Survival Garden Food
Grow Your Own Food To Rely Less On ‘The System’
Growing your own food is one of the best ways to begin to liberate yourself from the system – to help you become better prepared to survive hard times – to be more self sufficient – and to add high quality nutritious food to your diet and food storage preps.
You can plan and grow a survival garden, no matter how big or small your yard. Even if you don’t have a ‘yard’, you may have space for some planters, pots, or containers.
Gardening is very rewarding, therapeutic, satisfying, and provides a feeling of accomplishment when your plants grow and then produce. It is liberating!
It is amazing to realize that it doesn’t take much space to grow a significant amount of food. In addition to the possibilities for preservation and food storage, the amount of money that you can save growing your own food is also potentially quite significant.
For example, not long ago, one particular harvest from our small patch of tomatoes yielded 250 pounds from just 8 hardy plants throughout the year! At lets say, $2 per pound at your local grocery store (prices vary depending on season), that’s $500 worth of tomatoes!! The key is to preserve them after harvest since there is obviously no way you could eat them all before they rot. You could ‘can’ them, or make sauce for the freezer or canning, or you could even dehydrate them. The result will be having delicious tomato throughout the winter months with the wonderful flavor of fresh home grown.
Is There A Best Survival Food To Grow?
Choosing the best ‘survival’ foods to grow depends on your growing zone, your abilities, your tastes, garden size, climate, soil, desired calories, etc.
If someone is just getting started with gardening, better choices are easy-to-grow vegetables while more experienced gardeners will likely choose a wider variety with other considerations in mind including nutritional balance, caloric viability for survival purposes, methods of preservation and long term storage capability, etc.
Having said that, one’s survival garden for an experienced gardener should be heavy on calorie foods such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, dry beans, root crops, nuts, sunflowers (for their seeds), and if you have space… wheat, corn, oats which can be stored for years if done correctly.
List of high-calorie garden vegetables
The following short list of garden vegetables are easy and good for beginners, not necessarily for maximum calories.
There are lots of great varieties to choose from, and they are VERY EASY to grow. All they need is sun and some water. There is nothing like picking a fresh ripe tomato off the vine and experiencing that homegrown juicy sweet flavor as compared with the bland taste of your typical grocery store tomato. Preserve them for later (canning, freezer, dehydrate)
Pole beans produce nearly twice as many beans as bush beans, they taste sweeter, and are more tender (harvest them before they get too big). They provide great nutritional value, and are beneficial for the soil because they provide nitrogen back into the ground.
This summer squash is another easy to grow survival food to consider in your survival garden. It is one of the most common vegetables grown in gardens.
When you harvest them, you can slice and dehydrate them (or freeze them) to be used throughout the winter.
Get Started With Your Garden
Quit thinking about it, and do it! At least start with one or two vegetables and give it a try. If this is your first attempt, be careful not to do too much so as to avoid becoming overwhelmed or frustrated if things get out of control ;) Start with the easy vegetables like tomatoes, beans, and zucchini. You will be rewarded beyond your imagination.
Don’t waste freezer space on onions. They will easily store for 6mo when dried properly. Same goes for garlic.
Learn the “Three Sisters” method used by the native americans.
Don’t bother with dry beans as you can store a years supply for extremely cheap.
Sweet potatoes and peanuts can supply an amazing amount of nutrition and calories with very little input.
Tomatoes are a perfect survival garden item as most varieties can be canned with a water bath canner directly into sauces and salsas.
For ‘survival” during warm weather you should concentrate on the following: Tomatoes, peanuts, sweet potato, potatoes (russets are a good choice and grow them in containers), radishes, corn, summer squash/zucchini, and pole beans. for cool weather: beets, cabbage, more sweet and regular potatoes, winter squash of several varieties, more radishes, peas, and lots and lots of carrots.
Avoid “bush” varieties and hybrids.
If you live in a more arid climate (like I do) you will need to adjust a bit.
If you keep chickens you should add okra and cucumbers to the list.
Melons can be a very refreshing addition and also are great for your critters.
Plant fruit trees if you have the room. Be sure to get varieties with “chill hours” which match your region.
Be sure that you have a reliable water source which can provide enough to all your gardens as well.
Use a “no till” method (I could write for days on this alone).
Etc etc etc – Do research and then start trying things. Keep in mind that it will take some time to learn what is best for you and your region.
Don’t waste freezer space on onions–dehydrate and put in a mason jar using your vacuum sealer.
I agree. Dehydrating is the way to go… no energy needed afterwards. Having said that, dehydrated foods will last even longer in the freezer ;)
Greens. Any type of greens, spinach, lettuce, chard, etc. Those will grow just about anywhere, are very fast to give a crop, can be harvested over and over all season and supply a huge amount of nutrition. There are a lot of wild greens that are very good in flavor too, and if you gather seed from these wild greens and grow those in your garden, you will be growing something well adapted to your area. I do this with Lamb’s Quarter, which I love the flavor of, and all of us (people, livestock, pets) eat it most of the year. Before Fall frost, I pull up the plants and pile them in a shed to dry for winter feed for the chickens.
*Winter squash does not need cool weather, it is called winter squash because it has a hard rind that will keep the fruit in good condition all winter in storage. I grow a lot of Pink Banana Squash, which takes a long hot summer to produce, but I have NOTHING that produces better in terms of total weight of harvest. Each squash weighs in on average 25 pounds. It’s also very versatile, being a very sweet squash, it can be used in all the same ways as any other squash or pumpkin, including pies.
Greens are high in minerals and phyonutrients but not calories. Spinach and collard greens are the only ones worth bothering with. Chard is actually a beet so I wouldn’t group it in with the others. Don’t waste valuable garden space on other greens.
Winter squash does not need cooler weather to grow but it performs best. Also, if you harvest winter squash too soon (due to growing in warmer times) you will have to use refrigeration to keep it. Versus the natural cold of late fall/winter. I suggest acorn and kabocha regularly as most people don’t grow them but they do very well.
“Greens are high in minerals and phyonutrients but not calories.”
And those minerals and phytonutrients are necessary to maintain good health. I’m not suggesting greens be your ONLY plantings. But they do supply nutrition that’s lacking from other vegetables. Calories can be gotten from your potatoes, tomatoes and such.
The very best edible plant to grow for survival, other than starch filled veggies, is “Purslane.” Regardless of what one calls it, purslane contains more omega 3 fatty acids than any other plant source in the solar system, and an extraordinary amount for a plant, some 8.5 mg for every gram of weight. It has vitamin A, B, C and E — six times more E than spinach — beta carotene — seven times more of that than carrots — magnesium, calcium, potassium, folate, lithium — keep you sane — iron and is 2.5% protein.
You do not need to cook it. You do not need to cultivate it. It grows like a weed..anywhere! It grows FAST! It even tastes good! Simply put, you can just grow ROOT veggies…some pole beans…cherry tomatoes (they are the easiest to grow and quick to mature)..and PURSLANE. What is cool, is that other people WILL NOT recognize your purslane as an edible plant..even if it is the MOST edible plant on Earth.
Thanks for the heads-up regarding Purslane.
“Although purslane is considered a weed in the United States, it may be eaten as a leaf vegetable. It has a slightly sour and salty taste and is eaten throughout much of Europe, the middle east, Asia, and Mexico. The stems, leaves and flower buds are all edible. Purslane may be used fresh as a salad, stir-fried, or cooked as spinach is, and because of its mucilaginous quality it also is suitable for soups and stews.”
Not as nutrient dense as Chaya but as you said it’s a weed.
Also, chaya must be cooked but prslane doesn’t have to be (improves the taste drastically however).
It also makes a great companion plant for corn and beans.
Amazing tolerant of more arid regions as well.
My Garden Survival Crop favorite is Butternut Squash. I can agree with Tammy that Pnk Banana is the best tasting squash. Butternut however are small size and the vines require less area to grow and you can cook up a Butternut and not have to deal with protecting the fresh cut end of Banana Sq. – getting moldy , etc.
I have stored well seasoned Butternut and cooked one after ll months and was very satisfied with it being normal taste and consistency.
They require no canning or freezing – only moderately cool garage or closet in the home.
I will be shopping for a supply of them this year at the farmer’s markets – about the time of the first early frosts later in Sept.
Does anyone know if purslane can be dehydrated and if so, does it lose alot of it’s nutritional value?