How to Choose Vegetables for a Survival Garden


A survival garden ensures that you have fresh produce available, even if there is no way to purchase groceries in your area. Planting a survival garden is beneficial for both rural and urban homesteaders as well as those who wish to be prepared in the case of a regional or national disaster. Survival gardens depend on no outside suppliers once established; everything they need to continue growing year after year is easily supplied locally. They ensure self-sufficiency and peace of mind.

Step 1

Choose non-hybrid vegetables that are open-pollinated, when possible. Choose heirloom varieties as they aren't hybrid so they produce viable seed that's necessary in order to continue growing year after year with no outside seed sources.

Step 2

Limit your cross-pollinated vegetable choices; otherwise, crossbreeding occurs and may produce inferior seed. Squash, pumpkins and melons are examples. Plant only one variety of each to prevent cross-pollination, or space the beds at least 50 feet apart with a tall crop or wall between them to prevent cross-pollination.

Step 3

Plan for three-season gardening, so if there is a seasonal crop failure, there are two more seasons. Plant cool-weather crops such as spinach and lettuce in both spring and fall and warm-weather crops including tomatoes and peppers for summer. Use cold frames or small greenhouses to start plants outside earlier and keep them producing longer into fall.

Step 4

Choose vegetables that are simple to preserve without refrigeration, as in a survival situation electricity may not be available. Shelling beans are preserved dry, while most other legumes can be canned. Can tomatoes, peppers and some greens while root crops such as potatoes and carrots are preserved in a cool, dry place.

Step 5

Look for heirloom vegetable varieties that are pest- and disease-resistant. Order from seed suppliers in your region as their seeds do well in your growing conditions. Contact your county extension office and speak with an extension officer about varieties that thrive in your area.

Tips and Warnings

  • Plant more than you need. Too much produce is preferable to not enough.


  • University of Tennessee Extension: Planning the Vegetable Garden

Who Can Help

  • International Seed Saving Institute: Seed Saving Information
  • Traditional Means of Storing Garden Produce
Keywords: survival garden, choosing vegetables, self-sufficiency, non-hybrid vegetables

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.