The 5 Best Crops for Self Sufficient Gardeners

Let’s face it, some crops are better than others to grow when you are focusing on providing your own food.  Here’s my list of The 5 Best Crops for Self Sufficient Gardeners.

The 5 Best Crops for Self Sufficient Gardeners


September is National Preparedness Month and this year Stoney Acres is celebrating by joining with other bloggers that are part of the Prepared Bloggers Network for the 30 Days of Preparedness Round Robin!

Our garden is a big part of or overall preparation plan. Of course we have food and water storage at our place, but a big portion of the food we have stored every year comes from our garden.
Most years our garden produces 60 or more different fruits, veggies and herbs. Many of these are eaten fresh but even more are either frozen, canned or dried and added to our food storage.  But let’s face it. If we really want to be self sufficient gardeners there are some crops that have much more value than others.  I mean you are not going to grow 300 pounds of green peppers and expect to live on them all winter, but 300 pounds of potatoes would make a big difference.
Here are the 5 best crops for self sufficient gardeners:
1. Potatoes

The 5 best crops for Self Sufficient Gardeners

Of all the crops you can grow in your garden potatoes will bring you closer to self sufficiency than any other crop.  Potatoes are packed with calories, have a good amount of vitamins and nutrients, are fairly easy to grow and if stored under the proper conditions can last over 6 months in storage.
I have read several books that say potatoes are so important that you should plan on dedicating at least 30% of your total garden space to growing them.  Most years we end up with around 20% of our garden planted to potatoes and end up with between 250 to 350 pounds. That amount gives our family plenty of spuds to eat most of the winter.
With a little planning you can have potatoes ready to eat starting in June. You can the eat them fresh all summer and then have a big crop ready in the fall to last you into the winter.  Those stored potatoes can last well into March meaning you are eating garden potatoes 9 months out of the year!
Here are a few links to articles on how to grow and store potatoes:
2. Tomatoes

The 5 best crops for Self Sufficient Gardeners tomatoes

Everyone loves home grown tomatoes, they are a garden favorite. But they are also a very important part of becoming self  sufficient.

Tomatoes are one of the most versatile and productive plants you can grow in the garden.  They grow very well in all but the coldest climates.  A small patch of tomatoes, say only 4 foot by 16 feet with around 16 plants can produce upwards of 200 pounds of tomatoes in a good year!

Tomatoes can be dried, frozen or canned.  They can be made into soups, sauces, pastes and more. They then become the base ingredient in hundreds of kitchen recipes.  Tomatoes are one of the easiest veggies to can because they are a high acid veggie and as such they can be water bath canned instead of needing a pressure canner.

3.  Popcorn
The 5 best crops for Self Sufficient Gardeners Popcorn
Popcorn is number 3 on the list of The 5 Best Crops for Self Sufficient Gardeners.  Yes you read that right, POPCORN!  Why on earth would I suggest your favorite buttery treat is the third best crop for a self sufficient gardener?  Well let me explain.
I suggest you learn to grow popcorn because it is the only “grain” crop that can be practically grown in the home garden. You see there is a secret many people don’t know.  You can grind popcorn, in a grain mill, into a really tasty and easy to use corn meal!  You can then use that meal for baking corn bread, and other corn based bread products.
Popcorn is easy to grow, fairly productive and can be tucked into little hills all around your garden or even in your flower beds!  It does require a lot of water so be prepared to irrigate. You also can’t grow popcorn and sweet corn together so be sure if you are growing both you leave at least 100 feet between.
For a more in-depth look at growing popcorn you can read this article:
4.  Squash

The 5 best crops for Self Sufficient Gardeners Squash

Next on the list of The 5 Best Crops for Self Sufficient Gardeners is squash.  Love it or hate it, squash, especially winter squash is an important crop to grow and learn to eat for someone wanting to be self sufficient.

Keep in mind that there are two types of squash, summer and winter.  Summer squash are plants like zucchini, yellow squash, and Patty pans.  These are very productive plants but have a very short shelf life and very few storage options.  Freezing is really the only way to preserve summer squash. Please grow these great squashes but don’t plan on them being a big part of your winter storage.

Winter squashes are plants like butternut, spaghetti, banana and acorn squash and also include pumpkins.  These squashes are very productive and when stored properly they can last through the winter.  A big banana squash can feed you for several meals!!

You will need a larger garden to grow these winter squash.  These vining plants take up a lot of room so plan on them  sprawling all over the garden.  Most winter squashes are good candidates for vertical growing.  So try growing them on some type of trellis or other structure to save space.

5. Kale
The 5 best crops for Self Sufficient Gardeners Kale
Kale is a super food!  It is so packed full of nutrients that you just can’t ignore it in your garden.  Kale plants are also super productive and very hardy.  With a little planning and a simple hoop house for protection in the winter you can easily grow kale all year long.  If you grow kale in the winter you get the added bonus of eating the best tasting kale you will ever eat.  The cold temperatures sweeten the kale up and turn it into a whole new veggie!
So there you have it! My list of The 5 Best Crops for Self Sufficient Gardeners!  Do you agree or disagree with my list?  What did I leave out?  Let’s talk about it in the comment section below. Which do you consider to be The 5 Best Crops for Self Sufficient Gardeners?

September is National Preparedness Month and The Prepared Bloggers are at it again!

September is National Preparedness Month #30DaysofPrep 2015 It’s safe to say that our ultimate goal is to help you have an emergency kit, a family plan, and the knowledge to garden, preserve your harvest and use useful herbs every day – without spending a ton of money to do it. Luckily that’s obtainable for every family and a journey we would love to help you with.

This year we have posts about food storage, 72-hour Kits & Bug Out Bags, and every aspect of preparedness, from water storage to cooking off grid. You’ll also find many ideas to help you be more self-reliant. Look for information on the big giveaway we’ve put together for later in the month.

Be sure to visit our sites and learn as much as you can about being prepared. We’ll be using the hashtag #30DaysOfPrep for these and many other ideas throughout the month of September, so join in the conversation and make 2015 the year you become prepared.

Food Storage

The Prepared Pantry: A 3 Month Food Supply | PreparednessMama

How to Wax Cheese for Long Term Storage | Perky Prepping Gramma

Dispelling the Canned Food Expiration Date Myth | Self Sufficient Man

6 Canning Myths You Must Know | Melissa K. Norris

How to Dehydrate Cherries | Mom With a PREP

How to Dehydrate Milk for Long Term Storage | Perky Prepping Gramma


Survival Tips from the Great Depression | Self Sufficient Man

The 5 best crops for Self Sufficient Gardeners | Our Stoney Acres

Butchering a chicken | The Homesteading Hippy

Self-Sufficiency Simplified | Blue Jean Mama

3 Small Livestock Preparedness Tips | Timber Creek Farm

Essential Oils for Preparedness | Mama Kautz

Farm First Aid Preparedness | Timber Creek Farm

72-Hour Kits or Bug Out Bags

How to Build a 72-hour Go Bag | Blue Yonder Urban Farm

Build Your Dollar Store B.O.B. for your Car in minutes! | Simply Living Simply

10 Essential Oils You Need in Your B.O.B. and at Home | Blue Jean Mama

10 Must-Have Herbs for Your B.O.B | Simply Living Simply


5 Things New Moms Can Do to Prepare for Disasters | PreparednessMama

Trauma Essentials for the Prepper | The Prepared Ninja

Emergency Preparation for Those Who Are Disabled or Elderly | A Matter of Preparedness

10 Most Important Items a Female Prepper Should Have | Living Life in Rural Iowa

How to Prepare Your Car for Winter | Frugal Mama and the Sprout

How to Prepare For a Power Outage | Blue Yonder Urban Farm

Why Natural Health, Exercise and Whole Foods Play a Role in Survival | Trayer Wilderness

Getting Started With Water Storage | The Backyard Pioneer

10 Totally Free Prepping Things to Do | Living Life in Rural Iowa

21 Prepper Tips I Wish I’d Heard Before I Started Prepping | Urban Survival Site

Is Homesteading Like Prepping? | The Homesteading Hippy

What You Should Consider When Fire Is A Threat | Trayer Wilderness

11 Ways to Cook Off-Grid | Melissa K. Norris

How to Make a 72 Hour Emergency Kit | Mom with a PREP

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  1. Small Steps of Sustainability September 5, 2015 5:30 pm Reply

    Great post. Had no idea you can’t plant popcorn and sweet corn together

    • Mr. Stoney September 5, 2015 9:38 pm Reply

      Thanks! Yep if you plant them together they will cross pollinate and it ruins the popcorn.

  2. may September 12, 2015 10:35 am Reply

    This post makes a great resource for beginning gardeners like myself. Thanks

  3. Deborah September 12, 2015 9:16 pm Reply

    I loved when I lived in a warm enough area to grow my own popcorn. It’s probably the crop I miss the most since moving to a zone 4.
    Since I can no longer grow popcorn, I’d have to replace it with beets or cabbage. Neither are my favorite, but putting up a year’s worth a produce all at once makes these two a must. They go directly into the cold cellar with minimal prep and are a few of the things that will last til next year.
    Great post 🙂

  4. Cynthia Skelton September 13, 2015 10:48 am Reply

    I just wanted to mention that zucchini is worth growing to preserve by freezing. I grate the monster zuccs and freeze in 1 cup portions. These are perfect for thawing and using to make zucchini bread, zucchini nut muffins, or chocolate zucchini cake all winter.

    • Mr. Stoney September 14, 2015 8:33 am Reply

      Cynthia, I absolutely agree with you on this. We grow and freeze a lot of zucchini, most years more than 50 pounds from just a few plants. As it is National Preparedness month and I only could choose 5 crops for this post I went with the 5 I felt meant the most to an over all food storage plan for an emergency situation. If I were to do a top 10 list zucchini would be number 7 or 8.

  5. Kari September 14, 2015 10:58 pm Reply

    I wasn’t aware that it was a month long celebration! Great post! We planted popcorn at a local community garden. Thanks for all the info!!

  6. Kelly September 15, 2015 4:41 pm Reply

    This is wonderful! I really need veggies like these since I start out all enthusiastic and then end up saying, “Garden? Oh yeah!” I’ve never tried growing popcorn, but we use so much of it I think it would be fun!
    Thanks for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop. I hope we see you again tomorrow. Pinning! 🙂

  7. Michelle Newman July 27, 2016 4:36 pm Reply

    I think beets and turnips are good garden crops because you can eat the whole plant,roots and leaves. Frozen,canned, and cold storage are all possible for the dual use plants.

  8. Ernie May 31, 2017 7:31 pm Reply

    I’ve been growing storage food for almost 60 yrs, I agree with your list only I would include pole beans,you can use them fresh can them ,dry them

    • Mr. Stoney June 1, 2017 9:03 am Reply

      Yep, If I had made the list longer, beans would have been #6!

  9. Julia Gray November 17, 2017 7:44 pm Reply

    I agree that that potatoes, tomatoes, and kale are needed to be self sufficient. Not only just pumpkins but a variety of squashes, bell peppers and a variety of fruit. I grow all the above plus blueberries, black berries and raspberries plus cactus fruit, I make jellies, freeze, dehydrate and can my produce. That makes you self sufficient.

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