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What to Plant in a Survival Garden

  • 5 min read

When you’re deciding what you should plant in your survival garden, you want a strategy that works for you. If you’re trying to feed a whole family, you want to think about the problem from different angles so you can succeed. Let’s take a look at some important considerations for planning your survival garden.

Easy to Grow Plants

Choose vegetables, fruits, and herbs that have a proven track record as the base of your survival garden. When you’re feeding a lot of people, saving yourself as much work as possible is important. Plants that will reliably produce a lot of quality food can make all the difference in your success, especially if you’re new to gardening. Of course, you can always dedicate an area of your garden to special, finicky plants or experiments, too.

Growing for Your Zone

Be aware of your climate and be realistic about what you can grow, and what you might need to make special modifications for. If you live in a hot location that is prone to drought, look for seeds that won’t die just because you’ve had a week of 90°F days. Or if you live in an area with a short growing season, you might need to start more seeds inside to give your plants more time.

Another consideration here is how you can grow food for more of the year. Don’t just grow once in the summer and be done. While winter can be a particular challenge in areas where it’s very cold, you can still grow plants during spring and fall. Cold hardy plants can considerably extend your growing season.

Foods That Store Well

Plant foods that store well

While you’re probably going to be well-fed during the harvest season, it’s important to also think about what foods will keep your pantry full of emergency food stores for the rest of the year. Winter squashes, pumpkins, root vegetables, and cabbages can all be stored without much processing for a long portion of winter, but other foods may need to be canned, fermented, dried, or otherwise preserved so that you can be well fed, even when there’s nothing to harvest.


Imagine being in an emergency situation where you have nothing but that stack of MREs, some root vegetables, and your stores of canned and dried food to rely on. While you’d survive, that might get boring pretty fast! Adding a little flavor to your life can make all the difference in your survival garden.


Herbs add diversity to your diet, garden, and life. They are potent nutritionally, and many of them can be grown inside or in containers. Herbs are excellent companion plants that will help deter pests from your vegetables. Some herbs also have powerful medicinal properties that can be extremely useful in a survival situation.



Microgreens don’t get the credit they deserve as quality survival food. They can provide fresh flavor and are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals! These baby leaves grow quickly, have concentrated nutritional profiles, and don’t require a lot of space to grow. You can grow them year round and have a harvest in a week or two. Grow microgreens any time you want some quick fresh flavor, and always have some extra in your emergency supply kit.


Plant flowers and herbs

We get a lot of questions about why we include flowers in our survival seed kits. Flowers are so much more than ornamental! Those pretty blooms attract beneficial pollinators that keep your plants healthy and thriving. They can be great companion plants that deter pests and encourage healthy growth in the rest of your garden. And of course, many flowers are not only edible, but they also have some incredible medicinal properties. Choosing the right flowers for your survival garden can make a huge difference.

Heirloom Seeds

We’ve talked a lot about why you should choose heirloom seeds recently. Heirloom varieties breed true so that you’ll be able to harvest and store seeds that will reliably produce in future growing seasons. You can’t get that sort of security from hybrid specialty seeds that only give you one year's worth of produce.


Plants that come back year after year can form a good solid base for your garden. Once you get your asparagus and rhubarb patches established, you’ll have years of reliable, good yields that you can count on even if you have a bad year and can’t save seeds from this year’s harvest. It’s an extra level of security that you’ll be grateful for.

Bushes and Trees

Bushes and trees

If you have planted the right shrubs and trees, you can have nuts, fruits, and berries every year! These plants are a bit more of an initial investment than simple vegetable seeds, but they can provide long-term sources of quality, nutritious food for years.

Think About Nutrition

You may be surprised at how much food you’ll need in a survival situation. The hard work of running a homestead takes more calories than a desk job, so plan to grow more food than you think you’ll need. If you grow too much, you can always share any extra with the neighbors or store it for later.

You’ll need to have a diet that supplies your basic needs. Green leafy vegetables provide lots of micronutrients, but you also want to think about your macronutrients, too.

  • Protein - The staple of any survival food kit, protein is essential for survival. Even if you don’t have access to meat or eggs, you can still grow all the protein you need in the garden! Beans are one of the most important survival foods out there because they provide such high-quality plant-based protein. Grains, seeds, and nuts are other sources of protein as well.
  • Carbohydrates - Grow a good variety of fruits and vegetables. As long as you grow enough food, you’ll probably be able to meet this need easily.
  • Fats - Nuts, seeds, and soybeans are all good sources of the fat that is necessary for survival. We especially recommend growing Black Russian sunflowers as an oil-rich variety to add to your garden. Winter squash and pumpkin seeds can also be delicious options for adding healthy fats to your diet.

When we designed our Survival Seed Vaults, we looked at these basic ideas. It’s important to us that our seeds meet the needs of people all over the country, and that would provide maximum nutrition, no matter what the situation. From our Farmers Seed Vault to our Apartment collection, we’ve taken the time to design well-rounded, balanced collections that will help you succeed.


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