Best crops for a survival garden

by Apr 27, 2022Self sufficiency, Survival

More and more people are becoming aware of the global situation and are turning to growing their own survival garden.  There are several reasons why they are wanting to grow their food

  • Food shortages from the global situation causing labour shortages and trade restrictions
  • The rising cost of food
  • The farming and food production system being affected by disasters
  • Uncertain what the future will bring.
  • Wanting healthier organic foods all year round

What crops can I grow?

The type of vegetables you can grow in your survival garden will depend on –

  • Your climate zone
  • The best time of year to grow certain crops (some vegetables grow better at certain times of the year)
  • The growing conditions in your area (soil, pests, diseases, water, hours of sunlight)
  • What foods do you like to eat?
  • What foods you can easily sell or trade-in a survival situation

 Cold climates may have a short growing window due cold soil and shorter hours of sunlight.  This can be extended with hothouses, heated greenhouses and artificial lighting. 

They grow vegetables at the base in Antarctica.

 Other climate zones such as dry tropics have a hot wet season and cool dry season.  In this climate you can grow crops all year round with 2 distinctly different crop plans. 

The more traditional vegetables can be grown through the cooler months and tropical varieties in the summer months.

 Arid areas are mainly dry all year round, it is either very hot or very cold.  The vital bit is sourcing water and saving it.  Dry areas need lots of mulch and organic matter to keep the moisture around the plant roots.



What are the best crops for a survival garden?

To look after your health, you will need calories and a wide range of nutrition.  A wide range of crops is needed to ensure you get a good supply of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre and more. 

 Plant a range of crops covering the colours of the rainbow with food above and below ground.  Some plants are more beneficial as you can eat the leaves, seeds, flesh and skin so you get more nutrition in a smaller space.

 Calories come mainly from Carbohydrates, fats and oils.  Without an adequate calorie supply, you will lose weight to the point where your body will start consuming itself for energy and protein.  Fats and oils can come from seeds, nuts, oily fish and animal fat.

 Depending on your climate zone some vegetables preserve better than others, for example, winter squash store well on the shelf whereas Zucchini need canning.



Root Crops

(Mostly Calories, carbohydrates and nutrition)

Root crops should be stored in a cool dark area such as a root cellar.  Or they can be preserved for longer life. 

  • Beetroot – root and leaves are edible
  • Carrot – root and leaves are edible
  • Turnip
  • Sweet potato – tubers and young leaves can be harvested all year long in the tropics
  • Potato – tubers only, leaves, flowers and green tubers are toxic

Leafy greens

Leafy greens are more used for nutrients and flavor.  They have very few calories.  They don’t store for long fresh so need dehydrating or preserving.

  • Silverbeet, spinach, kale
  • Cabbage (cold weather)
  • Cauliflower, broccoli (cold weather, leaves, head and stalk edible)
  • Bok choi, Pak choi, Asian cabbages (quick growing in warm weather)
  • Microgreens
  • Herbs (flavour, medical, companion planting)




Legumes provide a mix of calories and nutrients.   Pods left to dry on the plant will store well, green beans and peas will need preserving.

  • Green beans
  • Peas (green or dry)
  • Dry bean varieties
  • Lentils – dry

 Fruiting vegetables

Vegetables that fruit have a mix of calories and nutrients.  Again they don’t store well while fresh except for the pumpkins and winter squash.

  • Tomatoes (fruit only, plant is toxic)
  • Capsicums, peppers
  • Chillies
  • Eggplant (fruit only, plant is toxic)
  • Pumpkin (skin, flesh and seeds)
  • Winter squash, zucchini (skin, flesh and seeds)
  • Corn (fresh or dry/ground)




 Other options

Other fruit and vegetable options can be included if the garden is long term as they can take a while to harvest or a lot of processing.


  • Onions (takes 5 – 6 months to harvest)
  • Garlic (takes 5 – 6 months to harvest)
  • Chives (onion/garlic flavour in a shorter time frame)
  • Perennials – asparagus
  • Nuts (oil, calories and nutrition)
  • Seeds (oil, calories and nutrition)
  • Mushrooms (nutrients)


More for a long-term survival garden some varieties can take several years to fruit.  Melons are one of the quickest to harvest with about 10 weeks.

  • Berries
  • Melons
  • Citrus
  • Fruit trees


 When planning your best crops for a survival garden you need to consider-

  • Your growing conditions
  • The amount of time you need to supplement your diet with rations until the crops are ready for harvest
  • What foods do you like to eat?
  • Grow more than you need to cover crop failures
  • Grow foods you can easily sell or trade with others
  • Preserved foods can form part of your emergency kit.
  • Have a means of storing or preserving the excess to see you through the months when you can’t grow food.
  • Changing what you grow depending on the time of year and climate.

 Further reading

Survival Garden How To: Tips For Designing A Survival Garden

 Companion Planting Guide for Vegetables

 Victory garden




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