Grow these usual perennials in your survival garden: they’re the plants that keep on giving!
When building a survival garden, trying to organize planting schedules every year for your annual plants can get difficult. On top of that, if you don’t grow enough of something, or if you aren’t able to preserve the extra amount that you produce, you have to wait until the next growing cycle to start harvesting again.
Unless you have a greenhouse with a somewhat stable climate, it is almost impossible to get high yields out of a plant all year round. Some plants, like kale, can be planted in cycles in order to have high yields but it is still governed by certain growing seasons.
This is why many plants are called annuals, meaning that they only produce in certain seasons every year, or they may need to be replanted every year. While growing annuals is rewarding and will be necessary to make any survival garden complete, it can get tiring and expensive to get new plants every year (especially if you are starting from seeds).
Many people enjoy having a certain number of perennial plants in their survival gardens as well, for that reason. Unlike annuals, perennials don’t have a specific growing season and they survive through many years. Typically, they are slower to grow than annuals, but these plants truly keep on giving and giving throughout the years.
Perennial Plants for Your Self-Sufficient Survival Garden
- Stevia/Sweet Leaf
- Ginkgo biloba
- Sweet Potato
- Kangkong/Water Spinach
- Goji Berry
Many gardeners already plant many perennials without even knowing it. For example, many common herbs like thyme, lemon balm, rosemary, and sage are perennials. Lemons and oranges can even be grown as a perennial in warmer climates (and in greenhouses in colder climates). Or grow them in a food forest self-sufficiency garden, which creates its own microclimate!
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Perennials can be a great way to keep supplying your family with food all year round. In this article, I’ll take you through some of the more unusual perennials that can be planted in your survival garden to support you and your family on your self-sufficiency journey.
Perennial Herbs for Survival Gardens
1. Garlic (Allium sp.)
Garlic, while not uncommon to see in a garden, is usually grown as an annual. To allow it to become a perennial, you should “forget” about it for 2-3 years after planting. By that time, each clove of garlic will have many green shoots coming out of the ground along with garlic scapes that you can use in your cooking.
If you have the patience and if you like garlic, try planting a few cloves as a perennial! This plant is hardy from zones 5-10.
2. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
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Licorice is a pleasant shrub that produces the sweetest roots. Licorice root is as sweet as syrup and has an amazing smell. It takes a couple of years to grow large enough to be harvested. Once it is old enough, you can either dig up the entire plant by the roots, or trim the roots as they grow if you want smaller harvests.
Hardy to zones 9-11, it can also be grown in a greenhouse or microclimate.
3. Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)
Horseradish is a perennial that produces peppery and bitter-tasting leaves that can be used in salads. Cooking usually takes out the “spicy” taste, while eating it fresh can give you a peppery rush.
This plant is a must if you are prone to colds or congestion! Eventually, you can harvest the roots to make a tasty condiment. Horseradish can become a weed, so it would be a good idea to grow in a large pot or give it lots of space in the garden. This plant is hardy from zones 3-9 and actually does well in colder climates.
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4. Moringa (Moringa oleifera)
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Moringa is a great tree that produces leaves that are full of vitamins and minerals. There are so many benefits that moringa is a must in every survival garden! This tree grows quickly and can survive in all warm climates as long as it is well taken care of. It may lose its leaves in colder climates, so it is best to grow it in a greenhouse if you live in zones 7 and below.
5. Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana)
Stevia/Sweet Leaf is a great sugar substitute to have in your garden. It is especially good if you or anyone in your family has diabetes or high blood sugar since it does not increase your blood sugar or give you any calories.
This plant does best with plenty of sun, and the leaves can be harvested and dried when they are big enough. Hardy to zones 9-11, but does best in hot and humid conditions.
6. Ginkgo biloba
Ginkgo biloba is another great tree to have in your survival garden due to the benefits of the leaves. You can use these leaves to make a wonderful tea that uplifts mood and gives you a wakeful focus (without caffeination).
The ginkgo tree grows across North America, and you can choose to grow a female or male plant. The roots actually do well in salty soil, so definitely grow this if you live near the ocean. Hardy to zones 3-9 depending on the variety you choose.
Perennial Vegetables/Greens for Self Sufficient Gardens
7. Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)
Rhubarb is a great perennial to have in your garden because it is full of vitamins and can be used in both cooking and baking. It is especially good if you live in a cooler environment. According to UC Sonoma, Rhubarb does great in soil temperatures between 40-75 degrees fahrenheit.
Remember to only eat the stalks, and not the leaves! Hardy to zones 7 and below.
8. Artichoke (Cynara scolymus)
Artichoke is a tasty plant that takes about two years to start flowering. This plant takes up a lot of space, and the flowers (edible parts) are harvested before they open. Artichoke hearts are a yummy treat to grow in your garden.
This plant will die back in frost, so it enjoys a warmer environment or a greenhouse. Hardy to zones 9-11.
9. Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas)
Sweet potatoes are, of course, a great and tasty perennial to grow, and many gardeners flock toward this one because it is relatively easy to grow.
This running vine can be planted just as easily as placing an old sweet potato on its side under 2-4 inches of soil. Make sure to plant these in early summer as it needs a few warm months to get started, and they are ready to harvest within four months. Hardy to zones 8-11.
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10. Choko/Chayote (Sechium edule)
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Choko/Chayote is a perennial, vining vegetable that tastes like squash. The whole “fruit” can be eaten, seeds and all. To grow, plant an entire fruit under the ground and allow to sprout. It would be smart to use a trellis for this plant! Hardy to zones 8-11.
11. Kangkong/Water Spinach (Ipomoea aquatica)
Kangkong is full of protein, vitamins, and minerals so it is a great addition to all survival gardens. It is also known as water spinach, and is very easy to grow. It loves hot, humid, and wet climates, and produces delicious greens. It will spread easily, so grow it in a pot or make sure it has lots of room in the garden. It’s a great groundcover for your wild food forest!
In my opinion, Kangkong (water spinach) is the best perennial alternative to spinach, and definitely the best spinach to grow in warmer climates. I spent years trying to grow spinach but they always failed. Either it was too hot, the plants were attacked by bugs, or some other calamity.
It is genuinely mild-flavored and actually tastes like spinach, possibly even nicer. You can use it just like spinach in cooking, smoothies, sandwiches, etc. It’s not like other spinach alternatives where they tell you it’s such a lovely flavor but it actually tastes like pond slime… This spinach actually tastes yum!
Hardy to zones 10-11, but can be grown as an annual elsewhere.
12. Cassava (Manihot esculenta)
Cassava is a tuber-like plant that can be grown in all warm climates. These plants produce starchy root-vegetables that are similar to potatoes and are a good source of carbohydrates in your survival garden. This plant can be grown in pots and prefers warm, dry climates. Hardy outdoors in zones 8-11.
Fruits for Survival Gardens
13. Goji Berry (Lycium barbarum)
Big Lifeberry® Goji Berry – $15.95 from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.
Goji Berries are a great berry to grow in your survival garden because they are full of vitamins B and C, and they can even be dried and preserved. They have been touted as superfoods in recent years.
This plant grows like a spreading shrub and takes about two years to really give you a good harvest. These plants also do well in large pots, which can prevent it from spreading. Goji berries are somewhat freeze-tolerant and are hardy in zones 5 and up.
14. Fig (Ficus sp.)
Osborne Prolific Fig Tree – $62.95 from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.
Figs are a great perennial fruit to grow in your garden as these fruits are sweet and can be dried. They are high in fiber, calcium, and other essential minerals. Fig trees can be grown both in the ground and in large pots if you live in a colder environment. Hardy in zones 8-11, but can be grown in a greenhouse or pots to protect it from frost.
15. Dates (Phoenix dactylifera)
- Grow Your Own Date Palm Tree
- Can grow to over 100 feet tall
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- Dates are sweet, tasty, nutritional treats!
Dates are a great fruit to grow for those who have diabetes or want to keep their blood sugar low. They are high in fiber and can be good for heart health as well! These fruits are grown on a date palm tree, which takes about 4 to 8 years to mature and bear fruits. If you have the patience, these are a delicious snack to have around! Hardy in zones 9-11.
16. Huckleberries (Vaccinium sp.)
Huckleberries, which look like blueberries, are an incredible berry bush that has been the main recipe in many pies, jams, and candies in the US. These bushes are perfect for those who have a lot of shade, as the plant gives a greater harvest when it’s planted in the shade.
There are few different variations of this plant, some that do better in warmer climates, and those that do best in colder climates. They are of the Nightshade family to make sure you identify them correctly as some can be poisonous.
It’s a good idea to plant perennials in all gardens because you can harvest the fruits of your labor all year. Other annual plants are good to harvest every year, and can give you enough food to preserve for later. Perennials, though, take out the guesswork of when to grow and harvest which plant. You plant them once, and they keep on giving!
Are you growing any of these perennials in your self-sufficient or survival garden? Share your tips with us below!