Top 10 Best Crops to Grow In A Victory Garden


* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.

 

Victory gardens are seeing a revival for the first time since WW2. Learn to feed your family in hard times with these 10 best crops for your victory garden. #victorygarden #victorygardening #bestcropsforavictorygarden #survivalgarden #howtogrowavictorygardnVictory gardens gained popularity in both World War I and World War II when American and Canadian citizens were encouraged to grow as much of their own food as possible as part of the war effort, so that commercially grown food could be sent to troops and allies fighting overseas.

Today, the victory garden movement is gaining popularity once again as the world grapples with ongoing supply chain issues, food shortages and inflation.

Over the past few years, more and more people have woken up to the fact that our food and supply chains are fragile. We can’t always count on grocery store shelves to be stocked with whatever we need whenever we need it, and even if shelves are stocked, groceries are no longer as affordable as they once were, and that could continue to get worse.

After decades of being spoiled for choice and having an abundance of food available to us at all times at low cost, for the first time in generations, we’re beginning to realize how risky it can be when we’re 100% dependent on outside sources to provide for us; especially international supply chains and centralized sources that are often far removed from our communities. 

Now, for those of us who already grow gardens, I’d argue that we’re already a few steps ahead of the general populace. But still, when we’re faced with the very real possibility of food shortages and continuing supply chain issues in the near future, it can make even the hardiest of homesteaders rethink their garden plan for the season.

After all, if we’re going to really have to depend on our gardens for sustenance, it makes sense to dedicate the vast majority of our garden space to crops that can truly sustain us all year long.

While it can be fun to experiment with new and different crops in the garden each year, the focus of a victory garden should be on growing as much food and producing as many calories as possible in the space you have, as well as choosing crops that can be easily preserved to eat throughout the winter too.

In this period of uncertainty, we always have to be thinking a few steps (or a few seasons) ahead, so that no matter what the future brings, we’ll be as ready as we can possibly be to ride it out and keep ourselves and our families safe, healthy and well-fed.

 

So, what are the best crops to grow in a victory garden?

The first rule of growing food is to grow what your family likes to eat!

There’s really no point in dedicating valuable garden space to crops that nobody in your household actually wants to eat. Start by making a list of your favourite vegetables; The ones you and your family tend to eat on a regular basis.

Next, you’ll want to dedicate space to the crops that will give you the most bang for your buck, so to speak. If you’re limited on space, try to avoid crops that take up a lot of space and/or resources for little return. For example, things like artichokes and Romanesco broccoli take up a lot of space in the garden but do not produce large harvests. These are the types of novelty crops that are fun to try, but aren’t necessarily the best choices for maximizing food production, unless of course you REALLY love eating these foods and have ample space to grow them.

Instead, focus on vegetables and varieties that produce large harvests, can be grown densely and/or can be vertically grown, in order to get the most amount of food possible for the space you have. Also, grow crops that are versatile and can be stored well to ensure good eating right through the winter months.

During the world wars, citizens were encouraged to convert their yards as well as empty spaces and vacant lots around their communities into victory gardens because the focus was really on producing as much food as possible on home soil. This should be the focus of your victory garden too.

 

Top 10 best crops to plant in a victory garden

While you shouldn’t take this list as the definitive guide to victory gardening, the following crops are great candidates for victory gardens because they tend to produce high yields of nutrient and calorie-dense food, require less space (and in some cases less time to harvest) than other common garden crops, preserve well and are versatile staples in most home kitchens.

 

Storage potatoes

Potatoes

Potatoes have been a staple “survival crop” for millennia. They’re calorie-dense, carbohydrate-rich and high in essential nutrients like fibre, potassium, magnesium and vitamin C. They’re also easy to grow and can be grown in the ground, in raised beds, containers, grow bags… even garbage cans.

Potatoes will give you more calories per square foot than just about any other crop, so they’re a great choice for a small garden. They also store well in cold storage and are extremely versatile and can be turned into everything from hash brown and French fries to mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, gnocchi and potato pies and pancakes. They’re truly a must-have in any victory garden.

 

Ardwyna tomatoes on the vine

Tomatoes

No garden is complete without tomatoes! Even if you’re not a huge fresh tomato fan, growing a good paste tomato—I grow a local heirloom variety called Ardwyna Paste tomatoes (pictured above), as well as San Marzano paste tomatoes in my garden—variety means you can make your own tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, stewed tomatoes and even sun-dried tomatoes at home. Not to mention, with a few added ingredients that can almost all be grown at home, you can make your own salsa, BBQ sauce, ketchup and other condiments too.

Tomatoes can be preserved in a variety of ways from canning to fermenting to freezing to dehydrating. They’re one of the most versatile crops you can grow and are high in both nutrients and flavour, which is super important if you need to rely almost entirely off of what you’re growing at home.

–> Learn how to grow tomatoes from seed.

 

Tarheel green pole beans

Beans

All kinds of beans are good options for a victory garden because they’re high in protein, fibre and vitamins and minerals and are relatively calorie-dense too.

While any type of beans work well in a survival garden, green pole beans and shelling bean varieties like black beans, broad beans (fava beans) and pinto beans are especially good options.

Pole beans are great because they can be grown vertically so you can get a large harvest in very little space. They can also be pressure canned and eaten throughout the winter, and are a versatile vegetable that goes well with everything from roast dinner to stir fry.

Shelling beans are a fantastic candidate for the victory garden because the shelled beans can be dried and stored easily without any special equipment. Shelling beans are the quintessential “rice and beans” style beans that most people think of when they think of high-calorie, high-protein survival foods that can see them through any crisis.

 

Heirloom Corn

Corn

While we often think of sweet corn when we talk about corn nowadays, but if you’re focused on growing crops for survival and sustenance, you might want to consider growing field corn varieties like dent corn, flint corn and flour corn.

These types of field corn varieties differ from sweet corn because rather than being eaten fresh on the cob, they are dried and turned into cornmeal and corn flour, which can be made into everything from cornbread to corn tortillas and corn chips. It can also be used to make animal feed.

Corn is a great option for a grain that can be grown at home in a relatively small space, especially compared to other cereal grains like oats, wheat and barley. You might also consider growing popcorn if your family enjoys it! 

 

Assortment of Winter Squash

Squash

Both summer and winter squash varieties are good options for any victory garden because they’re high-yielding crops that produce a lot of food for very little effort. But winter squash like pumpkins, acorn squash, butternut squash and spaghetti squash (to name a few) are especially good crops to grow because they’re high in vitamins, they’re prolific growers and they produce a lot of food per fruit (think of how much flesh you get from a single pumpkin). But most of all, winter squash store extremely well for an exceptionally long time with pretty much zero effort.

While it’s possible to can pumpkin and squash or freeze the flesh or pumpkin purée, thick-skinned winter squash will store well in cold storage or even on your pantry shelves for months on end without any special treatment. In fact, we still have spaghetti squash sitting on our shelves right now that was harvested back in September… A full six months ago!

–> Learn how to grow pumpkins (and all winter squash) from seed.

 

Basket of carrots

Carrots

Carrots are another solid staple crop in any home garden. They’re high in antioxidants and nutrients like vitamin A, they’re a pretty easy to grow crop that produces high yields in a fairly small plot of land and they’re cold-tolerant and can survive light frosts in the garden. While there are many great carrot varieties, I especially like Danvers for their size and hardiness even in rocky soils, and Scarlet Nantes for their length and overall uniformity.

Carrots store well in cold storage, especially when they’re buried in sand. They’re also great candidates for both canning and dehydrating. Alternatively, they can be left out in the garden in more temperate climates and pulled out of the soil whenever you’re ready to eat them!

–> Learn how to Grow Carrots From Seed

 

Head of cabbage growing n the garden

Cabbage

While cabbage isn’t the most calorically-dense crop, it is a nutritionally-dense crop that actually retains most of its nutrients even when cooked. Plus, it can be fermented and made into sauerkraut or kimchi which only makes it even more nutritious!

Fermented cabbage stores well in the fridge or in cold storage, but cabbage is a great storage crop on its own and can be stored whole in cold storage for several months. It’s also a cold-hardy vegetable that keeps going in the garden well into the winter months. Choose a good storage variety like Late Flat Dutch for root cellaring and cold storage—This type of cabbage is also good for making sauerkraut. For kimchi, go with a napa-style Chinese cabbage.

 

Basket of kale

Kale

Green leafy vegetables are extremely high in a wide variety of nutrients including vitamins A, C and K, iron, calcium, folate, magnesium, fibre and potassium, to name a few. But some leafy greens like lettuce don’t store well, so you’re better off to choose a hardy alternative like kale.

Kale is a high-yielding plant that provides fresh greens all through the summer and fall and it’s also a very cold-hardy crop that will last in the garden right through the winter in many places. Alternatively, it can be blanched and frozen or dehydrated and turned into homemade kale chips.

 

Homegrown garlic

Garlic

Garlic is a must-have in any victory garden. While it’s not a calorie-dense crop, garlic is extremely high in essential nutrients and has medicinal properties such as being antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial. Not to mention, it’s extremely flavourful and super versatile in the home kitchen. Most garlic varieties like Russian Red and Duganski (hardneck varieties), and Nootka Rose (softneck) store very well for months on end—even at room temperature—when cured and stored correctly.

Related: How to Grow, Cure & Store Garlic At Home

 

Rosemary and other culinary herbs in an herb garden

Herbs

While herbs aren’t necessarily a staple crop like beans or potatoes, growing a variety of culinary herbs and medicinal herbs in your victory garden will provide you with both food and medicine, and will add flavour to all your home-cooked meals. Plus, most herbs are easy to grow in just about any size space, whether in a sprawling garden or confined to window boxes.

Rosemary, thyme, chives, oregano and basil are must-haves in any home garden, but there are many more herbs you might want to consider for your victory garden, especially if store-bought herbs and spices become harder to find. Check out these 13 culinary and medicinal herbs for your home garden.

 

Grow your own, for victory!

At the end of the day, there are so many more vegetables (and fruits, nuts, herbs, etc.) you might want to consider adding to your victory garden. Not to mention animals like laying hens as well as dairy and meat animals for a source of protein and fat—so I definitely encourage you to not stop at this list! However, if you’re limited on space, these 10 staple food crops will definitely help see you through hard times.

 

You might also like:

 

If you’re ready to increase your self-sufficiency and grow your best garden yet, now’s the time to join the Society of Self-Reliance! This is my private membership community where you’ll learn all sorts of skills that will help you to become more self-sufficient in every area of your life. From growing your own groceries to stocking your pantry to preparing for anything life throws at you, you’ll rest easier knowing you have the skills, knowledge and confidence to survive, thrive and provide for yourself and your family no matter what’s happening in the world. 

 

Learn more here and take advantage of special introductory pricing while you still can!

 

 

 


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2 Comments

  1. Cheryl Tuttle

    Excellent group for a Victory Garden. Yes, it was essential for people to have one during the World Wars . Now it is good that more are realizing the benefit of growing their own because it is cheaper and healthier, Just a few seeds/plants can really save money. Even a few plants help families enjoy fresh veggies and fruit. I am now longer able to plant a big garden, but I do plant tomatoes, zucchini, garlic,cucumbers, basil and peppers. Fresh food tasts so much better than store bought ! there is alway enough freeze or dry for later. Also, making bread is a must! It isn’t difficult and really saves money and tastes wonderful no mater what kind you make.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Agree Cheryl! Every bit counts (and helps lower the grocery bill;)

      And definitely knowing how to make homemade bread is a must!

      Reply

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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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