Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
A survival garden is more than just a typical garden. Your survival garden is meant to sustain your family, in particular during a crisis of some kind. When that happens, no one wants to wait 100+ days for food to serve their family.
That’s why you want to plant fast-growing vegetables for your survival garden. These vegetables can produce a harvest in as little as four weeks, and they give your family fresh greens to eat as you wait for the abundant harvest at the end of the growing season.
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How to Plan Your Survival Garden
Before you pick out your vegetables, I have a few suggestions. Planning is the crucial key to success with gardening, but it’s often overlooked because we want to dive into the dirt. If you want to get into the dirt AND have a harvest, make sure you consider these factors.
First, how much space do you have to grow vegetables? You can grow food no matter how much space you have, but if you lack space, you’ll need to grow more vertically. Vertical gardening is an easy way to grow more food without taking up more space. You might be surprised by how much food you can grow upward.
I suggest you walk around the space you want to garden and draw it out on a piece of paper.
Ideally, you’ll have an area with full sunlight, which is defined as 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. If you have ample sunlight, you can grow dozens of plants. If you don’t, you’ll need to find plants that can grow in either partial shade or partial sunlight. Don’t worry; you do have options.
When you plan an average garden, you might not think about the nutritional value of each plant, but with your survival garden, you do. When you pick the plants, there are two serious considerations to consider.
- Will your family eat it? Is it food that you know will not be wasted?
- What is the nutritional value that it adds to your diet? Your garden needs to keep you healthy.
Now let’s move on to the list.
10 Fastest Growing Vegetables
When you’re looking for plants that add exceptional nutritional value to your garden, spinach is the answer to your dreams. Spinach is a source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, manganese, magnesium, iron, and vitamin B12.
Those are some real reasons why you need to grow spinach. Growing spinach can be a bit problematic if you don’t have good quality dirt. You need to make sure you add plenty of compost to the soil. After you plant spinach, it’s ready to harvest in 4-6 weeks.
Spinach is frost-hardy, so you can sow it in the garden 2-3 weeks before the final frost date. I often start my spinach plants inside and transplant outside when I move my cabbage out. It gives my harvest a headstart.
One of my favorite fastest-growing vegetables is radishes, and it’s one of the easiest plants to grow. Kids love to grow radishes because they quickly find the harvest. Radishes are a source of several vitamins, such as potassium, folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin K.
Gardeners sow radish seeds directly into the garden 2-3 weeks before the final frost date. Depending on the variety you selected, it can take 3-4 weeks to harvest the radishes.
I suggest that you follow succession planting with radishes to extend your harvest. That means you plant a row or two each week rather than all at one time. With this method, you will harvest radishes for weeks!
Arugula has a unique peppery flavor that makes it an appealing choice to add to your garden. It’s a fantastic source of vitamin K and vitamin C while making your salad taste even better. Depending on your growing region, arugula can be a perennial plant, so it continues to come back each year.
Typically, arugula produces mature leaves in two months. You just cut them when you’re ready to enjoy them. It’s best to cut as you need rather than cutting and storing in the refrigerator.
Peas are my youngest son’s favorite veggie that we grow in our garden. He likes to sneak out in the morning and pick a handful for his breakfast. I can’t complain because peas are a source of vitamin C, folate, vitamin B1, and fiber.
Peas grow vertically; last year, we grew all of our peas on arches and had tremendous success. Fresh-grown peas are so sweet and delicious, and you can have a harvest between 50-60 days, depending on the variety.
Peas are frost hardy, so they do make a good choice for a spring and fall garden. Plant them 2-3 weeks before the final frost date or make sure you count back for a fall garden. For a fall garden, peas need to mature by the first frost date of your region.
5. Bush Beans
Many gardeners prefer pole beans because they have a more abundant harvest and grow vertically, but they take a lot longer to harvest. Bush beans take 50-60 days to harvest, and you sow them directly into the garden. Make sure you soak your seeds overnight to help them sprout sooner once you plant them.
Green beans are a favorite in our family. We eat them all year round, so I need to grow over 40 pounds a year or more! Green beans are a source of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and sugar. Plus, they offer vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K!
By the way, bush beans are a warm-season plant, so that means you need to wait until the danger of frost passes.
Cucumbers are another vertical plant that grows quickly. Depending on the variety and size of the cucumber, they can harvest 50-60 days after planting.
These little vegetables are most known for being how you create pickles, but fresh cucumbers are a source of tons of vitamins and nutrients. One cucumber contains 4% of your daily potassium needs! They’re also sources of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin A.
Cucumbers are a warm-season plant, so you will plant the seeds directly into your garden, but you must wait until the final frost date passes. Another option is to start the seeds inside, but I recommend starting these seeds two weeks before you want to plant them. Cucumbers can become root-bound quickly, and transplanting the plants into the garden can stunt their growth for a bit.
Beets are a root crop that dates back thousands of years, so you know that it has served millions of families. It’s a nutritious vegetable that provides folate, manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C.
To be honest, beets are one of those vegetables that you either love or hate. I fall into the hate category, but my husband is in the love category. If you don’t like the beets, you might like the greens that come from the plant.
Beets like cold temperatures, making them a fantastic spring and fall crop. You can plant them 2-3 weeks before the final frost date. Expect to harvest the beets in 50 days, but the greens will be ready in 30 days, depending on the variety. That’s not too long at all!
For whatever reason, turnips seem to have fallen out of popularity. That’s a shame because turnips give you two veggies in one with plenty of nutrients. Not only can you eat the bulbs, but you can also enjoy the turnip greens.
Turnips are loaded with fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate, along with minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and protein. That’s a serious reason to stick these into your garden.
Turnip greens are ready to eat in 40 days, but the turnip bulbs take about 60 days to mature. You might be apprehensive about eating turnip greens, but they’re particularly delicious. I suggest boiling them two times to remove the bitterness. Then, sautee them with bacon and onions – seriously yum!
When you plant turnips, plant to sow the seeds directly into your garden beds 2-3 weeks before the final frost date in your area. If you want to grow turnips as a fall crop, sow them in the late summer.
Kale’s popularity peaked recently, and part of that has to do with how nutritious this green is. One cup of kale contains three grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fiber, along with vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate.
Like many other greens on this list, kale is a cool-season crop, so plan to plant it in your garden 2-3 weeks before the final frost date in your area. To extend the harvest, you can try succession planting and sow two rows each week. Kale is also a fall crop.
Baby kale greens can be harvest in 25-30 days. You can leave the leaves to mature fully, which takes 50-65 days.
10. Bok Choy
Bok choy is a type of Chinese cabbage, and I love to use it in stir-fries. It is the perfect addition to a veggie and rice stir fry. It’s incredibly nutritious, as you might imagine, and adds protein, carbohydrate, fiber, folate, and calcium to your diet.
Not only is bok choy a nutritious plant for your garden, but you can have a mature harvest in 30-40 days. That qualifies as one of the fastest-growing vegetables.
There are two ways to start bok choy. You can either directly sow the seeds close to your final frost date or start the seeds indoors 4-5 weeks before that date. Bok choy seeds germinate quickly, typically within 4-8 weeks.
Planning Your Survival Garden
Picking the fast-growing vegetables for your survival garden is only half of the battle. With the right preparations, you can sustain your entire family from this garden. Use the fast-growing crops to help give food to your family until the longer growing vegetables produce their harvest.
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