Okay, so you’ve got a well-stocked survival pantry to see you through a few rough months. What’s next? Take it one step further by growing a survival garden.
As mentioned in a previous article, a survival garden is more or less a vegetable garden that’s meant to provide food for you and the entire family. It’s disguised to look like a rough patch of vegetation to keep scavengers from stealing your crops. When you’re growing your own food, you can be sure that you always have fresh produce even when groceries and supermarkets shut down.
So, which is the best food to grow in your survival garden? Here are a few ideas to get that garden growing:
Up first on our list of food to grow is sweet potatoes.
These root crops have been cultivated all over the world, notably in South and Central America, Africa, and Asia. With its carb content, this tuber has filled many a hungry stomach in these regions and beyond.
Sweet potatoes are rich in both simple starches and complex carbs, which make them excellent sources of energy. They also pack a lot of fiber, which is good for digestion and overall gastrointestinal health.
Aside from that, sweet potato is a good food to grow because it’s an awesome source of B vitamins, which keep your nerves healthy, vitamin A for sharp eyesight, and manganese which helps build stronger bones.
Sweet potatoes grow from root sprouts and thrive well, even in dire conditions. They’re not very picky with the type of soil as long as they’re planted in warm weather with lots of rain. They can’t tolerate frost, though, so make sure to plant them under full sun.
Once they’re ready for harvest, you can simply boil your sweet potatoes or transform them into a variety of both sweet and savory dishes.
If you’ve been up to speed with the latest health trends, then you’d probably know that kale is one popular food to grow. This leafy plant from the cabbage family contains lots of water and few calories.
What makes kale special is the sheer amount of nutrients in it. It is packed with lots of vitamins A, C, K, and B5, plus significant amounts of manganese, folate, and calcium. These do wonders for the immune and nervous systems. They also play a role in strengthening your muscles and bones.
Kale is a hardy plant that comes in many varieties and colors. This superfood can tolerate some mild frost and grows well in the colder months of spring and autumn. You can eat it raw, add it to savory dishes, or dehydrate it into some yummy kale chips.
Another food to grow in your survival garden is radish. Planting this comes with a lot of benefits.
First, all parts of the radish are edible—roots, leaves, and even the seeds. Next, this plant grows pretty fast. In about 4-5 weeks, you’ll have yourself some crunchy radishes that you can add to stews or salads. They’re quite easy to grow, too. Radishes thrive well in the cooler seasons. If you want to produce larger roots, expose them to a lot of sun. Radishes contain significant amounts of vitamin C, which keeps your immune system in tip-top shape.
A beet’s distinctive red hue makes it an attractive food to grow in your survival garden. Betanin, the compound that causes its bright red color, has been used as natural food coloring for centuries.
But that’s not the only thing beets are good for.
These root veggies are a fine source of hydration as they are composed of 88% water. A gram contains approximately 43 calories, making them really good energy sources. Aside from that, they’re also a source of folate, manganese, and potassium.
Beets can be eaten raw, boiled, or roasted. The young ones can add a splash of color to any dish, especially when added to salads. It’s fairly easy to cultivate them, too. Because beets can be grown in pots, they’re ideal container garden plants. Plant them in the spring for the best results.
Beets thrive in nutrient-rich soil with a pH of around 6.5-7. They love H2O, so water them regularly to keep their roots nice and tender. Here are the full steps to growing beets in containers.
Who doesn’t love some good old asparagus? This hardy perennial vegetable is a staple in many soups, stews, and a bunch of other dishes. These shoots are extremely nutritious—they’re rich in vitamin K, which helps in proper blood clotting, folate for healthy cell production, and iron to improve the blood’s oxygen capacity. Asparagus is also noted for its natural diuretic effects.
This is one food to grow in your survival garden not just because it’s tasty and healthy. Planting it is also pretty simple. Just dig a trench, lay your asparagus crowns at least 15 inches apart, and then cover them with a nice layer of soil. Check out the full steps here. Harvest them young, so that the shoots will still be nice and tender.
You know what’s better than raw cauliflower? The dozens of savory and filling dishes that you can do with it, of course!
You can make an entire cookbook out of cauliflower, and for that reason, it’s one of the best food to grow in your garden. Aside from that, cauliflower is low in calories and is chock-full of folate and vitamins C, K, and B6. The plant comes in Italian, Asian, and Northern European varieties. Other variants come in different colors, too.
Cauliflower plants grow well in colder months, with a healthy bit of sun. They also love nutrient-packed soil, so don’t hold back on healthy organic fertilizers and nitrogen.
What makes cabbage a worthy addition to your list of food to grow in your survival garden is that there’s a lot you can do with it. It’s been used as a herbal medicine for many centuries. If you’ve got a surplus, you can ferment cabbages and turn them into some good sauerkraut.
Like its close cousin cauliflower, cabbage is rich in vitamins C and K, as well as vitamin B6 and folate. It also thrives on fertile ground with lots of nitrogen. Cabbage is the perfect cold-climate plant—it loves cool weather with some sun. It’s also quite resistant to frost.
Fun fact: tomatoes are related to the notorious deadly nightshade berries. Because of this, people avoided tomatoes like the plague for a long time. However, as the years went by, they soon realized that this fruit (yes, tomato is, in fact, a fruit) is not only harmless, it’s also quite a good addition to meals.
There are now thousands of tomato varieties, and you can prepare them in just as many ways. They’re rich in vitamin C, which boosts your immune system, and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant believed to combat certain cancers and improve heart health.
Growing tomatoes is straightforward, as long as you’ve got the right conditions. They love warm and dry weather with lots of sun, plus sufficient water and mulch to lock all that moisture in.
When you’re ready to harvest, you can eat ’em raw or add them to dishes as a sauce. You can also make some really healthy tomato juice. If you’ve got a surplus, you can also slice your tomatoes and dehydrate them for later.
Chickpeas are also known as garbanzos. These legumes were first grown in the Middle East and are now cultivated in most parts of the world. They are high in folate, phosphorus, and thiamin. If you need strength and energy, you can count on chickpeas to give you that extra boost because they pack a lot of calories and proteins, too. The high amino acid content helps in building tissues and muscles.
Chickpeas love having plenty of sun. You have to give them at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. They should also be planted in well-draining soil. Chickpeas grow pretty fast. After a hundred days, you can harvest some to add to stews or salads. You can even make your own hummus if you want.
Next on the list of food to grow in your survival garden are blueberries.
These tasty berries can, of course, be eaten raw or made into pies, muffins, and other baked goodies. You can also puree them or turn them into juice or jam. Dehydrated blueberries make good road snacks, too. There are so many things you can do with them and they’re also healthy. Blueberries are rich in manganese and vitamins K and C.
While these berries grow well in the wild, you can definitely cultivate them in your garden as long as you’ve got well-draining soil and full sun. Blueberries grow well in acidic soil (pH 5 sounds great). You can also add sawdust and pine needles to improve plant growth.
Nothing says sustainable more than a thriving survival garden with lots of food to grow. It’s like having a grocery store right in your backyard. And since you’re growing your own produce, you can be sure that no nasty chemicals are being added to your food.
In the wake of a major disaster, your survival garden can provide you with fresh and tasty produce that you can’t get from canned or preserved goods. These crops and veggies also provide you with lots of nourishment to see you through some pretty tough times.
What’s your favorite food to grow in your survival garden? Let us know in the comments below!