpful things for your survival garden:
How survival gardening works
Your survival garden can be as productive as it is beautiful. Source: Elspethbriscoe
Most people like to grow plants that look good, and some that taste good. But when you plant a survival garden, your goal is literally survival. Every plant in your garden should have a use that reflects this goal.
Of course, it goes without saying that you need vegetables to survive. They are diverse and offer a lot of food. But your kids will rebel (and so will you) if you face the zombie apocalypse with only pumpkin and potatoes. You also need vitamin C.
So also add some fruit for your pandemic pantry. Don't forget to use herbs for taste and possible medicinal purposes (though stick to those that are culinary safe so your kids are safe).
Little gardeners shouldn't panic. Both hanging and free-standing containers can hold a surprising amount of material. For example, grow bags are perfect for these precious potatoes! Kevin has written an entire book that is tailored to your needs. It contains fantastic information that can be easily translated into an urban survival garden. You can use beautiful planters or try one of the many other methods in his book.
If you have a garden, you're in luck. Raised beds are a good option, but you can also plant directly in the ground. Plan locations for climbing plants that need to be latticed first, and then determine where larger plants need to be. Fill the rest of your survival garden space with shorter plants. If you have leafy greens, they will love the shade of larger plants.
Plan your survival garden crops
If you grow too much, share part of your bounty with your neighbors. Source: Stephen D. Melkisethian
Let me emphasize something here: grow food that you will eat.
Survival gardens only work if you use what you grow. If you don't like something, don't grow it. It can qualify as a superfood, but if you can't bring yourself to eat it, there's no point wasting time on it.
How many people do you need to feed? It is easier to survive in survival, but when you have a lot of people, you also have to consider their preferences. My husband has a love-hate relationship with eggplants, so I grow a lot less of them and more things like tomatoes that he'll enjoy.
Once you have an idea of what you'd like to eat, it's time to take a closer look at these things. When trying to determine your survival, there are two things to think about: calories and nutrition, and storage.
Calories and nutrition
Most nutritionists recommend a certain amount of calories a day for basic survival. If you get less than you need, you may be shaky, sleepy, or just plain unmotivated.
In crops, starchy and sugary foods are usually the most calorie-rich and make up most of your diet. However, you may be missing some nutritional aspects that you need. Make up for this by growing a selection of green vegetables, fruits, and legumes to provide protein, as well as essential vitamins and minerals.
Imagine you have an abundance of sweet, delicious strawberries.
Now imagine what they will look like in two weeks if you have not stored them properly. Eew.
This doesn't mean that you shouldn't grow them, just that you should plan that most of your plants be stored well. Fortunately, there are many ways to store your crop.
As long as you have power, freezing is an option. Can some vegetables with a pressure scanner for later consumption. Consider lacto-fermenting vegetables as another storage option, and dehydrating is another great choice!
And for these strawberries, make strawberry jam. You will really enjoy this sweet treat later!
We have listed Kevin's nine most popular plants here for you to see, with lots of detailed information on why each one is an absolute necessity in a survival situation. But we have more ideas. So read on for an overview of what we recommend most to people trying to live from their garden!
Top 20 best foods for survival
So you are still at a loss. What vegetables or fruits should you grow? Let's split the options among our top 20.
Beans like these adzuki beans are a great staple crop. Source: Gary Thomson
If you just read that one word, imagine green beans, don't you? But there is a lot of variety in this one category. Simply put, beans are an essential staple.
What you get with beans is a lot of nutrient-rich material in a small package. They can be grown in both bush and pole form, so you can grow them in different ways. The seeds are high in protein and the edible pods are great.
Grow a selection of bush beans and runner beans. Also choose a mix of storage and fresh beans. Make sure you keep some of these valuable bean seeds with every harvest to plant another crop!
It is more difficult to grow in an apartment, but it is a staple for the garden. I personally prefer to grow dent or flour corn in the garden to survive. Once your corn is ready for harvest, you can dry it, nixtamalize it to increase its nutrient density, and grind it into corn flour. Keeped dry, corn flour is well kept in an airtight container.
Corn has the added benefit of being a perfect living grid for your bean plants. Plant your corn first. Once you grow a few inches of corn stalk, plant beans around the corn. Make sure the soil is rich enough to support both vegetables! When your runner beans grow, they climb onto your corn stalks.
Both winter and summer pumpkins are great for your garden at the end of the world. You will want both. Summer squash grows quickly and delivers fast food immediately. In contrast, winter squash takes longer to develop, but storage takes much longer if it is kept whole and undamaged.
Start your seeds for both at the same time if you can. If not, choose the winter varieties first, as they take longer to develop. If you want, they grow well around corn and beans and form a so-called "three-sister" vegetable garden. Squash acts as a natural ground cover.
Cabbage is largely fermented or fresh source: Sue Sierralupe
Cabbage is not particularly high in calories, but it is full of nutrients that your body needs. It is rich in vitamins B6 and C and full of fiber. Whether cooked or used raw in salads and coleslaw, it's a good choice.
But it's a great survival crop for another reason: sauerkraut or kimchi or any other type of fermented use you want to use. After fermentation, you now have a long storage option for vegetables that you can use in soups, sandwiches, casseroles, or on sausages.
Potatoes have helped people around the world survive times of starvation. This starchy root plant is also incredibly easy to grow, which is a big plus!
Potato horticulture is easy even in urban environments. Plant your potatoes in 5-gallon buckets or grow bags. When the tips turn yellow and die, you'll find a container filled with delicious roots ready to be harvested. Not only are they a good source of carbohydrates, they are also enriched with potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B6.
You may get tired of it after a while, but there is no doubt that your Norland Reds or Yukon Golds will support you in difficult times!
I grow kale all year round. It is very cold tolerant and often tastes sweeter when touched by a frost kiss. It can get bitter in midsummer, although even watering reduces the bitter taste. But it deserves its name as a superfood.
I prefer lacinato kale, sometimes called dinosaur kale. It is easy to process soups and stews that are tasty and tender after cooking, and is great as a green accompaniment to other meals. But don't miss the Russian kale or other varieties with crumpled leaves. They taste just as good and can be very nice in the garden.
7. Sweet potatoes
Do not mix them with normal potatoes, as sweet potatoes are a completely different crop. While these are also high in calories, they tend to have more nutrients than the average potato. In addition, they have a wonderful taste that allows them to easily transform into savory or sweet applications.
Another place where they differ from normal potatoes is that their greens are edible. In a garden bed you can get both leafy greens and tuber roots. It takes longer to mature than other crops, but it's worth the effort in the long run.
Lentils are packed with protein and vitamins. Source: John Spooner
The inconspicuous lens is seriously underestimated and it shouldn't be. Lentils are protein powerhouses that contain almost 18 grams of protein per serving. This legume is rightly one of the healthiest food sources in the world, and you should definitely add it to your survival garden.
Lentils are considered one of the oldest crops in cultivation and are an absolute favorite for soups and stews. They are lovely in curries and I also like to add boiled lentils to salads. They absorb other flavors well, blend in perfectly with almost anything you want to use them in. They are the perfect storage protein.
Have you tried cooking your favorite dishes without a dash of onion powder? Onions add flavor to practically everything that is above them on this list, along with a nice little dash of extra food. At the same time, however, they don't add tons of additional calories. You can use the young onion green as spring onions and also wait for the full onions to form. Just be careful not to harvest all of the greens as the onion develops.
Don't forget that there are all sorts of allium plants that are related out there. Add some leek, a related plant, for bonus flavor potential!
Tomatoes are a popular fruit and range from soups and stews to ketchup served on your burger bun. You also deserve a place in your survival garden. Heavy plants, these plants are easy to grow and ripen on the vine, and they taste best both fresh and preserved. You can sun-dry or freeze them, or eat them fresh.
A nutrient density like in spinach is incredibly difficult to find in many survival gardens. Like kale, these leafy vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals and should be included in your vegetables. Store spinach by freezing or dehydrating it and crushing it into a powder.
Give peas a chance to shine in your garden! Source: Aronalison
Both pea peas and edible peas are good choices for survival nursery. When dried, the inner seeds of your peas are stored well and can be easily integrated into all types of meals. They can be frozen if you grow snow peas or snow peas to give your pan dishes and salads a crispy sweetness. Peas are also high in protein, though not as much as beans or lentils!
Sweet and simple, beets are not only a vitamin-rich option, but also a potential source of sugar. Depending on the variety you have in your garden, you will also find savory and sweet uses. The greens are also edible and provide you with a secondary food source that other root vegetables lack.
They are found in most vegetable mixes for a reason. Carrots are a fantastic addition to your gardening. A whole rainbow of colors awaits you along with a sweet and crispy taste that is great for meals and snacks. These are full of antioxidants and good minerals and nutrients for eye health. Some claim they are the best choice for health in general!
Many berries are rich in antioxidants and sweet. Source: Julochka
Don't forget dessert! Whether you're growing raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, or even cranberries, there's a berry you like. These fruit crops are important to give us the sweet fruitiness that we all crave, and to provide us with a great source of additional nutrition at the same time. Store them by making, freezing, or dehydrating canned jams or jellies.
Hardneck or softneck? Garlic is an essential flavor, a common home-made pesticide for the garden, and a staple in the kitchen. After drying, it is good to store and you will find a variety of uses in your survival reserve. I think it's one of the most important plants for annual cultivation, and so will you!
Do you need some warmth in your life or are you just looking for a garden base to fill or season mixtures? Bell peppers offer a wide variety of vegetables that can meet both needs. Make dried chili powder or freeze peppers for soups or stews. A little spice is always nice!
You can't eat cucumbers without cucumbers, and it can also be difficult to make a cucumber-free salad! Garden fans all agree, cucumbers provide a large amount of fruit for little effort. They are a basic food for the survival garden and are also ideal for fresh eating purposes. And whether you want your cucumbers to be sweet or sour, you will be happy!
Summer is not summer without melons. Honeydew, melon, watermelon and more thrive in the garden from late spring to early autumn. Tons of products come from these vines, and oh, is it worth it?
Remember that most melons have texture problems when frozen and can only be used as a puree afterwards. To preserve them, dehydrate melon slices. Watermelon peels are also a good cucumber!
After all, it wouldn't be a good garden if you didn't have a selection of herbs and spices to brighten up your food. The song says "parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme", but don't forget to include mint (including catnip and cat grass for your cat friends), chives, oregano, basil, and others that I haven't listed. They all add flavor to your food and will brighten up your gardening along with your culinary efforts!
The green thumbs behind this article: