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 crops should you grow in your survival garden? Here are a few plant ideas to get that garden growing:
Sweet potatoes are root crops that 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 potatoes are a great 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. Check out the full steps of growing your own sweet potatoes here. Once they’re ready for harvest, sweet potatoes can simply be boiled or transformed into a great 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 superfood. This leafy plant from the cabbage family contains lots of water and little 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 system. They also play a role in strengthening your muscles and bones.
Kale is a hardy plant that comes in many varieties and colors. Kale can tolerate some mild frost and grows well in the colder months of spring and autumn. It can be eaten raw, added to savory dishes or dehydrated into some yummy kale chips.
Planting radishes for your survival garden comes with a lot of benefits. First, all parts of the radish are edible— roots, leaves and even the seeds. Next, they grow 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 addition to your survival garden. Betanin, the compound that causes a beet’s 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 good 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 good 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. Growing them is fairly easy, too. Beets can be grown in pots, so they’re ideal if you want to try your hand at container gardening. Plant them in the spring for best results. Beets grow well in nutrient-rich soil with pH of around 6.5-7. It loves a lot of water, so make sure to water it regularly to keep the roots nice and tender. Here are the full steps on growing gorgeous 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 very 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 quite noted for its natural diuretic effects.
Growing this tasty and healthy veggie is pretty easy, too. Simply dig a trench, lay your asparagus crowns at least 15 inches apart and cover them with a nice layer of soil. Check out the full steps here. Harvest them young, so that the shoots are still 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 deserves a spot in your survival garden. Aside from that, cauliflower is low in calories and is chock-full of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, and folate. The plant comes in many varieties like the Italian, Asian, and Northern European cauliflower. Other variants come in different colors, too.
Cauliflower plants grow well in colder months, with a healthy bit of sun. It also loves nutrient-packed soil so don’t hold back on healthy organic fertilizers and nitrogen.
What makes cabbage a good addition to your garden is that there’s a lot that 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 it into some good sauerkraut. Like its close cousin the cauliflower, cabbage is rich in Vitamin 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, tomatoes are, in fact, a fruit) is not only harmless, it is also quite a good addition to meals. Tomatoes have now grown into thousands of varieties and you can prepare them in just as many ways. They are rich in Vitamin C which boosts your immune system, and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that is believed to combat certain types of cancers and improve heart health.
Tomatoes are pretty easy to grow, as long as you’ve got the right conditions. It loves 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 your tomatoes raw, or it can be added to dishes as a sauce. You can also make some really healthy tomato juice. When 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 lots 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; 100 days later and you can harvest some to add to stews or salads. You can even make your own hummus if you want.
Blueberries are yummy additions to your survival garden. 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 to juice or jam. Dehydrated blueberries make good road snacks, too. There’s just so many things you can do with them. Blueberries are rich in manganese, Vitamin K, and C.
While blueberries grow well in the wild, they can definitely be cultivated in your survival 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. It’s like having your own grocery store right in your backyard. And since you’re growing your own food, 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 survival garden plant? Let us know in the comments below!