Growing a survival garden with high-calorie crops is essential for preparedness. This guide reveals the top 12 high-calorie crops to grow in containers, providing you with a sustainable source of nutrients and calories when you need it most.

With this comprehensive article on the top 12 high-calorie crops to grow in containers, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills to establish a productive and resilient survival garden, even in limited spaces.

1. Potatoes

Potatoes are a staple crop renowned for their high calorie content and versatility. A single medium-sized potato can provide approximately 160 calories. These underground tubers are well-suited for container gardening, making them an excellent choice for urban or small-space survival gardens. For an in-depth look at growing potatoes, check out this guide on potatoes as a survival crop.

  • Suitable Varieties: Yukon Gold, Russet Burbank, and Norland are excellent choices for container growing.
  • Growing Requirements:
    • Container Size: Use at least a 10-gallon container with good drainage.
    • Soil: A well-draining, nutrient-rich potting mix is ideal.
    • Light: Potatoes prefer full sun exposure (at least 6 hours of direct sunlight).
    • Water: Water consistently, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged.
  • Harvesting and Storage:
    • Harvest potatoes when the foliage dies back, typically 90-120 days after planting.
    • Store harvested potatoes in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated area for several months.
NutrientAmount (per 100g)
Calories77
Protein2g
Carbs17g
Fiber2.1g

2. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. They offer a high calorie content, with one medium-sized sweet potato providing approximately 112 calories.

Sweet potatoes are well-suited for container cultivation, making them a valuable addition to your survival garden.

  • Container-friendly Varieties: Beauregard, Jewel, and Bush Porto Rico are compact and prolific varieties.
  • Planting and Care:
    • Use a large container (at least 18 inches deep and 24 inches wide) with excellent drainage.
    • Plant slips (rooted cuttings) 12-15 inches apart, burying them halfway in nutrient-rich soil.
    • Sweet potatoes require full sun exposure (6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily).
    • Water regularly, keeping the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
  • Troubleshooting:
    • Monitor for pests like sweet potato weevils and nematodes.
    • Rotate crops annually to prevent soil-borne diseases.

Companion Planting for Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes benefit from companion planting with certain crops that repel pests, improve soil quality, or provide complementary nutrients. Check out this guide on beneficial garden bugs for natural pest control.

  • Recommended Companions: Marigolds, nasturtiums, radishes, and legumes (e.g., beans, peas).

3. Corn

Corn is a versatile crop that provides both high calories and essential nutrients. One ear of corn contains approximately 90 calories, making it a valuable addition to your survival garden.

Dwarf and compact varieties are well-suited for container cultivation, allowing you to grow this staple crop even in limited spaces.

  • Calorie-dense Varieties: Neon, Honey & Pearl, and Baby Corn are excellent choices for containers.
  • Planting Requirements:
    • Use a large container (at least 18 inches deep and 24 inches wide) with good drainage.
    • Plant seeds 1-2 inches deep and 6-8 inches apart, in nutrient-rich soil.
    • Corn requires full sun exposure (at least 6 hours of direct sunlight).
    • Water consistently, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged.
  • Pollination and Harvesting:
    • Plant corn in blocks or short rows to ensure proper pollination.
    • Harvest when kernels are plump and milky, typically 60-90 days after planting.
See also  27 Stunning Outdoor Rooms Ideas For Fall And Summer
NutrientAmount (per 100g)
Calories86
Protein3.2g
Carbs19g
Fiber2.4g

4. Beans

Beans are a nutrient-dense crop that provides a high calorie count along with valuable protein, fiber, and minerals. Depending on the variety, one cup of cooked beans can offer anywhere from 200 to 400 calories.

Both bush and pole bean varieties can be successfully grown in containers, providing a versatile and space-efficient option for your survival garden.

  • High-Calorie Varieties: Kidney beans, pinto beans, and black beans are excellent choices.
  • Planting and Trellising:
    • Use a large container (at least 12 inches deep and 18 inches wide) with good drainage.
    • Plant seeds 1-2 inches deep and 4-6 inches apart, in nutrient-rich soil.
    • Bush beans can grow without support, while pole beans require a trellis or cage.
  • Pest Management:
    • Monitor for pests like bean beetles, aphids, and spider mites.
    • Implement organic pest control methods like companion planting and insecticidal soaps.
  • Harvesting and Storage:
    • Harvest beans when the pods are plump and firm, typically 50-70 days after planting.
    • Allow beans to dry on the plant, then store in airtight containers for long-term preservation.

Drying and Storing Beans

Properly dried and stored beans can last for several years, providing a valuable long-term food source in survival situations.

  • Drying: Spread beans in a single layer and allow to dry thoroughly (10-14 days) until brittle.
  • Storage: Place dried beans in airtight containers and store in a cool, dry location away from direct sunlight.

5. Peas

Peas are a nutritious and calorie-dense crop, offering approximately 77 calories per cup of cooked peas. They are an excellent source of plant-based protein, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals.

Peas are well-suited for container gardening, making them an accessible choice for small-space survival gardens.

  • Suitable Pea Varieties: Green Arrow, Wando, and Little Marvel are compact and prolific varieties.
  • Growing Conditions:
    • Use a large container (at least 12 inches deep and 18 inches wide) with good drainage.
    • Plant seeds 1-2 inches deep and 2-4 inches apart, in nutrient-rich soil.
    • Peas prefer cooler temperatures and partial shade during the hottest parts of the day.
    • Water consistently, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged.
  • Support and Harvesting:
    • Provide a trellis or cage for pea vines to climb.
    • Harvest peas when the pods are plump and before they become tough, typically 60-70 days after planting.

6. Squash

Squash is a versatile and high-calorie crop that offers a range of varieties, from summer squash to winter squash. One cup of cooked winter squash can provide approximately 80 calories, along with valuable nutrients like vitamin A and potassium.

While squash plants can spread out, certain compact varieties are well-suited for container cultivation, providing a productive and space-efficient solution for your survival garden.

  • Calorie-dense Varieties: Zucchini, butternut squash, and acorn squash are excellent choices.
  • Container Size and Planting:
    • Use a large container (at least 18 inches deep and 24 inches wide) with good drainage.
    • Plant seeds 1-2
  • Plant seeds 1-2 inches deep and 18-24 inches apart, in nutrient-rich soil.
  • Provide a trellis or cage for vining varieties like butternut squash.
  • Pest and Disease Management:
    • Monitor for common squash pests like squash bugs, squash vine borers, and powdery mildew.
    • Implement organic pest control methods like companion planting, row covers, and pruning infected foliage.
    • Rotate crops annually to prevent soil-borne diseases.
See also  10 Common Garden Watering Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Preserving Squash for Long-Term Storage

Winter squash varieties like butternut and acorn can be stored for several months, providing a valuable long-term food source. Check out these tips for growing fast-growing vegetables to maximize your harvest.

  • Curing: After harvesting, cure winter squash in a warm, dry location for 10-14 days to toughen the skin.
  • Storage: Store cured squash in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area, ideally between 50-60°F (10-15°C).

7. Pumpkins

Pumpkins are a member of the squash family and offer a high calorie count, with one cup of cooked pumpkin providing approximately 49 calories. They are also rich in vitamins A and C, as well as fiber.

While pumpkins require ample space for their vining growth habit, certain compact varieties can be successfully grown in large containers, making them a viable option for your survival garden.

  • Compact Pumpkin Varieties: Baby Boo, Wee-B-Little, and Jack-Be-Little are well-suited for containers.
  • Planting Requirements:
    • Use a large container (at least 24 inches deep and 36 inches wide) with good drainage.
    • Plant seeds 1-2 inches deep and 36-48 inches apart, in nutrient-rich soil.
    • Pumpkins require full sun exposure (at least 6 hours of direct sunlight).
    • Water consistently, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged.
  • Harvesting and Curing:
    • Harvest pumpkins when the stem is dry and the rind is fully colored, typically 90-120 days after planting.
    • Cure harvested pumpkins in a warm, dry location for 10-14 days to extend their shelf life.

8. Carrots

Carrots are a nutrient-dense root vegetable that offers a decent calorie count, with one medium carrot providing approximately 25 calories. They are an excellent source of vitamin A, as well as fiber and various minerals.

Carrots are well-suited for container gardening, making them a valuable addition to your survival garden, especially in limited spaces.

  • Container-friendly Varieties: Nantes, Chantenay, and Danvers are compact and versatile varieties.
  • Planting and Thinning:
    • Use a deep container (at least 12 inches deep) with good drainage.
    • Plant seeds 1/4-1/2 inch deep and 1-2 inches apart, in nutrient-rich soil.
    • Thin seedlings to 2-3 inches apart to allow proper root development.
  • Growing Conditions:
    • Carrots prefer cool temperatures and partial shade during the hottest parts of the day.
    • Water consistently, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged.
  • Harvesting and Storage:
    • Harvest carrots when the shoulders are visible above the soil, typically 60-80 days after planting.
    • Store harvested carrots in a cool, humid location for up to several months.

9. Beets

Beets are a nutritious and calorie-dense root vegetable, with one cup of cooked beets providing approximately 59 calories. They are an excellent source of folate, manganese, and various antioxidants.

Beets are well-suited for container cultivation, making them a valuable crop for your survival garden, even in limited spaces.

  • Recommended Beet Varieties: Detroit Dark Red, Cylindra, and Chioggia (candy-striped) are excellent choices.
  • Growing Conditions:
    • Use a deep container (at least 12 inches deep) with good drainage.
    • Plant seeds 1/2-1 inch deep and 2-3 inches apart, in nutrient-rich soil.
    • Beets prefer cool temperatures and partial shade during the hottest parts of the day.
    • Water consistently, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged.
  • Harvesting and Preserving:
    • Harvest beets when the shoulders are visible above the soil, typically 50-70 days after planting.
    • Beets can be pickled, canned, or dehydrated for long-term storage.

10. Sunflowers

Sunflowers are not only a beautiful addition to your survival garden but also provide a valuable source of calories and protein in the form of their seeds. One cup of sunflower seeds offers approximately 269 calories and 7 grams of protein.

See also  30 Gardening Hacks Every New Gardener Should Know

Dwarf and compact sunflower varieties are well-suited for container cultivation, allowing you to grow this versatile crop even in limited spaces.

  • Dwarf Sunflower Varieties: Sunbright Supreme, Sundance Kid, and Sunny Smile are excellent choices.
  • Planting and Sun Exposure:
    • Use a large container (at least 18 inches deep and 24 inches wide) with good drainage.
    • Plant seeds 1-2 inches deep and 6-8 inches apart, in nutrient-rich soil.
    • Sunflowers require full sun exposure (at least 6 hours of direct sunlight).
    • Water consistently, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged.
  • Harvesting and Drying:
    • Harvest sunflower heads when the back of the head turns yellow, typically 90-120 days after planting.
    • Hang harvested heads upside down in a warm, dry location for 2-3 weeks to dry the seeds.

11. Crop Rotation and Companion Planting

Practicing crop rotation and companion planting in your container garden is essential for maintaining soil health, managing pests and diseases, and optimizing crop yields.

Crop rotation involves alternating the placement of different crops in the same container or growing area each season. This practice helps to prevent soil-borne diseases and replenish nutrients depleted by specific crops.

Companion planting involves growing certain crops together that provide mutual benefits, such as repelling pests, improving nutrient uptake, or offering physical support. Check out these tips on plants that repel pests for natural pest control.

  • Examples of Compatible Crop Combinations:
    • Tomatoes with basil or marigolds (repels pests)
    • Beans with corn (nitrogen fixation and physical support)
    • Cucumbers with radishes (nutrient uptake and pest control)
    • Carrots with rosemary (repels carrot flies)

12. Container Gardening Tips and Tricks

To maximize the success of your high-calorie container crops, consider the following tips and tricks:

  • Container Size and Type:
    • Choose containers at least 12 inches deep and 18 inches wide for most crops.
    • Use lightweight, durable containers with adequate drainage holes.
    • Consider self-watering or sub-irrigated containers for consistent moisture.
  • Soil and Fertilizer:
    • Use a high-quality, nutrient-rich potting mix specifically formulated for containers.
    • Incorporate compost or aged manure for additional nutrients.
    • Fertilize regularly with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer.
  • Watering and Humidity:
    • Monitor soil moisture levels and water consistently, avoiding both over and under-watering. Check out these common watering mistakes to avoid.
    • Consider using mulch to retain soil moisture and regulate temperatures.
    • Increase humidity levels by grouping containers or using humidity trays.
  • Space-Saving Techniques:
    • Implement vertical gardening with trellises, cages, or hanging baskets.
    • Practice succession planting by replacing harvested crops with new seedlings.
    • Interplant compatible crops with different maturation rates.

For more tips on starting a successful container garden, check out this comprehensive container gardening guide.

Conclusion

Growing high-calorie crops in containers provides a practical and sustainable solution for ensuring a reliable food source in survival situations. By incorporating the top 12 crops discussed in this article, you can establish a diverse and productive container garden tailored to your needs and space constraints.

Remember to experiment with different varieties, implement crop rotation and companion planting techniques, and follow best practices for container gardening. With proper planning and care, your high-calorie container crops will thrive, providing you with a valuable source of nutrients and calories when you need them most.

Additionally, consider exploring edible medicinal survival plants and perennial fruits and vegetables to further diversify your survival garden.

For those with limited space, bucket gardening can be a great option for growing high-calorie crops like potatoes, and even fruit trees.

Finally, don’t forget to plan for spring and fall planting to ensure a continuous supply of fresh produce throughout the year.

Leave a comment