10 Plants to Grow for Survival

Hundred thousands of years ago, our ancestors realized that they cannot be sustained by hunting and foraging alone. Hence, our ancestors learned to become self-sufficient by farming. Sadly, not all of us managed to inherit the survival instincts that pushed our ancestors to learn self-sufficiency and thrive. Not everyone is interested to know what plants to grow for survival.

Truly, the human race has grown to a point that the farming sector can (barely) sustain the dietary needs of the entire civilization. While some nations have weak agriculture, they are still reinforced by trade relations with other countries. Thus, the thought of food shortage rarely cross our minds.

Picture this: what if, one day some stupid government policy cause the supply of food to dwindle? What will happen to you and your family? Yes, you may have all the cash you need to buy food supplies but what will happen if there are no food supplies at all? Will you starve to death? Will your family starve to death?  There is no exaggeration here my friend. Famines do happen. Why not learn what plants to grow for survival? Read on to find out more.

Why Should You Grow Plants?

Farming allowed our ancestors to grow larger than what hunting and foraging will allow.[1] Without farming, our ancestors could have depleted the resources around them most likely leading to our extinction. Why does it matter? Because, as ridiculous as it sounds, we are still foraging.

Technically, most of us are no longer hunter-gatherers. However, we still gather resources that we did not grow ourselves, hence our resemblance to foragers. You can think of dropping by the grocery to buy food as some sort of foraging. The only difference is we now have a seemingly endless supply of food to forage. Unfortunately, the human race is prone to committing mistakes that can cause this supply to diminish to a point of famine.

A good example of famine is the 1958-1961 Chinese famine. One major contributing factor was Mao Zedong’s Chinese Communist Party’s imposition of drastic changes to agriculture. They also imported too much grain causing an illusion of superabundance. That is, they have too much supply of grain but did not consider that grain production was subpar. Approximately 36 million people died of starvation in this period.[2]

In 2017, the UN declared the return of famine in Africa particularly affecting Somalia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen. Because of this famine, about 20 million people are at risk of death.[3]

All that being said, it is safe to say that famine remains to be a problem despite modernization. As I said earlier, even if you have the cash to buy loads of food, you will starve if there is no food to buy. If you are still not convinced by how possible famine is, you can at least save money if you you’re your own foods. Without further ado, here is a list of plants to grow for survival.

List of Plants to Grow for Survival


Tired of the long read? Here is a potato!

Potatoes are the 4th most consumed crop world-wide and is a staple crop for many countries (just think of the Irish potato famine). In fact, even videogames about survival have potatoes as staples! The following are advantages of planting potato:potatoes for survival

  • Potatoes are easy to grow in different climates and soil types. Take note, however, that there are still pests that can deter the growth of potatoes.
  • Potatoes are rich in carbohydrates which will help you sustain proper glucose level. Glucose is important to keep your mind and body going.
  • Sodium and potassium in potatoes will help you maintain electrolyte balance. In a period where famine is caused by economic collapse, you will likely lose electrolytes form all the sweat caused by physical activities.
  • Potassium is necessary for vasodilation (widening of blood vessels) which in turn help supply the brain with proper oxygen. Want to clear your mind? Grab some potatoes!


Nope. You won’t use it to slay vampires. Garlics are a bit tougher to grow compared to potatoes, but they garlic will serve the following roles: garlic for survival

  • Garlic can be used for antiseptic purposes.
  • As a spice, garlic can be included in many dishes.
  • Garlics are rich in carbohydrates too (but potatoes are richer)
  • They are rich in manganese and vitamin B6.
  • There are also a plethora of other nutrients present in garlic including selenium, copper, phosphorous and calcium.
  • The most notable characteristic of garlics is the richness in sulfur and its breakdown products. Sulfur is not listed in dietary requirements but it plays a vital role in the body. One of its breakdown byproduct, hydrogen sulfide, works to help your Nitric Oxide maintain the elasticity of your blood vessels. Translated to human language, this means that it helps blood flow freely and help oxygen be delivered throughout your body. Another way to clear your mind.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a bit tougher to grow in cooler climates. If you manage to grow them, they can provide vital nutrition you will need during a crisis. One bowl to keep your sanity during a time of stress (like food shortage)? Why not.

  • They are rich in magnesium which is a vital mineral. Magnesium are known to be involved in at least 700 metabolic processes in the body, including processes that are important to the regulation of mental health. Needless to say, deficiency in magnesium can cause mental health problems, including anxiety and too much stress. A sweet potato a day keeps the bad thoughts away!
  • Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E which are all disease-fighting anitoxidants.
  • Potassium and vitamin B6 are also present in Sweet Potatoes.

Beansbeans for survival

Here’s another addition to your list of foods to grow for survival. It is a given that beans are nutritious but the main factor you will want to plant them is because they are good for crop rotation. Once your crops have deprived the soil of precious nitrogen, plant some beans after the harvest to help the soil recover. As an added bonus, beans contain antioxidants, fiber and protein, all important to improve your overall health.

Eggplantseggplant for survival

Eggplants are not so versatile and only survive in warmer temperatures. However, eggplants contain important nutrients too. These berries are particularly rich in the following nutrients:

  • Eggplants are rich in fiber, copper and vitamin B1
  • They also contain manganese, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, vitamin K and folate.
  • The most distinct nutrients that eggplants provides are phytonutrients such as bioflavonoids. Phytonutrients exhibit antioxidant properties.

Tomatoestomato for survival

Tomatoes are well-known for being thrown by angry mobs, but no you won’t plant them for that. Of all the fruits and vegetables in this list, tomatoes are probably the richest in terms of variety (but not necessarily quantity). The following are some nutrients found in Tomatoes:

  • Vitamin C
  • Molybdenum
  • Biotin
  • Vitamin K
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Potassium
  • Fiber
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folate
  • Vitamin B3
  • Phosphorous
  • Vitamin B1
  • Magnesium
  • Chromium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Choline
  • Protein

Barleybarley for survival

The fact that barley can brewed into beer is just the bonus. Barley, just like tomato, is yet another source of various nutrients that makes it an ideal plant to grow for survival. In addition, you can plant it during either spring or winter which makes it quite versatile.

You can find the following nutrients in Barley:

  • Molybdenum
  • Manganese
  • Selenium
  • Fiber
  • Copper
  • Vitamin B1
  • Chromium
  • Phosporus
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin B3

Peppermintpeppermint for survival

Peppermints are surely not the most nutritious entry in this list of plants to grow for survival. However, peppermints are effective as food flavoring. Perhaps, the most important property of peppermint is its medical properties including: [3]

  • Capability to relieve dyspepsia, colonic muscle spasms and indigestion.
  • Antimicrobial properties (peppermint can stop the growth of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Helicobacter pylori, Salmonella enteritidis, E. coli and many others)
  • Anifungal properties

Further, peppermints contain manganese, copper, vitamin c but is not rich in them.


cabbage for survivalThese balls of leaves are as nutritious as they look. A serving of cabbage contains a huge variety of nutrients including antioxidants and phytonutrients. The following are the key selling points of cabbages:

  • Cabbages are VERY rich in fiber, manganese, Vitamin K, Vitamin C and Vitamin B6.
  • The nutrient contents of cabbage also contains good amounts of copper, choline, phosphorus, folate, potassium, vitamin B2, selenium, iron, magnesium, calcium, pantothenic acid and a bit of protein and vitamin B3.
  • Polyphenols are present in cabbages hence giving it anti-inflammatory properties. (I know what you are thingking. YES, cabbage compress is a thing)
  • Cabbages offer digestive tract support. This means that cabbages help heal stomach ulcers and avoid other stomach injuries and diseases.


carrots for survival

Bugs Bunny’s favorite snack, carrots, are rich in beta-carotene which is a provitamin A. Therefore, eating carrots means you’ll have tons of soon-to-be-vitamin A nutrients in your body. Since vitamin A is important to the maintenance of vision, reproductive health, immune system, lungs and kidneys, it is a good idea to keep some carrots planted.

In addition to Vitamin A, carrots are also rich in vitamin K, biotin, molybdenum, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B3 and some vitamin B1, manganese, copper, folate, phosphorus, vitamin B2 and vitamin E.


So there you have it! A list of 10 plants to grow for survival. There are plenty of other plants you can plant too, but given their versatility, nutritional and utility values, the plants in this list are surefire samples to kickstart your garden. Why not start now and LIVE HEALTHILY EVER AFTER?

If you have suggestions or questions, just let us know in the comment section.


  1. Bocquet-Appel, Jean-Pierre (29 July 2011). “When the World’s Population Took Off: The Springboard of the Neolithic Demographic Transition”. Science. 333 (6042): 560–561. Bibcode:2011Sci…333..560B. doi:10.1126/science.1208880. PMID21798934.
  2. Jisheng, Yang “Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958–1962”. Book Review. New York Times. Dec, 2012. March 3, 2013.
  3. Edris AE, Farrag ES. Antifungal activity of peppermint and sweet basil essential oils and their major aroma constituents on some plant pathogenic fungi from the vapor phase. Nahrung 2003 Apr; 47(2):117-21. 2003.
  4. Ensminger AH, Ensminger, ME, Kondale JE, Robson JRK. Foods & Nutriton Encyclopedia. Pegus Press, Clovis, California. 1983. (Majority of the nutrition facts are based here)

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Written by James Bana


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