gardening calories

Gardening Calories List of Vegetables From A Survival Context

I wonder how many preppers and/or those interested in a self-sustaining lifestyle assume the following. There will be plenty of gardening calories resulting from their vegetable garden.

In other words, while deciding which vegetables to grow, among the many things to consider might be this… The number of calories that you will get from those vegetables.

Most people grow a vegetable garden purely for enjoyment and delicious yields of yummy vegetables. And that’s great! But what about those who also do gardening to yield enough in order to preserve and set on their pantry shelves? Enough to not only eat fresh, but to also supplement one’s overall food storage for later consumption.

Gardening Calories Matter For Sustainability

And lets take it a step further. What about those who may plan on gardening to be a significant or exclusive source of calories (likely in combination with other food sources, such as raising other protein foods/livestock)? This is where gardening calories becomes a pretty big deal. When there is no grocery store.

It will be especially important to maximize your caloric return for your time and effort during a time when you’re literally growing a vegetable garden to survive.

When it comes to survival & level 4 preparedness (self sufficiency), your gardening will need to produce calories. Lots of vegetables are low (and very low) in calories. But there are some vegetables that have lots more calories than others.

Number Of Gardening Calories In Vegetables

All caloric quantities in the vegetable list below have been normalized to 100 grams (3.5 ounces or about 1/4-pound) so as to compare properly.

That said, some of the foods are not typically consumed in these amounts. However the results will let you know where they are with regards to calories.

Note: Nutrition is not accounted for in this list.

The food calorie data for each item was determined based on the common method of consuming the item (some are consumed raw whereas others are typically boiled, etc..).

Gardening Calories Chart & List


Normalized to 100 grams (3.5 ounces, or about 1/4-pound)

Beans, Pinto, Navy (143 calories)
Yams (116 calories)
Potato (86 calories)
Corn (86 calories)
Peas, Green (84 calories)
Sweet Potato (76 calories)
Parsnip (71 calories)
Grapes, Concord (67 calories)
Blueberries (57 calories)
Squash, Acorn (56 calories)
Raspberries (52 calories)
Kale (50 calories)
Beets (44 calories)
Onion (42 calories)
Peas, Snap (42 calories)
Carrots (41 calories)
Peppers, Chili (40 calories)
Brussels Sprouts (36 calories)
Broccoli (35 calories)
Beans, Green, Snap (35 calories)
Eggplant (35 calories)
Cantaloupe (34 calories)
Strawberries (32 calories)
Leeks (31 calories)
Chives (30 calories)
Peppers, Jalapeno (29 calories)
Basil (27 calories)
Collard Greens (26 calories)
Peppers, Sweet (26 calories)
Cauliflower (25 calories)
Spinach (23 calories)
Okra (22 calories)
Turnip (22 calories)
Cabbage (22 calories)
Asparagus (22 calories)
Rhubarb (21 calories)
Pumpkin (20 calories)
Peppers, Bell (20 calories)
Tomato (18 calories)
Zucchini (16 calories)
Radish (16 calories)
Lettuce (15 calories)
Cucumber (15 calories)
Celery (14 calories)

As most of you know, in general, vegetables are not very calorie dense (with some exceptions – potatoes, corn, and some others).

However, when considering a ‘survival garden’, suddenly we are concerned about calories – to maximize the garden’s output based on not only diversification of nutrition and the things that you ‘like to eat’, but it will become important to consider calories (as in ‘survival’ mode).

A vegetable garden is just one part of a sustainable system providing food for one’s household. Food producing trees. Food producing bushes/shrubs. Berries. Chickens & their Eggs. Livestock (my personal experience includes pigs).

On top of that, there’s always the risk of failure. You can try and control what you can control. But sometimes other factors will ruin it.

Low Calorie Vegetables Are Still Good!

Hey listen, I love growing my Brandywine tomatoes. OMG they are so good. However they are low in calories relative to ‘survival’. That said, I can also use them to process a lot of canned sauce, for whatever… Everything has its place.

one of my gigantic Brandywine tomatoes

And I love growing my own delicious peppers! We freeze all the extras (lots!) in pint size vacuum-seal bags for the freezer. Enough to last for at least a year of regular consumption. Again, low in calories. But, they’re good, and nutritious.

But I want you to also consider the reality of how much / how many vegetables you would actually need to grow for ‘survival’ or self-sustainability. Gardening calories matter (if that matters for you).

My ‘staple’ gardening calories crop are regular potatoes. They grow pretty well for me. I can process/can them, and also leave them in cool/dry/dark storage (lasts about 8 months for me). They are very high in calories from the standpoint of most vegetables. That would be one of my ‘go-to’ survival vegetable for my gardens.

[ Read: How To Preserve Potatoes ]

Photo: Getting to the bottom of this particular box of stored potatoes after 5 months…

Hopefully that gardening calories list above will help you to consider your options in this regard.

The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, 2nd Edition

[ Read: Vegetable Garden Yields To Expect On Average Per 100′ Row ]

[ Read: Frost Hardiness Planting Zones, And Your Growing Season ]


  1. Calories are essential but also vegetable that are high in nutrition, minerals and vitamins. Also consider space and your zone when choosing which vegetables to plant. Corn has a lot of uses but takes up a large amount of space, pulls a lot of nutrients from the soil, needs a lot of water and it only yields 4-5 ears per stalk if the raccoons don’t get them first. Potatoes (red, sweet, white, gold) produce big yields in a small place. Beans return nitrogen to the soil, take up little space, produce daily and are a staple for every kitchen.

    I have my seedling started and I’m looking forward to Spring and getting back to playing in the dirt. Remember…plant them green side up. 😀

  2. Who knows how to soften pinto beans that just seem not to cook soft enough to eat? If you can not eat them the calorie content does not matter!

    1. To ‘No joke’
      Pressure cooker for old hard beans. Works pretty well.

      1. don’t forget that those dried beans can be planted. i have done it many times with those i have bought from the grocery and have had good luck. any dries peas or beans. cheaper than the feed store.
        they will feed you more than just one pot.

    2. My Instant Pot is my go to for beans and blacked peas. No soaking just put the dry beans/peas in the pot with water, seasonings, ham hocks and in 15-17 minutes they are cooked nice and soft. Total time to build pressure, cook and release pressure about 35-45 minutes.

    3. Pressure cooker as ken said. They can also be ground and added to soups ECT

    4. I have beans about 5 year old. I soak them overnight, then pressure cook them about 1.5 hours.

      The texture is a little mealy, but they are edible.

    5. If the beans are fresh enough there should not be a problem but unfortunately that freshness is from harvest not storage so you could get old beans in a store. If hard try sprouting three days then cook low and slow for a day. Sprouting makes beans more digestible.

    6. Add 1 Tbs baking soda to beans and soak for a few hours or more. Rinse and cook. Beans that are many years old (of all kinds) will cook up nice and soft.

  3. I’ve never had any trouble getting them to soften. I soak overnight by putting the the beans in a pan of water with the water lever a couple of inches above the beans. The next morning I can tell that the beans have swollen as they absorbed water. I rinse the beans in a colander, place the beans in a crock pot with 3 times as much water as beans (1 cup of dry beans before soaking to 3 cups of water). I set the temperature on low, add seasonings, a half cup of ham pieces, or 2 slices of cut up raw bacon, half of a chopped onion, some salt, and a lot of black pepper. Let it cook all day. If I cook them on high it usually only takes around 4 – 5 hours. You can also cook them in a pressure cooker, which I have never done, but I have eaten them after they were cooked that way.
    I cooked beans in the crock pot last week and they were soft and delicious. I had stored the beans in a mylar bag inside a food grade plastic bucket for 5+ years.
    I hope this helps.

  4. Also, to get the most calories out of your growing space regardless of the crop, consider planting in wide beds or double rows. The row spacing (diff. from plant spacing) on most seed packets is to allow for walking/mechanical cultivation between each row. Even just planting double rows helps to preserve moisture from evaporation, and shade out some weeds. I typically grow in wide beds – usually 4-5′ wide – that I mulch heavily. I can reach in to the center from either side, and don’t waste as much space for walking plus less compaction of soil. Downside is weeding has to be done w/ hand tools, but if done right there aren’t as many weeds to begin with. Couple of good sources for this type of planting are The New Organic Grower by Elliot Coleman, and How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons. (I did try the double digging from the second book one year. Ouch. Did produce extraordinary yield, but good enough without it. I like my back to be functional, lol.)

    1. Farmgirl,
      i here ya on the back thing, it’s one thing to plant root crops, potatoes and such, but it’s another to get them out of the ground : )

      1. scout,

        That’s what the young men are for! I did my share of digging last year, but they ‘pulled’ their weight, too, lol.

    2. Farmgirl,
      Over past 4 years I have been transitioning to raised beds and I love them. I have 26 narrow beds that vary from 2x2x4 to 2x2x8 and the only thing I direct sow into the ground are my sweet potatoes and green beans. Raised beds are so much easier to weed, tend, harvest and I can control the amount of water much easier. It is easy to rotate crops each year, maintain PH levels and add compost and mulch. Initially it costs to build the boxes but it pays off in the long run with less back pain and higher yields.

      1. Romeo Charlie,

        Before last year, I’ve never planted in the kind of raised beds that are constructed. Double-digging year, ended up with curved, raised beds due to deeply loosened soil. There are some raised beds here, and I do appreciate not having to bend over quite so far. Challenge here is the dryness in the heat of summer; ended up putting quite a bit directly in the ground – what I’m used to. I suppose having a little bit of both provides some fallback, in case one or the other does better given a particular growing year. The ease of work though has the raised beds growing on me (not literally…..). :-)

      2. I had raised beds for 6 years but struggled with weeds, really bad weeds, everywhere. Our whole back yard was weeds when we moved in! I laid newspaper and cardboard but it only kept the weeds down for one season. Last year I said enough and took out five of the beds. I borrowed a rototiller and tilled that part of the garden three times. I raked to remove grass/weeds between each till. I filled two bins for the City yard waste pickup. I had a much better time gardening last year in that area of the garden. Less weeds, easier to remove the few that came up. I am going to till once this year before I plant the garden. I am unsure if I will go back to raised beds in the future.

        1. CJ in CDA,

          My observation last year was the same – no benefit with regards to weeds in the raised structures. Just easier to do the weeding. I prefer in-ground, wide bed spacing, to get the most production out of the space and help with moisture retention. There are still weeds, though. Have to eat more of those, too!

  5. peanuts,
    i haven’t grown peanuts in a few years, but they are easiest thing i have ever grown, lots of protean and fat and store well long term. i have NEVER had a problem with bugs or blight. be aware that there is a long germination time with them, you will think that they are not going to come up before they do. once they come up and break the ground they will take off. deer and rabbits have never bothered them for some reason.
    okra is another easy crop to plant, if you plant 2 50ft rows and keep it picked it will feed you and another family.
    i plant the clemson spineless okra and virginia jumbos for peanuts. they are two that i can depend on and i can save seeds year after year.
    just a few more weeks and it will be on again, i cant wait. 8b

    1. Scout,
      What USDA hardiness zone are you in that you can grow peanuts??? Wondering if trying them in the arid west is worth the effort. Zone 6 here, good irrigation, but hot and dry. Think they would grow? thanks.

      1. – Minerjim,
        I live in the arid west, too, Zone 7b. We grow peanuts around here commercially, in fact, Mars candies bought almost all of the area 2018 crop for M&M’s candies. If we can grow peanuts here, you can grow peanuts where you are.
        Just a hint, it’s far cheaper to buy a bag of raw peanuts at the grocery store for planting than it is to try to buy seed peanuts from the feed store. Just make sure they are raw, not roasted, salted, boiled, or whatever. We prefer Spanish peanuts.
        – Papa S.

        1. Papa Smurf, any tricks to starting peanuts? You direct sow or start seedlings 🌱first?

        2. Bill Jenkins Horse:
          Hope it’s ok if I give you my experience with peanuts. High Plains climate so I start indoors. Bought some plants a few years ago when a local nursery had some and have been keeping some for seed each year. Soak a few hours to overnight (no longer) and then start inside as early as March. Take a long time to germinate. Transplant after all danger of frost. Need a long growing season so one year with a late and early frost the yield was poor. Need water and sun. Last year was opposite with frost free from mid-April to Mid October-great crop.

        3. Moe,thanks for your input.I have never grown peanuts.I will start them inside.
          I picked up some food grade metal 55 gallon drums. Think I will cut them in 2 and make them into raised containers.
          It would make it easier to harvest…

        4. – FWIW, I direct sow peanuts. In cotton country, we have lots of growing season. Two pounds of raw peanuts will produce a really decent crop.
          -Papa S.

      2. Minerjim,
        i’m not sure, the olly advise is to try a few in your garden and see. they have a long growing season, about 7 months.
        good luck

    2. Scout,
      I have 45 black bean plants started that come from a bag of store bought black beans. I do mung bean sprouts from store bought bag of mung beans. Inexpensive supply of seeds for sure.
      My situation is a little different than most. There is now 42 members in our group. Since turning over the leadership reins I have been tasked with getting vegetable production up and running. No small task. The learning curve is steep. It’s a whole lot easier to raise a mono crop. Not so easy raising 30 plus different crops. Different germination times,different water and nutrient needs. Different maturity days while some all mature and need harvesting side by side. Anyone who thinks they’re going to consistantly feed their families out of a multi crop garden without putting the time in are deluding themselves. The biggest issue for me is time management. So I look for ways to save time and effort. Production line style up potting seedlings. Bottom watering trays of seedlings. Any way to save time and push germination. I do have help.I have 1500 seedlings in our grow room. I expect to lose some to attrition and mishaps. I’m no expert. I have put in the time studying, researching, watching Master gardners. I’m more confident this season than I was last year. I have the upmost respect for growers and farmers. It is not easy to be successful. Hard hard work for sure.
      I hope folks are taking to heart what you have been posting. Time to learn / fail/succeed is now. Folks need to go from planning to doing…

      1. Bill Jenkins Horse, Really admire you, and Pioneer Woman, and everyone prepping for larger groups. Please keep telling your news and stories of how you do it. Bought many packets of seeds the other day. Went to two different stores. Neither had parsnip seeds or orange cherry tomatoes. Anyone else noticing shortages?

        1. Anony Mee, there are definitely shortages. I would look into procuring seeds from online seed sources…

    3. Scout, if I may ask…where do you buy the peanuts to grow in your garden?

      1. DJ5280,
        i live in zone 8b. there are many farms in our area that grow them commercially and will sell to the public. around 24 dollars a bushel now. a bushel is a lot of peanuts. save some that you plant and grow because you can replant them year after year.
        been a few years since i have planted any but we will save some to dry and replant, i put ours whole in a grass sack and hang it up in the barn to dry then shell before i plant them. they are buggers to get out of the ground, you will miss many. i have had the ones we missed volunteer up the next year. i’ll plow them up because of crop rotation but they may could be planted as a perennial ? i may try it this year in a spot and see.
        hope this helps and good luck
        PS. 5-10 lbs of seed will make more than you want to dig up : )

        1. Peanuts can be grown as a perennial. Auburn university had some test plots years ago and grazed steers on them. Not sure how far north that would work

  6. guys, when planning a garden just think if it will be enough to sustain you for two years and a way to store it, that’s what it may take. you just can’t depend on a bumper crop every year. some years will fail for many reasons.
    DW and i always plant more than twice than we think would could put up. we just enjoy doing it. if we make good we will give some away or trade at the farmers markets.
    i know that my posts are being ignored now, but i’m just trying to be helpful, take it or leave it. IDK and good luck

    1. Scout
      We also plant more than needed. We’ll plant a couple varieties of things — for example 2 or 3 varieties of zucchini. One year zucchini A will grow gangbusters, zucchini B so and so, and zucchini C not so much. Following year zucchini A may be a total bust, etc.

  7. Scout,
    I think those that would heed your advice got it. the others??? well, can’t say you didn’t warn them. Anyone who thinks they can open their “canned survival food garden” and grow a year’s worth of food will have to find out the hard way. Thanks for throwing this out there again though. You may have saved another who finally though about this.

  8. Evry year I’d make a list of what to plant. Then try to pare down this list, without much sucess.
    Then tried another strategy. Make a list of priorities and then decide on the plants to fill these needs.

    1.Nutrition and things you like to eat. And just added calories.
    2. easy to grow.
    3. Versatility – how many ways to prepare — fry, steam, bake, etc.
    4. Easy to store over winter.
    5. How many ways to preserve — can, ferment, pickle, dry, root cellar.
    6. Crops that are continuous / repeat harvest vs. one time harvest. Plant management fits in here too.
    7. Early season crops.
    8. “Flavoring” crops — onions, herbs, etc.

    Other management:
    1. If planned correctly, a garden and foraging should complement each other.
    2. Grow the most useful and efficient plants.
    3. With the occasional experimentation.
    4. Heirlooms for the long haul — seed saving.
    5. For us, wintersowing — pretty much everything except strawberries, celery, carrots and onion.
    6. Sprouting.
    7. Your lifestyle / personality — Do you consider food solely as fuel? Do you enjoy eating? Do I need to modify
    how I look at food?

  9. I did some winter sowing for the first time today, put the jugs out in the snow.. .Just extra herb & flower seeds I had on hand, to try it out. Far North, do you winter-sow vegetables?

    1. MNruby
      Using extra seeds is a good way to start.
      Yes I do wintersow veggies, including tomatoes, summer & winter squash, beets, spinach, herbs, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, etc.
      The only advise I follow is that if you need to wear a sweater or jacket, you can still wintersow. In my climate I start sowing the end of March. For end of May, beginning of June transplanting. Yeah, short growing season!
      I can never get over how robust wintersown plants are. Tomato vines that look like tree saplings.
      Normally we direct sow string beans. One year wintersowed string beans and also direct sowed them. Was harvesting the wintersown beans some 3+ weeks before the direct sown beans. For us and I guess you too, a three week jump on the harvest is nothing to sneeze at…
      Good luck and if you have any questions, if I can help.

  10. Why thank you! I was debating the wisdom of buying yet another plant light. Looking down the road I was thinking of what will happen if the specialty bulb for a specialty fixture is discontinued, or simply unsupported by the supply chain. I feel most encouraged to try some vegetables too. I will report back☺.

    1. MNRuby,
      Try looking online for some of the new LED grow lights. I bought one recently, several light settings with different colors of light. Works great! Nice thing is LEDs have like a 10,000 hour expected life and an efficiency (power into light) in the 92% range.(incandescent lights are in the 30% range). Prices are better than incandescent too.

    2. MNruby
      Yes, not needing grow lights, heat mats, etc. is what first drew me to this method. Along with how it dovetails with being off grid.
      Then, there is no need to harden off the plants. They’re already outside. (smile)

  11. I was invited to check out an aquaponic garden setup in a greenhouse yesterday. It was impressive. The initial investment was high IMO.
    Just wondering if anyone else is raising fish as a protein along with vegetables?

    1. I definitely am looking at it, recently made the decision to stop cleaning out our pond every year to maintain it like a pool, just too costly and lack of availability of chlorine were deciding factors, so now am thinking i will stock it with tilapia, a neighbor has a similar pond with tilapia already acclimated to the temps etc, lots of offspring swimming, easily scooped up and moved, just need to get a decent aerator setup for the pond and can go for it. Need to set up a couple clean out tanks so can transfer fish to clean water and feed them clean feed for a few days before eating them, makes a big difference in flavor, but a good spicy cajun style dredge would do as well

      1. Kulafarmer, turning the pond into a fish pond sounds like a good idea. Tilapia will survive in a mud puddle. The cleaner the fish the better the taste. Finishing them off in clean tanks is a great idea. Maybe a small solar setup or even a small windmill to run the aeration setup?

  12. There are certain things that will grow here with little or no input,
    Kale, NewZealand spinach, potatoes, sweet potatoes, husk cherries (poha), some cherry tomatoes, choyote(pipinola), taro. Most of this stuff seems to be able to almost naturalize and just keep proliferating regardless of rainfall etc. So thats the stuff i will make sure keeps growing and in fact spreads. From the outside looking in it just looks like weeds growing. Speaking of weeds, we also have about 7 varieties of weeds that are edible, may not be huge calorie counts but knowing they are edible and knowing they are growing in profusion makes them beneficial.
    Good testament to knowing what sorta plants are growing in your area or even yard.

    1. A further note on weeds etc that grow regardless of weather etc, these plants generally do so well because they scavenge nutrients from the soil more efficiently, this in turn also means they typically have higher nutrient levels when eaten, like the mallow that grows here, really good in salads, the deer love it too, so is an attractant of sorts.

      A little venison with your weeds?

    2. Kulafarmer, we’re in the business of tricking Mother Nature to be successful in the garden.
      For example,correct seed depth,heating mats,grow lights,proper nutrients. What happens in Nature with 1 out of 100 seeds we do with hopefully 80-90 seeds out of 100. Think about how many things have to right for that one seed to survive.Mother Nature is a cruel,unforgiving Bitch. She is efficient though. Out of the thousands of acorns on an oak tree why do so few grow up to be trees? While weeds grow so easily?
      The weeds die and with the help of worms,bugs and micro organisms sustain the oak tree. I’m in awe everytime I think about it. What Mother Nature does for that one seed I try to copy with the 80 seeds. What she does with weeds and leaves I try to do with compost piles and worms. I can honestly say I am at my happiest now when I’m working with plants. My son got me a shirt. It says
      “It’s better to be a warrior in a garden than a Gardner in a war”. I’m hopeful I can stay in the garden and be left alone. Just seems like there are fools who think its a good idea to pull me out. SMG posted a warning about what happens when men are not left alone…

  13. I have been buying seeds for the last 3 years from trueleafmarket dot com based on a recommendation from this site. Our garden yields from these seeds have been about double regular store bought heirloom seeds.

  14. Bill Jenkins Horse
    I recall my dad raising the variety of Spanish Peanuts in an area they said would not grow either peanuts or potatoes and he grew both. That was before raised planting beds came into style. You will do just fine, if you can grow potatoes, you should have no issues with the peanuts.

  15. AC, I will give it a go. Just add it to the loooong list I have going…lol

  16. Friend reminded me about Oyster shell, but this one is specifically used for the garden. It is not the shell used for your chickens; this is the ‘oyster shell calcium’ for the garden.
    In the years helping my dad when he set up our garden, I recall him using this product. Believe he used this specific shell, and I do not recall us having issues with gophers or moles. Which we all know is devastating to a garden. Dislike freeloaders thinking they can show up eat and leave without so much a a thank you for consuming all our hard work.
    I plan on using this for ground squirrels in this area, as giving them a swimming pool to take a permanent deep dive into and replacing the water is wasteful. When I have the results from this shell experiment will let all of you know.
    If you want this product, check with your small local feed stores and order the 50lb bags. That way you will have it on hand should the supply become non-existent. Does not have an expiration date 😊

  17. I take dry beans, add to a pint jar, then fill with water and pressure can them. Presto they are then like store bought ready to eat canned beans. (just a couple tablespoons of beans per pint) I keep a couple dozen jars ahead. Meal prep in minutes, especially in summer when I don’t want to use the wood stove much for cooking. The propane lasts a long time this way.

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