• 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
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Leigh Tate
  • Nicole Alderman
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • jordan barton
  • r ranson
master gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
  • John F Dean
  • Nancy Reading
gardeners:
  • Mike Barkley
  • thomas rubino
  • Beau Davidson

Best Crops for a Survival Garden?

 
master gardener
Posts: 6868
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
3087
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Cathy James wrote:

Finally, you need to focus on calories first, nutrients and fiber second, and herbs and flavorings last. It's great to have something to spice up your meals, but not at the expense of filling your belly.

The thing I see missing in this list that is important for your belly to feel full, is some sort of oil crop. Tyler mentions squash, whose seeds can fill that need even if you have to sit there pealing them. Ellandra mentions both sunflower and sesame seeds. In your climate, flax seeds might be an option.

Fats and oils have been demonized in the last 40 years, but that's mainly because we eat poorly chosen ones that are over processed. It's the difference between eating a whole organic apple vs cheep apple juice. Reading I've done recently suggests we need to think differently about the fat in our diet and think of home-grown sources of it.
 
Posts: 59
Location: Colorado Springs, Zone 6a, 1/8th acre city lot.
15
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Fun thread! I'll assume we're doing this on a city lot so I don't have any chance to grow all we eat. My strategy, then, would be to produce lots of nutrients and then go for calories as much as I have space. Grains, beans, and other bulk calories are easy to store and probably at least low quality calories will be available. I want to be in a position to supplement them into something nutritious.

Beans - I want to try them but at the moment I don't know them well enough to rely on them.
Basil - A nice spice but it's an annual and I don't think I have seed on hand for it. The oregano and mint will have to suffice.
Cabbage. No seed on hand and I think they take a lot of space. They're out
Carrots - Definitely! Good nutrients, some calories, and they did well this year.
Potatoes - I don't have the space to plant a lot but I'd definitely plant all I could. They were pretty maintenance-free this year.
Corn - Hmm. High fertility and water requirements? Not a chance.
Amaranth - We have Amaranthus retroflexus volunteer here but I wouldn't plant it per se. The greens aren't that great and collecting seeds is really labor intensive for what you get.
Berries - Many and diverse kinds. They're already planted because in normal times I go for extra-yummy foods that are so expensive I'd never buy them otherwise. Raspberries are the backbone as the most reliable producer. Strawberries because my wife likes them and a smattering of currants, gojis, and serviceberries. Grapes are on the wish list.
Chamomile - I've got feverfew which I think is similar but I'm not sure what to do with it.
Cucumbers - We like them but they'd be lower priority.
Strawberries - I don't have a good feel for how well these produce yet, but yes.
Arugula - probably not. I'd probably go for foraging most of my greens. Lambs quarters, orache, purslane, and amaranth. They grew this year whereas the spinach I planted was eaten by bugs. `

Winter squash - Stella blue because we like it. It seemed to do well this year though it needed an earlier start. They store well. These and the potatoes would be the only bulk calories we grow.
Walking onions and maybe bulb onions. The bulb onions took some work to start inside and didn't get super big but they didn't really take much space and no maintenance. The walking onions, however, would definitely be in. They were zero maintenance. Both of these would be good at keeping us healthy and getting some flavor in our lives.

Beets - I like them so I'd probably plant some.
Green beans. We like them.
Sweet potato - I'm trying them and they seem to be doing all right and they didn't freeze early with the squash so maybe they're more hardy here than I thought. As nutritious as they are I'd like to be able to grow them.

Apples and peaches. Maybe cherries.
Hazelnuts. An experiment at the moment. If they produce they'll be good calories including fat. They'd also fit as a bait specie to lure in squirrels for the pot...

Spices & medicinals. Obviously there's a lot of overlap here.
Oregano
Mint
Yarrow
- best first aid plant.
boneset - Great immune system tonic as well as the first aid value. I might lose it without watering it, though.
jewelweed - again, might die without watering.
plantain

Obviously, chickens, rabbits, or bees would be nice but I assume they'll require a much higher learning curve.

I guess I think I'd continue what I'm growing now but plant a lot more of the calorie producers. Oh, diversity is really good so maybe some things will get past the bugs.

DK


 
gardener
Posts: 949
Location: Japan, roughly zone 9b - wet and warm climate
388
hugelkultur kids home care forest garden gear trees books cooking bike woodworking ungarbage
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Fruit planted to provide year round.

September to March - Citrus, Apples
April - May - Plums, Apricots, Peaches, Mulberries, Blackberries
Summer - Pawpaws, Blueberries, Grapes
And the most important - Persimmons in November. They dry into a high calorie preserved food.

For perennial vegetables I have or am in the process of establishing:
chayote,
garlic,
potatoes
Japanese yams
dandelions
J. knotweed (hah! It is edible though)
bamboo shoots

And herbs:
sage,
thyme,
cilantro
mitsuba,
dokudami

and would like to add:
sunchokes,
ashitaba,
asparagus

Other than that I'd still grow
cabbages,
lettuce,
kabocha,
sweet potatoes,
daikon radish

Or something like that?
 
Posts: 2
1
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Under the area of survival food I would think that adding the natives that thrive on your area would be essential.
Many of us can grow Stinging Nettle and if you look it up for it's nutrient content it's loaded!

I also love the taste.
 
pollinator
Posts: 3315
Location: Bendigo , Australia
276
dog gear plumbing earthworks bee building homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
OK term What does this mean, "SHTF" crop list it was used  at the start of the comments

Ok found it
SHTF. That is, when shit hits the fan.
Unfortunate choice of words in my opinion.
 
Posts: 21
Location: Iowa USA
3
forest garden food preservation homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is a very thought provoking article along with what everyone  has shared.
The area I am in for Midwest Iowa in US some of the growing season for some things is done.
I'm drying seeds and getting ready to do a few cover crops. I just haven't decided which for my area. but need to decide soon.
I'm also planning for spring planting, starting/growing some things inside. In addition,  I'm evaluating what
I'd like to do differently my next plantings as far as the landscape of things & what I will plant.
This year I concentrated on raspberries, sunflowers, loofahs, green peppers, lettuce, rhubarb, green beans, cucumbers, different varieties of squash, pumpkins and tomatoes. Some tomatoes came back this year as they have the last few years.
I do more of a forest garden and grow less conspicuously as possible.
I had some issues with squash borers in some areas of my huge backyard. Although I still had a great harvest in other areas the borers hadn't made it to.
After cleaning up all the vines, I raked the soil 1/4 inch to disturb any over wintering of the these buggers.  
For next year I'll be planting much of the same but adding some squash gourds without hollow stems such as the Tromboncino & Rampicante in case any squash borers are around yet since they don't like solid stems, adding apple trees I've started indoors, tobacco plants for bartering, sweet corn, field corn, beets, cabbage,  watermelon, cantelope, wheat, barley, buckwheat, Amaranth, potatoes, sweet potatoes and harvesting the mulberries i didn't have time to do much with this year. I may add a few more things and herbs just haven't decided which yet.
I dehydrated quite a bit and froze a ton that I didn't eat. I'll more than likely spend time canning some of what's in the freezers doing the winter months so if shtf I won't be scrambling to do so.
I am considering a few chickens for eggs and do water storage with them, pemmican and drying meat.
It's only me and the dogs but if things fall apart and the kids/grandkids need help I'll hopefully be able to help them too.
Does anyone store wheat berries?


Stacie Kim wrote: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

 
Posts: 37
Location: Madras OR 6A on the dry side of Cascadia, 2300 ft
4
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In defense of strawberries

I haven't thought through the entire list, but it would definitely include everbearing strawberries.  I get big yields end of June and again in August, with at least a small handful 2x a week in between.  In October I put the strawberries under row cover and continue until November, occasionally December, when we get our our first really hard frost.  I live in zone 5-6.  Vertical systems keep the sq foot print to a minimum.
 
gardener
Posts: 624
Location: 4200 ft elevation, zone 8a desert, high of 118F, lows in teens
379
3
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

Tyler Ludens wrote:This is one of my favorite topics!
For my semi-arid warm climate ( with irrigation) I am trying to grow as staples:

Sweet potatoes
Moschata winter squash
Tatume summer squash
Garlic chives ( utterly unkillable,  needing no irrigation)
Kale
Mulberry
Chili piquin/Bird pepper
Moringa

The plants which survived the Big Texas Freeze and utter neglect best were Moringa (froze to the ground but grew back), Garlic Chives, and Chili Piquin.  



Wow, Tyler, moringa outside in zone 8.  I didn't realize that might work.  How established was your Moringa before the big freeze?  I'm trying to figure out if I want to risk planting any of mine out.  I have the short bush ones from Baker Creek heirloom seeds.  But it gets tiresome keeping things in pots through the winter...
 
Posts: 7
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Kim Goodwin wrote:

Tyler Ludens wrote:This is one of my favorite topics!
For my semi-arid warm climate ( with irrigation) I am trying to grow as staples:

Sweet potatoes
Moschata winter squash
Tatume summer squash
Garlic chives ( utterly unkillable,  needing no irrigation)
Kale
Mulberry
Chili piquin/Bird pepper
Moringa

The plants which survived the Big Texas Freeze and utter neglect best were Moringa (froze to the ground but grew back), Garlic Chives, and Chili Piquin.  



Wow, Tyler, moringa outside in zone 8.  I didn't realize that might work.  How established was your Moringa before the big freeze?  I'm trying to figure out if I want to risk planting any of mine out.  I have the short bush ones from Baker Creek heirloom seeds.  But it gets tiresome keeping things in pots through the winter...



Kim,

Moringa will grow in our zone. The leaves will die back in winter but will regrow in the spring. This happens every year at my dads Borrego desert farm in California.

Miranda
 
master pollinator
Posts: 640
Location: Between Tacoma and Mt Rainier in the Pacific Northwest
251
homeschooling hugelkultur kids forest garden foraging chicken cooking bee homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Mk Neal wrote:  I am not sure what is meant by "survival garden." As in, what disaster are we surviving that leaves the garden intact?



Personally, in my location, the mostly likely (and inevitable) disaster that would leave me reliant on a garden and food storage is a major earthquake.  The state government acknowledges that should the main interstate hwys be damaged, it would be very difficult to bring in supplies and so people should be prepared with two weeks of food and water.  Also someday the large volcano in my backyard will erupt and looking at historic lahar flows means that our home will likely be safe but cut off from major hwys. Though if it happens in my lifetime, there's a whole bunch of other things I'll have to worry about... but I'd probably survive to worry about them.  

Minor emergencies, like quarantining during disease or losing employment, aren't disasters, but having majority of your food supply of in your yard sure takes away some stress in those situations.

Mk Neal wrote: This year I made a point of documenting all the food I harvested from my backyard to get a rough idea of what gave the greatest yields.  I only measured the amount I harvested, which is less than the total output b/c I have a dayjob and just can't get to everything (looking at you, carpet of fallen mulberries...) I also quickly realized that a bowlful of lettuce or a handful of herbs or snap peas did not have enough calories to be worth documenting for this project, so these items are left out...
...Total calories documented past year: 24,397
Top 5 crops for calorie yield: Redcurrants (5542 Kcals), Grapes (4099 Kcals), sour cherries (2751 Kcal), acorn squash (2670 Kcals), black raspberry (2136 Kcals)
Top 5 crops for volume: Tomato (10.3 kg), redcurrants (9.9 kg), acorn squash (9.2 kg), grapes (6.1 kg), sour cherries (5.5 kg)



Your record keeping is awesome! I'd love to do something like that in future. Do you just weigh everything daily as you bring it in and have a chart or something?

At this point I'd have a hard time measuring my fruits since my kids and I just eat them straight from the garden May through September. Only wild blackberries make it into the house and into the freezer because there are more of those in our neighborhood than we can eat or pick.
 
pollinator
Posts: 386
Location: New Hampshire
172
hugelkultur forest garden chicken food preservation bee
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Being in a cold wet climate has it's challenges in growing stuff but some things are do very well here.  

butternut squash  These hold up the best against the pests and mildew issues.
potatoes  I can't plant them too early or the bugs destroy them.  
sweet potatoes  My soil is finally healthy enough to grow the shorter season varieties.  Of course many of them crack when we have a wet end of season like this year.  
carrots  Once they are germinated they do great but saving seed is hard due to lots of Queen Anne Lace in my yard and neighborhood.
celeriac  I love this plant.  It is easier to grow than celery stalks where I live and cook with it all winter.  
parsnips.  Easy to grow and save seed from.
apples  These have a lot of bug and disease pressure in my area.  We are planting more pears and peaches instead because they are less work.  


Stuff that is easy to save seed from. These are easy for new gardeners to grow and I always have plenty of seed to share.
Rattlesnake pole beans.  I plant a lot of them and harvest both green beans and dry beans from them.  
Snap peas.  Planted in spring and fall.  They can be eaten in the pod or grown out and saved as dried peas.
Red Russian Kale.  It doesn't get bitter in the summer.
Crisp Romaine Lettuce  is our favorite lettuce  
Evergreen hardy bunching onions.   Easy to grow and they are perennial if you only cut the greens.  I can harvest these from May  till mid November and they produce a ton of seeds to share.
Sunflowers   We grow various types of them for the pretty flowers. The seeds are good for us and the birds.

Stuff that thrives as long as it has some water and mulch
asparagus
everbearing strawberries
blueberries
black raspberries
pears
peaches
American hazelnuts
winecap mushrooms
Seedless Concord grapes
black currents
highbush cranberries


Stuff we can't kill
oregano
autumn olive
dandelions
chives









 
Posts: 13
Location: Northwest Montana
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Robert Ray where do you live? To have such a variety of food growing?
My list would be in garden space:
carrots
potatoes
onions
tomato
kale
cabbage
Brussels
summer and winter squash
shell beans on a trellis
horseradish
Rhubarb
blueberry

Forage...
elderberry
currents
mushrooms
rosehips
huckleberry
apples
plums
chive
wild onion


 
Posts: 6
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Depends on the location (duh!).

Here in zone 4b central NY, from most to least calories I grow potatoes, corn, squash, carrots,  parsnips, and beets. If one likes or dislikes one veg more than another this list could be shuffled accordingly. In 2015 I grew all my own food for one year (actually started planning for the experiment in 2014). I seem to have permanently turned myself off to turnips and rutabagas with that exercise as those two veggies and pork were all I had left for most of the month of June. If I were to do it again I'd definitely grow more potatoes and more corn than I did. Those two staples are easy to make into a base for other flavors to modify. Given the choice between a potato and a turnip I always seemed to choose turnip, until I ran out of taters... It was crazy to have a ton of things going in the garden in June, but almost not calories coming out of it.

For spicing life up a little bit lettuce, kale, aspargus, mustard greens, green beans, melons, raspberries.

Other good options that should be included if one has more acres - nuts, oaks (corn acorn bread is super good), fruit trees.
 
Posts: 92
Location: Seattle, WA
37
kids personal care foraging urban food preservation fiber arts medical herbs ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This list is designed for a hotter summer than I have. I'm in the wet PNW.

Beans - I am one of the few that maintain a family Heirloom variety, and it grows well here despite not being an ideal climate for dry beans, so this is a yes for me. But fava beans are by far the most productive bean in my climate, so I grow that too.

Basil - no, not very productive here. Lots of other herbs grow better. Parsley would be my direct substitute, it reseeds readily and can be used in much the same way. I'd grow perennial herbs of all kinds, but my most used are garlic, onion, oregano, thyme, and rosemary.

Cabbage - and kale and broccoli, I've let all go to seed and hybridize and now the most hardy reseed themselves and it's great.

Carrots - yes, and parsnips and beets. Roots in general have a high calorie production per area. Turnips and rutabaga are good too if you like them (my family doesn't).

Potatoes - King of calorie production in my area.

Corn - I don't get high yields , either sweet or dry. This would not be in my plans. I'd grow more beans or squash in its place.

Amaranth - not my favorite green. Give me more kale and spinach and lettuce, and I'll gather some wild greens too. Nettles are excellent and dandelion is always available.

Berries - yes, all of them!

Chamomile - why?? Not much use. If I really needed tea, I'll grow a tea bush (camellia sinensis). For similar medicinal purposes, California poppy is my favorite. Not as tasty but effective.

Cucumbers - not very productive nor many calories. I'd grow squash, both summer and winter.

Strawberries - yes!

Arugula - see amaranth.

I'd grow figs and plums, they are my most productive fruit trees. And fit in as many other fruit and nut trees as I could. For animals, even in my small urban yard I can have beehives and that can produce lots of calories. If I had the acreage so that I wouldn't have to bring in feed, chickens and a cow or goat would be good too.
 
pioneer
Posts: 434
Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
60
kids hugelkultur purity forest garden foraging trees chicken earthworks medical herbs rocket stoves homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would have parsnip, burdock, turnip, cabbage, carrots, onions, garlic, pea tree, wheat, squash, tomatoes, buckwheat, oats, sunflower, nasturtium, apples, pears, chestnuts, pines, maples, berries of all kinds, (dried berries are really good) a guard dog, sheep and a cow or goat and some chickens. Probably a pig, too.
 
Do not set lab on fire. Or this tiny ad:
Get Paid to Build a Permaculture Paradise at Wheaton Labs!
https://permies.com/wiki/178360/permaculture-projects/Paid-Build-Permaculture-Paradise-Wheaton
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic