Anytime there is a shortage in the food supply, like during the current COVID-19 pandemic, people realize they need to consider how to grow foods for themselves. Knowing which are the best vegetables to grow in a crisis, and how to get a garden started, is an uncertain first step for an inexperienced gardener.
The following tips will teach you the basics of starting an emergency garden, filled with fast-growing, nutritious vegetables, that can help sustain you through a food shortage crisis.
What is the Best Location in Your Garden to Grow Foods?
Plants need light to grow, so any location, indoors or outdoors, will need to receive bright light at least 6-hours each day. The light source can be from the sun or artificial grow lights or a combination of both.
Select the brightest location possible for your garden location. Vegetable plants can be grown any time of year when placed near a south-facing window. A sunny patio, balcony, rooftop, or porch is a great location to grow foods in containers.
Which are the Best Vegetables To Grow?
Microgreens are immature leaves harvested from vegetable plants and used as part of a green salad or stir fry. Immature plant leaves are more nutrient-dense than mature leaves, with all the plant’s vitamin and mineral content being concentrated into those tiny leaves.
Microgreens are easy to grow indoors, are ready to harvest in 14-days and can provide a continual supply of fresh, healthy greens.
Select seeds for leafy green plants like arugula, broccoli, cabbage, and kohlrabi. Fill a shallow tray with potting soil and sprinkle seeds on top of soil. Mist soil with water and cover tray with plastic wrap. Place tray in a bright location but not in direct sunlight. Remove plastic wrap after seeds sprout and move tray to a location where it will receive 4-6 hours of direct sunlight every day.
Harvest microgreens when the second set of leaves develop on the plants. Plant a tray of microgreens every 3 days so you will have a sustainable supply of fresh greens.
Radishes are easy to grow and provide two of the best vegetables to grow during a crisis– a vitamin-packed root and a nutritious green leafy top. The bulbous roots and green tops are packed with vitamins E, A, C, B6, and K, antioxidants, fiber, zinc, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, copper, calcium, iron and manganese.
Radishes are ready to harvest in 28 days and take up very little growing space. Plant in-ground during warm weather or in a 4-inch deep container indoors any time of year. Plant radish seeds every 10-days for a continual supply.
Beets are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, plus both the root and green leafy top can be eaten, just like radishes. Beets can be grown indoors or outdoors and will be ready to harvest in 45 days.
Plant beet seeds any time of year 3-inches apart in 6-inch deep containers or plant outdoors in prepared garden soil during warm weather. Plant seeds 10 days apart for a continual harvest.
Carrots are an essential part of any plan to grow foods. They are one of the best vegetables to grow because they take up minimal space, mature quickly and provide two different foods in one growing space.
Carrots and their green tops will be ready to harvest in 70 days. Plant carrot seeds in a 12-inch deep container or sow seeds outdoors in prepared soil.
Turnips will also provide a double sustainable food source during a time of crisis. The root and green tops are packed with nutrients like protein, calcium, and vitamin C.
Turnips mature in 30 days and can tolerate cool weather. Grow turnips year-round indoors in a deep container of potting soil.
Squash (yellow or zucchini) will be ready to harvest in 35 days and will produce fresh squash daily for weeks.
Plant seeds in a large growing container indoors or a sunny location outdoors during warm weather. Extend the harvest season by planting squash seeds every 2 weeks.
You can grow fresh foods and sustain yourself if you know which are the best vegetables to grow in a crisis. Vegetables that produce two different textures and flavors in the same growing space, like radishes and beets, combined with early maturity are ideal food plants to grow.
If growing space allows include other sustainable foods in your crisis garden, like onions, herbs, and potatoes. Plant as much as possible and preserve the excess produce through canning, freezing, or dehydrating.
Remember to save seeds from the plants so you can continue to plant and harvest fresh food until the crisis has passed. In fact, make this a habit for the future.