• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • jordan barton
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Greg Martin
  • Steve Thorn
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Leigh Tate
  • Mike Haasl
master gardeners:
  • John F Dean
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Stacie Kim
  • Jay Angler

Best Crops for a Survival Garden?

 
gardener
Posts: 497
Location: Middle Georgia, Zone 8B
261
homeschooling home care chicken food preservation cooking fiber arts
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I recently read an article that suggested the following 12 crops for a survival garden:

Beans
Basil
Cabbage
Carrots
Potatoes
Corn
Amaranth
Berries
Chamomile
Cucumbers
Strawberries
Arugula

These crops were noted for being nutrient dense, easy to grow, and easy to preserve. The basil and chamomile were listed for medicinal/digestive benefits.

I think, for my own family's survival garden, I'd made a few changes:

I'd opt to grow walking onions instead of basil. The reason being that I can use more of a walking onion (bulb and greens) for more versatility. I think onions, even small ones, would offer more calories than basil.

I'd swap the cabbage and grow collards instead. They grow much more readily here than heading cabbage.

I'd grow winter squash instead of amaranth. My family really enjoys spaghetti squash.

I'd grow mint instead of chamomile. The authors of the article cite chamomile's medicinal benefits, but they warn it's a hard plant to get established. I have mint that is un-killable here!

Instead of arugula, I'd grow sweet potatoes. The greens of sweet potatoes are also edible, plus you get a good starchy tuber to eat when you dig up them up.

I'd also put tomatoes on the list. My family eats an alarming amount of tomatoes!

Have you ever considered an "SHTF" crop list? What if you could only grow 10 to 15 crops on a small plot of backyard space? Would you agree with the original list of crops? Do they grow well in your area?


Original article: Best Crops for Your Survival Garden
 
pollinator
Posts: 2006
Location: Denmark 57N
503
fungi foraging trees cooking food preservation
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator


BeansNo because they take to much room and cannot be relied upon to dry in my climate
Basilno grows for 2-3 months of the year only and is susceptible to moulds and pests
Cabbage
Carrots
Potatoes

Corn These two are not suitable for my climate maize doesn't get to maturity neither does amaranth (not enough heat days)
Amaranth
Berries Since we're talking limited space I assume this means 2-3 bushes of something, berries come all at once and need sugar to make the preserved fruit edible and keepable
Chamomile Why? it's an ok plant you can use it for medicine it's easy enough to grow but it adds very little to keeping you alive.
Cucumbers Useless bags of water in a survival situation. 2 months production and require salt/vinegar/sugar to preserve
Strawberries A couple of weeks of berries that have to be eaten instantly and take a lot of space to make a dent in a diet.
Arugula a small pest ridden spicy leaf, really just no. leaves are the easiest thing to find, I wouldn't waste precious growing space on it.



How much space are we talking about? My reply would be very different if space is the main constraint. Dried beans would not get a look in they take an awful lot of room to get a decent amount of crop, but runner beans for green beans would.

So my 10 plants for a space limited garden assuming there would be few opportunities to buy anything, and ignoring any trees, with trees I would start with apples, pears and any nut trees you can cram in.
Potatoes
Carrots
Parsnips
Celeriac
Swede
Red cabbage
Onions
garlic
Runner beans
Winter squash

If space were not limited then peas and some extra runner beans for dried seeds

With the exception of the beans nothing on my list requires anything to preserve them other than somewhere cool and damp or cool and dry depending on the plant. they are all heavy croppers for the space taken and will keep all winter. Out of 10 crops there are 7 different families of plants which should help cover all nutrition, I don't include any leafy greens because they are the most easy item to forage. the celeriac and swede greens could be eaten as can squash tips.



 
Stacie Kim
gardener
Posts: 497
Location: Middle Georgia, Zone 8B
261
homeschooling home care chicken food preservation cooking fiber arts
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The original article (if I remember correctly) didn't give any space constraints. I'm assuming that the space would be whatever is in your own individual  yard/lawn/balcony/urban space. That would be different for everyone. It also didn't say anything about microgreens or herbs on a sunny windowsill. I suppose that's also an individual situation.

You're making me reconsider if I should grow beans, Skandi. They are still cheap enough to stockpile here, so I wouldn't need to grow them for a while. I'd probably be wise to keep a small amount growing for seed stock, but I might decide on beets instead. I realized beets weren't on the list, and my family likes them. So if I had enough dry beans in my pantry, perhaps beets would be a sweet, earthy addition. Plus the greens are edible too.

I think the crux of the article was to get urban dwellers thinking about food self-sufficiency before supplies become an emergency situation.
 
master steward
Posts: 2694
Location: Maine, zone 5
1295
2
forest garden trees food preservation solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'd recommend chestnuts and fruit trees planted in a forest garden layout within the annual veg garden so that they are on their way to producing for the rest of your life while you're growing the annuals in the early years.  
 
gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 2630
Location: Gulf of Mexico cajun zone 8
1128
cattle hugelkultur cat dog trees hunting chicken bee woodworking homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For purposes of this discussion I'm assuming we're talking about a vegetable garden that will get some amount of care & not be subject to ravenous hordes of zombie thieves.

I think some sort of beans, squash/pumpkin, & grains are relatively easy to grow in most areas. The specific types are different for each climate & region. The 3 sisters have a lot of nutrition & store well.

Also root crops such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, beets, carrots, peanuts, etc. The potatoes have needed carbs & calories. The others have important nutrients.  Plus they are all easier to disguise in an anti-zombie guerilla garden situation.

Tomatoes because they are so versatile.

Wild rice if that will grow in your area. I consider it a superfood that is packed with nutrition & it stores for many years.

Things such onions, peppers, herbs, & spices because those can be used to make almost anything taste good.

Flowers because the pollinators like flowers. Buckwheat grows easily, has nice flowers, & makes excellent bread. Good for the soil too. A win win situation with buckwheat.

Edited to add garlic because ... garlic!!! Asparagus because once it is established it produces for many years. It also tends to be the first crop ready to harvest in the spring. Adding chard & kale too. Fairly easy & productive for a long time.
 
Stacie Kim
gardener
Posts: 497
Location: Middle Georgia, Zone 8B
261
homeschooling home care chicken food preservation cooking fiber arts
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Mike Barkley said:

For purposes of this discussion I'm assuming we're talking about a vegetable garden that will get some amount of care & not be subject to ravenous hordes of zombie thieves.



That's what I'm going to assume as well. In my mind, I'm assuming this "SHTF" garden is for people who are not going to leave their neighborhood for whatever reason. Maybe this garden is for people who undergo a sudden loss in income and can't afford groceries, or for people who live in a food desert where grocery stores will not be restocked for some emergency reason.

If our preceding assumptions are true, I'd plan food crops that don't look "foodie" to people who are unfamiliar with how food grows. Root crops like potatoes, turnips, carrots, etc. are somewhat more difficult to identify by the average bystander. Planting in a messy "cottage garden" style as opposed to neat rows will also keep marauders from realizing you've got calories in your soil.

Food crops that also don't look like the usual grocery store variety might also be beneficial. For instance, a dragon's tongue bean as opposed to blue lake green bean. Yellow pear tomatoes as opposed to big beefsteak varieties.  "Weeds" like dandelions might also be overlooked. But we who know better can forage to our stomach's content!

Paul Wheaton recently posted that growing 90% of our own food in our backyard eliminates 10 tons from our carbon footprint each year. If we can do this in a neighborhood friendly way (not getting on the HOA's pissy side) we can grow an SHTF garden before we are forced to:


 
gardener
Posts: 666
Location: Eilean a' Cheo
228
transportation dog forest garden foraging trees books food preservation woodworking wood heat rocket stoves ungarbage
  • Likes 10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In a cool short season climate -
Potatoes
Potatoes
Potatoes
Kale
Parsnip
Carrots
Turnip (Rutabaga)
Japanese Radish
peas
Broad (fava) beans

These are all things I'm confident will grow well here and feed us if necessary and assuming no polytunnel.  I also think raspberries and alpine strawberries would be worth having.  I'm working on the perennal veg at the moment, but am not sure how much actual food value I could get from them as yet.  Plenty to forage though here - enough pignuts in the tree field for a few years, ditto silverweed and marsh woundwort. As Skandi says nettles and other greens are possible to forage.
 
gardener
Posts: 2010
Location: Cascades of Oregon
240
  • Likes 10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
!When you say garden are you counting all the things that grow on my property that I don't really attend to but produce an edible crop? Am I staying at my current location?
Things I have planted and are really pretty trouble free. These plants were planted by me at some point but they come back every year.
Asparagus
Jerusalem artichokes
Red orach
Strawberry spinach
Walking onions
Garlic
Horseradish
Raspberries
Blueberries
Hazel nuts
Rhubarb
Crabapples
Chokecherries
Indian plums
Sunflowers
Herbs
Things I'd plant in a seasonal SHTF garden:
Potatoes
Winter squash
Fava Beans
Carrots
Beets
Cabbage
Peas
Turnips
Herbs

Things in my seasonal garden can be root cellared or dried. Other than the potatoes all produce an edible green or flower.

What about critters?
rabbits?
chickens?
quail?
goats?
bees?




 
pollinator
Posts: 636
Location: Chicago
186
dog forest garden fish foraging urban cooking food preservation bike
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Depends on what you are surviving, and the time frame.  For long-term resilience and overall caloric value,  in my climate fruits and nuts are the best use of space.  I probably scrape more calories of mulberries off the bottom of my shoes than I harvest from annual spring veggies.  But of course you'll have zero yield the first year.

High-calorie annual crops that store well here are potatoes, corn and squash.  In my yard particular squash is the most productive of these, and you get the flesh and the seeds.  Cucumbers and tomatoes produce a lot of "bags of water" as Skandi says. Could be useful if potable water was in short supply.  Otherwise these are low-calorie luxuries.

If you're looking at a supply chain disruption like in various economic crisis, then growing the things you like to eat fresh, like the 20th century "victory gardens" in the U.S. makes sense.

If you're looking a true subsistence crops, I think in an urban setting it's literally not possible to sustain a family on what you grow yourself on your "own" land. Cooperation, use of the commons for food production, and probably a larger societal reorganization would be needed.
 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 2010
Location: Cascades of Oregon
240
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I took a walk about and looked at plants I forgot:
Gooseberries
Currants
Hops
Siberian snowpea (edible but I don't eat them)
Aronia berries
Day lillies
Miners lettuce
Pigweed
Lingon berries
Trees I've planted and waiting for first fruit:
Pears
Chinese plums
Prairie Apricots
Honey Crisp Apples
Not necessarily in a garden but on my property.









 
gardener
Posts: 1018
Location: North Carolina zone 7
288
hugelkultur forest garden fungi foraging ungarbage
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What about tiger nuts? I bought a small pack years ago and now I have plenty. If you ever had a horchata you were drinking tiger nut milk. It is invasive but I planned for that. There’s no way it’s leaving my yard. When mowed it looks like regular grass. I’m not going to go around digging up my lawn unless SHTF but if I’m in need it’s always there.
I also grow Chinese yams but keeping them from escaping is more difficult. Every couple days I have to check the vines and dispose of any bulbuls growing. The bulbuls look like little potatoes and are edible when cooked. Unless you are vigilant I do not recommend this one.
Someone already mentioned sun chokes. Love those too and they’re very easy to grow.
A little known herb for health is Jiaogulan. It has many of the same compounds as ginseng plus, it’s a natural sweetener. The good thing is it looks just like Virginia creeper only smaller. My family knows which is which but no one else does.
Someone may have mentioned these. If not I want to nominate stinging nettle and lambs quarters. Nettles are perennial and lambs quarters are a reliable self seeder.
 
Stacie Kim
gardener
Posts: 497
Location: Middle Georgia, Zone 8B
261
homeschooling home care chicken food preservation cooking fiber arts
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Robert Ray wrote:When you say garden are you counting all the things that grow on my property that I don't really attend to but produce an edible crop? Am I staying at my current location?



I think the main point of the article was to point out to regular urbanite "non-gardeners" that they need to really consider what could be grown in their backyards while they still have time to learn and make mistakes. In a true emergency, stressors will be high anyway without having to learn gardening literally from the ground up (pun intended) or their family starves. The crops listed were extremely basic, in my opinion. The article didn't take into account growing zones and if the recommended crops would even survive in extreme climates.

Ideally, more folks would be learning as much as they can right now, with a permaculture mindset. Putting food sources in place like most of us here have done successfully will be one less stress factor should something bad occur.

One thing I wish the article's author would have pointed out is that just because you buy the recommended seeds for an emergency seed bank doesn't mean those seeds will be viable when you need them. Hopefully folks don't have a false peace thinking those seeds will save them someday, only to find out those precious seeds will be nothing because of viability issues. Actually, the article doesn't mention buying seeds at all. Hopefully their target audience is already gardening a fair bit.

But one thing I liked about the article was that it got me thinking, "For my own family, if I could only eat what came from my half acre, what would be the most necessary for calories, nutrients, preservation, stealth, and ease of growing in an emergency situation?" I'd reprioritize a lot of what I grow.
 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 2010
Location: Cascades of Oregon
240
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I try to plant with an idea that what I am planting has to be useful at some point. A nitrogen fixer, a fruit producer, a barrier hedge plus a berry producer, medicinal. So many plants that require little attention and give calories. These plants can be put in place prior to SHTF. If S does HTF that is not the time to say here is my 12 seed choices better get busy. Plants that fit into a landscape and are calorie producers might be overlooked by opportunists that focus on raised beds and traditional gardens. So many SHTF scenarios, developing a community,network, circle of friends is probably as important as what to plant in hard times.
 
pollinator
Posts: 787
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
206
forest garden tiny house books
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The best crops for a survival garden will be different for everyone.  I'm sure we all have our lists 😁

I think it's fun to think of how I would make that list work for me, though. Most of those crops aren't reliable here, so I'd substitute different ones that fill the same niche.

Stacie Kim wrote:

Beans - I'd substitute soup peas cause they grow better here.
Basil - I'd grow oregano instead because it's less finicky and can be harvested until early winter. Plus, I love oregano tea.
Cabbage - kale grows much better for me
Carrots - these don't grow well for me either, so i'd grow winter squash. It's an orange storage vegetable, so I think it fits the niche.
Potatoes - yes!
Corn - I'd grow barley instead. Rye is more reliable, but I like barley more.
Amaranth - substitute millet
Berries - I think grapes would work better for me
Chamomile - I'd probably substitute chives
Cucumbers - I'm not entirely sure what purpose cucumbers would serve. Maybe just variety? Do people consider pickles a staple? I think I'd grow zucchini instead. You can still make pickles, plus you can dehydrate chips for snacking or sheds for soup.
Strawberries - this one might be a stretch, but I'd grow tomatoes instead. I eat a loooot of tomatoes, plus you can dehydrate or can them for soup, etc.
Arugula - well, I've already got pea shoots, kale, and pumpkin and grape leaves for greens. If this is just for a spicy green leaf, I'd grow radishes. Then I get spicy leaves and the seed pods for another vegetable.

 
Posts: 80
Location: Clackamas County, OR (zone 7)
45
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yeah, I will also agree that survival crops are not going to be one-size-fits-all. Also, it takes a lot of land to grow a years worth of calories - I figure I would need a quarter acre per person of decent, irrigated land to grow a million calories. I have often thought about what I would grow in a real dire emergency, and I think beans are at the top of my list. Beans do not yield tremendously well, and they do need to be watered in my climate, but, one huge advantage that I have found is that NOTHING wants to eat raw dry beans! I planted hundreds of row-feet of buckwheat this spring. I was thinking mostly of just letting it be a cover crop, but I wanted to go grab a few pounds of the grain to keep for seed. Nope. Ground squirrels got into the garden and they cleared out thousands of square feet of grain in a few days. In an emergency, I could have slept out there with my air rifle and eaten plenty of squirrel, but it is very nice to plant a crop that nothing is going to mess with. Squash is also easy like that. You plant it, hoe it a couple times, give it water once a week, and then come back and harvest.

Really though, anyone who is serious about surviving off what they grow is going to need to dial in simple food storage. Unless you live in a tropical paradise, you will need to grow enough crops to get through the unproductive time of year. The early days of the pandemic was really eye-opening for me. We started shopping once a month to cut down on trips to the store - and it was insane how much food I would buy just for a family of 3. You really would need to have enough food on hand to get you by to your next planting window - which might mean almost a full year. If TSHTF in September, I would have to coast through until May before I could get crops planted, much less harvested. That basically means that if you are not growing and storing nearly all your own food already, you very likely will starve before you could get your production up to 100%. Thinking that you can simply keep a bucket of seeds that you will just trundle out when the disaster strikes is a recipe for starvation.

I think in a true crisis, fruit and nut trees would be invaluable. Persimmons ripen in November here, and one tree yields a crazy quantity of fruit. I rarely pick even half of it, and most of that I sell. Having a few mature fruit trees that ripen at different times would really help stretch the other food you grew. You would really have to be on top of pest control, though. A few squirrels can strip a mature walnut tree in a weekend, and they will not wait for the nuts to even fully ripen.

Edit: I guess jokes are off limits, so maybe just grow the fava beans. They really are a good crop, and since they overwinter so well, they can be done without irrigation and potentially another crop can be planted behind them in the summer.
 
Posts: 74
Location: Melbourne's SE Australia
5
foraging urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What do you do with your crab apples???

 
Posts: 26
5
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John Jeavons covered this topic well decades ago in his book "How to grow more vegetables etc. etc."
Speaking to annuals of course, which seems to be the main thread here. In the long run, yes, get perennials going!

A key point he makes that is hinted at in this thread but is not called out explicitly:

We need both calories and nutrition. A subsistence garden needs to work both parts of that equation.

So beans are a poor choice because they take a LOT of space for any significant amount of calories, whereas potatoes (or similar for other climates, e.g. yam/sweet potato, turnips, cassava, taro/kalo) provide lots of calories in a small space.

So calories needed from veggie crops have to be covered. You can have great nutrition but still starve if not enough calories.

Then look at nutrition per crop - cassava doesn't have a lot of nutrients, just calories, whereas potatoes, or taro, for two examples, are significant nutrient providers also (if you are at least subtropical and can grow taro you are blessed, you can create a large amount of calories and nutrients in quite a small space).
So some calorie crops are also nutrition crops, and some not so much.

And, just for nutrients we may, or will, need to grow some things that aren't calorie-efficient per area used, but we need them anyhow.

Once calories and essential nutrients are covered, then cultural preference and habit and so on can be catered to.

Another key point he makes is that none of this accounts for oils, which we use daily without thinking much of it, but are very challenging to produce at small scale.
And then he reminds us about spices/seasonings, which add to the complications of producing anywhere close to what we are used to eating daily.
 
pollinator
Posts: 3283
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7 AHS:4 GDD:3000 Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
391
2
forest garden solar
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
60% Bulk Calories
Grains: corn, etc.
Fava beans
Sunflowers (nuts)
Jerusalem artichoke
Hazelnut
Grapes/Raisins

30% Caloric Root
Potatoes
Burdock
Sweet Potatoes
Garlic/Onion
Turnips + Tops
Parsnips
Salsify

10% Nutrient Dense Vegetables/Herbs
Cabbage/Kale Family
Spinach/Chard Family
Lettuce/Dandelion
Chive/Leek
Mint/Thyme Family
Celery/Carrot Family
Tomatoe/Pepper Family
Squash/Watermelon Family

Meat
Eggs
Chicken/Duck/Quail
Hunting/Fishing/Foraging is also an option too
 
pollinator
Posts: 279
Location: SE Indiana
163
dog fish trees writing
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To me, when it comes to growing food, these general lists of the "best" for are generally worthless. Of course nutrition and calories are important but what over rides that is, what can CAN I grow?

Potatoes for example are worthless to me. Sure, I still grow a few every year but they won't grow here like they used to, it generally just gets too hot and dry too fast for potatoes anymore. Sweet potatoes on the other hand thrive for me and produce an abundance of easily stored food. I can also grow them as house plants for some fresh greens in the winter. I can also grow sweet potatoes from seeds, eliminating the necessity of keeping clones alive during the off season.

I love carrots and can plant them in late summer, leaving them in the ground to harvest when ever the ground isn't frozen.

I grow a LOT of common beans, Lima beans and cowpeas. Not all that difficult to harvest 50 pounds of dry beans from a small garden.

I don't grow cabbage or brussels sprouts or any of those but I do grow a landrace mix of that species. Planted in fall it begins producing an abundant harvest of delicious flower stalks and leaves in very early spring, this harvest continues for several weeks and is untouched by the worms that plague these plants if grown in warmer weather.

I don't know that I can ever produce a significant amount of corn in my small space but still, I am working on a landrace for use as animal food and eventually for cornbread, hominy and other things. Sweet corn is a treat for sure but I don't consider it food, certainly not a survival food.

Squash is another worthless crop for me, in the same category as potatoes. I used to grow lots of it but changing weather and insect conditions have made it way too iffy to depend on for actual food production.  I love my melons but again they are summer time treats, not survival food.

Herbs and the like are great, they add variety of flavors, but food? Not really.

Turnips, radishes, lettuce, onion, garlic and many other things always find a spot in my gardens. What I consider survival foods are those things that either produce an abundance of easily storable food or that can be harvested fresh from the ground all all or most of the  year.

I'm rethinking a little about how I categorized sweet corn and melons as treats instead of food. If they feed me a few days during the summer season they certainly are food and I reckon help provide the calories I need  keep working in the garden.

I guess my point is just that my garden has become much more productive since I started disregarding the lists of "best" the recommendations of "how" and all the other stuff that gets published. Instead I started observing the plants and focusing on what actually likes growing in my garden. Those that aren't happy in my garden, I part company with. I'm not gonna mess with pampering something that obviously doesn't like it here.

I've never done an analysis, I don't know the total amount of calories I produce and store, nor the nutritional content. I do know however that it is pretty much the maximum that I can do, so it will have to do.

Back to my question, what can I grow? What ever it is it might be completely different from what you can grow. Everybody just has to figure it out for themselves.


 
Posts: 2
1
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think the last thing I would do is limit my options to a dozen plants, ten of which are annuals; that just sounds like a recipe for massive fail.  I'd shoot for a much greater variety with a variety of growth habits and the widest (earliest to latest) harvest window.  In addition, I would familiarize myself with all the food options locally available to an experienced forager.  I'm going to want to eat, not wait for stuff to mature. I'd also lean heavily into perennials because in a SHTF scenario there may be no time to do all the things necessary to nurse a bunch of annual plants to maturity.  
That's one of the rationales behind permaculture, anyway.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 3565
Location: Officially Zone 7b, according to personal obsevations I live in 7a, SW Tennessee
1378
3
forest garden foraging books food preservation cooking fiber arts bee medical herbs
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just in case anyone has missed Mathew Trotter's Annual Staple Crop Calculator in the digital market, you may want to take a peek at it. I bought it. I use it. I am not up to the required production. Not even close.

Here is the big discussion thread about his product.
 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 2010
Location: Cascades of Oregon
240
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Joyce Harris wrote:What do you do with your crab apples???


I have a couple of different types, Whitney having a larger fruit. The smaller crab I use for jelly just because they are so small. I love crabapple jelly. Lingon berries are just coming online so this year lingonberry and crabapple jelly.  I mix crabapples with cranberries when I make cranberry sauce, or apple sauce with cranberries. Crabapple pie. I make a mead with added crabapples. The Whitney is golf ball size, so four or five to one replaces a regular apple. Apple pie liquer is a winner for harvest season. Dehydrated apple chips or I guess quarters when we talk crabapples I have recipe using lemons sugar and cinnamon that's killer. They make a caramel popcorn salt that's pretty good too when sprinkled on the tray of apples. Anything that I use a regular apple for. A Champion juicer makes it easy to get juice from the smaller crabs for recipes. I use the pulp to flavor recipes if I have something going.
 
Posts: 34
Location: Between Tacoma and Mt Rainier in the Pacific Northwest
13
hugelkultur chicken cooking
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I agree with the PP that said you should familiarize yourself with what you can forage from the wild. That is a huge part of my emergency preparation along with planting perennials that produce different things throughout the year so I have stuff I can eat without storing anything. I do store stuff but I think that in a true long-term emergency, I might not have the time or energy/fuel to can/freeze/dehydrate my harvest. In my climate, for annual crops I like potatoes, squash, and flour corn for easy storage and calories through the winter. Leeks and kale grow through the winter and even in the snow for me.
 
Posts: 31
Location: So Cal
8
2
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
According to Carol Deppe in "The Resiliant Gardener: Food Production and Self Reliance in Uncertain Times" the five basic crops to raise are: the three sisters (corn, beans and squash), potatoes and chickens (or ducks). These would provide the bulk of calories and protein. And you would supplement with whatever vegetables and herbs that you have room for. It's a good book!
 
pollinator
Posts: 858
Location: NW California, 1500-1800ft,
205
hugelkultur dog duck
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here’s my shortlist, though I’d go for as much diversity as possible and I haven’t thoroughly read every post above:

Tree collards
Runner beans
Potatoes and other high calorie/nutrient roots
Onions
Garlic
Fava beans
Peas
Pumpkins and winter squash
Summer squash
Peppers
Tomatoes
Everbearing strawberries (6 month yield in my climate)
Beets (not my favorite but my wife likes them)
Herbs of as many kinds as possible
Diverse Tea plants
Raspberries
Blueberries
Grapes
Kiwi
Fruit, hazelnut, chestnut, acorn, and walnut trees as space allows.
Grains of diverse kinds as space allows

If we are talking about a dogs lying with cats situation, I’d imagine land will be available to plant a lot of trees and perennials by seed if one had them, for the off chance someone survives to harvest them. As it stands, I am working with 25 acres so this is all possible to fit in.
 
Posts: 2
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm not sure that anyone could survive with only a supply of crop seeds.  It sure would be nice to start with some "livestock" with my top three being:
Bees
Chickens
Rabbits

My top 12 garden crops would be:
Beets
Carrots
Sweet potatoes
Asparagus
Winter squash
Corn
Beans
Zucchini
Buckwheat
Tomatoes
Lettuce
Onions

Having gotten those in the ground, I would make every effort to look to the future and would try to establish the following 12:
Hazelnuts
Black currants
Mulberries
Apples
Plums
Wild rice
Mushroom logs
Cornelian cherries
Persimmon
Asian pears
Pawpaw
(Saskatchewan) Bush cherries

A fairly expensive proposition, but after 5 successful years of tending the land, the land could feed a family.  Ironically, I'd more likely never get there/starve to death due to the venison eating/destroying most of my crops...
 
gardener
Posts: 470
Location: In view of the Chiricahua Mountains, AZ
270
dog duck forest garden fish fungi chicken cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Back in Oregon, very wet coastal mountain range, Zone 8 climate my list was the following.  Though deer are a real pain, the most challenging animal to our garden there were voles. Those little creatures can eat a surprising amount.

Portuguese Kale - could survive all winter there, and tastes a bit more like cabbage than kale which is nice.
Potatoes - especially fingerlings. They regrew almost forever.  I even tired of them and ate more oca in the end.
Tomatoes
Apples - small, but sweet crab apples were the most reliable.
Garlic Both hard and softnecks for year round garlic eatin'.
Potato onions The fantastic, productive, most storable onion. If you aren't familiar, click the link.
Green onions - useful and productive year round. I agree about the walking onions.
Oca - stores well and incredibly tasty, regrew powerfully. They really do taste like potatoes with sour cream on them.
Parsnips - reseeded easily, store well in ground.
Delicata squash - one of the more highly reliable winter squash  in the cool, short and wet climate
Runner beans
Peas.  Or if my husband could tolerate them, Fava beans.  Favas were more productive, but then you do have to be able to eat them.


Like Skandi above, I don't find it very necessary to grow greens.  Many wild things grew on their own very reliably, so I'm not counting them in the 12.  These are the ones we could collect most years:
Pigweed amaranth
Nettles

Chickweed
Purslane
Blackberries
Elderberries
Huckleberries


Now, we live in the semi-arid grasslands of New Mexico. It is very hot and drying, but oddly enough, still USDA zone 8a! The animals here get so hungry and thirsty that gardens require strong protection. Rabbits, ground squirrels, peccary (javelina, sort of like a wild pig, but not), and some deer - all of these can wipe out a garden here.  We are still learning the climate, soils and ecosystem, but this would be our list after two summers.

Sweet potatoes - some gardeners here grow huge patches. The greens are edible, too.
Cowpeas - very productive. Greens are also edible. We are growing Bisbee Red this year, and that plant is so vigorous it looks a bit like kudzu.
Sunflowers of all types, including sunchokes, which hold in the ground pretty well.  (Finally!  To live in a place where sunflowers can mature and dry! And the immature heads supposedly taste like artichoke, per Baker Creek Heirlooms seeds. We haven't been able to try that yet...)
Potato onions
Green onions They seem to be perpetual here, as they were in Oregon.  What a versatile plant! Walking onions also work well.
Garlic Softneck... hardneck is having a hard time, though it's managing to squeeze by.
Corn
Tomatoes Cherry types seem most productive here.
Squash Butternut has grown well for us.  I've heard others grow mixta types or others for seed, too.
Radishes - I never would have guessed this, but I've grown more and much better radishes here than in western Oregon.
Peppers - This is the land of peppers.
Dry beans - I'd choose a multipurpose one good for green beans as well.  These are very productive for the space they use if you get a multipurpose pole bean.

And if I could throw one more in, I'd echo Scott Stiller about Tigernut/Chufa.  It's been hard to keep the kangaroo rats out of them here, but if I can figure out how, the plant grows quite well in this heat. It survived some strong rabbit and kangaroo rat pressure this last year, but would need protection to produce a crop here. But, so does almost everything here.


Wild things that are often prolific here and the animals don't tend to be able to eat all of:

Prickly pear, one of the most awesome wild foods ever.  The fruit are wonderful, the pads are good too.
Mesquite pods - if you can figure out how to process them...
Palo verde pods
Mexican elderberry
Pigweed amaranth, still!  That is a remarkably underappreciated plant.
Purslane
London rocket (arugula)
And wild bergamot (bee balm) -  Monarda fistulosa, also called Oregano de la Sierra Madre.  It tastes a bit like oregano mixed with cilantro, and makes a fantastic salsa ingredient. It is my new favorite spice herb.

So far, our top 12 crops in the desert/arid grassland fit my and my husband's palate better than the plants that were productive for us in Oregon. (He got soooo tired of parsnips...) I guess that means we are in the right place.  :-)
 
Ben Zumeta
pollinator
Posts: 858
Location: NW California, 1500-1800ft,
205
hugelkultur dog duck
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Robert, this is why I’d add a livestock (and crop) guardian dog, with a fence to keep them in and they keep the deer out. That and eat the deer/rabbits etc until you can get substantial food from vegetation. Animals (including humans) are in many ways ecosystems energy storage and nutrient transport mechanisms.
 
Posts: 22
Location: 5353 West Lake Road, Burt, NY, US , 14028
2
trees
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You want calorie-dense vegetables like winter squash, sweet potatoes, and potatoes to make up the majority of your survival garden. Then add tasty and nutritious plants like amaranth and garlic to balance out your calorie crops. Many calorie-dense crops, such as winter squash and potatoes, require an entire season to develop, so choose for quick-to-harvest vegetables like green beans.
For most individuals, the best survival crops are:
1. Winter squash is a calorie-dense vegetable that is easy to cultivate and preserve.
2. Sweet potatoes are nutrient-dense, and the leaves can be eaten.
3. Potatoes were the starchy superfood that propelled European conquest.
4. Field corn is a calorie-dense food that may also be distilled.
5. Amaranth – a weed that produces edible seeds and greens.
6. Beans – green beans during the growing season, and dried beans for storage
7. Cabbage is a healthy cool-weather crop that can be made into sauerkraut.
8. Turnips are a healthy cool-weather crop with tasty roots and leaves.
9. Garlic is an easy-to-grow vegetable that is high in nutrients and flavour.
10. Fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, and other food crops that produce year after year are known as perennials.
 
pollinator
Posts: 710
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
263
dog
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I offer no planting ideas, but a different view on deciding WHAT you grow.

IF the worst happened, my bet is governments and NGO's would be passing out dried staples such as beans and rice. As much as I get the idea of autonomy, I do question how truly realistic it is for most of us to attain SHTF self sufficiency - and not sure acres of beans is the answer.

It might be worthwhile to focus more on crops that are not easily available locally/must be imported. Perhaps the SHTF ELSEWHERE (weather, fire, war...) where your favorites are more commonly grown and items become impossible to obtain locally.

Another thing to factor in the SHTF plan is storage - worst case scenario, there is no municipal electricity or water (again, reality is most of us are still, at least somewhat, dependent). Dried stuff is pretty useless if it must be rehydrated and the tap is dry. Frozen stuff in an on grid freezer won't last long. To that end, canning (yes, it will need sugar/salt) would likely be your best bet, so perhaps those supplies should be purchased and stockpiled along with rethinking the garden.

Jams, jellies, chutneys (sweet and savory), along with tomatoes and/or sauces, preserved in jars are, to my mind, very important, and should possibly be reconsidered.  IF the SHTF these are items that would disappear commercially, very swiftly. In my mind, they become bases and flavors for cooking in absence of fresh herbs and/or spices.

I get the idea of nutritional density is first and foremost in a SHTF plan. I fully acknowledge these "treats" may not meet the "necessity" threshold; but WoW are they versatile, relatively bomb proof, and can take a base like rice, soup or pasta and give it a multitude of "versions".  Perhaps not necessary for physical survival; but key to ensure the WILL to survive remains strong.  

Along the same idea is to focus on items that are considered "dirty" when grown commercially, or whose flavor pales (strawberries/tomatoes) drastically when compared to home grown. I suggest we don't forget quality/enjoyment when focused on storage longevity and nutritional density.

Don't forget the family's taste buds; perhaps factor in family favorites you would HATE to be without. Personally, I see no point spending countless hours growing, harvesting, preserving and storing something you get nothing but complaints about - regardless how hardy or nutrient dense it is.

I guess what I am saying is don't let practicality outweigh logic and enjoyment - if the SHTF things will already be pretty darn bleak...quality, tasty, varied food sources could well be as important as nutritional density.
 
Posts: 2
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Shtf crops

I live on 10 actress

Anything I can grow
As much diversity as possible as I have drought years and flooding seasons.

Indigenous plants- for me macadamias, bunya nuts, lemon myrtle...

Local edible weeds- blackberries, chickweed, carrot weed....

Unrecognisable crops so the roaming hoards can’t eat them- Peruvian parsnips, sun chokes, water chestnuts, edible bamboo, New Guinea bean, Timor lettuce, livingstone potatoes...

All/any herbs as most are hardy and they have dense flavours which may have health value and also provide pleasure

Vines- harder to harvest but up there when you want them

Water plants in my dam including kang Kong, taro,

Trees which provide food

Self sowing crops...
 
Posts: 1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Asparagus
Beets
Parsnips
Rhubarb
Kale
Chilis
 
Posts: 1
Location: Northern Indiana zone 5b
1
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I love SHTF gardening ideas.  

I found this very helpful article written by a gardener K Fields on a survivalist blog. Around 2017-18 it disappeared from the web site. I recovered it using the way back machine.
He broke down the amount of calories you need. The garden space for each of the 10 crops, plus holding back for the next year planting.


I think your found plan would mesh well with this calorie heavy plan.   http://web.archive.org/web/20170621213909/http:/www.thesurvivalistblog.net/survival-garden-tips-and-advice-to-get-you-started/

examples  

Dry Beans:
Many see beans as the staple survival food, and rightly so. Baked, boiled, slow-cooked or refried, beans will provide the protein you’ll need to get through your day. And though it’s not a “complete” protein, most folks will tell you if you throw some grain in your soup, wrap some in a taco shell, or spoon them over cornbread, you’ll have everything you’ll need. The reality though, is that you don’t really have to be careful about combining foods to create the “correct” mix every time – your body is very good at storing nutrients over a day and combining them all by itself as it feels is necessary. A pound of dry beans gives about 1,500 calories, so a 70-pound harvest – about 2 (5 gallon) buckets worth – will give you 105,000 calories and could be grown within a 2,000 square foot plot in most areas even if you have to mix vetch (favas) and beans like I do due to the lack of hot summers here. Also, if your climate allows, be sure to plant some soybeans for homemade soymilk to get additional nutrients.

Honey:   Honey is kind of a perfect food – it seems to appear magically, has numerous uses, and lasts virtually forever in storage. My Langstroth bee hives average 60 pounds of honey a year each and in many areas of the country, they would produce closer to 100. One pound of honey provides about 1,350 calories, so each hive gives me 81,000 calories. Let’s put one hive into our survival garden.

The 10 crops are

1200lbs potatoes

450lbs winter squash

70lbs dried beans

35lbs dried peas

150lbs carrots

110lbs corn

150lbs wheat

800 black oil sunflower plants = 6 gallons of oil

1 bee hive

6 smallish apple trees = 240lbs apples (I would grow sweet potatoes and/or something else until the apple trees matured 2-5 years)

I would also want grow leaf lettuce, kale, tomatoes, herbs, mustard, bee balm, garlic,  purslane for omega 3, wax beans for leather britches, and climbing roses for petals and hips. Yellow onions and red cabbage would be great but I need to ferret out how to get them too seed in my zone 5 climate.  
gift
 
Willie Smits: Village Based Permaculture Approaches in Indonesia (video)
will be released to subscribers in: soon!
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic