Survival gardening: The best crops to grow for self-sufficiency
05/01/2024 // Evangelyn Rodriguez // Views

Self-sufficiency is something all preppers strive for. When SHTF, being self-sufficient will give you a great advantage because it will enable you to take care of yourself and your family long term.

Aside from stocking up on necessary supplies, you also need to train yourself and hone your skills to become self-sufficient. Gardening is an excellent survival skill to learn and cultivate if your goal is to achieve self-sustainability.

Having your own food garden has many advantages. On top of giving you food security, it also comes with health benefits. Experts say that gardening is similar to moderate to strenuous forms of exercise, making it a great everyday physical activity for adults. Gardening can also help you stay in shape by helping you burn calories and lose weight. (Related: Gardening and volunteering boosts mental health, relieving stress, anxiety and depression.)

Growing fruits and vegetables in your garden also means having an abundant supply of nutritious foods. Fresh organically grown produce contain more nutrients than highly processed, packaged or canned foods, so they can provide you with longer-lasting energy and support your body's needs more reliably.

If you're planning to start a food garden in your backyard or on your homestead, here are 10 of the most versatile crops you should consider growing: (h/t to


Non-GMO soybeans are a great versatile food crop to plant in your home garden. Soybeans are high in fiber and protein, making them an excellent alternative to meat, especially for vegans and vegetarians. Soybeans are also easy to incorporate into recipes and can even be used to make soy milk.

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A 100-gram (g) serving of soybeans can give you 18g of protein and 6g of fiber. Soybeans also contain healthy fats and a wide variety of essential micronutrients, such as vitamins B1, B9 and K1, copper, manganese, phosphorus and molybdenum.


Nutritious lentils are a great survival food because they're rich in protein and energy-giving nutrients, can last long in storage when dried and are easy to grow. A half-cup serving of cooked lentils provides 12g of protein, a nutrient your body needs to build and repair your muscles and bones and produce hormones and enzymes. Protein can also serve as an energy source. Because protein promotes satiety, eating high-protein foods can make you feel full for longer.

You can use lentils in soups or salads or as a meat substitute. You can also cook lentils in a broth or stock instead of plain water to give them flavor.


Potatoes can be cooked in many different ways and are high in carbohydrates, making them the perfect energy-giving food for survivalists. Potatoes are also easy to grow, don't require perfect soil conditions and can last long in storage when stored in a cool, dry place.

A medium-sized potato can give you 2g of dietary fiber and 3g of protein – the same amount as a 1/3-cup of milk. Potatoes are also an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6 and iron. (Related: Potatoes and sweet potatoes: Differences, nutrient profiles and healthy ways to prepare them.)


Carrots are one of the best root crops to grow in your food garden. They're overflowing with nutrients, contain plenty of beneficial phytonutrients (e.g., carotenoids) and can last four to six months in storage provided they're in a cold, moist place. (You can place them in a perforated bag and store them in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator.)

As a bonus, you can leave carrots in the ground and harvest them only when you need them. Carrots can give you protein, fiber, vitamin K1, potassium and plenty of powerful antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A.


Juicy tomatoes can be used in the kitchen in a variety of ways. For instance, in addition to using them for cooking, you can preserve tomatoes by making pasta sauce, tomato paste, pizza sauce or canned tomatoes -- ingredients that you can incorporate into various recipes. A low-maintenance crop, tomatoes only need direct sunlight and enough water to grow.

Tomatoes contain decent amounts of protein, fiber and carbohydrates but are rich in vitamins B9, C and K and potassium. It is also the major food source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant carotenoid that helps protect against chronic disease, such as heart disease and cancer.


Often mistaken for cucumber, zucchini actually belongs to a different family -- the squash family -- instead of the gourd family. Like tomatoes, zucchinis are a low-maintenance crop that only require a well-drained soil and six to eight hours of sunlight every day to grow.

Although low in carbohydrates, zucchinis are a nutrient powerhouse. A one-cup serving of cooked zucchinis provides 2g of protein, 2g of fiber, 26 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement, 10 percent of your daily potassium needs, eight percent of your daily magnesium requirement and 13 percent of your daily vitamin B9 needs.


In addition to nutritious vegetables, you can also grow spices in your garden. Garlic is one spice you'd want to have an abundant supply of when SHTF because this versatile ingredient can add both flavor and nutrition to your meals. Garlic contains a variety of essential nutrients, such as vitamins C, E and K, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and zinc.

Garlic also has plenty of survival uses: You can use it to make an all-natural insect repellent, an antibacterial salve for wounds, a natural remedy for cold sores and intestinal parasites, an herbal tea for treating cough or the common cold, and many more. (Related: Garlic is the ultimate survival food for the smart prepper.)


Scallions are another must-grow vegetable in your food garden because they're also great for enhancing the taste of your dishes. Scallions belong to the same family as garlic and are also great for making breads, pancakes, sandwiches and pungent relishes for cooked meats.

What makes scallions a great survival crop is that you can easily regrow them with minimum effort. When cutting scallions, make sure to leave some room above the roots and place these in a container with water. Set this container in a place that gets plenty of sunlight. Scallions typically take about two weeks to regrow. You can regrow scallions up to five times using the original stem.


There are many varieties of peppers. Depending on your preference, you can grow sweet-tasting bell peppers, mildly hot jalapenos or very spicy habaneros. Some peppers, like bell peppers, are great cooking ingredients and can even be eaten on their own as a snack. Cayenne peppers can be dried and ground into a powder for use as seasoning, while tabasco peppers can be used to make hot sauce. Whichever peppers you choose to grow, you can use them in a variety of ways to add flavor to your food.

Another type of pepper you can grow is black pepper. But because this warm-loving plant does not tolerate frost and will stop growing at temperatures below 18 C, it is best to grow peppercorns in containers instead of your garden. Peppercorn plants need lots of sunlight and grow very slowly; they may take a couple of years before they produce peppercorns. Be patient when growing these plants.


Versatile herbs like lavender make great additions to your pantry and medicine cabinet. Lavender can be added to salads and cocktails or used to make a soothing herbal tea. You can also use lavender to make DIY soaps, candles, bath salts, carpet fresheners and bug repellent. As a survival item, lavender essential oil is useful for treating wounds, reducing inflammation, relieving allergies and promoting relaxation.

Like most of the plants on this list, lavender needs a well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. You can dry lavender after harvesting to retain its quality and make it last for two to three years in storage.

Visit for more articles about what to grow in your survival garden.

Watch the following video to learn more about growing and saving food - what to grow and what to save.

This video is from the Kingdom Business Lifestyle channel on

More related stories:

Prepping basics: How to start your own survival garden.

What to do if your survival garden dies.

Texas Ready’s Lucinda Bailey and the Health Ranger discuss how to MAXIMIZE food garden production when it matters most.

Food freedom: Gardening options for self-sufficient preppers.

Home gardening basics: 11 Fast-growing vegetables you can harvest in 2 months or less.

Sources include: 1 2 3 1 2

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