Survival Food Series: 25 Survival Seeds You Need For Your Garden

Living off the land sounds as inviting as Christmas dinner.  But many have hardly had adequate experience being “farmers.”  In fact, many have had no experience at all when it comes to planting anything.  That being said, the day is slowly approaching where each of us may have to trade in our company identification badges for a shovel and a pair of overalls.  Educating yourself on farming topics such as mirco farming, planting for the seasons, natural insect repellents, seed collection and seed storage could help prepare for an upcoming economic crisis.  Learn about how many vegetables or fruits the plant will yield.  It is truly an experience when it comes to the first garden.  And the plants have many things to teach.

Start Practicing

The only way to be fully prepared as far as growing plants is concerned is to practice, practice, practice.  If the economy takes a turn for the worse, then the gardening knowledge and skills acquired from practicing will come into play at this time.  Initially, when beginning to plant a garden, start small and work your way up.  Have a small garden plot or do container gardening if you are short on space.  Make sure the seeds that are purchased are heirloom or non-GMO varieties.  The seeds from these varieties will continually produce.  As opposed to hybrid varieties that will only produce for one season.

With each gardening experience will come more wisdom on how to handle a larger garden.  When researching what types of fruit and vegetables will be grown, think about what your family will need for an entire year.  Keep in mind that if you are lucky enough to have any livestock, grains and grasses will be needed to be grown for them to consume.  Any size family will have to have multiple plants.  One plant per family member would be essential if you had a small hobby garden.  You must think on a larger scale.  You are planting a survival garden.  And this is exactly what it means – to survive.   Plant enough plants to have for food as well as to have left over for canning and preserving for the winters.

Survival Seeds

These seeds that were chosen were based upon their yield quantities, *ease in growing, nutritional content and for the season they are planted in.

  1. Asparagus - Although this plant variety takes a few years to get started, it will come back each year thus keeping you continuously supplied with a harvest.
  2. Barley -Can be planted in the spring and winter and has the best results when planted early in the season.  This grain has loads of health benefits and a variety of purposes.  Such as feeding livestock, grinding the grains for flour, as well as making beer. Barley is high in dietary fiber and magnese.
  3. *Beans - Beans should be planted in the early summer.  One of the easiest vegetables to grow.  Beans have different varieties such as pole beans and bush beans, kidney beans, etc.  Pole beans begin and end earlier than bush beans.  In comparison, pole beans give a high yield production.  A stake is needed for the pole beans.  Staggering your plantings will give continuous yields.    Beans are very high in fiber, calcium, Vitamins A, C and K.
  4. *Broccoli - Plant seeds in mid to late summer to be ready for the fall harvest.  One of the easiest vegetables to grow.  This plant has a tendency to give yields past it’s first harvest.  And can take light frost with no problem. Broccoli is a good source of protein, Vitamins A and K.
  5. *Carrot - Carrots prefer cooler weather and should be grown in the fall, winter and early spring.  One of the easiest vegetables to grow.  High in beta carotene and vitamin A.
  6. Cauliflower - This vegetable is a cool season vegetable.  It harvests over a short period of time and cuts out a high head yield.  High in dietary fiber, Vitamin C and K.
  7. Corn – This is a warm weather crop and should be planted after last frost.  Has a good amount of proteins, calcium and iron.  The plant will produce two ears per stalk.
  8. *Cucumber - This is a warm weather crop.  This is one of the easiest vegetables to grow.  There are large varieties and smaller varieties for pickling.  Continuous picking increases the plants production.  Cucumbers are good sources of Vitamins A, C, K and potassium.
  9. Eggplant – Eggplants are warm weather plants and should be planted after last frost.  This night shade vegetable is high in fiber, antioxidants, and a good source of vitamins B1 and B6.  This is a very versatile vegetable to cook with.
  10. Kale - This green is considered a superfood due to its high vitamin content and very easy to grow.
  11. *Lettuce – Plant two weeks before last frost as well as in the fall 6-8 weeks before the first frost date.  One of the easiest vegetables to grow and one of the earliest crops to harvest.  There are many different varieties that offer different nutritional content.  This plant grows quickly and harvest can be extended by taking a few leaves at a time.  Lettuce is packed with essential vitamins and proteins, iron and calcium.  Vitamins such as A, B6, C, and K.
  12. Melon - Plant 4 weeks after the last frost as these fruits are intolerant to cold weather.  Cantaloupes and Melon varieties need lots of space to grow.  Getting the dwarf size of these fruits can save space.  One melon plant will produce two melons.  Good source of fiber, B6 and folate.
  13. Okra -Plant 2 weeks after last frost. This vegetable has a variety of uses such as in soups, pickled or canned.  High in vitamin A, K and folate, and calcium.
  14. *Onion/Garlic - One of the easiest vegetables to grow.  Plant onion in mid to late October.  Onions can be pulled earlier and used for green onions.  A good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, folate and potassium.
  15. Peanuts – This is a hot season plant and should be planted in April until Early June.  Peanuts are a good source for healthy fats, Vitamin E, protein and antioxidants.
  16. *Peas – This is a winter loving plant who is resistant to frost.  One of the easiest vegetables to grow.  There are many varieties of the pea plant, such as shelling, snap, snow and sugar pod.  Most varieties are fast growing.  This is a good source of protein, fiber and has a good source of 8 different vitamins including vitamin A,  B6, and K.
  17. *Peppers- Grow after the last frost.  There are many varieties of peppers as well as choices on if you want them to be hot or mild.  Sweet peppers are one of the easiest vegetables to grow.  The more peppers are harvested, the more the plant will produce.  Peppers are high in Vitamin A and C.
  18. Potatoes- Plant 4-6 weeks before last frost.  1 plant yields 5-6 young potatoes.  Potatoes are high in fiber, Vitamin B6, Potassium and Vitamin C.
  19. Pumpkin- Start pumpkin seeds in the late spring.  Pumpkins require lots of room for the vines to grow.  Pumpkins are packed with vitamins such as thiamine, niacin, Vitamin B6, folate, iron, Vitamin A, C and E.
  20. *Radish – Can be started 4-6 weeks before last frost.  Many have had success growing radishes in the fall as well.  One of the easiest vegetables to grow.  They are very tolerant of weather conditions.  Radishes are high in Vitamin B6, dietary fiber, Vitamin C and iron.
  21. Spinach- Spinach grows best in cool weather.  However, there are some varieties that like warm weather.  Many call this a super food based upon it’s large array of vitamins such as Vitamin A, C, iron, thiamine, thiamine and folic acid.
  22. *Squash – There are both summer squash and winter squash varieties.  One of the easiest vegetables to grow and most are prolific producers.  Picking squash regularly encourages a higher yield.  A Good source of Vitamin A, B6, C, K, and dietary fiber.
  23. * Tomato- Plant tomatoes in the late spring and again in the late summer.  One of the easiest vegetables to grow.  Tomatoes are a good source of Vitamin A, C, K, E, Potassium, thiamine and Niacin.
  24. Turnips/Rutabagas – Seeds should be sown in late May or early summer.  Turnips are fairly disease free and easily cared for.  The greens as well as the root can be eaten.  Turnips are high in B6, Vitamin C, Iron and Calcium.
  25. Wheat- Winter wheat can be planted from late September to mid October. This is the preferred variety due to the nutritional content as well as the protection it gives the soil in the wintertime compared to spring wheat.  Spring wheat is planted in early spring. This is one of the most commonly used food crops in the world.  Wheat is high in copper, zine, iron and potassium.  Planting a 10×10 plot will yield between 10-25 loaves of bread. Moreover, wheat can be sprouted for added nutrients or trimmed for wheat grass in fresh juice.

Other seeds to take into consideration are crop cover seeds such as hairy vetch or clover.  These crop covers loosen up soil as well as gives the soil nitrogen to feed the plants for the next season.  These crop covers are also food for livestock such as cattle, sheep and rabbits.  When the crop cover is mowed, the cuttings can be used as a natural mulch.

Having a wide array of food choices when times get tough will keep spirits up, nutrition high and give each person a high amount of energy.  Do research and find the best plants for you and your family.  Become familiar with planting cycles at a local level.  Finding pertinent information regarding soil conditions, natural fertilizers, and germination of seeds can get you ready for a good planting season.  The more prepping you do on this, the better your family will eat when they need food the most.

Sources:

http://www.nutritiondata.com/

http://howtogardenguide.com/

http://gardening.about.com/

Prepper's Cookbook

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But if you follow this book’s plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months or even years. Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published November 5th, 2009
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  • Van

    Except for 2 that I already have, I just ordered seeds from my fave online seed shop for each of these.  Nice list.  Gonna practice some more growing skills this winter in the new indoor greenhouse I just bought off of Amazon.

    • http://www.readynutrition.com Tess

      Hey Van,

      Thanks for checking out this article. It is important to research the nutritional content of the seeds you want. Additionally, since you are already buying seeds, you may also want to check out buying currants, black grapes, muscadine grapes, lentils, tay berries, rasberries, and some herbs for medicinal uses.

      I am coming up with my “master list” right now as far as seeds go and I am trying to take into account that eating the same types of food will cause food fatigue, so I am trying to buy seeds that offer the greatest diversity as well as nutrition.

      I hope this helps. Best of luck to you.

      Tess Pennington
      Ready Nutrition

  • http://www.aucklandlandscapers.com Nick

    I think more people need to start growing their own crops. It’s not that hard once you know what you are doing. Here in New Zealand where I live many schools now teach children from a very early age how to grow your own vegetables. The kids just love it.

  • kat

    Nick in New Zealand..I think that teaching kids early how to grow, harvest, prepare their own vegetables is a fantastic idea.  Imagine that? Teaching kids useful skills that can be applied throughout their entire lives!! All I learned to do was diagram sentences. 

  • Wise Owl

    One of the best methods for gardening is The Square Foot Method. I have been doing this for a few years now and it works great. It reduces the amount of weeds which is major. You can buy the book, Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew on most book buying sites. This is the best way for someone just starting to get into gardening to learn. Its easy, very affordable and produces great yield. Happy Growing Everyone!!!

  • Dave

    Tess, a question, what Zone are you in? Some of your recommendations are really hard to grow here in the Rocky Mountains.

    • http://www.readynutrition.com Tess Pennington

      Hi Dave,

      I’m in zone 9. If my recommendations do not grow well in the area that you live in, do some research on which fruits and vegetables grow best in your area. In addition, find native vegetables and fruits that are acclimated to the weather there. Thanks!

      Tess

  • http://www.smilinggardener.com Irene @ SmilingGardener

    I definitely need those for my garden. I mean who doesn’t like to have your own grocery store at your backyard since you can grow almost everything you need when you go on shopping.

  • Keeo

    I’ve never been able to get anything to grow in our sterile, sandy soil in NW FL, so after many frustrating attempts at urban farming, I decided to go the container route. Of course I had to invest in containers (on-sale plastic storage bins at Wally World, into which my husband drilled drainage holes), potting soil (some terrific Miracle Gro deals at Lowe’s), and a bit of mulch along with seeds and seedlings. So far I have a thriving “patio farm” with tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, sweet potatoes, squash, zucchini, blueberries, and even a tiny Meyer lemon tree with 3 baby lemons growing happily! After the warm weather veggies are harvested it’ll be too hot for anything to grow until November, so the spent plants will go into the compost bin and the potting soil will wait out the summer until it’s cool enough to start the cool weather crops. When winter – hopefully – comes, the potting soil will go into large garbage cans to be mixed with compost and recycled for the coming spring. No soil diseases, no weeds, no problems! All I have to do is water well every day (sometimes twice if the weather is hot and dry)….what could be easier?! Thanks to Tess and others for your fantastic ideas.

    • http://Gardenforyourlife.blogspot.com Ken

      If you have the room for a garden you can go with raised beds.  I live on a corner residential lot in a residential neighborhood.  We have thick heavy clay here. My in ground garden was ok at best.  I went to raised beds using the square foot garden as my base and it’s doing great.   I plan to replace my wood beds with steel water troughs from tractor supply.  They should last for years.

  • http://readynutrition.com Tammy

    I was wondering why it matters that you use heirloom seeds?

    • http://www.readynutrition.com Tess Pennington

      Hi Tammy,

      Heirloom seeds are those heritage that your grandparents used. The best part is that they have not been altered in any way and can be allowed to go to seed and you can collect the seeds for future harvests. Typically, the seeds you get at the store at GMO (genetically modified) and will not produce a viable seed harvest.

      Here is an article that could add some more clarity:

      Survival Seeds to Sow – Heirloom or GMO

      I hope this helps,

      Tess

  • http://www.lifegivingnook.com Debbie

    We have been trying to save seeds the last couple of years.  

  • http://ohiothoughtsblog.blogspot.com/ Elizabeth

    For Survival, I don’t like the list of 25 seeds. Not many are good for drying or canning. Lettuce? Broccoli? The list needs items that can be put back for months when there is not a garden. And if its survival, may not be electric for freezer and genns only work so long on fuel. If it’s a list for a week of survival, then don’t need the barley or peanuts on there I guess.

    • http://Gardenforyourlife.blogspot.com Ken

      Brocolli can be canned in ready made soups.  It can also be dehydrated too.  I have some from honeyville grains on my shelf.  Lettuce is a quick to grow and easy to eat veggie with radishes and other greens.  You can grow it in a hot house or a cold frame for winter veggies.  If its something that you don’t like, Lima beans or ocra for me, select something else.  

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003407040335 Abdul

      Any kind of bugs hate soap! Make a solution of 2 parts of soap fluid and 1 part water,mix it well and spray your palm and so you rid the bugs off!

  • Mike

    Chard is another plant that you should add to the list.  Its hot weather tolerant and easy to grow.

  • james

    Note that new (non-GMO) varieties of hull-less oats and barley have been bred and would be much less labor intensive in the processing after harvest.
    Growing Hull-less barley in the mid-Atlantic Region
    http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/424/424-022/424-022.html
    Some places to buy hull-less grain seed, but they tend to sell out quicker because of limited supply….
    http://www.saltspringseeds.com/
    http://www.southernexposure.com/grains-cover-crops-c-29.html
    http://sustainableseedco.com/grains/

  • Ted

    Let’s not forget turnip, mustard, collard greens and Kale all of which are easy to grow and good for you.

  • Christina

    This is a great list. I just started planting a few vegetables and herbs outside my apartment building (family came to visit and asked why don’t you have anything planted?) Lol! Now I will definitely be using this list as a guide. But as for canning which someone posted earlier, my grandmother cans everything from her garden! Cucumbers, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, okra and tomatoes, potatoes, boiled peanuts, pepper vinegar, all her preserves from her fruit trees. Even fruit juice keeps. There is SO much you can can!! Even meat and leftover meals! Believe me I’ve about seen anything and everything canned at my Mimi’s house and eaten it! Just know you have to eat the more perishable items first (meat and leftovers, seasoned foods, etc) as they don’t keep as long as some other fruits and veggies.

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