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Cultivating Resilience: The Survivalist’s Guide to Growing Crops

Corn as one of the best survival crops to grow in your garden.

Finding the Best Survival Crops To Grow is something you should consider when prepping for self-sufficiency.

Whether you’re a seasoned prepper or just beginning to think about survival gardening, understanding which crops will offer the most bang for your buck — nutrition, ease of growth, and storage longevity — is key.

Each selection has its advantages, from hardy potatoes that promise calories to protein-packed beans and versatile corn.

But how do you start?

And more importantly, how can you ensure your garden thrives, even in less-than-ideal conditions?

I will give you actionable tips and strategies (that I wished I had known years ago) designed to help you cultivate a working garden that can weather whatever comes its way.

So, if you’re ready to turn your green thumb into a food producer, let’s get prepping!

The Critical Role of Survival Crops in Prepper Gardening

Prepper gardening isn’t just about planting seeds and hoping for the best.

It’s about strategically selecting crops that promise survival and a semblance of comfort and nutrition in times of uncertainty.

Such as when the supermarket shelves are empty due to a run on food right before that threatening Mother Nature crisis hits your neighborhood.

Why lean towards survival crops?

Imagine a time when your access to the grocery store becomes a distant memory. In such times, your garden isn’t just a garden—it’s your dinner.

Why Survival Crops? Nutritional Bang, Growing Simplicity, and Storing Stamina

Survival crops are versatile, reliable, and indispensable, like the bug-out bag of the gardening world.

They pack a nutritional punch to keep you going, are easy to grow even for the brown-thumbed among us, and have the power to last through the colder months.

Ever thought about why potatoes and beans are staples in so many cultures?

Here’s a hint: it’s not just because they’re delicious. (even my brown thumb daughter can grow them!)

Eat Well When the Grid Goes Down: Top 5 Survival Crops

Potatoes: The Caloric Powerhouse

Consider the humble potato: low maintenance, high yield, and calorically dense. Potatoes can be the difference between thriving and merely surviving. They’re like the underground treasure chest of calories and nutrients.

And with those cool potato growing bags now available, you can grow pounds of potatoes with little effort and in little space!

Beans: The Protein Providers

Beans, the unassuming and boring heroes of the protein world, are not just good for your heart; they’re crucial for muscle repair and energy. Growing beans is like having a protein factory in your backyard, minus the noise.

And with simple but very effective trellis set-ups, you can easily grow a wall of legumes to block out those pesky neighbors.

Corn: The Jack of All Trades

Growing a survival food such as corn in pots

Corn is the every food of the plant world. It can be popped, ground, boiled, and even turned into fuel. Its versatility makes it invaluable in a survival garden.

Stagnating the planting of your corn over several weeks in a collection of efficient fabric pots can make this rather space-hogging plant manageable. By planting up to three plants per pot over the course of the growing season, it’s like having a ‘timed’ harvest. Even my wife said, ‘This was one of my finer moments.’

It sounds like a tight planting arrangement (it is), but it worked out well for me.

Squash: The Winter Warrior

Squash is the sleeper hit of the survival garden. It’s extremely easy to grow, providing easy-to-produce comfort food when the snow falls and fresh produce is not found. (more on preserving later).

Again, like the beans, squash can be grown on all types of trellis applications to save lots of space.

Leafy Greens: The Nutrient Densities

Leafy greens, including kale, spinach, and Swiss chard, are like the multivitamins of the garden. They grow quickly and offer a rapid turnaround of vital nutrients. And who doesn’t want a salad with dinner?

Herbs can be grown in space-saving pots outside and extremely efficient hydroponic indoor gardens.

Cultivating Success: Gardening Tips for the Avid Prepper

Soil Prep: The Foundation of Fertility

Great gardens start with great soil. Think of it as the beginning of your garden’s success. A little effort here can mean the difference between thriving plants and disappointing yields. Bags of composted cow manure are my go-to soil amendment.

Water Wise: Conservation Strategies for the Arid and or Drought Apocalypse

Water is a precious commodity, especially in survival scenarios. Techniques like drip irrigation and rainwater harvesting aren’t just smart but necessary.

Pests Be Gone: Organic Combat Techniques

Pests are the uninvited guests of the garden party. Organic methods, such as companion planting and natural predators, can help keep these party crashers at bay.

Rotating Riches: Keeping Your Soil Alive

Crop rotation is essential. It prevents nutrient depletion and disrupts pest and disease cycles, keeping your garden healthy and productive.

Seeds of Tomorrow: Saving and Storing for Sustainability

The Legacy of Heirloom Seeds

Heirloom seeds are the stories of our past, carried forward by generations of gardeners. They’re not just seeds; they’re living history, adapted to thrive without the crutch of modern chemicals.

Imagine planting a tomato seed passed down through generations, each plant a link to the past and a hope for the future.

These seeds aren’t just survivors; they’re thrivers, adapted over decades or centuries to their unique environments without needing modern chemical interventions.

Choosing heirloom seeds for your survival garden connects you to a legacy of gardening wisdom and ensures a diverse genetic pool, which is vital for long-term sustainability.

Seed Saving: A Primer

Saving seeds might seem like a step back in time (and a bit too frugal), but it’s a forward-thinking strategy in a world leaning heavily on commercial agriculture.

Let’s take the example of saving tomato seeds.

It’s a simple process: select the healthiest, most delicious tomatoes from your garden, scoop out the seeds, and let them ferment for a few days to remove the gelatinous coating.

This process prepares the seeds for storage and selects the strongest and most wanted seeds, ensuring your next crop is as robust as the last.

This act of preservation is a statement of independence (prepping mantra, again) from the commercial seed industry, securing your food source as you want it directly in your hands.

Storage Savvy: Best Practices for Seed Longevity

Proper storage is the key to seed vitality. Remember these words: cool, dark, and dry, and your seeds will wake up fresh and ready to grow when you need them most.

The key to successful seed storage is creating conditions that discourage germination.

This means keeping seeds cool, dry, and dark. I always shake my head when I walk into a big box store here in South Florida and see the seed displays outside in the nursery area where the seeds will start germinating in their own packets!

An effective method is to store seeds in sealed containers, such as glass jars with desiccant (a fancy word for silica gel) packets to absorb moisture and place them in a refrigerator or a cool, dark pantry.

This environment mimics winter conditions, keeping seeds dormant until you’re ready to wake them up with the warmth and light of spring. It’s like putting your seeds to bed for a long winter’s nap, ensuring they’re rested and ready for the next growing season.

Season Stretching: Strategies to Extend Your Gardening Calendar

Greenhouses: Nature’s Blanket

A greenhouse serves as a protective bubble for your plants, shielding them from the harshness of winter while trapping sunlight and warmth to extend the growing season.

It’s like wrapping your garden in a warm blanket, allowing you to start your seedlings early and keep hardier plants growing well into the cold months.

This can be a game-changer for survival gardening, offering a steady fresh produce supply year-round.

The beauty of a greenhouse lies in its simplicity and efficiency. It creates a microclimate that defies the seasons outside its glass walls.

And it does not have to be glass, either. When I lived up north, I tried the simple hoop house and found it quite good at extending my growing season.

Cold Frames: Low Tech, High Yield

Cold frames are an underused tool for many gardeners. Simple structures that harness the sun’s warmth to create a microclimate slightly warmer than the outside air.

They are mini-greenhouses, perfect for hardening off seedlings or growing cold-tolerant crops like spinach and kale through winter.

Using recycled materials like old windows and lumber (I did that!), cold frames can be cost-effective and environmentally friendly, a testament to the prepper mantra of resourcefulness and self-sufficiency.

The Indoor Option: Bringing the Outdoor Survival Crops In

When the outside world is inhospitable, indoor gardening can keep your survival food growing. It’s like having a mini garden on a shelf or two.

Indoor gardening offers a green sanctuary when the survival garden plot is buried under snow.

Technologies like LED grow lights and hydroponic systems have made it easier than ever to grow herbs, greens, and even some vegetables indoors (corn won’t work here).

It’s a way to keep your green thumb active while ensuring a fresh produce supply.

Harvesting Heaps: Tips and Techniques for Preserving Your Bounty

Timing is Everything: When to Harvest Your Survival Food

Harvesting at the right moment captures the peak of flavor and nutrition. It’s like hitting the pause button on good taste, ensuring you get the best from your garden.

Knowing when to harvest can feel like reading nature’s subtle cues, waiting for the moment when flavors and nutrients peak.

For instance, harvesting herbs in the morning after the dew has evaporated but before the sun is high ensures the highest concentration of essential oils, capturing the essence of their flavor and therapeutic properties.

This timing is crucial, as it can distinguish between a good and great harvest.

Preservation Tactics: Keeping Your Survival Harvest Fresh

Preservation is the art of extending the bounty. From canning to drying, these techniques are the secret to enjoying the flavors of summer when the garden is asleep.

Once harvested, the race against time begins.

Techniques like canning, drying, and freezing come into play, each with its charm. Canning tomatoes, for example, can turn the summer’s harvest into a pantry of pasta sauces, salsas, and soups, ready to warm you through the winter.

Drying herbs preserve their flavor and extend their usefulness beyond their fresh lifespan. These methods are not just about saving food; they’re about capturing moments of abundance and joy, ready to be relieved.

Harvesting Resilience: Sow the Best Seeds of Survival Today

As you stand on the eve of building your survival garden, remember that the best survival crops to grow align with your needs, space, and climate.

It’s about more than just planting seeds; it’s about cultivating a ‘prepped’ future where you’re empowered, self-sufficient, and resilient.

Your first step?

Pick one crop from our list and start researching the specifics for your area.

Imagine the satisfaction of harvesting your first crop (try the corn in buckets!), knowing you’re on your way to a more secure food supply.

This journey you’re embarking on? It’s not just about survival; it’s about thriving in any condition. So, grab that trowel, friend, and let’s turn that patch of earth into a beacon of hope.

Because when you plant with survival prepping in mind, you grow more than just food—you grow some peace of mind.

FAQs

FAQs about  
a survival  
prepping garden.

What makes a crop a “best survival crop to grow”?

Survival crops are hardy, easy to grow, and highly nutritious. They often require less maintenance and can thrive in various climates. Key characteristics include drought resistance, high yield, and versatility (eating fresh, cooking, or preserving).

How do I start a prepper garden with limited space?

  • Vertical Gardening: Utilize vertical space by installing trellises, shelves, or hanging planters.
  • Container Gardening: Use pots, containers, and even window boxes for compact plants.
  • Choose Wisely: Focus on crops that grow well in confined spaces, like herbs, lettuce, spinach, and cherry tomatoes.
  • Utilize Companion Planting: This can help maximize space and deter pests naturally.

What are the most nutrient-dense crops to grow for survival?

  • Kale: Loaded with vitamins A, C, and K.
  • Spinach: High in iron, calcium, and magnesium.
  • Beans: Provide essential protein and fiber.
  • Sweet Potatoes: A great source of vitamins A and C, plus they’re filling.
  • Quinoa: High in protein and all nine essential amino acids.

How can I conserve water in my survival garden?

  • Mulching: Keeps soil moist and reduces water evaporation.
  • Drip Irrigation: Delivers water directly to the roots, minimizing waste.
  • Rainwater Harvesting: Collect rainwater in barrels to use in your garden.
  • Choose Drought-Resistant Plants: Some plants need less water than others.

Why are heirloom seeds important for prepper gardening?

Heirloom seeds are non-GMO and open-pollinated, meaning they’ve been passed down through generations. They’re important for prepper gardening because they produce seeds that can be saved and replanted, ensuring a sustainable food source. They also tend to be more resilient and adaptable to local growing conditions.

What are the best methods for pest management in a survival garden?

  • Companion Planting: Certain plants repel specific pests naturally.
  • Physical Barriers: Netting, row covers, and fences can protect your crops.
  • Natural Predators: Encourage beneficial insects and animals that eat pests.
  • Organic Pesticides: Neem oil and diatomaceous earth are effective and safe options.

How do I implement crop rotation in a small garden?

Rotate crops in different sections of your garden each year to prevent soil depletion and reduce pest buildup. Even in small spaces, you can rotate crops by type (leafy greens, root vegetables, legumes) to maintain soil health.

What are the key steps in harvesting and storing crops for longevity?

  • Harvest at the Right Time: Not too early or too late.
  • Curing: Some crops, like onions and potatoes, must be cured to extend their shelf life.
  • Proper Storage: Cool, dark, and dry places are best. Some crops can be canned, dried, or frozen.
  • Use a Root Cellar: Store root vegetables and hardy fruits if possible.

How can I extend my growing season for year-round food production?

  • Cold Frames and Greenhouses: Protect plants from cold weather.
  • Row Covers: Provide a microclimate for your crops.
  • Choose Season-Extended Varieties: Some varieties are bred to withstand colder temperatures.

What are the best practices for seed saving and storage?

  • Dry Properly: Ensure seeds are completely dry to prevent mold.
  • Label Clearly: Note the plant type and harvest date.
  • Store in a Cool, Dry Place: Use airtight containers and consider storing in the fridge or freezer for long-term viability.
  • Test for Viability: Before planting, test a few seeds in moist paper towels to see if they sprout.
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