The idea of a survival garden has been gaining a lot of traction among people looking for a way to develop a self-sufficient source of long-term nutrition for their family.
By growing your own fruits and vegetables, you can guarantee that you and your loved ones will have enough sustenance to survive a situation of food scarcity.
If planned correctly, a survival garden can provide a majority of the calories, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and even the protein needed to keep you healthy.
It’s important to realize that it’s too late to start growing food once an emergency strikes.
Not only will it take a few weeks to a few months before your plants are producing a sustainable food source, but not all varieties of a fruit or vegetable will do well in your climate.
It can take years of trial and error before you discover which plants will thrive in your area.
For survival gardening to realistically work, you’ll have to start growing your garden now.
It’s the already established gardens that will be able to produce enough nutritionally varied food to keep you and your family from becoming malnourished when the grocery store shelves empty out.
Before You Start
There are plenty of options for different foods you can grow in your garden that can help feed you in case of an emergency.
Before you even put the first seed in the ground, however, you need to have a solid plan that takes into account things like how many plants you’ll need to feed all the people in your family and how much garden space you’ll need to grow that many plants.
To get started, you should calculate the daily caloric and nutritional needs of each member of your family. Keep in mind that your level of activity may drastically increase if faced with a survival situation.
On average, it’s a good idea to aim for around 2,500 to 3,000 calories per person.
Also, make sure to grow only food that your family will actually eat. There’s no point in growing something that no one likes or is willing to try. Focus on foods that you will all enjoy eating on a regular basis.
Finally, try to include perennials in your survival garden layout whenever possible.
There are many perennial food plants you can grow that will keep coming back on their own year after year without having to be reseeded.
Not only will this help cut down on the work you need to do each planting season, but perennials also tend to be hardier and more nutritious that annual food crops.
Growing a survival garden will be different from just gardening for fun. With your family’s health on the line, you’ll have to make sure to include plants in your survival garden that will provide you with all the necessary nutrients that your body need.
Best Foods To Grow For Survival
Below we go over the 7 best plants that every survivalist should be growing in their garden, along with the average yield per plant and nutritional content you can expect to get.
This will allow you to choose the right plants for your family’s survival garden.
1. Sweet Potato
This perennial vine is easy to grow warm-weather plant that is often grown as an annual in the northern latitudes. It’s easy to propagate from shoots, called slips, and a single sweet potato can produce up to 16 plantable slips.
These nutritious tubers can be harvested in 100 to 150 days from planting and with proper care, each plant can produce 10 to 20 sweet potatoes.
Sweet potato vines will send out runners, which can quickly expand over a large area. It’s suggested to grow around 5 plants per person.
Nutritional Content per 100 Grams of Sweet Potato
- Calories: 86
- Carbohydrates: 20 grams
- Total Fat: 0.1 grams
- Protein: 1.6 grams
- Vitamin A: 283% Daily Value
- Vitamin C: 4%
- Vitamin B6: 10%
Quick and easy to grow, beans provide an abundant source of much-needed vegetable protein. This annual plant comes in both bush and vine form as well as in an abundance of different varieties. Beans also make a great rotational crop, as they restore the nitrogen that other plants take out of the soil.
Beans can even be harvested across different stages of maturity. Harvest green beans in as little as 50 to 60 days or wait 70 to 120 days, and you’ll have fully mature dry beans, ready to cook or re-plant.
If growing dried beans, you’ll want around 5 to 10 plants or more per person to get you through the season. Each bean plant will produce around 100 to 120 beans (35 to 42 grams dry), but that can get eaten very quickly so always plant more than you think you’ll need.
Nutritional Content per 100 Grams of Dry Pinto Beans
- Calories: 347
- Carbohydrates: 63 grams
- Total Fat: 1.2 grams
- Protein: 21 grams
- Vitamin C: 10% Daily Value
- Vitamin B6: 25%
- Calcium: 11%
- Iron: 28%
Healthy and delicious, these annual root vegetables are rich in essential nutrients and antioxidants that your family will need to survive. They’re simple to grow, but do need loose and well-drained soil to do well in your garden.
If you grow more than you need, just leave the extra in the ground, and they’ll overwinter well and even sweeten up more for when you need them.
Baby carrots will be ready to harvest in 50 to 60 days and mature carrots in around 75 days, making them some of the fastest-to-grow food.
You’ll want to plant a minimum of a 10-foot row of carrots per person in succession. This will ensure you’ll be harvesting carrots all season long.
Nutritional Content per 100 Grams of Carrot
- Calories: 41
- Carbohydrates: 10 grams
- Total Fat: 0.2 grams
- Protein: 0.9 grams
- Vitamin A: 334% Daily Value
- Vitamin C: 9%
- Vitamin B6: 5%
With so many varieties to choose from, you’ll never get tired of eating the fruits of this prolific annual producer.
Plant some summer squash and have ready-to-eat food in just 40 days or grow winter squash that you can store and use until the next growing season comes around.
Summer squashes include popular varieties like the yellow crooknecks, zucchini, and scallopini. Winter varieties include acorn squash, spaghetti squash, buttercup squash, and even pumpkins.
Whichever type you choose to include in your survival garden, you’ll be growing an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and calories which go great in almost any recipe you choose.
Squash, especially summer squash, are incredibly prolific producers. Each plant can produce anywhere from 5 to 25 pounds of squash throughout the season.
It’s recommended to grow a minimum of 2 summer squash plants per person and 4 winter squash plants per person.
Nutritional Content per 100 Grams of Zucchini
- Calories: 17
- Carbohydrates: 3.1 grams
- Total Fat: 0.3 grams
- Protein: 1.2 grams
- Vitamin A: 4% Daily Value
- Vitamin C: 29%
- Vitamin B6: 10%
- Magnesium: 4%
Versatile and prolific, potatoes are as popular as they are today for a reason. These easy-to-grow vegetables can be used to increase the calorie count of any meal and are very filling.
There are plenty of sizes, color and flavor varieties to choose from, so you won’t tire of eating these tasty tubers.
Potatoes are cold-loving plants that should be planted a couple of weeks before the last frost date. You can grow them straight into the ground, in large containers and even in hay! Potatoes really don’t demand much attention to produce their bountiful harvest.
Expect around 10 to 12 potatoes per plant under ideal conditions. Grow 10 plants per person to have enough for everyone.
Nutritional Content per 100 Grams of Potato
- Calories: 77
- Carbohydrates: 17 grams
- Total Fat: 0.1 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Vitamin C: 32% Daily Value
- Vitamin B6: 15
- Iron: 4%
- Magnesium: 5%
Related | Growing Potatoes
6. Malabar Spinach
This warm-weather perennial is native to the Malabar region of India and is another plant that belongs in every survival garden.
Rich in vitamins and minerals, this spinach variety will produce plenty of salad greens for the whole family.
A climbing vegetable vine, it can be grown upwards on a trellis in both full sun and partial shade.
It will remain as a perennial in warmer climates and can be protected in colder areas by using a hoop house or greenhouse.
Even if it dies during the winter in northern climates, however, its seeds are easy to collect and grow, and it can also be propagated from cuttings and brought indoors with little effort.
Just 2 to 3 plants are enough to provide season-long salads to a family of 4.
Nutritional Content per 100 Grams of Malabar Spinach
- Calories: 19
- Carbohydrates: 3.4 grams
- Total Fat: 0.3 grams
- Protein: 1.8 grams
- Vitamin A: 160% Daily Value
- Vitamin C: 170%
- Vitamin B6: 10%
- Calcium: 10%
- Iron: 6%
- Magnesium: 16%
7. Moringa Tree
Moringa oleifera, also known as the drumstick tree, is one of the most versatile and useful plants a survivalist should grow in their garden.
The pods, leaves, and seeds are all edible and provide an incredible nutritional profile, as well as a source of useful resources such as oil, wood, paper, liquid fuel and a way to purify water.
This perennial botanical also has a vast range of medicinal properties that can come in very useful in a survival situation.
It can thrive in almost any condition, from low light to poor soil, and grows 10 to 15 feet each year, although it’s recommended to keep it at a manageable height. You can even cut it down, and it will grow back from the stump.
In cold regions, it will go dormant after a frost and resume growth once warm weather returns.
Its leaves can be dried for long-term storage, and moringa leaf powder can be added to any meal to increase its nutritional content.
Unlike most other plant sources of protein, moringa leaves contain all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.
Nutritional Content per 100 Grams of Raw Moringa Oleifera Leaves
- Calories: 64
- Carbohydrates: 8.8 grams
- Total Fat: 1.4 grams
- Protein: 9.4 grams
- Vitamin A: 47% Daily Value
- Vitamin C: 62%
- Vitamin B6: 92%
- Calcium: 19%
- Iron: 31%
- Magnesium: 41%
While there are many more fruits and vegetables you can add to your garden, growing just the 7 plants covered in this survival garden guide will keep you and your family happy, healthy and well-nourished throughout any food scarcity emergency.
If you haven’t already, start growing these plants in your garden today, because when it comes to your survival, tomorrow may be too late.