Once you decide that you’re planting a survival garden, one thing is clear – you’re not focusing on summertime salads and in-the-garden snacking. Instead of growing cherry tomatoes for the children to nibble on the go, you need to grow high calorie foods that will sustain your family.
A garden that’s grown for survival situations is going to be centered on one thing – fuel. No, not biodiesel for your truck, but fuel for active, hard-working bodies.
You need food that will let you exert a lot of physical energy while eating as little of your food supply as possible.
That means maximizing your food production with a garden full of high calorie foods.
Time for some math.
The average adult needs about 2,000 calories. I like to assume that for everyone in the family because what the toddler doesn’t eat is balanced out by the growing teen who can pack away 2,000 calories at lunch.
Four people in your family? That’s now 8,000 calories per day.
And that’s a staggering 240,000 calories a month – just to feed a family of four in a survival situation.
There are only 82 calories in a pound of tomatoes … and about 60 in a pound of lettuce. Your jaw is going to fall off before you get 2000 calories a day on tossed salads, and you’ll need a very, very, very big garden to grow it all.
Top Three High Calorie Foods
Nuts and Seeds
Can you grow pecan or almond trees in your area? Lucky you!
For the rest of us, though, there are faster options.
Sunflowers, for example, have 135 calories per 1/2 cup. They’re high in protein and contain healthy unsaturated fat.
Peanuts have 414 calories per 1/2 cup. They have fats that are good for your health and they can be used to make peanut butter, which so many people love.
Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
In my cookbook, A Cabin Full of Food, the section on potatoes says “Grow potatoes!” It doesn’t matter where you live, potatoes will grow there. They flourish in Africa and Canada and everywhere in between.
The funny thing is that Irish (white) potatoes and Sweet Potatoes aren’t even in the same family. However, both store well and provide your family with a lot of good, healthy calories.
The Sweet Potato is a superfood. Just 1/4 pound will provide 76 calories and a lot of nutrition.
Irish potatoes are less nutritious but more calorie dense with 86 calories per 1/4 pound.
Beans and Peas
I love to grow beans and peas that are usable in all stages – immature greens straight from the garden, shellies, and then later tried for soup and baked dishes.
Beans and peas are in the top 5 most calorie rich foods you can grow, with beans at number one and peas way down at number five.
Beans give a whopping 143 calories per 1/4 pound, and peas offer up 84 calories per 1/4 pound.
More High Calorie Foods
Here is a list of foods you can grow and their calories per ¼ pound (3.5 ounces):
Navy and Pinto Beans = 143 calories
Yams = 116 calories
Potatoes = 86 calories
Corn = 86 calories
Peas (Green) = 84 calories
Sweet Potatoes = 76 calories
Parsnip = 71 calories
Grapes (Concord) = 67 calories
Blueberries = 57 calories
Squash = 56 calories
Raspberries = 52 calories
Kale = 50 calories
Beets = 44 calories
Onions = 42 calories
Peas (Snap) = 42 calories
Carrots = 41 calories
Chili Peppers = 40 calories
Brussels Sprouts = 36 calories
Broccoli = 35 calories
Beans (Snap and Green) = 35 calories
Eggplant = 35 calories
Cantaloupe = 34 calories
Strawberries = 32 calories
Leeks = 31 calories
Chives = 30 calories
Jalapeno Peppers = 29 calories
Basil = 27 calories
Collard Greens = 26 calories
Sweet Peppers = 26 calories
Cauliflower = 25 calories
Spinach = 23 calories
Okra = 22 calories
Turnips = 22 calories
Cabbage = 22 calories
Asparagus = 22 calories
Rhubarb = 21 calories
Pumpkin = 20 calories
Bell Peppers = 20 calories
Tomatoes = 18 calories
Zucchini = 16 calories
Radishes = 16 calories
Lettuce = 15 calories
Cucumbers = 15 calories
Celery = 14 calories
This list doesn’t mean that you should never grow low calorie foods. I mean, who wants to survive the Zombie Apocalypse if you can’t have pickles or tomato sauce? But it will help you decide just how much space and effort you’re willing to put into each food type.
High calorie foods will help form the bulk of your diet and should have a good portion of your time and space. Some low calorie foods require almost no work on your part – for example, in our area, rhubarb and blueberries grow wild. If you can plant perennials that produce without much work and which give nutrients and variety to your diet, be sure to include them.
What foods top your list for a survival garden?0